Interview with Mr. Chi Pig from SNFU

By Dustin Andrews of Wasted Potential and me! 

You guys formed in 1981, which was  before I was born even, how do you feel about the evolution of punk music since?
CHI: It’s changed to more corporate things, when it comes to that I think it lost a lot of it’s organic, you know the honesty of it, and these younger persons they just want to make a name for themselves, they want to be a celebrity, they want to make money. In my mind that’s not the way it works. I’ve already done it, and if I have enough to get me from point a to point b then that’s enough for me. I never lost focus. I’ve been there since day one, I’ve never ever quit this band. It’s my baby. This is me. And to have the courage to play music and meet old friends again and travel the world.. we just came back from a two week tour in Japan and it was totally awesome. I just released a brand new CD, yes, and I will be playing it for you tonight.

With that said, is there any new punk bands that you really like?
CHI: Ah there’s a band called the Invasives, they’re from Vancouver. It’s kind of biased because they’re my friends. I like Broken Social Scene too, but I am an old schooler, like No Means No, those types.

How does it feel knowing that you were an influence for Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene?
Well we stayed at his mother’s house once on tour, it was friggin’ awesome! One time, and this is our little connection, they played a place in Vancouver called the Town Pump, and made the mistake of parking their van in the downtown, lower East side, the poor part of Vancouver. They parked their van in the back alley and it only took five minutes - they wanted to check out the situation like what was going on - and in that five minutes they got everything stolen, their clothes, their fucking briefcase of money, everything. So as a little favour because we felt bad for them we took them out for dinner and it was summer time so we were still in shorts and t-shirts so we gave them all free clothes. Yep. And it came back to us when we stayed at his mom’s place. That’s our connection. He’s in my movie actually!

What's it like to have a movie made about you?
CHI: You know, it’s a window of opportunity. Not about what you’re going to get from that, but, it’s the story of the person and it cuts the bullshit out, all the fucking rumours and media bullshit. You hear it from me.

Was it hard to get the others on board for it?
CHI: Nope, it was easy. Because I know a lot of people, and they were like ‘if it’s for Ken we’ll do it’. Come on, Corb Lund is in the movie! Jello Biafra is in the movie! You know, Mo Berg is in the movie… Matthew Good, what are you doing in my movie! Like this is fucked up dude, haha, but it was fun! And Steve Bays from Hot Hot Heat, guys from No Means No, all my musical piers, they’re all in there. *claps hands* Yes.

It’s been said that SNFU provided the soundtrack for 80’s and 90’s skate punk, do you agree think that’s true?
I think that’s totally true. We were all skateboarders and we developed a sound to drive the skaters to skate harder. This music was designed for skateboarders. For certain people who don’t mind hurting themselves, you know you fall on the asphalt you wipe out, you fucked up that trick, ah that kind of hurts, but you do it again. We designed our music for that. And we were totally into that Southern California scene even though we came from Edmonton Alberta, we connected with like Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Bad Religion, NOFX, TSOL, The Vandals, all of it, we were all there in one place at the same goddamn time and it just generated into something else.

And that kind of mentality of getting hurt and not giving a fuck carries over into your stage performance..
CHI: Yep, exactly, you’re there for the moment and you’re going to giver shit, it might hurt in the morning but if it doesn’t hurt in the morning dude, you fucking didn’t do it right.

Do you ever skate still?
CHI: Hahaha, no! No, no! I’m 50 years old, I’m going to be 51 in 8 days, if I fall on my hip I’m in the hospital and the tour’s over. Mmmmkayy!! Let’s put it that way!  

You’ve released some legendary albums, including the first one you guys ever wrote, do you find it difficult when you write new material to try to live up to those iconic works of the past?
Nope, nope, I’m proud of the new record. It’s a new record, another life achievement award for me. I never feel like I have to apologize for anything I’ve written, or done. I’ve been drug free for 8 years, well I drink beer and smoke cigarettes still. I’ve never lost sight of victory, ever. I might not be the richest man on the planet, but that never mattered to me. Never never never. Never.

Let’s get personal, did you ever hook up with Andy Warhol?
CHI: Yes I did! That was 1986 at the Rock Hotel there was 3000 people there, there was 5 bands, 3 of them were opening bands from New York.. I could name them but they sucked so I’m not going to name them. We played right before the Bad Brains, it was the record release party for I against I and after we played I’m walking up the stairs and the promoter says ‘hey there’s somebody that wants to meet you’ and I say okay, walk up the stairs, there he is. I had long blond dreadlocks at the time, shaved at the sides, and this guy in this silver wig says to me ‘you look very exotic, do you mind if I take a picture of you’ and I’m like ‘let me think about this Andy Warhol’ hahaha, and I’m laughing, let me think about this Andy Warhol!! I said yes and he did it, just went bam, took the picture over his head. Then he said that he would like to talk to me for a while so we went upstairs for about twenty minutes and talked about passion, talked about art, talked about being a homosexual. It was totally fun. He died soon after that.

What an amazing experience!
Oh yeah. I’ve had very many of them. I remember one time I was at my place and I’d always get these phone calls from these promoters being like ‘we have no money for accommodations for the touring band, can they stay at your house?’ and the answer was always yes. This one band, who I had met before, I’d played with them before, they were at my house. I said it was an open fridge policy, the stove’s over there, couches over there, couches downstairs and the tv.. and the drummers says ‘I want to sleep in a bed’ and I said ‘well the bed is sacred, but for you… you can sleep in my bed’ so he sleeps in my bed and I sleep beside him on my own fucking hardwood floor….. and it was Dave Grohl. A year later SNFU broke up for the first time and I had a band called The Wongs and I played this gig at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver and I meet this guy, he’s 23 years old and he’s sitting in like a lotus position, and he’s left handed but he’s multi-tasking, he’s got his guitar on his lap and he’s changing a guitar string while rolling a joint at the same time!!! And he says to me ‘hey, you gonna be ok for the show tonight?’ and I say ‘I think so, and you? Are you going to be ok for the show tonight?’ and he says ‘I think so’ and then he looks at me and he goes ‘can I kiss you!?’ and I said ‘yeah, sure’…… Kurt Cobain motherfucker!!

CHI: Really! You wouldn’t believe the life I’ve led, it’s been fucking crazy. I remember I show up after work and there’s a band called The Lombardos playing, and I get there and the singer has his back towards me and he turns around and he says ‘hey, I was hoping to see you today’ and I say ‘I’m right here’… they do a sound check and the drummer in the band is Dave Lombardo from Slayer!! He goes ‘Chi, I have a predicament, I have a problem… the fucking wife is out shopping and I have sound check, and I’ve got 2 kids in the back room, do you want to babysit? ‘ haha, I said ‘the answer is yes baby!’ so I do that. And then after the sound check Mike says ‘hey, John Zorn’ (cause John Zorn used to play in Mr. Bungle with Mike) ‘John Zorn told me about this sushi place called Tojo’s, do you know where it is’  I said ‘yes’ and he says ‘get me the fuck there right now’ so we jumped in the van.


Thanks soooo much to Dustin from the awesome band Wasted Potential for contributing questions!! And thanks to Melanie for hooking this up.