This is another Biafra interview that I found. Interesting stuff again. It's a few years old, so you can add some new material to the discography. But have a read and think.
SPREADING THE POSITIVE DISEASE
(conducted by Chris Molnar and Skippy Shaftlick)
As a doped up San Franciscan youth, Jello Biafra was the typical bored kid who decided to start up a punk band with all the intentions of pissing off everyone they could. Hence, the Dead Kennedys.
In 1987, the Frankenchrist album brought national mainstream media attention (the cops busted Biafra by raiding his home) and arresting him on obscenity charges. The main reason being the H.R. Giger (famous for the creation of the set designs for the film Alien) poster of erect penis' entering vagina-like holes that was the artwork on the cover. Looking back, this whole fiasco could be considered an obscenity trial/witch-hunt that failed miserably (he was acquitted).
Attacked because the DK's had their own label (Alternative Tentacles) and virtually no capital to fight back in court, they were a classic scapegoat. The D.A.'s office stated then that the DK's were "a cost-effective way to send a message to the music industry."
The stress of the trial caused the unfortunate break up of the Dead Kennedys and they ejected in separate directions. Biafra wound up on television courting the mayorship of San Francisco. Also unfortunate was that he lost.
With encouragement from his friends he took up the art of ranting on stage about anything he liked - preferably vehement government-bashing conspiracy-ridden anecdotes on everything from drug legalization to Bush and the Iran-Contra scandal to the old Dead Kennedy days. And he was good, very good. He traveled the country talking to college kids and anyone that would listen and ended up recording these 'spoken word' sessions to disc and releasing them on Alternative Tentacles.
Later projects included film cameos in Tapeheads as an FBI agent, a corporate-junkie power-mad head of the Secret Police (as well as getting the soundtrack rights and doing the actual soundtrack with D.O.A. and NoMeansNo) in the Vancouver-produced Terminal City Ricochet, and more recently as the arch-villain in GWAR's new movie Mr. Skulhed.....Face.
His current musical adventures are known as Lard with Al Jourgensen and then Tumor Circus. With no real 'band' to call his own, he is frequently collaborating with other A.T. artists and friends. Out now is the joint effort with Mojo Nixon & The Toadliquors, Prairie Home Invasion, which is definitely some new musical ground being experimented with here.
Biafra makes a great many jokes and is in high spirits for a man who is a primary target of the censor-lords in this country. For most people, the skin would be running very thin after all the harassment and thwarting he has undergone. But he barrels forward with his artistic and political pursuits, always building on the foundations that he has constructed. Often criticized as a loud-mouthed liberal and treated by the media as a crazed fanatic of the punk fall-out, he is both and exponentially more. Give him a mic, he'll scream into it; put him on a stage, he'll blow your mind; let him make records and challenge the fundamentally corrupt and bigoted right wing of this country with his literal interpretation of the 1st Amendment, and watch them make assholistic narrow-minded blowhards of themselves. And don't get him started on "Yuppie-scum Clinton" because the following is what happens.
I enter the interview session while Mr. Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon are recording radio promos for another gent partaking in the discussion.
Jello: Hi there boys and girls, this is Jello Biafra, you're listening to Radio Parameter. Why?
Good day, this is Jello Biafra. and I've heard the good news. From now on all radio will have good family values musgreeting.' Hi, this is Jello Biafra, and I knew enough not to join the Armed Forces, but you're stuck there anyway listening to Radio Perimeter. Peace.
Hi, this is Jello Biafra and you're listening to Radio Perimeter. Wouldn't it be great if conversion from the Cold War really did happen instead of trying to start a new one. Think of what you could be doing to help prevent war - like rebuilding neighborhoods all over the world, helping feed hungry people, helping clean up toxic waste on your own base, preferably with the proper protection instead of what they gave people in the Gulf War, and be sure to read On Guard magazine, available from Citizen Soldier and support the Conscientious Objectors. Over and out!
Hey y'all, this is Mojo and we're deep in the woods, deep in the hills of West Virginia with the Rebel Alliance. We're gettin' ready to storm the gates. We're goin' to Washington! Those pointy-headed nuts will be swingin from lampposts!! This is Revolution Radio baby!!!!!!
