The Pennsylvania band CKY, who helped MTV's Jackass find fame with it's masochistic skateboard videos and inane prank calls, has decided to let the music do the talkin' on their third album Infiltrate . Destroy . Rebuild. Kick ass power chords find harmony with the likes of that elusive, but necessary companion - biting lyrics. Are they ready to trade in their skateboards? Not yet, but the allure of writing some pretty good music might help them focus on the future and let the novelty of their past fall by the wayside.
Getting the plumb job of opening up for Guns N' Roses doesn't hurt either. Livewire's Phil Bonyata got to talk with bassist Vern Zaborowski a few nights ago backstage at the Allstate Arena.
Livewire: Where are you guys from?
Vern: Yeah, totally we're all from Pennsylvania. Me, Deron and Chad moved out to Orange County, California, like Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa and than Jess still lives in West Chester with his brother and his parents? Hey, we're about two hours from getting on stage with Guns n' Roses. And then we're getting the f*ck out of Chicago and we're flying home.
Livewire: Why the name CKY or Camp Kill Yourself?
Vern: Well, Deron Miller, singer/songwriter, came up with the name and he's a big horror movie buff. He loves stuff like "Don't Go in the Woods" and loves 'em all and he just came up with Camp Kill Yourself thinking it would be the greatest name for a horror movie. We will make a "Camp Kill Yourself" movie though. We shortened it to CKY because it's a little stronger and people get offended with Camp Kill Yourself.
Livewire: Tell us uninitiated fans about your Jackass connections.
Vern: Jackass was created by Jeff Tremaine, Spike Jones, the video director, and Knoxville and they had an idea of taking existing skate video like Big Brother (Larry Flint's magazine) and the old CKY stuff (which was banned) and other dudes and they said shit we already have existing video, we'll do some new video tapes and I guess we can probably do tons of shows.
Livewire: Were you ever in the show?
Vern: The only ones that were ever in the show were Deron and Jess, me and Chad stayed out of that. Everybody just knows us from Jackass cause they're too stupid to know what the CKY movies are. Hey, guess what, everybody's learning and they're waking up finally. Everything is falling into to place now. The album came out on the 24th, we've been on our own headlining tour since the 14th and we've played like 35 dates. We did shows with skaters and motor cross dudes, like they'd be going over us while we were playing. It was a cool experience.
Livewire: You guys are really big in the skateboarding community. What's it like being a skater in Pennsylvania?
Vern: Yeah, it's all been in West Chester and all of his buddies skated there all in like Love Park and FDR and that's were it all happened and all the CKY movies were filmed there and West Chester is becoming a big amusement park, I guess.
Livewire: What about the CKY movies? Tell me about them.
Vern: CKY movies is pretty much where Jackass came from. All the shopping cart stuff, ya know all of our music is on there. We have tons of music and tons of video in these movies. They've been out forever, we have a box set out - it's the first three movies and a documentary. You can get it at Blockbuster, you can get it a Best Buy. It started out only being available at skate board distribution places, but now it's picked up. Our movies are where it all began.
Livewire: So you plan on making other films?
Vern: Yeah, we're actually doing a DVD album (it's coming out next year). we're doing a video for each song on the album and we've done seven out of 10, so far. Bam, Jess' brother, filmed them all on like 35 mm, and 16 and shit. The "Escape from Hellview" video is a total horror shit. I mean Bam got like boom cranes for the camera to swoop down on us and shit and we did them all ourselves. We funded them ourselves, too.
Livewire: Like the Orson Welles of the skate community.
Vern: Yeah, pretty much we're the Wu Tang of rock, man. Our passion is the music, but we're multimedia, we want to do books, movies, videos. Bam made a movie called Haggard and Tony Hawks is in it. I mean it's a real movie.We're all in it. We're a band called Gnarkill and it's just us in masks, we're just kinda rocking out with masks on and Brandon, he's one of the other CKY crew members and he's done a lot of the phony phone calls and skits on the CKY movies and he's like the lead singer. Chad pretty much wrote all the music for it and it's just Brandon on a microphone, freestyling. It's pretty funny man. It's classic! Haggard will be in theaters by the end of the year. I know CKY 4> is coming out on pay-per-view I think at the end of November or something like that.
Livewire: Describe your new album Infiltrate . Destroy . Rebuild.
Vern: It's pretty much the only album I listen to anymore. It's definitely a huge improvement on the last album, which was more grittier and more dark and the production on this album is amazing. Chad basically mixed and produced the album by himself. Every song is so different from the other. It's 35 minutes of f*ucking passion and f*cking truth and I think it works really well. Every song just flows one into the other and it's pretty much close to a f*cking perfect album.
Livewire: Modest aren't we?
Vern: Actually, I'm not even on the album, so I have an outside perspective, so I can say whatever the f*ck I want. I was still a newbie in the band. The formula for the first album was Deron playing the guitar and bass and you know he wanted to do that. It was faster for him to work that way and he could get what he wanted and I said that's cool with me, man.
Livewire: When did you join the band?
Vern: I joined the band in July of 2000. I was friends with Chad's girlfriend, Gina and it just kinda came up that he needed a bass player, cause he was playin' bass at the time and he didn't want to do that shit, so they asked me and came over to my house and jammed.
Livewire: What music gets your juices flowing?
