Ken Chinn performing with SNFU at the Starlite Room in Edmonton
|Birth name||Kendall Stephen Chinn|
|Also known as||Mr. Chi Pig|
October 19, 1962 |
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
|Associated acts||Live Sex Shows, SNFU, The Wongs, Little Joe, Slaveco., DNFU|
Kendall Stephen "Ken" Chinn (born October 19, 1962) is a Canadian punk rock lead vocalist and artist. He is best known, under the pseudonym Mr. Chi Pig, as the lead singer of the band SNFU. He currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Early life and career
Born to German and Chinese parents in Edmonton, Alberta, Chinn was the second youngest of twelve children. His early life entailed traumatic episodes related to his unstable family, including manifestations of what would later be diagnosed as schizophrenia. Despite this, he remained close to his siblings and parents, who were important influences. As a teenager, he developed interests in punk rock, skateboarding and art.
In 1981, Chinn formed the punk rock band Live Sex Shows with Marc and Brent Belke, twin brothers whom he had met through the skateboarding subculture. The group was short-lived, but the three musicians next formed Society's No Fucking Use, better known by the acronym SNFU, late that year. SNFU rose in prominence in the Canadian hardcore punk community and ultimately became a formative influence for the skate punk subgenre. In addition to singing, Chinn wrote the group's lyrics and provided much of the artwork used on their records, helping to create their sardonic aesthetic. He also served as an energetic and charismatic front man, incorporating masks, puppets and other props into the band's stage show.
After releasing three LPs with a rotating rhythm section and embarking on extensive touring in North America and Europe, SNFU disbanded in 1989 due to in-fighting and general exhaustion.
Move to Vancouver; height of commercial success
Chinn relocated to Vancouver and fronted a group called The Wongs, who debuted in 1990 and released an EP before disbanding the following year. Another short-lived group, Little Joe, followed soon thereafter. After moving to Vancouver, Chinn began what would become a long battle with various hard drugs. This period also marked the beginning of Chinn's open identification as a homosexual.
In late 1991, SNFU reformed for a reunion tour behind a rarities compilation record released to satisfy their contract with Cargo Records. The tour was successful, and the reinvigorated band properly reformed, signing to Epitaph Records in 1993. Their five years of activity with Epitaph resulted in three studio albums and the greatest industry prominence in the band's career: they enjoyed six-digit record sales and toured alongside successful punk rock acts like Green Day and Bad Religion.
Late in 1997, Epitaph opted against renewing the band's contract. This resulted in heavy band debt and the departure of Brent Belke and longtime drummer Dave Rees; the remaining members, however, kept the band active as a four-piece for the first time in its career while seeking a new recording contract. This era ultimately terminated after the departure of longtime bassist Rob Johnson and a hiatus in 2001.
Personal struggles; third SNFU incarnation
Chinn then formed the new group Slaveco. with Matt Warhurst and Shane Smith, both future members of SNFU, and Jay Black. SNFU returned to activity late in 2003, releasing an eighth studio album and touring subsequently before again disbanding in 2005 due to further exhaustion. Slaveco. became inactive shortly thereafter, and Chinn spiraled into depression, poverty, and addiction, which ultimately resulted in his homelessness. Nonetheless, Chinn at this time began work on an unfinished solo album in collaboration with other Vancouver musicians, including Johnson.
Chinn and former SNFU bassist Ken Fleming, now on guitar, began playing sets of SNFU material with a new rhythm section in 2007 before deciding to reform the band officially. Later joined by early drummer Jon Card and several new members, this third incarnation of SNFU spent the next several years touring Europe, Canada and Central America while slowly amassing new material.
A biographical documentary film about Chinn entitled Open Your Mouth and Say... Mr. Chi Pig was released in March 2010. Produced by the Canadian company Prairie Coast Films and directed by Sean Patrick Shaul, the film reviews Chinn's life and career, containing interview footage with such notables as Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene and Joey Keithley of D.O.A. citing SNFU's influence on them personally and the rock scene at large.
In 2011, Chinn suffered from severe pneumonia, and SNFU became fractured following various members' emigrations. Despite this, the group managed to tour the following year in support of the band's first official biography, Chris Walter's ...What No One Else Wanted to Say, released via GFY Press, and remained active thereafter. Chinn also began performing solo acoustic sets, sometimes billed as DNFU (Distortion's No Fucking Use), in 2013. The following year, he led several all-new incarnations of SNFU across various tours.
- Official SNFU web page at the Wayback Machine
- Ken Chinn at the Internet Movie Database
- Interview with Ken Chinn from 2008
- Interview with Ken Chinn from 2008