The Chinkees – Peace Through Music
Asian Man Records, 1999
Acquired: Asian Man Records Mailorder, 2002
Price: $1 (it came in a box of vinyl that cost $25)
One reason I always really liked the Chinkees was because when Mike Park sang songs loaded with political and anti-racist themes I knew that he meant them. I think he actually believed he could achieve peace through music, and honestly that sort of positivity and optimism is really wonderful. He always seemed like one of the most genuine guys in punk rock (emphasized by the fact that he ran Asian Man Records out of his parents garage). The Chinkees were an all asian ska-pop-punk band that really won my heart when I was getting really into ska-punk in late junior high. Listening to “X-Mas” I’m really reveling in this, the mass of instruments and voices coming together and forming a cohesive little unit of a pop song (I love the little organ! Fantastic!). Where other bands of the time were singing about socio-political stuff, you could tell that the Chinkees were having a blast making this music. Who says socio-political ska-punk can’t be fun? On top of that, the liner notes state that the bands name is intended to be “a direct look at racism and the reality of its presence.” Actually, this is written on the back of the record because I’m sure Mike Park thought people would misconstrue the band’s name and lump them in with the slew of Aryan-punk bands of the day, or thought that he was being racist through this, it’s the way I think. I’d have done something like that and I guess that’s why I identified with Mike Park so much. That and like me, he can’t sing like a real singer, but his voice is precious and I couldn’t imagine anyone else singing these songs. They’re off the cuff and honest and on top of that the music is FUN. It’s a record that I was kind of not wanting to listen to and when I put it on the turntable (for the sake of the project) I realized that I was dumb for thinking that because I loved this record years ago and of course I love it now. I’m glad I had this album in my life when I did, right at the point when I was getting into punk and started freely thinking. That must have been around 9th grade, I remember I didn’t really get into punk and politics until a few months after 9/11. Anyway, this came in a box filled with Asian Man Records vinyl that I got for $25 and yeah, I still think Mike Park is pretty fucking rad. Also, “Will I Have a Chance?” is his masterpiece. Amazing tune.