Over the last 30 years drummer Jim Card has come back to Vancouver punk band SNFU three times.
Most recently, it was an offer to play shows in Australia and Costa Rica that prompted his return to the group, which formed in Edmonton back in 1981. The Oz gigs fell through, but the reunion sparked a new era for the music veterans.
"If someone comes up to you and goes, 'Do you want to go to Australia and Costa Rica and play in SNFU?' and you have the time, you say, yes," says Card, who has also played with bands like D.O.A. and Subhumans. "The band had changed. They had different members for a while. I saw a version of the band — I won't name names — and it was hard to recognize the songs being played. I saw another version and it sounded really good."
With its current lineup — which also includes guitarists Ken Fleming and Sean Colig, longtime frontman Ken Chinn and bassist Kerry Cyr — Card says new material has been among Chinn's (a.k.a. Mr. Chi Pig) strongest work. "I thought the band hit it out of the park," he says. "I'm quoting Dan (Lefrancois, Cruzar Media) from our record label. And Chi came up with some of his best lyrics. If you like SNFU, you will really like it."
He's referring to the band's forthcoming album, titled Never Trouble Trouble Until Trouble Troubles You, slated to be released in September. It's their first in nearly 10 years.
After playing some shows together and hearing fans and promoters request new music they decided to hunker down and write fresh songs. "It was like, 'OK, if we're going to stick together we've got to get new material," Card says. "We did an EP and we got an offer to do an album."
Recently they held a "listening party" in Vancouver where an audience could hear the record in advance of its release and the band could explain the songs and then answer questions. They also printed a "pre-release" run of copies to sell ahead of time, in part to drum up anticipation for their tour and to fund a full pressing of albums.
"We're on a small label so we're trying to pre-sell records to help. We have distribution around the world," Card says. "The album cost less than $20,000 to record and most of that went to the producer. We got (essentially) a per diem, a small advance."
Though the band has garnered an enthusiastic following during their long and rocky run (it has gone in and out of dormancy throughout the years), Card says they still don't make a killing at music. He's been drawn back so many times because it's fun, he adds.
"Right now I have to be having fun or I'm not going to do it. I'm not going to make a million dollars off of it. Over the years, it (can) be hurtful when you're on tour for four months and come home with $1,200 in your pocket, but I'm still having fun and I'm going to do it," he says.
Recently, Card also learned the band had an offer to kick off their album release with their first tour of Japan. Fleming, who lives in that country with his Japanese wife, "has been itching to get SNFU there," he says. "It just got thrown on board two days ago. I said, 'Yeah, I'll go to Japan!'"
First up, a short tour of Western Canada, which begins in Whistler at the GLC on June 27. The group will play some new songs along with tracks from a career that spans nine albums and three decades. "We have enough songs right now to do a new album too," Card says. "We're waiting for this one to come out so we can do a new one."
Also in the works is a split EP with California punks Death By Stereo. Each band will do an original track, a cover of the other band's song along with another to-be-revealed cover song. "It is weird. SNFU comes back from the grave," he says. "A gravedigger digs them back up."