By Jason Paul
Ears ring, sweat drips and a crowd becomes so engulfed by what it is witnessing appearances become irrelevant. This feeling of euphoria – now strangely unfamiliar – is the cornerstone which made Chixdiggit the punk-rock institution it is today. Sadly, these pundits of the power chord have been on hiatus for the past five years, leaving a sizeable gap in Calgary’s music scene. However, the gears are turning once again, with a revitalized lineup and the release of a new album, Pink Razors.
“Well, we put out a new record and went to Europe and did a few shows in the States and Canada,” frontman KJ Jansen explains enthusiastically. “We’re getting ready to play a show here and leave for Europe again. We’re back for a couple weeks and we’re going to Australia and Japan and a little bit of Southeast-Asia and some California too. It’s going to be a whirlwind world tour.”
Although this sounds like a frantic pace, the band has decided to alter their approach to being on the road. Instead of touring eight months a year as they were accustomed to, Chixdiggit now plan to spend only three months on the road. They hope this change will remind them of why they began the band in the first place.
“We were pretty much off for a couple of years, and it was nice to take the time to help it be fun again,” reflects Jansen. “We didn’t want to go super full-tilt. We were always on tour before and it just got to be kind of a drag. We’re not doing it too much and it’s great again. We just do it a little differently, we’re more tourists now than we were before.”
Passports and postcards might be in the works for Chixdiggit, but the booster cables of original drummer Jason Hirsch have done more than their share to turn the engine over. Hirsch left the band in its early years and was subsequently replaced by Dave Alcock – currently of local band Falconhawk and proprietor of Sundae Sound Studios – but has returned to the original lineup. Along with bassist and relative newcomer Mike McLeod the band is primed to live up to its tradition of Billy-Zoom-stance revelry.
“We had Dave Alcock come in the band in ’97 and it rejuvenated us,” beams Jansen. “It was this new enthusiastic point of view. So Jason has come back and he’s kind of like the young new enthusiastic guy and we also have Mike who is a young enthusiastic guy anyway. So it has been only positive I think. Of course we’re sad to see the other guys go, but it’s definitely breathed a lot of life into this band.”
New additions aside, reinstating any outfit after an extended absence is a daunting task even for the wiliest veterans. The oft-criticized Calgary scene has been said to harbour apathetic and complacent audiences, resulting in the neglect of our fair city by many up-and-coming artists. Jansen defeats this notion when evaluating where the obligation should be.
“It’s probably just a band coming into town and saying, ‘oh, it’s Calgary’ wherever they’re from,” explains Jansen. “If they’re from Regina they’d probably be like, ‘hey awesome, it’s Calgary,’ but if they’re from Toronto or Los Angeles they’d be like, ‘aw fuck, Calgary.’ So they’re probably not putting any effort into their show, so it’s probably their own fucking fault they’re having a bad show. People are people and it’s not like any town has a better crowd than others. I think if you put on a good show and you get the crowd going it’s because you’re good, not because the town is good.”
To finally celebrate the release of Pink Razors in Calgary the band finds itself playing in a new local venue, the Hi-Fi Club. It will also serve as a kick-off point for the tour.
“It’s kind of an opportunity to show the people that we work with and go to school with that we are actually in a band,” Jansen says. “When we go away on these trips they’re not just holidays, we’re actually playing musical instruments on a stage in front of people. Our family is going to be there and all the people we work with, it’ll be kind of a family reunion.”
If the enthusiasm of Calgary’s music scene has waned over the last couple of years, perhaps the renaissance of a long-time favourite is exactly the kick in the pants it needs. They’ve got new energy, a new album, they’re coming out swinging, and well, Chixdiggit!