Arts and Culture

STRANGELY STRANGE: The Mr. Chi Pig Story

Updated: Jul 20, 2022 21:57
The Bay's best newsletter for underground events & news

BY SALEM BLACK

Kendall “Mr. Chi Pig” Chinn was a hell of a dude. Punk Rocker, skate boarder, visual artist, singer/songwriter, and most of all, greatly loved around the world. Something about the power that he brought to the stage, the crazy antics, if you saw Chi at a show, you knew there was going to be a story to bring home.

Ken grew up with a big family, being born in Edmonton, Alberta, in 1962 as the 11th child out of 12. 6 sisters, 5 brothers, (and I thought two sisters was tough!). Circa 10 years old, Chi took up the sport of skateboarding with one of his brothers. Building ramps and scoping for slopes, skateboarding became a huge part of his life!

SNFU started in 1981 with twin guitarists “The Belke Twins”, Drummer Evan “TadPole” Jones, and Ken, who took the mantle, Chi Pig. having released their initial album “. . . And No One Else Wanted to Play”. The album had to create a variant of the art due to legal issues with the photo used for the cover art. Once SNFU’s second album “If you Swear, You’ll Catch No Fish” had been released. Chi and the band toured extensively. SNFU then signed a 2-record deal with Cargo Records and released “Better Than A Stick in The Eye”.

One specific show changed everything. While Ken was headbanging, he knocked skulls with a kid and fractured his skull. Ken’s mental health started to deteriorate. Despite Chi’s mental health issues, SNFU was signed for two more albums on Cargo Records. Touring greatly into 1989 throughout North America and Europe, life on the road began to divide Chi from his bandmates.

SNFU had broken up after asking Chi to leave, and soon after Chi took off to Vancouver. Quitting drinking for 16 years and came out as openly gay. Once in Vancouver, Chi got involved in the gay community and found a new addiction that was rampant in the community, Crystal Meth. Many friends became concerned about Chi’s substance abuse issues.

Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys had said: “I had no idea Chi had fallen into any kind of substance abuse until their old manager told me a couple years ago and I almost broke down and cried. It was so unexpected and so not the Chi I know. I never would have believed that. I don’t know, maybe he would have a beer or two or something when I knew him and when they came through and stayed with me when we played together. I never saw any hint of addiction or substance abuse whatsoever.”

In 1990, Chi had needed to keep busy and formed “The Wongs” and released one EP. A year later in 1991, to complete the 2-record deal, SNFU released “Last of The Big Time Suspenders”.

The Belke twins moved to Vancouver, and SNFU was reborn! In 1993, SNFU signed to one of the biggest independent record labels “Epitaph Records” for a 3-record deal! Shortly after the release of SNFU’s “Something Green and Leafy Comes This Way”, Chi’s mother passed away. This brought a very heavy hit towards Chi’s mental health.

Chi was chaotic, bizarre behaviour and a continuation of self-medication with street drugs began. Chi, however, was able to come out of his depression and SNFU released the two remaining albums in their contract.

“The One Voted Most likely to succeed” in 1995 and “FYULABA” in 1996. Then on Marc Belke’s Rake Records they released “Let’s Get It Right the First Time”. Chi’s mental health started to take another dip, and SNFU was on a hiatus with Marc Belke moving to Toronto. With Chi not with SNFU he had started a new band titled “SLAVECO”.

During this hiatus, Marc Belke continued writing music and convinced Chi to come back to SNFU. This resulted in 2005’s “In the Meantime and In-between Time”. A record that lyrically spoke highly of Chi’s health and addiction. This took Chi roughly 5 years to finish writing.

The song “Cockatoo Quill” reflected on Chi’s state at the time, where he had sold almost all his possessions to get by. Only having a cockatoo quill that he hadn’t sold, yet.

Marc Belke had ultimately decided to leave after the following tour for the album. This combined with Chi’s addiction and mental state, created a lot of tension. Soon, Chi found himself living on the streets, selling his visual art, bar-to-bar. With the condition of his teeth due to the crystal meth, he continued to self-medicate with various drugs.

At one point, Chi became heavily suicidal. He had walked to a nearby train with the thoughts of throwing himself in front of a passing train. On the way, he stopped to a police officer and asked for help. The officer got him an ambulance where he spent time at a hospital. Chi had gotten onto medication and checked himself into “The Hampton”. a residence that helps people with mental disorders, get their life back together. Chi was now starting to take medication.

