SNFU - Never Trouble Trouble Until Trouble Troubles You (Cover Artwork)


Never Trouble Trouble Until Trouble Troubles You (2013)

Cruzar Media

I arrived late to the SNFU crowd, missing their glory years by about a decade. I first heard about them from Todd of Propagandhi during a conversation at Louis’ Pub in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He described how the legendary singer, Chi Pig, had been struggling with drug addiction and homelessness for many years, but who was, hands down, the most charismatic front man in punk rock. Taking my cue that the band was worth checking out, I quickly realized SNFU, a long running and troubled band, deserves to stand alongside the giants of the genre.

For anyone unfamiliar with the band, SNFU’s classic records are numerous. Their 1985 debut, …And No One Else Wanted to Play, gained wide attention in Canada and garnered attention to the charismatic Chi Pig; If You Swear, You’ll Catch No Fish, as well as their Epitaph-years releases are all worthy of digesting. Their 2003 effort, In the Meantime and In Between Times, offers of Chi Pig’s most personal lyrics relating to the themes of having nothing, addictions, and the struggles of life. The 2010 documentary, Open Up and Say…Mr. Chi Pig will encourage any first-time listener to dig into SNFU’s vast catalog.

After about 2005, SNFU seemingly hemmed and hawed for several years in limbo with their founding members, Marc and Brent Belke, a conflict documented in the film. However, in 2013, the first incarnation without at least one of the Belke brothers wrote and recorded the idiomatic Never Trouble Trouble Until Trouble Troubles You. As the sole original member, Trouble is all about Chi Pig.

Upon first listen, it is impossible to miss the trademark strong and technical musicianship SNFU is known for, but it’s also impossible not to notice the strain in Chi Pig’s voice, and the glaring fact he tracked vocals without many or all of his teeth. Chi Pig’s notorious history of methamphetamines and pre-schizophrenic experiences are explored in-depth in the film; Chi’s troubled times led to the loss of his teeth, a malnourished existence, and periods of homelessness. Trouble exudes Chi Pig’s experiences and his challenging circumstances in a similar way to the deeply personal lyrical content of their 2003 record, In the Meantime, and In Between Times. In a positive turn of events, SNFU’s Facebook page recently published photos of Chi sporting a new set of gorgeous false teeth, which will undoubtedly improve the clarity of his legendary vocals on future albums and in live performances.

Though strong, I would not recommend this record for a first time listener of SNFU. Depending on the tastes of a listener, I suggest In the Meantime for fans of modern-sounding, 90’s-style punk; for fans of grittier and more hardcore-oriented sounds, I suggest If You Swear, You’ll Catch No Fish as a more appropriate starting place. But for long-time fans, especially those familiar with the life of Chi Pig, Trouble can only be seen as an addition to an enduring legacy of melodic punk rock.

Standout tracks include opener “Voodoo Doll Collector,” which starts the record in a strong manner, a la “Cockatoo Quill” from their last record, followed by “Buy My Own Hand,” a mid-tempo riff-heavy tune in which Chi drawls his way through a sordid tale about the woe’s of the pawn shop, followed up by stories of the past in “Morley.” Another notable track is “New Rose,” a cover of a Damned tune. Upon first listen, I felt Chi had lost a step due to health and living conditions, but he exposes his stories in beautifully melodic tunes and the slurred vocals add an endearing quality and charm to the record after a few listens.

SNFU’s musicianship is strong, tight, and heavy on the riffs. The guitar solos are harmonious. The real treat though is Chi Pig’s longevity and the fact that he carries on with a desire to bare the punk rock torch into his 50’s, in spite of numerous reported obstacles in his own life. You won’t find a truer voice in punk than Chi Pig. The band makes me remember all of my original draws to punk rock back in the mid-nineties and makes a stand to not be forgotten. If Chi Pig and his merry band of cyclical musicians keeps putting out records, I’m sure there will be a group of people in their 30’s and 40’s who will continue to believe in them.