Punks get old. With the notable exception of Iggy Pop, who will continue to scream and bleed on teenagers until someone finds his final horcrux, there isn’t much that can be done to slow the steady maturation of music’s most adolescently bombastic devotees.
The human vocal folds only hold so many shouts and the wrists can only throw so many downstrokes before something cracks, or breaks, or just plain falls off. For KJ Jansen, vocalist and guitarist of Calgary based pop-punk elder statesmen Chixdiggit, it’s about how low you set the mic stand.
“If I can be honest, for a while there I was having sore hips,” Jansen says. “Not the knees so much as the hips are a problem if you do that all the time. For a while there I was like, ‘This is great exercise,’ but I’d be exhausted after a show standing like that for an hour. Raised it up a little bit to a happy medium.”
Hips notwithstanding, it’s a good bet that the band’s respective livers are in at least manageable conditions if they, along with legendary punk rockers NOFX, Bad Religion, Less Than Jake, and The Last Gang, are joining forces for the Punk In Drublic Craft Beer & Music Festival.
The festival is the brainchild of NOFX frontman Fat Mike, and began with five cities in the United States. Edmonton will be the festival’s inaugural Canadian date, and it will feature beers from regional brewers like Alley Kat, Troubled Monk, Yellowhead, Blindman Brewing, and many more.
But the kinship between the festival’s performers extends beyond just a love of palm mutes and ale. Chixdiggit’s last release was a 24-minute song and EP entitled 2012, and was conceived as both a farewell to longtime guitarist Mark O’Flaherty, and silver bullet to bring down NOFX’s “The Decline” as the world’s longest punk song.
“The goal was to make it one second longer than ‘The Decline,’ [because] a lot of people say it’s the greatest punk rock song ever written,” Jansen says. “If we can make a song that’s one second longer, then our song is greater … I just wish I could see your face when you realize you’re talking to the greatest punk rock song writer of all time. That’s got to feel pretty special for you.”
Chixdiggit have always had a good sense of humour. The band started as a fiction, a t-shirt to give to friends, until people started asking to hear the music that Jansen and company were pretending to make and they subsequently hit the practice room.
“We were bored,” Jansen says. “Everybody seemed to have something. There were other bands in our sort of area in the part of town we lived in. We always had the impression that those guys thought that they were pretty hot so we wanted to make fun of them. I guess we wanted to be dicks at the end of the day.”
After a show in Seattle, Chixdiggit were signed to Sub Pop, but after some rancorous disagreements within the label’s management, they found a home in Honest Don’s Records — a subsidiary of Fat Mike’s Fat Wreck Chords. Since their first self-titled release, the band has dropped four more studio albums, two EPs, and been featured in a variety of films and videogames.
Nearly 30 years since those first Chixdiggit shirts were made, Jansen still has the enthusiasm of an adolescent, bombastic, punk rock devotee — hips be damned.
“We’re a weird band,” Jansen says. “We don’t really fit in anywhere. I think that’s what’s great about where we are now. We actually fit in, which is a weird feeling for us. On Fat records there are lots of bands who I would consider to be favorites. And you always want to be where your favorite bands are.”
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