Yuppie scum Clinton has turned out to be very disappointing. As I say in my spoken word shows, one of the worst forms of censorship is what people are not being told. Like the NAFTA treaty being negotiated totally in secret with only corporate representatives invited. Or has anybody noticed that there is no more talk of post Cold War conversion and cutting back the defense budget anymore. Sure they're closing a few bases, but Clinton's new [defense] budget for next year is 15% back up again. What are we supposed to do with all these bombs? Are arms manufacturers crossing their fingers hoping that Zhironovsky will get in and we'll have a new Hitler to fight? Or go after the oil sheiks again, or what!?! I'm really disappointed and a little horrified that as everything falls apart all around us, here we are spending more money on bombs in an arms race only with ourselves. When the military could be converted to decent civilian use, not necessarily like in Somalia, but there are plenty of places where people do need to be fed. People could use some new buildings and some shelter right here in the United States. Some of the worst Superfund sights now that the lid has come off of are on Army bases. Somebody could be helping clean this up, instead of preparing for a war that Arms manufacturer probably don't even hope we fight in fear of having their tennis courts blown up.
The release of the new Biafra/Mojo Nixon record is a spit in the eye of every conservative whiner who thinks that 'alternative' means Michael Bolton. With titles like "Are You Drinkin' With Me Jesus" and covers of Phil Ochs' "Love Me I'm A Liberal" and "Will The Fetus Be Aborted (a mock of the melodies from the old gospel standard, "Will The Circle be Unbroken")," Biafra is up to his old tricks. I've been toying with the idea of making a record like this for a long time and talked to a lotta different people about it. But when Mojo called up and said let's do it and lets do it at this particular time, I figured what the hell, why not? I admit that part of my ulterior in doing this record is getting the opportunity to work with Pee Gordon, the keyboard player for the Toadliquors. I've been in awe of him for awhile after seeing him play. How anyone my age or younger could have the fire of Jerry Lee in the fingers was unbelievable. I actually met Mojo and Skid [Roper] when he opened for the very last Dead Kennedys show. It was one of those rare cases in the mid-to-late 80's where there was real genuine variety on the bill - DK's, Mojo Nixon, Skid Roper, 7 Seconds, and Phranc [an old folk singer]. What got me more into Mojo was when I saw him stray from material from Martha's Muffin and the safety of college humor when doing a show for what seemed to be a bunch of frat boys. During a sing-a-long, Mojo yelled "Ollie North" and the audience replied "Ollie North" and Mojo said ".....is an ass hole!!" Everyone just kind of stood there looking dumb and surprised. I thought "YESS!" And then he did a really cool version of "This Land is Your Land" talking about how it's not for people who fenced it, inherited it, owned it, etc., this is OUR land.
I THINK THERE MUST BE A PART MISSING FROM THE TEXT AT THIS STAGE, COS WE'RE ABOUT TO GO INTO SOME STUFF WHICH, I THINK, MAYBE TO DO WITH THE MAXIMUM ROCK'N'ROLL ZINE. BUT I COULD BE WRONG
So we were more on the same sving any fun when all the 70's cock-rocky grunge and other things he didn't like was getting covered in the magazine. He wants to take it back to what he sees as the 'roots' but the key phrase that alarms me is 'take it back.' I don't like anything going backwards, you just build on the roots. He also singled out Alternative Tentacles because I openly disagreed with him at a Mordam Record Convention, which really turned into a nit-picky argument over distribution. He's very fundamentalist and his faction is something I call 'punk fundamentalist.' He came out and said that distributing a record partly through Caroline is just the same as signing with EMI (as smelly a multi-national corporation as General Electric or Coors), and I argued that there are varying degrees. The wobbly axiom of using an opponent's machinery against him applied here and I used it on him and he stormed out of the room to smoke a cigarette. I used that argument the next time I saw him and he just disagreed and called me a "corporate sellout" because I disagreed with him. And so A.T. was chosen to be made an example of and Tim Yohannon strongly denies this but let's look at the evidence. Subpop and Amphetamine Reptile both still run ads in his magazine and they are distributed exclusively through Caroline. And on last month's superhero parody cover, A.T. was depicted as "Arty Farty Man." And he still does not ask Dischord to edit their ads, and it's well known what he thinks of their music and he also would not let Chris Dodge review a Relapse record but was happy to take an ad from them and yes they distribute through Caroline. So the standards are not being evenly applied. Right now I should depersonalize this cause this goes way beyond A.T. or myself versus ol' uncle Timmy. It's important to point out that not all people who are into the spirit of punk music and everything that came before and after it are fundamentalists and there is an alternative to this and it sure as hell is not Alternative Inc. Part of what they're doing is overreacting to the Major labels' attempts to gut the independent scene and how quickly peoples' minds get changed with money. That would have happened all along except the Major labels have had an unwritten policy of not signing any punk or any independent band, until they took a chance with Hsker D and later Sonic Youth. Before that the Dickies were the last band signed to a major label and one of them had an uncle at A&M. There was a claim going around [attributed to Robert Fripp] that there was a meeting where President Jimmy Carter told record executives not to sign punk bands because we don't want another 60's.