Coming out of solitude Chi began to frequent Vancouver’s Punk Rock bar, “The Cobalt”. Finding family with staff and patrons. Social interactions helped Chi in a very big way.

Bar manager Wendythirteen offered Chi a job as a bus boy to keep him busy and out of trouble. He would also sit down and draw, selling his art at the Cobalt. Positive energy from the fans at The Cobalt brought Chi into doing an SNFU show to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the band. Where he contacted ex-members of the band to come and play. SNFU started back up once again regardless. The success of the 25th anniversary led to SNFU’s show for Chi’s 45th birthday.

Once Chi started getting back on stage more frequently, Chi’s substance abuse, lessoned more and more! (Good job Chi!). Western touring for the first time, created a lot of noise in the spring of 2008.

The success of the small Canadian tour and Chi’s love for the band. Brought SNFU to their first trip out of Canada in seven years. Making their first appearance in Costa Rica. Touring and coming back to life, SNFU came out with “Never Trouble Trouble, until Trouble Troubles You” in 2013 and brought back yet another tour. This is the tour that I had been able to catch in Ottawa, Canada. I was nose over tail in excitement! I remember arriving at the venue and seeing several different friends and I knew I was prepared for a great time. SNFU played with Flying Fortress and AB-Irato for the local record store “Vertigo Records” Tenth Anniversary.

I briefly met Chi for only a few moments. I found him not far off from the stage before they went on. He was having a bit of issues pulling his blue jacket over his head. I came over and gave him a hand. When I handed the jacket to him, he simply looked at me a little blankly, nodded his thanks and left. It was odd, but not the oddest thing that happened at the show that night… on a side note, speaking of odd. I somehow ended up with a 45 from Flying Fortress in my backpack. My bag was by its lonesome in the same place I put it every show, and I had no cash to pay for it… I’m still a little lost on that one but if it was one of the band members, it’s a hell of a way to promote your band!

ANYWAYS, BACK TO THE STORY!

SNFU gets up on the stage, and I am super excited. I’m in genuine disbelief that I’m finally seeing SNFU live in concert. The band is playing, and I am glued to the front of the stage.  Smack up, right in the center, looking up at CHI FUCKING PIG! I was singing along, looking over at buddies beside me and the odd friend who wound up beside me from being in the slampit. This was the peak of my night. Then the most miraculously odd thing occurred!

Chi Pig, Mid-song, bent down, looked me in the eyes, grabbed me by the face, and gave me a big ol’ smooch!

MWAH!

Needless to say, I was stunned and slightly taken off guard, but it’s a memory that I cherish and brag about simply for its oddity. I later learned that Chi likes to give kisses to show his appreciation. How Sweet! Funny too since at that show I was the only one to get kissed (at least while he was on stage) Once the show ended, one of the greatest moments started. Chi got back on the stage, mic in hand and started singing Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”. It was a sight to behold.

I left that show with the show poster, my ticket, and a completely new vision on a band I love, and a man I

truly adore. It was the first and last time I had the fortune of seeing them life.

After many years, everything began to slow down a bit for Chi Pig. In 2020, Chi’s health was in tatters and was a growing concern for many. At the age of 57, Chi was brought to the hospital, and eventually fell into a coma. The heartbreaking day of July 16th, 2020 had hit, and Chi had passed away.

The next day, as per Chi’s request, SNFU released their final song. This song was entitled “Cement Mixer (To All My Beautiful Friends). This was Chi’s last recorded song, knowing that his health was failing him, it was his last goodbye and wishes. His way to tell his friends, family, and fans, that he loved them all so much and appreciated that he was able to have them in his life.

Rest In Peace Ken “Mr. Chi Pig” Chinn 1962 -2020

Like this article? Make sure to sign up for our mailing list so you never miss a goddamn thing!
Previous post

4 Things That Will Straight Up Piss Your Server Off

Next post

Feminist punks raged against the Supreme Court at Oakland’s Mosswood Meltdown


Guest Writer

Guest Writer

We write for busboys, poets, social workers, students, artists, musicians, magicians, mathematicians, maniacs, yodelers and everyone else out there who wants to enjoy life not as a rich person, but as a real person. Namely, we write for you.

We’re currently looking to expand our author pool. If you’re snarky, know what’s happening in your town, and good at making your fingers type out funny words, then you might be just the person we’re looking for. Email alex@brokeassstuart.com with some writing samples if you're interested. Cheers

No Comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.