A Punk Rock legend and icon has died
Evan Murray narrates his personal experiences with legendary Canadian Punk Rock icon Chi Pig.
Picture from facebook
I had a strange and intense short relationship with Ken Chinn (Chi Pig).
I was a fair weather punk rock music fan at best. Some of my friends liked Dead Kennedy's, Butthole Surfers, DOA, Dayglo Abortions, and... SNFU etc. After my best friend killed himself when I was 18, I listened to punk allot more, because it was more about honoring and mourning my best friend's memory by listening to the music he loved. To be honest, It took me some time to appreciate the low fidelity recordings, the chaos, the noise, but my heart opened my ears after such a devastating wound. Punk Rock was a good as any other way to deal with the reality, the pain.
6 years ago when I met Chi Pig I was in a really precarious position in my life. I had just quit my job in the oilfield for the 3rd and final time. I was going to make it in music!! (Hip hip Hurray!!)
Cameron Noyes and I had been working on some different music projects. I always stopped in to see Cameron to check out crazy old and unique guitars. We'd have deep intellectual conversations about topics like theology, history, and especially music.
Cameron is one of the rarest and kindest people I ever met, it took awhile to warm up to me, but it is one friendship I am glad I pursued. I'm really feeling for Cameron, he was like Ken's mother hen. I wrote to him to offer my condolences, Cameron let me know he didn't let Ken Chinn aka Chi Pig aka Punk Rock Icon; die alone. Cameron is one of those guys; Mother hen.
One day, just over 6 years ago Cameron got a hold of me and asked me if I'd be interested in recording an acoustic project for the lead singer of the band SNFU. By now, SNFU's hay-day was long past. (Don't get it twisted, the band was still iconic. SNFU actually toured a year and 2 years after I met Ken. Bunch'a diehards they were. Real punk rock mother f**kers)
Ken really wanted me to drive him here while he was visiting Edmonton, and take this picture. He appreciated how they always supported SNFU
The Chi Pig I met and spent time with was gray, toothless, in dire need of a bath and some basic etiquette. I knew straight away when I met him he was an exotic and bizarre human being. I knew there was a person underneath there, it would take some time before I met Ken Chinn, Chi Pig was in full effect.
I knew Noyes loved and cared for Ken Chinn a great deal. It was uniquely motherly how Cameron handled Ken, and Ken responded like a relentless disobedient, and yet grateful orphan all at the same time. I remember the last day of recording, before Ken and I set out to fiinish up vocals that beautiful summer's day, Cameron asked me to practice kindness and be patient with Ken, asking me to make sure he got back home okay and to make sure I didn't let Ken wander off. I just found this so special and caring. I reassured Cameron, Ken would be in good hands.
The first recording session was brutal. I could tell Ken was really testing me out.
I was homeless at the time, recently kicked out by my girlfriend, and now living with a young nursing student named Jenelle Thomas. I had my recording equipment and a nap sack of clothes to my name, but the nursing student thought it was cool we were recording, so she let us use her pad. We did 2 sessions there, and later when my ex let me move back home, we finished everything off there.
Picture from facebook
Ken had already worked with some really famous producers and engineers during his Epitaph days, and was very demanding on how he wanted things done. I remember watching him pace like a lion with the head phones on for a little while, while tracking, like he was trying to find that special zone to dig in and peak his performance. Ken was a very passionate guy, there was no faking it with him, you could feel his sense of urgency and excitable energy to belt out his words, his feelings.
I'm not much of a confrontational person if I can see the logic in things. So, I respected his wishes and did the best I could to settle him down. One of my main tasks was making sure he had his own spit bottle so he wasn't spitting all over the floor between vocal takes.
Ken had this satanic charm about him, like a character out of a movie. You knew he was a good guy, but you also knew he was totally insane.
While I set up the room Ken would help himself to the fridge, eat and drink whatever he felt like. I wasn't upset, I was more amused than anything Haha!! I just let him be him, and he let me be me, and we got along quite well.
The songs we did were: Elaine Elaine, Fate, Painful Reminder, Hurt (NIN).
Picture from facebook
It took 4 sessions in total and utterly days for me to edit and time align everything. We recorded live off the floor with the first guitar player, but the timing was so off the tracks were just... bad. I had to convince Cameron to give me another session with Chi Pig the next time he was in Edmonton. It would be a couple months, but we eventually got it done.
The first guitar player we had was a guy named Reg Elder, he grew up with Ken. Super nice guy, but super nervous and had a hard time staying in the realm of 4/4. Often adding an extra beat to the measure or totally just losing time all together. I don't know if he was all nerves or just dropped way too much LSD when he was young. He was honestly one of the nicest people I ever met in my life. I got lost at North Country fair with him at one point in life, he made sure I got back to my campsite okay. Reg was a great guitar player, just... space, time, and...all that other elemental stuff... yeah...
The other guitar player was one of my best friends, Cam Baker. Cam who is a former metal guitar player, who is now a Dinosaur when his famous cousin Excision is touring, or like right now, a Gold Prospector deep in the Western Canadian Wilderness. Baker was a huge SNFU fan, and when I told him what I was doing he really wanted to play on the tracks.
Lastly, I included a cellist; Jenna Clarahan. That was the only time I ever met Jenna, I picked her up one day, did the tracks, dropped her off, and I never saw her again. Music is weird like that. Life is weird like that. I think we had to scrap most of her work, because Cam and I had to redo most of the guitar tracks.
It's been so long since I've heard the tracks. I'm looking forward to revisiting them when I can.
The last night of recording vocals Ken and myself and big time SNFU fan, my friend Dallas Mckelvie went to Ken's Edmonton watering hole, The Black Dog. There, Ken was consumed with adoring strangers and familiar faces. I called Cameron and told him Ken was rather intent on staying at the pub and I needed to go home because I didn't want my girlfriend at the time to kick me out again. Cameron replied, and simply just said "He knows where he is now, he'll find his way home from there, or not"
I knew that would be the last time I ever saw Ken alive. He shared allot of stories with me, about bands he toured with (my favorite story was about Kurt Cobain), things that had happened while touring on the road, he told me about his childhood, his first love, he told me allot of things. I got to spend sober time with Ken, one on one as we took smoke breaks between sessions, or when we lounged after eating.
This is a picture Chi Pig drew for me for recording his songs.
My own music career would change so much the next year after that encounter. I like to think Ken had a role in that. I played him various songs of mine, and he really enjoyed them. He told me "You're going to make it, you got that thing you mother ***ker" Haha!! If anything I got out of Ken was that he was just an honest expression of life itself. Twisted, insane, creative, chaotic, manipulative, mean, caring, intelligent, he was just life being honest. Not humanly honest, just a representation of life in its rawest form.
I could tell he had been really hurt in his life, and I could also tell he had done some really exceptional things most of us could only dream of. Ken was a beacon of light and chaos, calling you home to feel your own nature. To scream your face off and break the rules, to feel your heart and tempt you to feel your life essence.
I knew when I left Ken that night at the Black Dog it would be the last time I saw him alive. Music is weird like that. Life is weird like that. Strangely enough Ken ended up dying on the same day as my father, just 6 years later. Life's like that.
EVAN MURRAY is Event Co-ordinator at Live at Heart, Newfoundland, Export Development Officer at Vision 360 (Canada) and Canadian Coordinator at Live at Heart, Sweden. He is also International Music Consultant at Wonderwall Media, India.