Chikinki

Chikinki

BandAlternative

Biography

First things first then, Chikinki; awful name, isn’t it?

Rupert Browne lets out an exasperated groan, “You know we hate talking about the name! It was something we just decided to call ourselves two weeks after we’d formed the band. Maybe if we’d known we’d still be answering questions about it 10 years later we’d have given it some more thought! But who cares, it’s just a name, right?”

Chikinki – hip slinking frontman Rupert, plus Ed East (guitar), Steve Bond (drums), Boris Exton (synths) and Trevor Wensley (more synths) – certainly wouldn’t be where they are today if they cared about such inconsequential things as names. In the 10 years since they started out, living like Monkees in a shared terrace house in Bristol, these (still) 20-somethings have had much more important things on their minds. Like shaking off every dance-rock/electroclash/indie-disco/new rave tag going to create their own unique brand of “glitch-pop-fuck-noise”.
“People have always tried to squeeze us into whatever dance scene is fashionable at the time but we just won’t fit,” smiles Rupert. “We’re not a dance crossover band, we’re a guitar band with synths experimenting in the realms of rock music.”

Chikinki began one day in the late 1990’s when Rupert brought a 12 track back to the house, absent-mindedly recorded a guitar part and came back a few weeks later to find the rest of his flatmates had filled in the rest. By the time several fully-fledged songs had mysteriously appeared that way, a house-meeting was called and a decision that they should probably get a band together and start playing live was reached.
So, with Trevor on saxophone (“Boris bagged keyboards and it didn’t occur to me for ages that there could be more than one person playing them”) and records by Beck, Broadcast and Add N To X on their headphones, the beast was given a name and sent out into the world. And it wasn’t long before Chikinki’s unhinged and unruly stage shows (in which synths short-circuited, singers fell over and keyboards exploded) had become the stuff of West Country folklore.
“The shows are all about spontaneity,” says Steve. “The things that people remember are the things that go wrong, that you can’t recreate night after night.”

Having eventually broken the backline of almost every venue in their hometown, Chikinki retired back to the bedroom and Rupert’s 12 track to record ‘Experiment With Mother’. Released on Bristol’s much-loved ‘Sink and Stove’ label, it was their first, ultra-low budget attempt at harnessing the live mayhem. “I never thought we’d do anything as good it again,” laughs Rupert. “At the time I didn’t think it was possible to do something as raw and inventive.”

Of course, Rupert was wrong. But the rough n’ ready recordings were enough to prick the ears of famed Happy Mondays and U2 producer Steve Osbourne who would eventually end up working with them on the 2004, Island Records-released follow-up ‘Lick Your Ticket’ – 12 tracks of monster studio sounds and electro-rock mayhem that earned them all kinds of dangerous reputations.

It was the video to stand-out single ‘Assassinator 13’ that really got people talking though. “I never thought I’d do full frontal,” muses Rupert. “But one of the video director’s great talent was getting you to do things you wouldn’t normally do. He’d be like ‘right, I want you naked, right here, right now’. And then I’d suddenly find myself naked in front of the studio cameras thinking ‘how the hell did he just make me do that?’ Real Derren Brown stuff.” It wasn’t long before the director’s influence started seeping through into the fans too. “How do I know when we’re playing a good Chikinki gig?” muses Boris. “When the crowd get onstage naked.”

With so much depravity linked to their name then (find it for yourself on You Tube), the band left the country for the only place that would take them: Berlin – to hang with the club kids on Peaches’ and Gonzales’ Kitty-Yo label. “The plan was to go and do some B-sides with Tiefschwarz and Ewan Pearson but what happened was that we went over there and played a really fucking great show in a house club and never wanted to come back,” says Rupert. So they didn’t.

Instead, Chikinki spent a year touring the seedy rock n’ roll underbelly of Eastern Europe; staying up for weeks on end on vodka and comedy rave drugs, crashing in underground bunkers and disused prisons, putting out records on Kitty-Yo, getting strip searched by policemen, and playing the most intense, sweaty and exhilarating shows of their careers. For the full heady experience, you might want to check out their tour diary at www.Chikinki.de, but for now, we’ll cut a long, very messy story short and say that Chikinki did eventually return physically refreshed, emotionally reinvigorated and musically re-wired to the motherland earlier this year.

With all they had seen and heard on their travels still buzzing in their brains, it was only a matter of time before they were bac

Discography

Telephone Heroes - EP
Experiment With Mother - Album
Like It Or Leave It - EP
Time -EP
Hate TV - Single
Assassinator 13 - Single
Like It Or Leave It - Single
Ether Radio - Single
All Eyes - Single
Lick Your Ticket - Album
The Berlin Sessions - EP
Experiment With Mother - Re-Released fan album
The Balloon Factory - Rarities Album
You Said - Single
Brace Brace - Album