Canadian Punk Legend Gene Champagne Flies High On Debut Solo Record ‘Let’s Jet!’

Pop that cork and raise a toast! Beloved Canadian punk drummer Gene Champagne is stepping out from behind the kit for his long-awaited first solo EP, Let’s Jet!

A fan favorite after decades of pounding the skins for Teenage Head, The Killjoys and playing the guitar and singing with The Un-Teens, Champagne now has his sights set squarely on Renaissance Man status. He’s written, sung and played every part on a four-song tour de force he recorded several years ago in his home studio, and which is only now seeing the light of day. Life, it seems, just got in the way … but more on that later.

The title track/opener lets us know just what we’re in for, and why the wait was entirely worth it. It’s an insanely catchy throwback to the days when punk, power pop and rock and roll lived at the same electric nexus point, and you could still use the music to document simple youthful angst without anybody asking you what you thought about Nicaragua. Champagne spins a tale of adolescent lust and trepidation, his hormones raging with every syllable as he musters up the courage to proposition a potential pickup who’s caught his eye:

We’ve been hanging around here way too long
But there’s a girl dancing to my favorite song
I’m gonna ask her to go for a ride
My knees are shaking, feel like I’m gonna die
I’m walking over, I’m really on my way
Let’s jet
Baby let’s jet
Get ready get set
Baby let’s jet

Champagne’s impassioned vocal delivery is 100 percent authoritative, and his instrumental tracks crackle with the energy of not just classic punk, but also power pop and good old rock and roll. It’s the same on the ep’s other tracks, “Back in My Arms,” “Rock’n’roll Boy” and “Shake Some More,” all of which rock with the joyous unison of an actual band while benefiting from the keen focus of a singular vision.

The vindication of finally having the record out is all the sweeter for the many trials Champagne had to endure along the way. First, his mother died; then he himself contracted a nasty case of covid that landed him in the hospital, where he was put on an ventilator and wound up in a coma for seven days. The story received attention in the national press, with no guarantees offered that Champagne would pull through. When he finally did, and regained his strength to play, fate dealt another cruel hand: Gordie Lewis, Champagne’s bandmate in Teenage Head and his self-described “hero” from the age of 15, was found murdered in his home.

“He was taken away from us, and in a way that was not easy to comprehend or shake,” Champagne says.

Lewis’ memory and spirit live on in Let’s Jet! The title itself comes from a saying Lewis had passed along from Head singer Frankie Venom, and the lyrics to the title song include a reference to their band’s classic track “Ain’t Got No Sense.”

If Lewis is getting to pull any strings from his new vantage point Up There, he’s doing so with a vengeance. Let’s Jet! Has hit the top 10 on indie radio charts around the world, including #1 rankings in the UK, France and Los Angeles. It’s the first time Champagne has gone to the top of any of those charts outside Canada, he notes with pride. And the song has been playlisted on SiriusXM’s Rodney Bingenheimer and Little Steven’s Coolest Songs In The World on the Underground Garage channel.

“These days, things are brighter, and I have learned tough lessons in those past years,” Champagne says. “There’s no time like now, and we are all fragile. I can’t sit on things, and I want to do what I love in the now.

“Here we are today, and it’s time for Let’s Jet! to be put out into the world.”

Over to you, world. You know what to do.