Vern: Right now, Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Grohl was sick on the album. I mean his drum solos are f*cking sick, man. The Foo Fighters album isn't too bad either - it's f*cking good. We like this band called Ween from Pennsylvania. We're really into them. They mix and match everything like folkie stuff. We like Dillinger Escape Plan - they're a band from New Jersey and they're kind of a grindcore band almost. We played with them on this thing called HellFest - it's this big 104 band festival in Syracuse, New York. We opened for the Misfits. It was three days of rock and we went up right before the Misfits - it was cool as shit.
Livewire: What do you think of The Hives and The Vines?
Vern: Oh, the the bands.
Livewire: The what bands?
Vern: The the bands. They need to the die. They suck c*ck. Well, you know it's old school rock, like I've heard it before...we've all heard it before and it's just in a new form with the in front of it. It sucks and we're sick of it. The Vines are just a total f*cking Nirvana f*ckin' knockoff. The industry is totally looking for the new thing. They think metal is dying out and they're "oh shit what's the next big thing? Oh, I know, my god, rock 'n roll. They find bands that nobody's ever heard of from another country, like Sweden or something, and proclaim it as "Here is rock 'n roll" and people eat it up like the White Stripes, actually that's a little different, they're actually kind of cool. They remind me of the Cramps - they're real minimilistic. The Cramps drummer had like, what a f*cking kick drum and a snare.
Livewire: Do you see rap metal bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn on the way out.
Vern: Yeah, those bands have taken the f-train down to hell. Limp Bizkit, I think everybody has their opinion of Limp Bizkit and ours is pretty much the same as theirs. They're the worst band ever! Ya know, Wes Borland is a smart motherf*cker for getting out of the band. He's actually a buddy of ours. He came and saw us at the Roxy and he was blown away. We plan to do a tour with him and his band Eat the Day pretty soon. It's him and his brother Scott. But Wes is a cool guy. Korn's been around for awhile and pretty much started the thing, but I don't like 'em. They can do what they want I guess. I have no beef with them.
Livewire: CKY has been called the internet's most bootleged and file shared band today. Do you think this is true?
Vern: Uh, it's definitely true cause that's pretty much how our fans found out about CKY because at the time nobody knew who the f*ck we were because we couldn't get on radio. When they heard it on Jackass they would ask who does that shopping cart song? The internet was pretty much how people found out about us which is cool as shit because that's what I did as a kid..somebody would say "hey you should listen to this" and I listened to it and I tried to find out everything I could about that band and every band like it, you know and just keep my ear to the f*cking underground and that's where you find a lot of good music. Sometimes you need a guide and CKY is going to be society's guide in finding new music, hopefully.
Livewire: You have vision.
Vern: Yeah, our fans are totally, ya know 100% loyal. We share a pretty much symbiotic relationship with them. We just exist as almost one being. It's cool they're so hardcore and smart people, man. They had about 60 letters submitted to Rolling Stone because this reviewer gave our new album two stars because he was a hip hop reviewer and they were trying to save some money. Everyone trashed him so bad. Than Rolling Stone gave us a four page story. The story is basically going to be about the CKY Alliance. It should be out within a few issues.
Livewire: How long is it going to be before you're on the cover of Rolling Stone?
Vern: Hopefully never. I don't think I could look at myself on the front of that magazine and not laugh. I don't think we should be on there. I mean I don't like the magazine too much. I'd rather be on Spin or something like that. I mean, could you see it? One week it's Britney Spears on the cover and the next CKY. (laughs) I think we're going to play the shit safe and stay off.
Livewire: How did you snare the opening spot to the Guns N' Roses tour?
Vern: They approached us. It was kind of a long shot. The spot was open and we were just finishing the Tony Hawk thing and they called us and said "Are you guys ready to go to Vancouver? Axl expects you guys to open up." And we were like WHAT? It was kinda...it was baffling. It was very surreal. We didn't know what the f*ck was going on.
Livewire: What's Axl like?
Vern: He's a cool dude man. (laughs) He's so cool he remembered an insignificant story about how I worked at Disneyland. I mean how does he remember this stuff. He told me a story about Buckethead signing the contract in the Haunted Mansion or some shit like that. I think that's Bucket's favorite place. The Bucket worships that place. I worship Bucket and Brain and everybody on this tour is so f*cking good. Axl's got a great f*cking band behind him, like Brain from Primus, Buckethead, Tommy Stinson playing bass from the old f*cking punk band the Replacements, this dude Rich on guitar, he's f*cking awesome and Izzy. Chris Pitman, he's from a lot of bands one of them was a band called the Replicants.
Livewire: Do you guys do a lot of drinking and drugs on tour?
Vern: We usually drink, but we really don't do drugs.
Livewire: Do you do pot?
Vern: You really don't do pot - you smoke it. Yeah, I smoke pot. I don't drink as much as I used to, but my picks say Vern Is Drunk on the back. I got some pretty funny guitar picks.
Livewire: Did you drop out of school?
Vern: Yeah, shit man I was an art school major and I dropped the f*ck out to go on tour with the band...shit, six years later here I am. (laughs)
Livewire: How are you preparing for tonight's show? You know big stadium, GNR, 30,000 people.
Vern: Um, the first time we set foot on this stage I got a little nervous, but I don't get nervous now. It was so weird when you're used to 800 kids right in your face and now you're playin' for people you can't even see. It's f*cking weird. We just hang out, we get on the computer, laugh and do normal shit before a show.
Livewire: No shopping cart stunts?
Vern: (Laughs) Not yet. We'll see.