March 5, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 81  

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The Chickens: free range, rockin’ birds

By Colin J. Fleming
Gazette Staff

Toronto rockers The Chickens are not an inhibited commercialized rock band. These birds are free range and want to take rock back to the golden age —the age when it had substance, wasn’t corrupted by the forces of love and people sang about drinking beers and partying.

Despite their party-hard, easy-going appearance, The Chickens navigate with the aid of morality and virtue. They always rock according to the mantra, “If the kids don’t get it, you might as well give in.”

Self-proclaimed chicken Fred Robinson is not just concerned about the “kids” or the future of his band — he’s also concerned about the future of Canadian arts.

“I don’t think that the Canadian government helps out the arts enough. When you look at Europe and other places, they are assisted much more in terms of development,” Robinson says.

He also claims creativity and originality are not supported in the Canadian music industry.

“The Canadian Record Industry always waits for something to happen in the [United] States, and then [as a result], Canadian labels never take a risk.”

In the face of his criticism, Robinson gratefully recognizes the support he’s received from, a CBC initiative to promote Canadian music.

“Any exposure is good, right? And it doesn’t cost anything. It is exciting for people to go to the website. They get to have a visual of the band, which is pretty cool,” he says.

Robinson’s real disenchantment lies with the state of rock music in general.

“I was a bit worried when bands like The Hives were getting that much exposure. I keep thinking, ‘Are we going to have to deal with a bunch of Strokes and Hives clone bands for the next 10 years?’”

To Robinson, mainstream rock is the McDonald’s of music, a place incredibly convenient but of consistently low quality. Despite his cynicism, he feels the underground will always provide a bastion of originality for those sick of the mainstream sound.

“I always think that at a commercial level, if things are mediocre it always makes for a better underground,” Robinson says.

In the future, The Chickens would ideally take a month off their day jobs to tour Europe. For now, however, they’re just urging you to “come out to the show and check out some real rock ’n’ roll.”

The Chickens perform tonight at Call the Office with Legend Killers.



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