So I don't wanna end up like Tim at the same age. Part of me is very hard line political, but the other part is a decadent hedonistic free spirit. So I try to reconcile these two in such a way that I can live with it and not have to change my code of ethics every six months cause I can't live up to it. I really dislike people who read the punk gospel according Pope Tim, or Krass, or whoever and they get really militant about it. Then after six months they drop it and rather than taking anything good away from the experience they get into computers and then it's "Hey look at this nice new Lexus I bought." That doesn't have to happen. And I believe in communication and giving people the opportunity to make their own decisions. And I do my music at the same time and I don't feel like I've 'sold out' or have been an ass hole. Nobody tells me what to put on my records, nobody tells me how I can sound, what I can write, when and when not to tour, and I can get away without making videos for MTV. In other words, I'm a free man.
He claims to read such demo-liberal mags as Mother Jones, Spin, and The Progressive, but his tentacles dig much deeper than that. Getting most of his spoken word material from Internet junkies and anomymous mail hounds who send him stuff, he claims to be 100% technophobic..... I'm completely computer illiterate. I believe in a quote the Ayatollah Khomeini once said, and that is "All Western countries are bad. Nothing but evil comes from them." And that's what I think about CD's, digital recording, computerto a real person who's been in a real situation, that's a helluva lot better than reading some guy's analysis coming out of Manhattan of what he thinks is going on in the Midwest.
ON HIS SOURCES
Some of the information could really get some people in trouble if I mentioned their name. Like somebody wrote me from prison about what a drug war boot camp was like in Wisconsin - how they made inmates run ten miles carrying heavy logs and if they puked they're forced to eat their vomit and if they quit from exhaustion they're thrown out of boot camp and forced to serve 3-5 years in prison. In this case the guy was caught was because he had pot in his dorm room. A law that Clinton has shown no interest in changing by the way. So the information finds me whether I like it or not. I've been a news hound since I was a little kid. For other kids it was sports trivia, for me it was stuff like this.
ON RUNNING FOR MAYOR
In 1987 Biafra entered the mayoral race of San Francisco on a dare. He cut his hair, got petitions signed, paid his fees, went on tv talk shows and basically showed what a complete farce the election process is in America. Miraculously he placed fourth out of ten candidates. But would he run again..... I think I'm a little late to gear up for Governor of California but I gave it some thought. I'm in a different position now so if I did it as a gag it would like repeating myself. And now I know enough about the inner-workings of how the city of San Francisco is run or the state of California, to know that I don't know enough. So if I was going to try to do it again, it was take some serious research even as a gadfly campaign.
ON MOM & DAD
They're very proud. I don't hit 'em up for money, I don't live at home, I didn't become a Born Again Christian or join the Armed Forces, or go yuppie or republican. They would describe themselves as liberal but I think they're more radical than most people in their 60's. They went through the heavy parts of the 60's and the 70's. My dad was a psychiatric social worker who traveled around the country setting up adult education programs in the ghettos and on Indian reservations. He came home one night from a trip from Santa Barbara, CA. saying the LAPD had shoved a shotgun in his belly. The Bank Of America had been torched the night before in a fairly well- known incident and the hotel he was staying in was raided and interrogated by police officers.
