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Scared Of Chaka | Crossing with Switchblades | review | garage | rock | Lollipop
Scared Of Chaka
Crossing with Switchblades (Hopeless)
An interview with the band
by Jon Sarre
If ya like yer rock'n'roll loud, raw and messy, but still don't mind the occasional Blondie or Zombies nod, then you've probably already checked out Scared of Chaka's screaming out-of-breath fury. If this is new news to ya, then get on it and seek out their new Hopeless release, Crossing With Switchblades, and then see the boys on tour. Ya better hurry, tho' cuz this is it, last record, last road trip, so get on it already, don't miss the fuggin' bus on this.
It'd been a while since I last ran into Ron and Dave, the principal Chaka guys. I suggested we meet over at our mutual friend Mick Altamont's little eating and drinking establishment for a little of both. Mick fixed up cheeseburgers with green chilies and poured us pints of cheap beer and we yammered back and forth about the new album, their fairly recent relocation outta New Mexico, Ron's even more recent act of heroism, travelers tips if stranded in Albuquerque, bands that dress like clowns and whatever else the tape happened to pick up.
Dave and Mick jaw about Seattle, Dave's home at the moment. Ron makes fun of my tape recorder. The fashion punk rocker who books the club next door shows up. Dave gives him a biiiggg smile. He doesn't reciprocate. He walks away.
Dave: That guy hates us cuz the last two times we were supposed to play there, we didn't.
He hates everyone.
Ron: [Deadpan] Smash the state. Whatever that is. We called like a month before and canceled, then I see like the day before we were supposed to play that we had a show Friday night. I called him and told him and he said no one called. The second time, that was when the bass player quit.
See, it wasn't like when you guys called me two days before you got to town and said you wanted a show. I even paid you a hundred bucks, remember that? Then I threw glasses at you.
Dave: Oh yeah!
Ron: That was fun, you and Mike threw glasses at my head.
You got free tequila.
Dave: You think it's free, but everything has a price...
Ron: Yeah, people throw glasses at your head.
Dave: I loved that. I was dodging those glasses!
It was funny, cuz the bartender was like, "I'm not gonna give you any more whiskey if you keep throwing the glasses at the band." Not, "I won't give you more whiskey" or "don't throw shit at the band." Just, "Stop throwing glasses." You got paid, right? The band you played with drove down from Seattle and only got cheeseburgers. So why'd you guys move outta Albuquerque anyway?
Dave: There was like this mass exodus happening. Everyone was leaving.
It wasn't due to any legal difficulties, was it?
Dave: No, we just needed a change.
Child support? Statutory rape charges?
Ron: There was that one arson thing...
Dave: Seven arrests, but no convictions!
Ron: I was a fucking hero yesterday! I put out a fire!
So there really was a fire? On the phone you were like, "Holy shit! I think the neighbor's house is on fire!"
Ron: Yeah, like "Uh, I think the neighbor's house is burning down."
Dave: Yeah, like "How's it goin'?"
Ron: Yeah, "I think there's a fire, can ya hang on? Yup, it's burning. So anyway, how ya doin'?
"So Dave's gonna show up..."
Ron: So I walked over there and the neighbors are just watchin' the fire and I'm like, "Don't you guys have a hose?" They were like, "Uh, we've already called the fire department." I said, "Just get a hose!" So I'm like watering the fire and there's a big fat guy standing next to me with a can of Hamms.
Dave: Yeah, his hillbilly neighbor.
Ron: It musta been the perfect photo op; this fat guy like...
Dave: "You gotta hit it at the base!"
Ron: Then all of a sudden, these two fire engines show up and all these firemen came out and I'm like, "I got it all under control!"
"Nothing to see here."
Ron: Then they break out the axes and start breakin' shit! The fire was already out and they just take it upon themselves to destroy this guy's house.
Dave: They came all that way and there's nothing to do.
Ron: They're like trying to kick the door in, but it won't open so they're like, "Bring the ax!"
Dave: There's like an old man in there cookin' eggs or somethin, like, "Hey!"
So did you figure out the cause of the fire?
Dave: They were playin' Scared of Chaka too loud! Owwwww!
Ron: I would assume it was the landlord tryin' to get the insurance.
So did you guys get the record all done?
Ron: Didn't you get a copy of it?
Nah, no one sends me shit.
Ron: Darren said you got one.
The magazine probably did. He was gonna send me a Turbonegro tribute.
Dave: We just got that in the mail. Good shit.
It seems like a weird thing to do, but there was also a cover band here for a while. More power to 'em.
Ron: There's one in every town.
I don't quite understand that.
Dave: What the Turbonegro... uh...
I never thought they were that incredible...
Dave: They are! You hadta've seen 'em live! It was just an amazing experience, like arena rock in a small club, like really tongue-in-cheek, but some people didn't understand that it was tongue-in-cheek.
Norwegian humor's kinda hard to decipher.
Ron: I dunno, I think Turbonegro were very important for their time and place and at their peak, they broke up.
Now Euroboy is doin' this porno-lounge thing...
Ron: I've been lookin' for that...
Dave: It's like mood music.
Like airport waiting room music. It's kinda weird. I had some CDs but I think I sold 'em... As I will do with that new Scared of Chaka CD as soon as I get it!
Dave: Bargain bin!
Ron: That'll fetch you at least two dollars.
Dave: You can buy a beer with that shit.
What are ya gonna do? Ya gotta make money somehow. I certainly won't make any off this interview.
Dave: That's a fact!
