Right, well if you know me, then you’ll know that I like Jello Biafra, the Dead Kennedys, and Alternative Tentacles record label. So, it saddens me to read about some of the things that are currently happening. This message was sent out on the ‘net. I’ve checked that it is legitimate, and also that it’s ok to print this. Unfortunately, it is. It may not interest many of you. It may not be considered relevant. To me it is. Since I’ve started doing this zine, I seem to have seen or heard of a few of the more unsavoury elements of the industry. Elements that we probably all know exist. But, one group of people that I didn’t expect to be affected by all this, were the Dead Kennedys and Alternative Tentacles. Unfortunately, at present I don’t have anything to present regarding the other members of the DKs view on this. All in all, a sad affair.

[ Feel free to distribute this as you see fit.]


October 2, 1998


Alternative Tentacles Records was advised yesterday by the lawyer for ex-Dead Kennedys members East Bay Ray, Klaus Fluoride and D.H. Peligro that they had held a meeting and decided to terminate their business relationship with us. Their lawyer also advised us that as a result of this decision, we could not sell Dead Kennedys records anymore. This whole action is a sham: Their motive is sheer greed. The meeting was deliberately held behind my back while I was away on tour. With some very wild claims and heavy-handed tactics, the ex-members of Dead Kennedys are trying to destroy our label, hurt the other artists and our staff. This is an obvious ploy to manipulate and use the media to tarnish the good name of an honest record label. Now for the boring business part: Since the band's active days, Ray, Klaus, Peligro and myself have acted as a partnership called Decay Music. All partnership decisions have always been by unanimous consent. It was a great checks and balances system when everyone acted like adults. Alternative Tentacles makes the albums, Decay Music collects the artist royalty and makes sure all the ex-Dead Kennedys members get paid. There are no middlemen, agents, or major label-style "promotional" expenses sucking away money that should go straight to the artist.

East Bay Ray has falsely accused us of deliberately underpaying Dead Kennedys royalties for the past 10 years. This, despite a full disclosure to Ray, the purported business manager of Dead Kennedys, and his yearly approval of all the royalty accounting procedures used by Alternative Tentacles.

Ray bases his allegations on the fact that from 1989 to 1997, Dead Kennedys royalties were based upon a suggested retail list price (SRLP) of $10.98 for a Dead Kennedys CD. Ray agreed to this SRLP in 1989 and did not ask that it be changed until 1997 when he demanded that Alternative Tentacles start calculating the royalty on a $13.98 SRLP, approximately $1.00 higher than many other independent labels. In response we offered to correct the situation and recalculate the royalty according to the actual changes in the SRLP over the last ten years. Beyond that, I offered to make the calculation retroactive to 1989 and make up the difference from my own royalties. They never responded to our offer. We offered to let Ray go over the Alternative Tentacles books to make sure they were accurate, but he hasn't. Instead he has drawn the other ex-members into a no-win situation of extreme ill will. It sickens me.

Their mean-spirited attack traces back to my refusal to allow "Holiday In Cambodia" to be used in a Levis ? TV commercial (for Dockers Khakis, no less). I respect how much Dead Kennedys' music and message means to people. I am very grateful that people care so much about our albums after all these years. It means the world to me. I can think of no worse way to stab our fans in the back than to sell out to Levis?

In retaliation for my refusal, ex-members of the band are making the baseless claims that Alternative Tentacles and myself are deliberately ripping them off. Nothing could be further from the truth. Through thick and thin, we have made sure that everyone we owe money to is paid every dime we own them -even if it meant paying them out of my own pocket.

Other incidents of Ray going behind my back include licensing the Dead Kennedys version of "Viva Las Vegas" to the "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas" film and soundtrack on Geffen Records. They also claim they own all the Dead Kennedys songs that I wrote and can do whatever they want with them. If that's not enough, they are holding hostage my share of the royalties that Alternative Tentacles has already paid to Decay Music in good faith.

For the 12 years since the band broke up, Ray, Klaus and D.H. have earned enough steady royalty money while on our label to live comfortably without having to work day jobs. Very few punk bands have been able to do this. But are they satisfied or grateful? No! All they can think of is how they should have made even more money. Klaus Flouride and D.H. Peligro have been two of my dearest friends for 20 years. If all our friendship and history as a band means to them is money, that makes me very, very sad.

What they are doing now suggests to me that they not only hope to destroy Alternative Tentacles Records, but also break up the Decay Music partnership. Already their lawyer is threatening to sue our distributor, Mordam Records, and even our printers and pressing plants, even though they have no legal right to the albums.

We have been making every effort to resolve these issues. All Dead Kennedys titles will continue to be available exclusively from Alternative Tentacles, as always.

And don't ask me about reunion concerts any time soon.

Jello Biafra