Here's one for you. There was a recent study jointly done two people at Auburn University and Wayne State University. They said that while it is debatable that rock lyrics cause suicide, they concluded that country music does. Therefore I figured that while Tipper Gore is in the White House and she hasn't given me enough shit lately, it's time to make a country album!
ON THE PMRC
They claim they're disbanded but they don't really have to be around now. Especially due to Hillary and Tipper's profile in power. Hillary Clinton, in an interview with Tipper Gore [Family Circle, 9/94], endorsed the PMRC and said "we need stronger parental responsibility," which I agree with because letting the PMRC or fundamentalists and the cops telling your kids what to listen to is not 'parental responsibility,' it's chicken shit. So she went on to say that "that has to [helped] by actions like the one Tipper led, so parents have good information," ha ha ha "to base their decisions on." And then there was a TV Guide piece where Bill Clinton said his favorite tv show is Donna Reed and there should be more shows like that. But that he and Chelsea watch American Gladiators for yuks, and Hillary doesn't join them.
ON GANGSTER RAP
The past months have seen two major hearings on Gangster Rap and its detrimental effects on society and its rampant misogyny. Jesse Jackson and Operation PUSH sponsored one in Chicago where Carol Moseley Braun officially condemned Gangster Rap as borderline criminal activity. Biafra's name came up more than once in these hearings as a culprit in the spreading of this so-called urban decay..... Reportedly Clinton has called for a legally mandated rating system for records. But of course a lot of rap lyrics and political lyrics and weirdest of all, even my lyrics, were ghettoized in the hearing. I am a gangster according ry. Blaming the messenger is not going to keep more people from getting killed. In my opinion, it's about to heat up again and get pretty bad.
Notice who just got their fingers into MTV and Viacom? Wayne Huizenga, head honcho of Blockbuster video who is hard-core religious right, he is a major contributor to the Republican party, he got his money to start the video chain from his former business, Waste Management, Inc. One of the most notorious toxic waste dumpers in the world, the ones that have whole entire ships that burn waste at sea and than we get breathe it in weeks later, and paying off Third World dictators so we can dump sludge in their backyard. So as part of the deal of Viacom taking over Paramount, he was the other partner with Viacom, and in return he gets a vice- presidency inside Viacom. Now, considering that Blockbuster does not carry any NC-17 movies, and when he took over three music store chains, all the adult and X-rated movies were pulled from the shelves and in some stores all the metal rap were pulled too. And now, if MTV is not bad enough, this man has some power in their programming. I'm sure if he had his way, Beavis & Butthead would be reading the Bible next season.
Limbaugh. There is another example taking shape in what we're not being told. It's amazing that a bigot like blunder-blubber can get on the air and get hyped to the gills by experienced tv producer Roger Ailes [who gave us the Willie Horton ads], but you will never see someone like Noam Chomsky or somebody like that even getting on tv or in straight print at all. The idea in newspapers, most of which have been bought out by corporate multi-nationals thanks to de- regulation and the Reagan era, the choices given in editorials are multiple choice on a complicated issue - conservative and ultra- conservative, no other points of view are provided.
ON TABLOID GOVERNMENT
Jesse Jackson has said that we've degenerated from tabloid news to tabloid politics and now I think we even have tabloid government. Notice how little attention people pay when the president gives a State of the Union address, but when Clinton goes on Larry King Live, it's news. In order to make the case for NAFTA, as boneheaded as it was, the only way to get people to pay attention was to put Perot and Gore on a talk show. That's tabloid government. Society is manipulated by tabloid news and tabloid government.
ON FORMING ANOTHER BAND
Oh, I've thought about it since before the Dead Kennedys broke up. When the band broke up I wanted to broaden my artistic and personal base so I don't end up on some rock-n-roll nostalgia treadmill singing "Holiday in Cambodia" for my meals for the rest of my life. Harvey Kubernick had been prodding me to go into spoken word and that took off thanks to the L.A. Police Dept. and Tipper Gore [the Frankenchrist trial]. So I ran with that. Then I would start projects like Lard [with Al Jourgensen] and Tumor Circus and then had to carve out more time to finish them. So pulling the plug on everything and hiding and writing a whole shit load of new songs has been a real struggle because I keep getting yanked in all these different directions. I'm not talented enough to magically come up with a great song. I don't play any instruments so I keep my musical ideas on cassette tape and jot lyrics down in a huge folder. Then I compile them. It's not very efficient but the results speak for themselves.
