Interview: Jess Margera of CKY

Once upon a time, CKY burned it all down, with a raucous, anarchic, hard rock sound soaked in the skate-punk culture that birthed them and a hard-partying lifestyle onstage and off that decimated relationships and reputations in its wake. Now, CKY rises from the ashes of the aftermath with The Phoenix, a bold mission statement that hoists the flag high for big, raw, authentic, earth shaking rock n’ roll, liberated from useless pretense. We spoke with founding member and longtime drummer, Jess Margera, about the new album, going on hiatus, touring Australia and more.

Congratulations on the new album, The Phoenix, it's been a long time coming. Does it feel good to finally get new material out there for the CKY fans and yourselves?

Yeah absolutely, we've been itching to get new music out there. We took the last couple of years off to recharge the batteries so to speak and it really helped us to get back into good spirits and to make a good rock record.

So now that CKY is back and better than ever, is there a feeling amongst the band that you're all at your most comfortable and most stable as a band?

Yeah it's a thousand percent better than how we were a few years ago, we just toured England and Scotland and now we're here in Canada, doing a sold out show in Calgary. It's just awesome, our expectations have been blown away and the fact that people still remember us from like 8 years ago before shit hit the fan, it's nice to see that people still care about us.

Does the title of the new album hold in particular significance or meaning, perhaps like how CKY have risen from the ashes after almost dying, just like how a Phoenix would?

Yeah, we recorded the album out in the desert and it kind of made sense, because CKY died for a while there and we had to sort of rebirth the band, similar to a phoenix, metaphorically it just made sense and it was the perfect title for the album.

What was the writing and recording process like after having an 8 year gap between releases?

Well for the first the time in years we hashed out all the songs and planned it properly instead of heading into the studio and putting pieces together. That kind of process can be hit and miss, sometimes you get lucky but a lot of the time you sit there and things can become a bit stagnant and it can sound very cut and paste. But these new songs came about effortlessly in the jam room, we would just jam together for hours and it almost took no thought and things just started coming out naturally. By the time we hit the studio we were more than prepared and that's the best way to make a record I think.

You've been playing a few live shows lately as you've already mentioned. What's it been like playing your new and old material for the fans? Has it been super fun interacting with your fans once again?

Yeah, that's another thing about doing a record, it translates live way better. Some of the Carver City stuff for instance, we played live and the crowd would just look at you like a dog that's just been shown a card trick or something. It's really great to be playing these new songs that have been coming out for the past few weeks, people already know the songs and they're way into it. It's such a big change from the last record, for the better.

Are you guys looking forward to getting back to Australia at some stage? Is there anything already in the works that you may know of?

We're itching to get back down there, we're definitely making moves to hopefully get back to Australia sooner than later, it's been way too long.

A nice little headline tour would be nice to see...

Absolutely, we're definitely aiming for that right now.

Do you have any memories from the last time you guys were here for Soundwave in 2014?

That was such a fun tour. Mastodon was there and that's where we met Brent Hinds who was nice enough to do a face-melting solo on the track 'Self Destruction' which is on the new record. It's just Chad and Brent trading off solos and it's just pure mayhem. But yeah, Soundwave was a whole lot of fun, they're not doing that festival anymore are they?

No, it got cancelled unfortunately due to some financial issues which we probably shouldn't go into right now (laughs) but let's just say the promoter owes a lot of bands a lot of money.

Yeah that's a bummer, because we had a blast and so did everyone else from what I can remember. It was like a big party every day and there was no drama and no negativity. It's a shame that it got cancelled.

Congratulations also on landing the 'Most Anticipated Release' over at Loudwire for the month of June. You came out on top over some huge names like Nickelback and Stone Sour. That must have been a good feeling right?

Oh yeah, we were ecstatic when we found that out. Big time! We still can't really believe it to be perfectly honest.

What do you think the future holds for CKY? Is the future looking bright?

Yeah, I mean we're really looking forward to touring our butts off and getting to countries that we've never been before and making new music, we've already got new songs on the cards. We're going to stay busy and the long break is over. We took a long break from the places that we used to tour pretty regularly, so we definitely need to get back to all of those places again. We want to play in countries like France and Spain, those are a couple of places that we haven't played before actually.

Is there a certain song from the new album that you're really excited about playing live?

Head For A Breakdown. It's one of my favourite parts of the night when we play that one. It always gets such a great response and it's a feel good song, it's something that plays itself and it just flows amazingly. The crowd really digs it.

Did you have any words for your fans here in Australia before you head off?

We'll be down there soon. I miss all of you guys. I miss Coopers beer. I can't wait to get back there and have a few pints with all of you Aussies. Enjoy the new album and see you soon.

The Phoenix is out now via eOne Music. You can purchase on iTunes and stream on Spotify.

Written by Steve Jenkins

Watch the official music video for the track 'Days Of Self Destruction' below:

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