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The last twelve months have been a hectic time for Chad I Ginsburg. He suddenly found himself in the role of lead singer of his band CKY, after being the guitarist since the band formed in 1998, and then also set out on the ambitious project of not only recording the band’s latest album, The Phoenix but also producing.

On the day that HEAVY catches up with Ginsburg, things are no less stressful. Our interview starts two hours later than scheduled due to the band being held up in a soundcheck – most musicians would have chosen to cancel or re-schedule. Not Ginsburg though, who it turns out is one of the nicest guys in the music industry. He humbly apologises for the lateness, and I can hear the stress in his voice as he does the interview with me while rushing to the next place he needs to be.

With limited time, we jump straight into the interview, and Ginsburg begins with why it was necessary for him to step up to the mic. “The reason is because we had Daniel Davis singing with us, who is the son of Dave Davies, one of the members of The Kinks, step-son of John Carpenter; who is, of course, a film director. Our original singer left in 2011 and then Daniel came in in 2012. We did Soundwave Festival right across Australia with Daniel, and then we did a thing in Canada with Daniel, and we worked on some music with Daniel which was really cool. However, Daniel couldn’t commit to the band, and he had to go and tour with John Carpenter… who has been touring ever since. It’s a really unique show, and I don’t blame him at all. So Daniel said: ‘I don’t think I can do it. Chad, can you?’ and I was like, ‘Can I? Yes. Do I want to? No. But I will!’ So there you have it: twelve months later, and The Phoenix is coming out. We recorded a bunch of tracks and picked eight of them, then we demoed them and hashed them out, went to this super magical studio and cut the record and then worked on it a little after that adding some cool stuff to it. We mixed it, and then here we are today.”

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As I dissect what Ginsburg has just told me, I realised that it sounds like he was hesitant to take over the frontman duties, which he agrees is partially right. “I wasn’t hesitant because I couldn’t sing or anything like that per se. I just had my hands full. I’m the kind of guy that just always imagined myself in the background – the guitar player – I just wanted to be the hot-shit guitar player for a female pop-singer. You know, the pop-singer is singing, then a light goes off at the back, and there’s a guitar player; the light goes off, and it goes back to the song.

“I would have been happy to have been that guitar player in the background, then I got into mixing and producing records, and I’ve been doing that for a lot of bands. And sometimes bands would come in, and they were terrible, but what I could do in the studio is making magic in there, and I could make bands sound better than they were. I liked that because I could kind of hide behind the studio and make things sound cool. I just felt like I had enough responsibility, you know – mixing, producing, playing the guitar, running a lot of the business; it just seemed like it would be another f**king thing to deal with. I’ve written a tonne of songs in the past, but I’ve always hired a singer to sing them in other bands. And on stage, you have a lot more freedom to rock out and do shit like run around the stage. I didn’t want to be tied to a mic stand, but you know what, you make do, and I’m happy with it… it’s a new hobby; it’s not even a hobby, it’s my job. It’s hard to imagine it like that, but it is.”

 

…continued below…

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I guess I was slightly hesitant because people expect one thing, and it’s very hard to change the singer, and I didn’t want to have to put up with any f**king bullshit. But for the music’s sake, for CKY to continue, and for us to see smiling faces every night when we travel around, we get to see the result of not being pussies and sitting around. We get to see what our hard work and dedication to CKY has worked by seeing the people that come to our shows every night.”

Sadly, the first time Ginsburg took the lead man role on stage was at a tragic event. “It was in Cleveland, Ohio,” he explains. “It was a tribute to our good friend, Ryan Dunn (who most people would know from Jackass), and under the circumstances, we were all there for Ryan and his memory. We were all just a bunch of friends thinking about Ryan, with another bunch of people in the room that I believe was doing the same thing. So I didn’t have a lot of time to think about how I felt or whether it was weird or anything, I did it for a different reason – it would have been weird if CKY was asked to do a tribute to Ryan and we said no, so the answer was yes. After the show, I realised what we had just done, and that triggered… some bells rang. Here we are… after that. After the fact, it feels pretty natural – I always did a lot of the talking on the stage… now I’m just doing a lot more of the singing.”

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I guess I was slightly hesitant because people expect one thing, and it’s very hard to change the singer, and I didn’t want to have to put up with any f**king bullshit. But for the music’s sake, for CKY to continue, and for us to see smiling faces every night when we travel around, we get to see the result of not being pussies and sitting around. We get to see what our hard work and dedication to CKY has worked by seeing the people that come to our shows every night.”

Sadly, the first time Ginsburg took the lead man role on stage was at a tragic event. “It was in Cleveland, Ohio,” he explains. “It was a tribute to our good friend, Ryan Dunn (who most people would know from Jackass), and under the circumstances, we were all there for Ryan and his memory. We were all just a bunch of friends thinking about Ryan, with another bunch of people in the room that I believe was doing the same thing. So I didn’t have a lot of time to think about how I felt or whether it was weird or anything, I did it for a different reason – it would have been weird if CKY was asked to do a tribute to Ryan and we said no, so the answer was yes. After the show, I realised what we had just done, and that triggered… some bells rang. Here we are… after that. After the fact, it feels pretty natural – I always did a lot of the talking on the stage… now I’m just doing a lot more of the singing.”

Written by David Griffiths

 

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