I think this record is one considering how the fundamentalists have reacted to it. On my part, it's doing exactly what I wanted it to do. There is a prank that people are doing on the Internet where they are downloading letterhead from multi-national corporations and sending out fake press releases admitting how corrupt they are and then sending it to the media and see if they will print it.
ON THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW
Well there's two different appearances on the Oprah Winfrey show. The first one was with Bob Guccione Jr., Tipper Gore, a token teenage music fan who turned out to be more articulate than anyone expected, and a psychologist trying to sell his book. On that one we were all put up in the same motel and there was one limo to take us to the show so we all goteraman to cut the tape and Tipper would get the floor. Oprah is after all a Christian and said in her autobiography that all the answers to life problems can be found in the Bible. The second time around I came prepared. They put me and Ice-T [who has sampled stuff from the No More Cocoons album] in one dressing room and we got to meet and that was cool. Now it's been documented that Tipper Gore has denied having anything to do with the Frankenchrist trial and told the Philadelphia Inquirer that she had nothing to do with it. Then I got a copy of the Metro Times out of Nashville where she says she'd like to take credit for it. So I brought it with me to the second show, which I was shocked to invited back to and I'm convinced that neither Oprah nor her producer realized I was the same guy until I was actually in the room on the air. So brought it up on the air and or course she denied it, so I pulled it out of my pocket and read it. The audience starts hissing, except for the ones Tipper planted, and Oprah immediately cut to a commercial and said "Oh we've all been misquoted haven't we Jello?" So did I get to say anything more for the rest of the show? Uh uh.
ON THE LEGALIZATION OF DRUGS AND THE IMMEDIATE EFFECTS
I think the people who hinder the legalization process are people like William Bennett and Bill Clinton far more than Cypress Hill. Clinton, after Joycelyn Elders floated the trial balloon about decriminalizing some hard drugs, which even George Schulz and William F. Buckley supported from an economic standpoint. Like in Holland where they call it Harm Reduction. Under this policy, anyone hooked on heroin can get it on prescription from the government for a much cheaper price than the dealers charge. That way, it keeps the drug trade out of the dealers and gangsters hands. So they know who the junkies are and they can get treatment on demand if they want it. None of this three strikes you're out vigilante bullshit that goes on in this country. And the results are the crime rate is lower, HIV rate is lower and even the drug use rate is lower than ours. I'm no scientist but my uneducated guess would be that in the short run drug use would go up and in the long run it would go down. Because of the skewed priorities in this country. In San Francisco, if you want to quit doing crack right now, the line for rehab is over six months long. That's six months more of the ravages of the chemical, of trying to scrape up the money, etc. In prison, there is almost no rehab services, they just throw people in prison or boot camp where you can still get the drugs and when they get out they're still hooked on the stuff and they've been lifting weights and are bigger and madder at the world. Only a Government Expert could fail to see the obvious in these problems.
ON THE BUDGET
In the state of Tennessee, they were openly considering closing the schools because they needed the money for prisons. What does it say about our country when one of the few growth industries in some places in California is prisons? Someday this has to implode. Someday this is gonna suck the budget away more than Rush Limbaugh's welfare cheats or the Pentagon welfare cheats combined. And then and only then will Conservatives see that it's time for prohibition to end cause it simply hasn't worked.
I've tried most drugs and smoked a lotta pot at the end of high school and probably would have jumped into the punk world a year earlier if I wasn't so busy smoking pot and freezing in a corner and being afraid of everything and feeling sorry for myself. The pot stopped getting me high and I kept smoking it anyway, which was a lesson to me when I moved to San Francisco and everybody I knew was taking spsince like first grade. So I figured if I did it once without acid, I could probably do it again. As far as helping kids with addictions and education in schools, simply telling them that "drugs are bad" and "sex is bad," cause who's gonna listen to that shit anyway, why not offer them elective classes, as early as junior high, where the students try the drugs on a supervised basis. Then they can work out and talk out how the drugs affected them and if there might be an addictive personality problem in the future.
