Read Hard’s Classic Pop Punk Picks #28: Chixdiggit- From Scene to Shining Scene

Posted: May 20, 2016 in Read Hard's Classic Pop Punk Picks

From last pick (Shelley’s Children), we are moving from Britain to Canada, from the early 90’s to the early 2000’s. We’re of course talking about Calgary’s heroes Chixdiggit. Chixdiggit started in 1991 by KJ Jansen, Mark O’Flaherty and Mike Eggermont. KJ (The Canadian Joey Ramone) was supposed to be the drummer, but became the singer and guitarist instead since he couldn’t sit still enough to play the drums, Mark played guitar as well and Mike slapped the bass (and I’m guessing KJ stretched his face). After trying out different drummers, their first permanent drummer became Jason Hirsch. Their first known demo is called “Humped” and was recorded in 1993, and includes some of their most famous songs like “I Should have Played Football in High School” and “I Wanna Hump You”, the latter went on to be on their debut self-titled full length.

The songs were basically in the same style they are known for now; pretty straight forward, upbeat, somewhat Ramones inspired Pop Punk with guitar solos and KJ’s s snotty, yet charming voice. Chixdiggit was released in 1996 on the legendary Sub Pop label. The band was turned down by Lookout Records, apparently Lookout would’ve signed them if it weren’t for the band name. After the release of their eponymous debut album, the band wasn’t happy with what Sub Pop were doing and felt it was mutual from the label, so they got out of their contract and signed to Honest Don, an offshoot’s of Fat Wreck Chords, also owned by Fat Mike. On their 1997 sophomore album, Born on the First of July (a Canadian equivalent of “Born on the Fourth of July”), they showed were they came from and quickly became the Stompin’ Tom Connors of Pop Punk. The songs were a lot longer than on the debut, but still with the same catchiness and wit. Three year later they released From Scene to Shining Scene, and five years after that they released Pink Razors, this time on Fat Wreck Chords. They also re-recorded the debut with bonus tracks and called it Chixdiggit 2. Their latest release was the EP “Safeways, Here We Come”, a play on the Smith’s Strangedays, Here We Come. “Safeways” and was released in 2011 and it actually has some of the band’s strongest material. Mark and KJ have always been in the band, but they’ve had some line-up changes when it comes to drummers and bassists.

I think the first time I heard them was when I got the Fat sampler “Rock Against Floyd” when I ordered NOFX’s “Never Trust a Hippy” in 2006. Among many of the other big Fat bands at the time, it included the Chixdiggit song “I Remember You” from Pink Razors. I liked the song a lot, even if I didn’t really check out the full album until about a year later. At the time I used to listen to a Norwegian radio called Pyro, that mostly played metal, but played some Punk/Pop Punk once in a while, and they played Chixdiggit frequently and in 2007 I started liking the band a lot. When I was in Oslo in December that year I also got Chixdiggit 2. I got From Scene to Shining Scene in 2010 and I discovered it was their best and by far most underrated album and that’s why I’m gonna write about this as the 28th Pop Punk Pick!

From Scene to Shining Scene was released on August 22, 2000 and produced by the band themselves. The album cover has the same recognizable Chixdiggit logo and a guy playing guitar, I’m guessing that’s KJ, not sure what that says about the band politics at the time, the picture was taken by Mark Gallup, but the artwork was done by Mike Eggermont. The lineup was the three original members and Dave Alcock played drums, he also played drums on Born on the First of July. The cover also says it’s produced by “Dave Alcock and Chixdiggit”. The title is a play on an expression from the patriotic song “America the Beautiful”; From sea to shining sea, meaning from coast to coast.

