Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Guts of The Ice - An Exploration of "Puck" Rock/Hockey-core #16: CHIXDIGGIT! Frontman K.J. "Chix" Jansen (The Witzard Interview)

CHIXDIGGIT! at Edmonton Oilers/Rogers Place (SOURCE: K.J. Jansen)

Not entirely unlike Wrestle/Wrassle Rap or Basketball Rap, there's, apparently, a whole sub-genre of hockey-themed Punk/Hardcore—oftentimes, referred to as "Puck" Rock or Hockey-core. Yes, I've been a die-hard fan of Punk/Hardcore for 15+ years and I, too, only first heard about Puck Rock within the last few weeks. Although, once I started diggin' around, I discovered about 10-15 bands at the forefront; this was, then, gradually narrowed down to 10 "front-line" bands, which will be chronicled here over the course of coming weeks. The "top-scoring" bands we selected include: Crippled Youth, SLAPSHOT, The Hanson Brothers/Nomeansno, Two Man Advantage, The Boils, D.O.A. THE ZAMBONIS, Pansy Division, The Hextalls, and THE RAMOMS' "Gritty Is A Punk" flexi-disc. We sent out a short 6-question interview form to all of the aforementioned bands, received some back, heard a few choice words, and still have yet to hear from a few more. We'll be running those interviews, as well as features, profiles, etc. in the coming weeks. EDITOR'S NOTE: be warned, while I'm a casual hockey fan, I DO NOT claim to be an "expert" on the sport, nor will I EVER claim to know "everything" about hockey-themed Punk/Hardcore. Now, let's just try to have some fun and learn more about the sub-genre together!

CHIXDIGGIT! are a Pop Punk/Rock band hailing from Calgary, Alberta, Canada around 1991. CHIXDIGGIT! (described by the band as the Heavy Metal way of writing "Chicks Dig It!") was unofficially started in 1990 when K.J. Jansen, Mark O'Flaherty & Mike Eggermont started selling T-shirts embellished with the faux CHIXDIGGIT! logo around their high school. Mind you, this was all prior to CHIXDIGGIT! formed as an actual band; as the shirts started selling more and more and bringing in a source of "income," K.J. Mark & Mike decided to purchase a drumkit for their as-yet-to-be-formed band. However, by 1991, CHIXDIGGIT! had officially formed as a full-fledged Pop Punk/Rock band with, as to be expected, a rotating cast of drummers, and started playing regular shows around Calgary by 1992-93. CHIXDIGGIT! signed a deal with Sub Pop Records in 1996 to release their self-titled debut full-length, which featured would-be hits, such as "Henry Rollins Is No Fun," "Toilet Seat's Coming Down," and "(I Feel Like) (Gerry) Cheevers (Stitch Marks On My Heart.)" Arguably, CHIXDIGGIT!'s most recognizable song, "Cheevers" is a tongue-in-cheek homage to infamous Boston Bruins goalie Gerry Cheevers. Legend has it, every time Cheevers took a puck to the face, he would etch a corresponding "stitch mark" onto his mask. Gerry Cheevers would later claim his mask spared him from over 150 medical stitches throughout the course of his 20+ year career. For this sixteenth(!) installment of Guts of The Ice, we spoke with long-time CHIXDIGGIT! frontman and founding member K.J. "Chix" Jansen.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Puck Rock/Hardcore Purveyor

01. How did you first get into both hockey and Punk/Hardcore music?

K.J. "Chix" Jansen: Growing up in Canada, hockey is pretty much everywhere all year long. My parents weren't really into it until later, but my grandparents were. I'd watch Hockey Night In Canada at [their] house on the weekends. Growing up in the late 70's/early 80's, Punk Rock was the "cool" new thing. My parents weren't really into it, but my one sister was. She brought records home from a trip visiting relatives in Holland. One of my cousins was Punk and turned her onto it. I heard those records and was hooked.

02. What made you decide to combine hockey and Punk/Hardcore stylings through music?

K.J. Chix: I wouldn't say there was a decision to combine the two really. Song-writers write about what they experience and hockey was a big part of my experience. There's a lot of heartbreak in hockey, so it kind of came naturally.

03. For fans new to the "Puck" Rock/Hardcore sub-genre, which release(s) from throughout your discography would you recommend starting out with?

K.J. Chix: We really only have one song that combines the two. The "Gerry Cheevers" one. It's on our first record, so I'd recommend that one, I guess!

04. Aside from your own band's music, what other hockey-themed groups, releases, singles, etc. would you recommend, as well?

K.J. Chix: I think, the "kings" of the genre are The Hanson Brothers. They put out a compilation of Hockey Punk songs back in the day. Great songs on there from a lot of bands. My faves are The Sweaters, Huevos Rancheros, and Smugglers tracks.

05. If still active, what are the future plans for your band? If currently inactive, do you have any immediate plans for any special re-issues or a proper reunion/comeback?

K.J. Chix: Currently active (or as "active" as you can be in a pandemic.) Lots of shows lost this year and touring plans changed. Looking to re-schedule all of that. Got a new record (or two) ready to go. Waiting to get to work on that; very much looking forward to that!

06. So, through our exploration of Puck Rock/Hockey Punk, we've heard mention of CHIXDIGGIT! and your song, "(I Feel Like) (Gerry) Cheevers (Stitch Marks On My Heart)" from numerous Guts of The Ice participating artists. What was the inspiration behind "Cheevers" from 1996's CHIXDIGGIT! and why all the parenthetical titles/sub-titles?

K.J. Chix: That's cool! I just always loved goalie masks and had written a line about drawing Gerry's mask in school on a little slip of paper. I was driving to band practice [one] day and the rest of the song just kind of popped in my head. Just kind of happened. The parenthesis were just a response to the excess of them in songs at the time.

Team CHIXDIGGIT! at The First Slurpee Cup (SOURCE: CHIXDIGGIT! Facebook)

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