Another overhaul in the educational system, mainly because there is none at all, is I'd like to see is a class on how to be a parent. Why not have a mandatory class on how to take care of children before students get out of high school? Even if you're like me and have no plans to have kids, it would be a really good thing to know. Most people go in to parenting blind and this should not be, that's why people turn out as fucked up as they are.
ON LOUIS FARRAKHAN
Well I'd like to see him speak sometime, I hear he is a very charismatic guy. His 12" disco single I mail-ordered form the Nation of Islam is pretty entertaining. The cover has got him with a fake sunset behind his grinning face and the song is like some early Agnostic Front lyrics. "Let us unite, black and white, unite and fight, let us unite." I think it's the fault of white racists that somebody like that on a fundamentalist religious trip could get that powerful. When the middle ground gets wiped out - like killing Martin Luther King Jr. and running the Black Panthers into the ground, jail, or out of the country - this is what takes its place. It's like in Iran where all the level-headed opposition was wiped out with the help of the CIA. So when the people had had enough of the Shah, the only alternative that people thought they could turn to was Islamic fundamentalism. As soon as the middle merchant class sided with Khomeini, it was over with the Shah. That's what happens. Compare the kinds of things Farrakhan says with the things Rush Limbaugh says and notice how differently they're treated. Time magazine's cover story ran as what a horrible, wicked, ogre, the new national arch-villain for this week is Louis Farrakhan. While also letting Rush Limbaugh write a guest column [2-3 pages] on the missing Marine weenie. On the front cover it's touted as something we're supposed to buy the magazine for, "Rush Limbaugh on the Bobbitt Case." How different are Limbaugh and Farrakhan? Look at the way they're both treated and perceived in the media. What's the point in 'don't believe the hype.' The guy handling Limbaugh is the same guy that masterminded the 'Willie Horton' ad, Roger Ailes. He produces the Limbaugh show. Senator Ollie North, just you wait! Maybe I should stop writing songs and maybe they would stop coming true!!! LOVE ME I'M A LIBERAL It's from a folk singer named Phil Ochs who was at one time touted as the leading rival to Bob Dylan in the early 60's but they went their different ways and Ochs turned up at protests and Dylan was at the Isle of Wight. He became really cynical about the music industry and frustrated there was no labels besides the majors. It was originally written about LBJ and Hubert Humphrey liberals and it was amazing to me how few words I had to change to update it to Clinton yuppies.
ON THE DEAD KENNEDYS
Well I'm proud of what we did. We broke up before we sucked so don't ask about any reunions. I love punk music but punk nostalgia is poison just like any nostalgia is poison. This is what happens when people listen to nothing but other punk music or metal, etc.
ON CHICAGO POLITICS AND RUNNING FOR OFFICE
This is Chicago? Whoa! Where voting is a sport! I hope you have fire- proof apartments there! I did it on a dare. I was so young and naive that when my drummer said that I have such a big mouth that I should run for mayor! I said what the fuck, why not. I helped force a run-off. But usually you should just get petitions out and put someone on the ballot. In San Francisco, you can just the pay the difference if you don't have enough signatures. That's how the LaRouche people always get on the ballots. Also in San Francisco, you can run for mayor at age 18 but you can't drive a cab until you're 26. Check the mayor's story on the "I Blow Minds For a Living" record and that might help you out.
AGAIN, THERE SEEMS TO BE A BIT MISSING HERE
om the heart and a real belief, but a politician says different things to different people and ends it all with "vote for me." When I was running as the prank candidate, people were trying to nibble into me. I was getting a whiff of how the game works. After that, it's easy to see why Mondale, or Dukakis, or a Clinton winds up not knowing what they believe when they get in office. Most important, I would have to drop my art altogether to have a full-time position. It's more of an accomplishment to me when I hear that the people in Czechoslovakia who were part of the dissent movement before the Communists fell were really into the Dead Kennedys.
Solo Spoken Word Material