If at any point in your life, you have ever been near either a skateboard, a bottle of beer, or an episode of Jackass, then CKY likely need no introduction. If, however, you’ve not been near one of these things, first of all you should probably do something about that, because I mean, come on, really? Secondly, you’re about to be introduced to one of the most unique rock bands to have ever existed. You’re welcome.
“It was definitely some kind of perfect storm that doesn’t happen very often and I’m extremely grateful for it.”
Formed in Pennsylvania in 1998, CKY, which is made up of vocalist/axeman Chad I Ginsburg, bassist Matt Deis, and drummer Jess Margera (older brother to skateboarder and Jackass star, Bam Margera) are veterans to the punk/metal scene. Over the span of nineteen years, and five records, CKY have delved into a variety of genres from alternative metal to skate punk, grunge, post-grunge, stoner rock and more, earning them a varied and dedicated fan-base over their two decades.
“I’ve never felt like we related to any kind of genre or scene type of thing,” explains Margera. “That’s probably why we’ve been around for twenty years honestly”. It certainly makes sense when you think about it. For a band to thrive as long as CKY has, in a musical scene that is constantly changing and evolving, you can’t afford to be bogged down by names and categorisation. CKY take this to heart, to the extent that sometimes they don’t even know the genre with which they have been associated. “To be honest I don’t know what skate punk means,” Margera admits, despite CKY being considered one of the scene’s staple bands. “Each member of the band brings their own world of influences to the table and somehow it seems to work out. I read someone describe us recently as if Quincy Jones produced a Kyuss record, I can dig that.”
At the same time, not focusing on fitting into a genre can in many ways negatively impact a band, and in many cases, it can stunt growth in popularity. CKY themselves aren’t so sure why they’re one of the outliers, and have seen so much success, as Margera points out. “I don’t know how it happened, but it was definitely some kind of perfect storm that doesn’t happen very often and I’m extremely grateful for it.” At Discovered however, we think we know the simplest answer; CKY know how to make a damned good record.
This sentiment certainly extends to their latest record, The Phoenix, which dropped in June. We loved it, as did pretty much everyone else. “The reception’s been amazing, what a great welcome back!” And what a welcome it was. The Phoenix is CKY’s first album in eight years, and while some would think of that as a reason to feel pressured into making the next record worth the wait. On top of this, it was the band’s first record to be released since the departure of former lead-vocalist and rhythm-guitarist, Deron Miller. The Phoenix is the first CKY record to see Ginsburg take the position of frontman. Despite all of these factors however, CKY were eager to let us know that this may well have been their easiest record to make in a long time. “This was the first album we’ve made in quite a while where there was absolutely no pressure,” they tell us. “And that is a great environment to make music in.”
It’s pretty evident in the record. The Phoenix makes for a massively good time, and shows CKY as a band that are stoked to be making music again, as excited as they were back when they first formed. “I’ve been playing music with these guys forever,” says Margera. “It was just a matter of getting in a room and hashing out songs, there wasn’t much talking about directions to go in or anything like that. We did this album exactly like we did the first album,” he laughs. “So i guess our outlooks haven’t changed much!”
“I’ve never felt like we related to any kind of genre or scene type of thing, that’s probably why we’ve been around for twenty years.”
Not only did this year mark their first album this decade, but also their first shows in the UK since 2011. They made no huge spectacle of it, choosing instead to play mostly smaller, club shows. They quite humbly looked on their return to the UK as a way of gauging how people oversees still felt about the band. “We didn’t want to book some huge venue just in case people forgot about us. A lot can happen in eight years.”
It’s perhaps an unfounded worry, as we find it difficult to imagine CKY ever being in the ‘forgettable’ category, not when the monster-riff of their iconic ’96 Quite Bitter Beings’ alone is more recognisable than the back-catalogues of most bands, but it is understandable. Needless to say, people remembered CKY, and they showed up for some excellent shows that got the band even more geared up for their return. “It was great! We had no idea what to expect after so many years of being away.”
Since then, the band have completed a stint with Warped Tour, and it’s there that you can really see CKY shine as the band that knows how to throw a party. “I definitely have more fun at festivals,” Margera says, without hesitation. “It’s fun to play to new people and catch up with so many bands that I haven’t seen in a long time.”
It seems that now they’re back, CKY have no intentions of making us wait on the next record either, jumping right back into the writing process for the next record. “We already have new tunes in the works. no more long breaks for this band, we are finally ready to put the hammer down.” It’s news that is very much welcome. Given how much we enjoyed The Phoenix, we can’t help but be really excited for what’s to come. We’ve a crate of beers at the ready, and are scoping out the nearest skate park as we speak!
CKY’s new record, The Phoenix, is out now via Entertainment One Music.
WORDS: JOSHUA SOUTHERN
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