Twenty bucks, babeee! I don't do this for the money.
Ron: You do it for the chicks.
Cuz writers get all the chicks!
Dave: Oh yeah! But, we're real happy with the new record. I think it's like the only record I've ever been like 100% about this far along after the recording.
This is like four now?
Ron: Seven. The seventh and final record I should add.
This is the last record? Why's that?
Dave: Once you've got this good? It's like climbing Everest.
Got sick of kicking a dead horse?
Ron: Some people say to me, "God, you guys should've broken up like six years ago," and then the other argument is we're teetering on the fence of being this prolific underground rock band that's released X number of records... but we've been doin' it for long enough. This is the last record for Hopeless.
You guys gonna go out with this at all?
Dave: Oh yeah.
Where ya goin'?
Dave: We're gonna do a West Coast swing then across to Texas and back. September, we're gonna do a month-long US tour, a few shows in Canada, CMJ in New York.
Viva said not to call her for a place to stay in New York.
Ron: People we know in New York have the shittiest, rankest, most broken down places I've ever seen.
Dave: But it's easy to get away with murder there, artistically and musically. You can put something out that you don't really believe in, but if you have the gift of gab and are connected with the right people...
Here's a bit different, cuz there's really no one who can do anything for you... Are you guys gonna play Albuquerque on this Texas stretch?
Dave: We're actually doing a CD release party there.
What kinda response do you get in your hometown, now that you're in exile?
Ron: We've only played out there one time since we moved away and I thought it was gonna be real shoddy, cuz we were comin' back from South-by-Southwest and it was a Monday, but we turned the place out and I was actually surprised that anyone would give two shits about us. Everyone we used to hang out with had moved out.
That seems like a tough place to live. I mean I lived in Santa Fe briefly, couldn't stand it, and growing up there?
Dave: All you do there is just learn how to write music cuz there's nothing to do.
That's sorta what I found, that and smoke pot, watch TeeVee and go to someone's house party.
Ron: And hope someone doesn't show up and shoot you or stab you.
Does that happen a lot?
Ron: It depends.
Dave: It's a pretty violent place.
Mick was givin' some kid advice yesterday, the guy was goin' to Albuquerque and he was tellin' him, "Okay, whatever you do, don't make eye contact with anyone and when you leave a bar, watch your ass!" Do you guys have any more advice, for the traveler?
Ron: You do what Dave does... He walks out of the bar at 2:30 and tackles the first mailbox he sees, the first newspaper dispensary you see, you just kick the shit out of it. Nobody will fuck with you after that.
Dave: They say, "Goddamn! Did you see what that guy just did? Did you see him smack that thing around?"
Ron: "We better not mess with that guy!"
Just fuck up the first inanimate object you see...
Dave: You grow up there, you grow eyes in the back of your head. Then you come up here and you go to certain neighborhoods and it's like, "Don't go there," but then you do and it's nothing!
Ron: The thing is, ya walk down the street here and not only do you make eye contact, but people say, "Hi."
Dave: That's kinda cool. Seattle's like slightly more violent than Portland.
The weird thing about this place is you get out in the suburbs, you're like, "This is fucking scary!" Hillbillies! Drive a half hour South sometime.
Ron: No thanks!
Dave: Livin' in Seattle, I miss Portland, but I like maintaining a presence in both towns. This may seem shitty and frat boy, but I miss all the strip clubs here.
Dave: Full nudity. It's great, you can drink beer. It's hot!
[Conversation veers off into a sorta "What's cool in pop culture" ditch]
I think a lota people just don't like music.
Dave: That's also true.
Ron: Yeah, people are idiots. They're just like, "Okay, if you're telling me this is cool, uh, okay, it must be cool."
Dave: I have a little cousin in Albuquerque and he's really into the band and he's like twelve or thirteen. So I go to his house and I like check out his other CDs, he's got like Limp Bizkit and... what are those clowns...?
The Insane Clown Posse?
Dave: No, the metal ones.
Dave: No, the other ones.
Ron: Mudvayne... Cosmic Space...
Dave: Yeah, there's like a whole genre of like these bizarre anger rage rap metal bands and they have costumes... and I ask my little cousin, why do you like us?
Cuz he knows you.
Dave: But there's more to it than that, cuz I'm sure there's lotsa kids that like a certain band cuz they're similar to another band he's told to like. The loud angry music we play occasionally, he draws that to Limp Bizkit. I can't lay out to this little kid about how I came to the Ramones, like go through this fifteen year story about how we came to this level? He's not gonna understand it.
Ron: It's about time for another overthrow. This boy and girl band thing, how long can it last? It's due to end.
Dave: But a band like us, we don't fit in anywhere, like we have pop stuff, hardcore stuff, like when we were looking for a bass player, people came over [to audition] and they thought we were an emo band.
What is emo anyway? [Mick comes over for a break] What do you think?
Mick: We should do shots.
Ron: This interview? Boring!
Mick: Let's loosen this up a bit!
Ron: What time is it?
Dave: It's tequila time!
Ron: I think we've got like ten minutes for the meter. Do you have some quarters?
Ron spare changes me... after the free lunch! Hope you deadbeats brought some money!
[shots arrive, glasses clink]
Any closing comments?
Dave: That was a fucking burger! The best of Portland and the best of New Mexico in one!
Mick: Don't misspell my name, Johnny!
Dave: You got any, Ron?
Did ya get your spare change?
Ron: Yeah, but can I have a ride home?
(PO Box 7495 Van Nuys, CA 91409)