CKY have recently released their first single in eight years ‘Days Of Self Destruction’ from their upcoming fifth studio album ‘The Phoenix’. I sat down with them at The Junction in Cambridge, the fourth date of their first UK tour in seven years to discuss their revival, dynamic as a three piece band and the creative process behind the new record.
What spurred the decision to continue CKY as a three piece band without Daniel Davies or any other replacement front-man after Deron Miller’s departure?
Chad I. Ginsburg: Well Daniel is super talented; he is the son of Dave Davies from The Kinks so really he was born with rock n’ roll blood. The fans that saw us perform with him went nuts and treated it as a real CKY show however; on the internet, a lot of the fans were indifferent. Daniel got an offer to go on tour with his step father John Carpenter who directed many big film scores such as ‘Halloween’, ‘The Thing’ and ‘Escape From New York’
Matt Deis: So he would be performing these soundtracks whilst the movie is on the screen at shows.
Chad: Around the time we demoed a bunch of new songs with Daniel and it was sounding awesome and would have made for a great record; but understandably he couldn’t commit to both projects and took the offer to tour with John, he encouraged me to become the vocalist, but at the time I didn’t want to.
How was the process and band dynamic throughout writing this new album after eight years, and as a three piece band?
Matt: We all get on really well, so it’s been great to hang out with friends and do what you know how to do. It’s fun again and we’re so grateful to be doing it. We get to go all over the world and we love it!
Jess Margera: We got to go to the Rancho De La Luno recording studio, which was amazing! It’s in Joshua Tree, California and It’s famous for the Kyuss and Queens Of The Stone Age records and loads of other great things.
Matt: The process was mostly all work and no play, but it was a pretty sweet place to be too!
Your new single ‘Days of Self Destruction’ features a guitar solo from Brent Hinds of Mastodon, how did that collaboration come about?
Chad: Well he’s one of the sweetest guys in rock n’ roll, a true legend. I was actually hanging out there, and behind me I hear a familiar voice giggling and he was like “i’m wearing your hat man”, I hadn’t seen him in years and he was wearing a similar hat to me. He’s a real funny dude, and we ended up catching up having a laugh for two days straight, and so we decided it would be cool for him to play a solo on the song. We came up with the idea to record at Rancho with Dave Catchings. All of the people that we surround ourselves with now are really nice, heartfelt people who have learned a lot of lessons in life and truly play music for the right reasons and in the right way, use real microphones, record things organically, the way we originally got into doing this you know?
A lot of current rock music is recorded in a very digital process, this new song sounds very raw and like the quintessential CKY sound, Is this a good indication of what’s to come on the album?
Chad: It’s not a good indication actually; the record has a little bit more of everything.
Jess: If you want heavy, there’s heavy. If you want dancy groove, there’s that too.
Matt: Yeah it’s dancy throughout, but it is a rock n’ roll record. It does not let up for the whole thing.
You recently stated in an interview that you’d like fans to ignore the two records after ‘Infiltrate.Destroy.Rebuild’ and look at ‘The Phoenix’ as a direct follow up. Could you elaborate on that mindset?
Chad: Well this new record is our most free. We spent a lot of time demoing and structuring the songs. The past couple of records we have made were kind of under forced conditions, assembled in the studio, and the records were a result of that, whereas this project was produced and mixed by the same guy, and I believe that’s why the songs are so consistent sonically. ‘Volume one’ and ‘Infiltrate.Destroy.Rebuild’ were both heavily inspired albums, we’d gotten where we wanted to be and we weren’t jaded at that point.
Jess: We spent a lot of time on the first two records demoing and rehearsing the songs, but not so much on ‘An Answer Can Be Found’ and ‘Carver City’.
Chad: We all kind of lost ourselves on those last two records. We thought we were wise and knew what we were doing, but we pretty much were taking advantage of what we had and ruining it and the records represent that.
Jess: ‘Carver City’ for instance, they made Chad replace my live drums with samples. I’m not really into that, but at the time the label was pushing for it so I just kind of went a long with it.
Chad: We were fine with slaving away in the studio, it didn’t matter too much as we enjoy the process and the result was something that was sonically cool, but then to perform these songs live, it didn’t translate well.
Jess: We did most of that record in the studio without really testing it out.
Matt: You can do incredible things in the studio and copy and paste samples, but when a musician goes to play it, and the audience try to feel it, it doesn’t always come together.
Chad: We can read the audience, and we tried out those songs in a lot of situations and they bombed. We were kind of prepared for this because the songs didn’t feel great at rehearsal either. The reason we say to look at this record as a follow up to the first two is because they were written in the same way as the first two and they feel as good, if not even better live.
This is your first run of shows in the UK since Download Festival in 2011. You have a die-hard fan base with the ‘CKY Alliance’, how has the response been so far with these shows?
Chad: The response from the Alliance has been incredible. They’ve turned up and they’ve been riddled with joy and tears. It’s a connected feeling between us and we know how that feels because we’re that way about bands we love too. Then there’s the new breed of fans who are now discovering us, it’s generational now.
When the band was in full swing in the early noughties, you had ‘Ask CKY’ which was a message board page where the Alliance could interact with you regularly, Is there a possibility of a return of that in 2017?
Matt: It’s crazy, because the last time we were active, Instagram, Snapchat and all of these social media platforms either weren’t developed or were in their infancy. Whilst ‘Ask CKY’ was great, we now have all these new outlets, and we’re now starting to test the waters with it.
Chad: The message board format that ran ‘Ask CKY’ is pretty outdated now. We like to be at the forefront of these opportunities, at the time we were one of the first bands to really embrace online fan interaction, and it was one of the reasons record companies liked us as we had such a huge presence when the Internet era was really beginning. This wasn’t happening with many bands and we weren’t hugely popular but it proceeded to do something special with our fans and connect us. We all stayed talking together and it was very inspiring. Nowadays it’s very easy to ask bands questions, and we intend to keep up that interaction.
Matt: I still meet fans today and remember them by their online user names. It’s a really great time capsule for fans to have.
Do you have any last words you would like to send out to your UK fans?
Chad: We have a brand new album called ‘The Phoenix’ coming out on June 16th and we’re super proud of it. There’s never been a better time for CKY, we haven’t felt this inspired since when we first got the idea of playing rock n’ roll. There’s a good future ahead, plenty of new music coming and live dates all across the world.
Jess: We’ve never felt better about being in this band.
Matt: It’s a great time for us, we’re extremely grateful. Thank you!
CKY’s fifth studio album ‘The Phoenix’ is released on June 16 via e-One Music.