Jimmie's Chicken Shack
Jimi HaHa, the front man of the eclectic bunch we've come to know and love as Jimmie's Chicken Shack, admits that one gig is all you need to see to realize that his Annapolis, Maryland-based quartet thrives best on a concert stage. "We mix up a lot of different sounds," Jimi says. "We're schizophrenic because our tastes are." From bluesy rap-infused grooves to hard rock, their kick-ass, live shows are a lesson in controlled diversity.
HaHa concedes that songwriting is just as essential to him as any bodily function. "I'm like a faucet and I like to keep it on so my plumbing stays clean," he explains. "I just spit out a lot of stuff." HaHa's most memorable songs are often based in humor. One of the major aspects of Jimmie's Chicken Shack's philosophy is to always expect the unexpected--and embrace your mistakes. "I think that's the coolest part of art. Whether it's music or painting, mistakes are crucial. So why the hell you gonna work them out?" HaHa asks. In fact when Jimi is not playing music he can often be found painting. He has had several successful exhibitions featuring his abstract-surrealist creations often painted on reclaimed cardboard. "It disintegrates," Jimi says. "I like that."
While the band has been through several lineup changes over the years (HaHa is the band's only original member), the group has always excelled playing live. Their work-horse ethics have solidified their reputation as a powerful and, at times, hilarious concert experience. In between their own headlining world tours, they've been out with Live, 311, Creed, Fuel, and Everclear. They've also shared festival stages with just about every other major alternative rock band.
Re.Present is the next step in the band's evolution and Jimmie's fifth album to date. Previous releases include two independent offerings on Jimi's own Fowl Records along with Pushing the Salmanilla Envelope and Bring Your Own Stereo on Rocket/Island. Aforementioned road-dog ethics led to tour-bus friendships and co-writes this time around with high profile buddies like Aaron Lewis (Staind), Art Alexakis (Everclear), Butch Walker (Marvelous 3), Mark Tremonti (Creed) and John Wozniak (Marcy Playground), all of whom appear on the new album as co-writers. Aaron Lewis also shares vocal duties on the first single, "Fallin' Out."
Since their inception, Jimmie's have continued to do things their way, refusing to be classified and ignoring trends. In 1997, when Pushing the Salmanilla Envelope was released, the first single, "High," predated by twelve months the hard-edged rock that would go on to dominate radio over the next five years. "High" climbed the charts for nearly a year eventually finding a resting place in the Top Ten - concurrently spending months in rotation at MTV. In contrast, "Do Right," an ode to an ex-girlfriend released as the first single from the second Rocket album, Bring Your Own Stereo, was downright poppy. After many weeks as an MTV Buzz clip and months on the radio charts, the track was another Top Ten hit. And whereas the band's two Rocket albums were fueled by different sets of emotions, the band feels that the new album Re.Present is the best record they've ever made. HaHa comments, "We were able to make a record without a major label looming over our shoulders. I also got to write with some of my best friends from other bands. Musically it sits between the first two CDs. A lot of the music on the first record was based in discontent and anger. With the second album all of us were just feeling so good, we had so much fun..."
HaHa got his musical start singing an a cappella version of the Beach Boys' "Surfin'" as a second grader in an elementary school talent show. He started playing music when he was 12 and singing when he was 15. Why, one might ask? Jimmy explains, "because I got expelled from school."
Jimmie's Chicken Shack was named after the Harlemrestaurant where "Malcolm X used to hang out before he became Malcolm X."
And even though the band has tasted success, Jimmie's Chicken Shack definitely do not obsess over multi-platinum hits. Whatever happens, it'll be on their terms. "Hopefully our music makes people laugh and think and maybe even cry and maybe jump around and go nuts," explains HaHa. "If we can get all those emotions out of people then I think we win."
Re.Present was in-stores April 27, 2004.
Jimmie's Chicken Is: Jimi HaHa - vocals/guitar Casey Callahan-Hean - guitar Derrick Dorsey - bass Jerome Maffeo - drums