There's a line in the CKY song "Escape From Hellview" that goes, "I'm on the loose with my neck in the noose/ But hey, I enjoy the intense." So when they picked up cameras to shoot a video for the tune, they decided it would be cool to hang guitarist Chad Ginsburg from a tree. It almost became the last stunt Ginsburg would ever pull.
Since the grass-roots band self-financed the shoot on a meager budget, the only stunt coordinator they could afford turned out to be unqualified. The harness he tied around Ginsburg wasn't secure enough, and the guitarist almost died.
"I hung there for close to a minute," Ginsburg said. "I passed out 10 seconds in, but they didn't know until my body was flailing. I never came that close to dying. If you want to see that footage, it's gonna be on the next DVD that we release."
Most bands probably wouldn't release footage of one of its members almost getting snuffed, but CKY, who have shot six new music videos in the past year, are a different breed. Drummer Jess Margera's professional skateboarder brother Bam starred in the original "Jackass" episodes, Jess has been seen on the show on numerous occasions — most notably rolling down steep hills in a shopping cart — and the band's music has been featured prominently in both the series and the upcoming movie. However, as much as the name association has helped CKY, it has also painted them into a corner.
"We're not really part of the 'Jackass' crew," Ginsburg groaned. "The band doesn't go out and play concerts and fall off the stage on purpose because it's funny. You're not gonna find me up there with a stapler."
The "Jackass" label hasn't just been creatively stifling, it has also made it more difficult for CKY to book shows.
"Bands we're booked with and club owners are always freaked out," Ginsburg said. "They think we're gonna [urinate] in their deli trays and all types of sh--. We're banned from Philadelphia right now because when we were there somebody got too drunk and tried to impress us by throwing a bottle through some lady's window, and we got blamed for it. Everyone was like, 'Oh, the "Jackass" guys must've broken the window.' But it wasn't us."
It's not easy for a band like CKY to escape the frustrations of the labeling factory, but with their upcoming album, Infiltrate.Destroy.Rebuild, they might just break free. Unlike their two independently released albums CKY 1 and CKY 2, which both sounded like what they were — soundtrack music for skateboard movies — the new album stands on its own without visual augmentation. From song to song, the band experiments with various styles including metal, new wave and power pop, and while many of the choruses soar and sail, the music is undeniably heavy.
"Basically, CKY has got slowed down death metal riffs that are more melodic than death metal," Ginsburg said. "But the beat is not a metal beat, so it kills the death metal right away. And then we work in the vocal melodies, which is a whole 'nother section of what we're about."
The music of CKY sounds so intense and impassioned because for them music isn't just a vehicle for entertainment and expression, it's a vehicle to revolution. Ginsburg is fascinated with cult leaders like Jim Jones and Charles Manson, and one of his biggest role models is GG Allin, a controversial bandleader who defecated and masturbated onstage and attacked his own audiences before he died of a heroin overdose in 1993.
"Making videos, movies and music is a lot of work, but it's definitely worth it because it's gonna lead to a noticeable change that we've all been waiting for," Ginsburg said. "I can't afford to be a Hives fan. I don't have the designers to design my clothes to go to the shows. I don't know where the cool vintage shops are to be a Strokes fan. It's hard to buy into those bands right now. So we're gonna provide an alternative to that and shake things up and tear things down. We'll give people nothing but the best, and we could be their favorite rock and roll band for like the next 15 years."