Stoner Rock Icons CKY Embrace Their Rebirth as a Trio

Almost a full two decades after first rocking their way into ears and hearts around the world, CKY is back to melt some more faces and piss off some more parents with their signature take on stoner rock that metalheads and punk rockers alike can appreciate. Following the release of June’s The Phoenix — the band’s first record since 2009’s Carver City — the quartet-turned-trio landed back on the radars of fans and critics everywhere after having spent the last handful of years in an uncertain state of musical purgatory.

“We took a seven year break or whatever and just fucked off for a while, and it’s cool to see that people still want to hear us play,” says drummer Jesse Margera. “You don’t know how people are going to react after that amount of time, but people have been checking out the new record and the shows on this tour have been good, so I’m not sure there’s anything else I can ask for.”

Along with founding guitarist Chad Ginsburg and longtime bassist Matt Deis (who also performed with All That Remains before joining CKY), the trimmed down lineup wasn’t exactly trying to replicate their previous albums when recording The Phoenix earlier this year. Rather than attempting to replace vocalist Deron Miller after his 2011 departure, the band was happy to take things a slightly different direction and allow Ginsburg to take over lead singer responsibilities while keeping the music true to what their fans love and expect. With the help of a famous recording studio in the middle of the desert, the power trio obtained just that with their latest tunes.

“We went to Rancho De La Luna because we’re fans of that whole scene with Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age and all that,” Margera says. “It was a blast making the album. We were trying to make it sound like if Quincy Jones went into the Kyuss studio and made a record. It’s a pretty good blend of old school R&B Stevie Wonder shit and stoner rock.”

On the band’s current tour — which spends the next two days at the Wiltern in LA before swinging down to the House of Blues in Anaheim — they’ll finally get the chance to perform with a group they’ve been connected with for well over a decade despite sounding starkly different. As the featured American act on HIM’s farewell tour, the CKY crew will be sharing a stage with the Finnish metal band Margera’s brother (professional skateboarder and MTV star Bam Margera) helped bring to the American mainstream by plastering their heartagram logo on every imaginable surface through the mid-2000s.

“It’s pretty rad to be playing with HIM, because people have been wanting us to tour with them for ages,” Margera says. “For whatever reason, it never worked out before, but this is like their farewell tour so we absolutely couldn’t say no to it this time. Bam has always been friends with them, so we’d always hang out with those guys whenever they were in the States or whenever we were in Finland. They’ve become really good friends of ours over the years, so it’s pretty cool to finally be able to do shows with them. It’s a bummer to see them break up, but they’ve been a band for like 25 years or something.”

But as much as reality TV may have helped HIM reach an audience outside of their homeland, their musical contributions to Bam’s various televised projects — which began with a series of videos called CKY as a precursor to Jackass — also launched the now-iconic stoner rockers into a unique position when they were first getting started in the late ‘90s and early 2000s.

“We had a video on MTV before we even had an album in stores, which was pretty frustrating,” Margera says. “It’s funny to gather a fan base without the music industry’s help. That doesn’t happen very often, so it kind of gave us some room to negotiate a good record deal. They saw that we sold a ton of albums not even in record stores, but in surf shops and skate shops. All of the record labels were like ‘How the hell did you guys do this?’ so we got a ton of meetings with a million different labels. Now we’re on Snoop Dogg’s label, and how do you turn that down?”

CKY will be at the House of Blues in Anaheim on October 26 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are sold out.

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