Sunday, September 13, 2009

What's Jello Biafra thinking these days?
I wonder...

Here are a few never before released photos I've taken of Jello Biafra when he was in the Dead Kennedy's back in 1980, at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go in Hollywood, California.

I always thought Biafra was one of the most important voices in punk rock, period. He Spoke politically and socially with an intelligence that few others could offer, whether it be satirical or the ugly truth. Jello brought it out into the open like no one else. He has always been an inspiration for me, and in fact inspired (really gave me, from his famed on-going list of great bamd names never used) the name of my book company Burning Flags Press.

SO i thought let's see what he's up to nowadays and this is what I found:
Biafra’s back – and this time he’s packing a ‘real’ band. The former Dead Kennedys frontman is re-energised by fronting a new group, The Guantanamo School Of Medicine, who tour the UK in September 2009.
Alex Ogg chews the fat with him

Here's a few of my favorite answers from The Quietus interview:

They [the current Dead Kennedys line up w/out biafra] were trying to use me to persuade you to go on that Fresh Fruit DVD.

JB: Boy, am I glad I wasn’t in that. That’s exactly the kind of stupid-ass documentary of the band they want to make and everything was dumbed down and harmless and lovey-dovey, touchy-feely, burn-out nostalgia. We might as well have been Air Supply. I’m not going to be dragged through that again. Why do I want to spend all this time quarrelling over the past when I have new songs and a new band, and I feel much more alive doing that than going over and over every last little granule of misinformation about Dead Kennedys? I’m proud of the music, I care about it and respect it much more than those guys do. And yes, we will play a little bit of that on the tour. But like the gigs I did with the Melvins, it will be dominated by new songs.

I guess I grew up suspicious of the attitude that rock & roll stood for – macho, conservative, self-satisfied.

JB: That was part of the thing that drew me to punk so much – finally there was the true spirit of rock & roll brought back again – it was scaring the shit out of all the right people, plus the lyrics didn’t have to be so stupid any more. I’ve never liked love songs. I hated them when I was a seven-year-old in second grade and first discovered rock & roll in the fall of ’65. Then as a teenager I realised that love songs weren’t just stupid, they were lying to me! Romance didn’t work like that at all! All it did was string people along on false hope like hope-dope dealers or something. Another thing that came to mind after staying away from this all these years - it’s kinda sad. I wrote down all the songs from my past that might be cool to play in this band some day, and there turned out to be so many of them, we’d have had to play a set as long as the Grateful Dead. So some of those songs will never see the light of day on a stage – there’s Dead Kennedys songs, Lard songs, the ones with Tumor Circus, DOA, NOMEANSNO. We haven’t gotten to it yet, but I really want to see what an audience does if I can get the band interested in the idea of playing our really heavy songs and then playing one of the country songs off Prairie Home Invasion [Biafra’s 1994 collaboration with Mojo Nixon). And then go right back to playing the heavy shit again. I think that would be cool.

You’re frightened by the fact that Obama is backtracking – but are you surprised? When you did your spoken word show 18 months ago, you didn’t seem sold on the idea that Obama represented a brand new dawn.

JB: It was weird to me from the very beginning that all the big banks who backed George W Bush for two terms threw all their money into Obama next time around. They weren’t giving that kind of money to Hillary or McCain. So something was up from the get-go. ‘Terror Of Tinytown’ is an infamous low-budget movie from the 1930s – an all-midget western. It’s so metaphorically similar to Bush’s rationale and mentality going into Iraq, that I just couldn’t resist.

And you pointedly note that 9/11 was more Spinal Tap than conspiracy.

JB: My point was a reply to people who are obsessed with the idea that Bush and Cheney, and the people around them, blew up the World Trade Center themselves, and it was all an inside job. You know, I love conspiracy theories, but I prefer that they be supported by logic and science. Bush and Cheney weren’t smart enough or competent enough to pull off something like that. They couldn’t even overthrow Hugo Chavez, for Christ’s sake, when they tried that coup over the weekend. He was back in office by Monday morning.

The point being that the wild theorising distracts from what’s really taking place?

JB: Well, as you might guess, I get some hardline 9/11 conspiracy theorists at my shows. And they are furious with me when I don’t devote the whole show to 9/11 conspiracies, and then even more furious when they find out I don’t even agree with them. It’s like trying to reason with an anti-abortion zealot or an uber-vegan. It’s just complete religious fanaticism. Besides, it makes no strategic sense from a military point of view to blow up your most valuable real estate and kill 3,000 of your own people just to launch a war you were going to start anyway. All they would have had to do was stage another attack on a ship like the USS Cole, or better yet, do it all at the special effects department at Fox News, and we would be stuck in Iraq anyway.

Read the entire interview here.

the Dead kennedy's Jello Biafra c. 1980

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