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  1. “My Dad vs. P.M”: The album starts off with a Pop Punk bomb exploding in your face. “My Dad vs. P.M (Paul McCartney)” is continuing the recurring Chixdiggit theme of parents and relations between them. The first two albums were highly concentrated with KJ’s lyrics about his mom and dad or someone else’s moms and dads; “Great Legs”, “Henry Rollins Is No Fun”, “Where’s Your Mom?”, “Song for “R’””, “Shadowy Bangers from a Shadowy Duplex”, “Silkome Beach, and “20 Times” all dealt with or mentioned parents in some way. “My Dad vs. P.M” can be compared to “Song for “R’” as it deals with parents’ different opinions about a person (“My dad said that every guy should get to meet a girl like you”/ “My mom said she wanted you out of the house”, but also to “Henry Rollins Is No Fun” as it is about parents’ opinion about a member of a band (“My mom says he’s no fun! Henry Rollins is no fun!”) I think the song is a nod to one of the “My dad vs your dad” scenarios, only this time with Paul McCartney. The song starts off with the narrator telling us that his mother always liked Paul the best (assumingly in the Beatles) because of the way he looked, dressed and sang “whoah ah”’s, while the his father liked the girl who sang “Delta Dawn” (Tanya Tucker). The story seems to be that Paul McCartney and animal activists mistake the father for being a scientist that makes shampoo and tests it on animals and the dad receives death threats (“We started getting death threats in the mailbox/ Milk sucks, let the animals go”), but they soon find out that they are mistaken, and the threats stop. The melody has always reminded me a bit of Teenage Bottlerocket’s “Rebound”. The Hextalls (also from Canada) wrote a song called “My Dad vs. Shania Twain” that I’m guessing is a reference to this song.
  2. “Spanish Fever”: The second track “Spanish Fever” tells the story of someone going to Spain (“Did I mention that we went to Spain?” AKA “A country that was warmer than the one I came from”). Where he meets a girl who spoke English “like a trucker” and is more interested in athletes (“She turned away and watched some Soccer man”), which of course only makes him like her more. My favorite line of the song is “I’m falling in a little deeper/ She’s been calling me a creeper”. The chorus of the song is a bit ambiguous and I’m not sure who actually got Spanish fever, but I found out what Spanish fever actually is, and contrary to the idea that it’s the same as Spanish Flu, it’s actually a cow-disease, also known as “Texas Fever” spread by the Babesia parasite. I’m guessing the song is meant figuratively. Chixdiggit made a music video for the song, and it’s one of their few videos. The song stands out due to its Spanish guitar solo.
  3. “Thursday Night”: Is as you can probably imagine from the title, a tribute to the day we know as Thursday! Just like the NOFX classic “Thank God It’s Monday” is to Monday. KJ sings enthusiastically that he lives for Thursday. The song is incredibly catchy, even if it doesn’t stand out in the masses of catchy tracks on the album. For some reason it has always reminded me of the Eurodance Pop hit “Saturday Night” by the Underdog Project because it regurgitates all the days of the week (so does the NOFX song, I guess) only to conclude with what day they like the most. I always thought it was a parody of the Underdog Project song, but it turns out the Chixdiggit song came first.
  4. “Melissa Louise”: The first song I heard on the album was “Melissa Louise” and it’s still one of my favorites, and another contender in the imaginary “classic pop punk song” competition. The song is pretty much a standard love song, but it explores a theme common in Chixdiggit’s discography: people who are different from each other that date. Pink Razor’s “Paints Her Toenails” and as we shall see later, “Sweaty and Hairless” is also about this. In “Melissa Louise” KJ sings: “girl, I’m glad you’re not exactly like me you’re as whatever as I wish I could be”, and there’s something silly about the song, but also something sweet and genuine. He compares him and Melissa to a hoof and shoe, claiming he’s not good with his analogies. The song also has a pretty cool guitar solos and the melody and the vocals make it Pop Punk at its finest.
  5. “Aromatherapy”: Is a song about, whatayaknow, aromatherapy! Thematically, I could compare it to the Mopes or Screeching Weasel’s “Squeaky Clean”. The melody has always reminded me of the other Canadian, Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One”, which is a song I’ve always wanted to hear a Pop Punk version of. Maybe Chixdiggit should cover it, they could make a cover album of Canadian songs. I’d love them to try out “Sk8er Boi”, “Sisters of Mercy” and “Ironic”!
  6. “Folks Are Gone”: The mom and dad theme is back in “Folks Are Gone”. The way it seems to me is that it’s about a son coming home to his parents, even if he’s moved away somewhere else, and he wants to contact the one that got away (His mom thinks they should’ve gotten married). They both seem to have moved on with their lives, but he wants to see her for old time’s sake and listen to records, like The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band and the Groovie Ghoulies and some Billy Bragg and her copy of Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi. It’s actually one of my favorite songs on the album!
  7. “Moto Foxe”: Is a little rocker about a motorcycle, I believe. The song sounds like Thin Lizzy or Kiss or something, but it’s got its charm. I remember having this song stuck in my head one day a few years ago and when I couldn’t figure out what band it was, Chixdiggit were probably the last band I thought of. It has the great line “You got me feeling like every year’s a leap year”.
  8. “Sweaty and Hairless”: Like I mentioned, “Sweaty and Hairless” is a song that deals with going out with someone different than oneself. The protagonist, a punker, I assume, seems to go out with a rave girl, like in “Rave Queen”(a gem found on Chixdiggit 2). In the end, he decides that he wants to stop raving and get into Indie Rock and wonders if Third Eye Blind is looking for a bassist. This is also the song where the title of the album comes from. Musically, I’ve always liked the harmonies in the chorus.
  9. “Going to the Peelers?”: So here’s another Pop Punk song about getting dumped, and a great one at that! The protagonist hears “their song” on the jukebox and replaces it with a song that is “a combination of Glen Campbell and Queen”. I had to look through the filthy, shameful edges of the Urban dictionary to find out what “peelers” means, and it turns out it’s a strip club. It’s the one place he knew she wouldn’t be. A really catchy song that I tend to forget in a bundle of catchy tunes.
  10. “Summer Please”: Every Pop Punk album needs a summer anthem, well, every Canadian Pop Punk album, at least! This type of song might be one of my favorite type of songs, when a year (1998 for this song) is mentioned, I’m already sold on the song. There is a chilling nostalgia in this cheery, warm summer song as the narrator looks back on hanging out with Miss Earth day and wanting to revisit that moment in time. A time when everything seemed perfect and even shitty things felt cool (“I hate parades, but I didn’t that day”). The melody is also, probably, the strongest on the album, I absolutely love this track, and it makes me feel like I’m KJ, or whoever the song is about.
  11. “Born in Toulouse”: Before I bought the album, I also thought the name of this song was “Born Toulouse” ( a pun on “Born to Lose”), but as soon as I bought the album, I figured out I was wrong. I always wondered who this song was written about, I figured now was a time to do some research. I’ve come to the conclusion that it must be about Nathalie Perrin from the 90’s, French, Punk band Greedy Guts. The song is KJ showing his admiration for Perrin and perhaps also subtly criticizing the sexism of music journalism (“All the press had to say was that French girls couldn’t rock, but I knew they were wrong about you”). When I think about it, this is a quite geographical album. In “Spanish Fever”, they go to Spain, in “Sweaty and Hairless”, they walk through the English country and in this one KJ travels to the South of France, not bad for a Pop Punk album! Going even further than from sea to shining sea and from scene to shining scene!

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I’m not sure if anyone in Chixdiggit is going to read this shit, but if you do; Please make that Canadian cover album, I would love to hear you cover that Shania Twain song! Or maybe “Bud the Spud”. I remember in 2014, I made some anniversary articles like the 20th for Punk in Drublic, I was too late for the next pick that is …And out Come the Wolves, oh well.

 

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