CKY’s Chad I Ginsburg recalls the 2002 Guns N’ Roses riot in Vancouver



By Steve Newton

The last time Philadelphia hard-rockers CKY were set to play Vancouver, they were just minutes from warming up for Guns N’ Roses at GM Place on November 7, 2002. Then dedicated shit-disturber Axl Rose pulled his unpopular no-show trick. Glass shattered, batons swung, teeth flew, and local TV crews scored violent evening-news fodder for weeks to come.

As CKY guitarist Chad I Ginsburg recalls from an L.A. hotel room, it was a scary experience.

“Five minutes before the show it was like: ‘Axl cancelled, he’s not showin’ up.’ Then the riot just started, and we were like, ‘Oh shit!’ By the time we were alerted and able to get back on our bus, they [the angry fans] didn’t know whose buses were whose, and they were rioting at our bus as well. I mean, you gotta know that the cheap bus isn’t Guns N’ Roses, but they were throwin’ bottles and stuff, and our techs were terrified to load the trailer.”
Ginsburg had been warned about Rose’s volatile and unpredictable temperament-“Everybody said, ‘Stay away from Axl, you’re gonna get yourself thrown off the tour’?”-but the two still became strip club-going companions on the road. The relationship ended abruptly when the tour was halted by another Rose-related riot, this time at a sold-out gig in CKY’s Philly hometown.
“They destroyed everything,” notes Ginsburg, although his casual tone makes it sound like he’s familiar with how hard-core fans react when provoked. And well he should. CKY-which headlines an all-ages show at the Croatian Cultural Centre on Monday (August 15)-boasts an intense following known as the Alliance, a quarter-million-strong group of fans who hang on the band’s every word and defend it to the extreme.

When a Rolling Stone reviewer had the gall to slag CKY and give its 2002 CD, Infiltrate-Destroy-Rebuild, a lowly one-star rating, a campaign of terror from the Alliance caused the group to be permanently banned from the glossy pop-culture mag.

“The writer ended up fearing for her life,” explains Ginsburg. “Not due to any instructions by us, it’s just people take it pretty personally when other people aren’t doin’ their jobs. Weird things have happened, like people have gotten pushed in front of buses and nearly killed because of things they’ve said on air or in print about CKY. It’s not necessarily cool, but these kids are sick and tired of people who are half-assed in their jobs.”

Although I make it abundantly clear to the 33-year-old rocker that I really do like CKY-at least from what I’ve heard of the band’s new CD, the Ginsburg-produced An Answer Can Be Found-some of the rage affiliated with his group surges through on the line from L.A. Thankfully, it’s not directed at me. While chatting on his hotel balcony, Ginsburg spots his roadie strolling off down the street.

“Yo, where you jerks goin’?” he hollers, not impressed. “Not you guys-you! Where are you goin’? Where? You’re just gonna split out? Who’s supposed to move the room, me? I fuckin’ hired your ass! All right; fuck you. See ya!”

Turns out the ticked-off Ginsburg has to transfer all his belongings to another room, and he’s not getting any help from the guy who normally lugs his guitars and amps around. That dude’s off on a more pressing errand: finding drummer Jess Margera some replacements for his broken cymbals, which, according to Ginsburg, get seriously trashed every night. There’s that aggro element again.

“We’re pretty angry,” admits the guitarist, “but hopefully it’s got some comedic relief to it all, and some positive potential. As far as what we write about, and what the Alliance gets their strength from, it’s just a simple message of finding your idea of your best and bein’ that. They’ve kind of found that message in everything CKY does.”

A righteously pissed-off vibe has always been part of the hard-rock experience, but it’s gotten to the point where, nowadays, four out of five metal acts sport lung-busting, indecipherable screamers instead of actual singers. Ginsburg claims that CKY frontman Deron Miller listens nonstop to death metal, although you can’t tell from Miller’s relatively subdued mike attack. I’m thankful that CKY’s vocal style doesn’t feature the type of incoherent, demonic caterwauling common to half of the bands that record for Victory Records.

“I appreciate that I’m in a band that doesn’t want to do that,” notes Ginsburg, before offering a quick imitation of the jugular-bulging approach: “You liiieeed!” he bellows. “Whyyyy?! I criiieeed! I mean, if it ain’t got melody, I’m not really that interested. With every CKY record, within the guitar riffs, there’s so much melody goin’ on that sometimes people miss it.”

in & out…

Chad I Ginsburg sounds off on the things that enquiring minds want to know.

On getting banned from coverage in Rolling Stone magazine:“These big publications love to get in these battles with us ’cause they get a huge amount of attention from our fans. Well, we got banned from Rolling Stone for life, which means we’re banned from them talkin’ crap on us. Big fuckin’ deal! We got banned fromKerrang! too.”

On “breaking his ass” in Chicago:“I was just tryin’ to talk to some fans who were far away from me, and I tried scaling the side of a wall, and fell about 30 feet. Enough feet to be able to go, ‘I’m falling! Noooo!?‘ I positioned myself well enough to land on my ass, but shittin’ was no fun after that.”

On the music he listens to in his spare time:“My time is never spare, but I listen to Ween. And I’ve always been a big fan of [notorious underground freak-rocker] G.G. Allin. I reunited his old band, the Murder Junkies, got them back together. I don’t know if he ever made it to Vancouver, but that’s something that can’t really be matched or topped, and I hope nobody ever tries.”

On whether his band’s riff-based music would be classified as stoner rock:“It’s just CKY. I don’t even know what stoner rock is. I guess you gotta get stoned? From what I hear about Vancouver, maybe that night will be stoner rock.”

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