And, Jello, also still wondering here, and we're speaking with Jello Biafra, Jello, do you remember East Van Halen at all?
What can you say about East Van Halen, 'cause I never even saw them? Like, you know all these Canadian bands. You even know Les Versatiles and stuff! What do you remember about East Van Halen 'cause I never even saw them!?
I went and saw them. I can't remember, it seems like some room in a restaurant or something. It wasn't a regular punk show. They just kind of ran around and had fun onstage and some of them had unusually long hair for the time, and it was Vancouver humour at its finest, but they were very, very young. I assume some of them went onto bands we all know later on. I could be wrong.
Jello, was there really a censored version of "Too Drunk To Fuck" that you gave to Rodney Binghenheimer of "Rodney on the 'ROQ" fame?
Uh, Faulty Products gave it to Rodney. It was an acetate.
So there actually was a censored version then. Did you give that to many radio stations?
I said it was an acetate which is one of a kind. It is cut directly. [John Wright of NoMeansNo arrives, carrying his baby who is crying.] Oh, here you go!
What's happening, John?
John Wright: Oh, he's too afraid.
He's practicing his wailing vocals for when he joins Pearl Jam or whatever.
John Wright: Okay, we'll see you later.
Good seeing you, John.
John Wright: Yup, we'll see you in San Francisco.
Take a picture of yourself with some baseballish Canuck hat on before you shave it off! I mean, I'm sure-
Why don't you describe John, Jello? Describe John. Describe John, Jello.
He is sort of a mutantoid appearing character with, right now, a Fu Manchu moustache and sideburns who you would very much expect to see with a tartan hunting hat and marching alongside Smelly from Plainfield looking for some deer to tan and all that but-
And, John, how would you describe Jello?
John Wright: I think he, I think he - oh, likewise, likewise.
The moustache is described very well as you can see. John coerced my late cat Pippin into playing better drums when he grabbed her by the paws in time to one of our songs than anybody else who's ever touched that cat.
What do you think about that, John?
John Wright: Well, uh, uh, all the stories are true! All the stories are true!
That's good! That's what the Sonics said!
John Wright: That's right.
Everything they ever said was true.
John Wright: Truth in advertising.
How could the Sonics say something like that when they never met my cat?
I'm not sure. It was something quoted in the Rocket. Um, but speaking about riots though and cats, Jello, the Dead Kennedys - I was asking you about a riot that happened in 1985 in San Luis Obispo, that's where it actually was, how many, well, I thought, well, there must have been a few Dead Kennedys riots, were there? How many riots were there? I mean, when I was asking you, "What was a Dead Kennedy riot?" you could probably list off tens, thousands. Like, what were the ones that you remember? San Luis Obispo, 1985?
Um, I would say to define a Dead Kennedys riot, or one that was done against Black Flag or the Middle Class or MDC or whatever, as when the cops showed up at a punk rock show, cleared it out, and then proceeded to treat the audience like Rodney King. The Rodney King video was no surprise to me because that is how the LAPD treated its own fans.
Were the LA gigs always out of control like that?
No, not all of them. Usually the problems were started by goons or cops or one leading to the other. Some of them, like the one in Wilmington, California, the most famous one, was planned in advance by the cops. The LAPD didn't even have jurisdiction in the city of Wilmington. They stormed in along with the sheriff and ran about 2000 people out through one set of double doors. Luckily nobody was trampled to death, but they had to run through a gauntlet of cops swinging billy clubs at their heads while they were being buzzed by helicopters, tear gas. Other helmeted cops were running up and down the streets of Wilmington smashing out windows of businesses and windshields of cars. It was all blamed on Dead Kennedys the next day by the LA Times but East Bay Ray had yet another of his female acquaintances - she worked in the emergency room in the hospital in Long Beach and she said an LA county sheriff's officer was there at 4:30 that afternoon saying, "You'd better have more people in the ER tonight because there's going to be some casualties."
Black Flag encountered that too, didn't they? Hostility from the cops.
Probably much more than us. Living in LA, you tend to encounter hostility from the cops. A lot.
And how about you? You spent a lot of time in the audience, didn't you? I asked somebody else about the Dead Kennedys because I never had the pleasure of seeing the Dead Kennedys, Jello, I'm sorry, but a friend of mine saw you in the early '80s and he said you spent a lot of time in the audience with your clothes ripped off. Was this something you came to expect? Was this a normal gig you saw?
Uh, thankfully no. I mean, when my clothes started getting ripped off, what people didn't know or didn't bother to take into account was I didn't have any money to buy any more clothes. So when they took my last pair of shoes, I got pretty upset. So I guarded against that a little later, but I figured, well, especially in San Francisco, at any show I am probably going to lose my shirt so I quit dressing very well onstage.
Do you remember a lot of time in the audience at all, being in the pit, dragged offstage? Do you remember any of that?
I was almost never dragged. I usually jumped.
Do you still write songs, Jello, by humming into a tape deck?
Is that what you've always done? Like, do you write the riffs for the guitars that way? How does that work?
I used to write them off of guitar, but it took so long and I was such a terrible guitar player that Klaus finally said, "Just sing us the damn thing." So then I could make more complicated songs and more interesting ones and not have to worry about trying to figure out how to play them!
Because, Jello Biafra, ex of the Dead Kennedys and now of Alternative Tentacle Records, I have these lyrics that have just recently been printed up for a song called "The Suharto Stomp" by a band, quote, called the Nomads. And I was just wondering what would your take be on singing these lyrics here by the band called the Nomads we have here? I am just wondering how you would interpret these lyrics here? What do you think?
I don't know what a line like "Not a dumb speech above Wreck Beach" has to do with Suharto.
Well, the Prime Minister was at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC during APEC speaking above Wreck Beach.
Uh. Well, it sounds like somebody who knows the incident is one to sing the song. There isn't enough graphic detail for me to quite figure out what is going on.
But how would you sing the first line? I was just wondering. How would you sing the first line? Like, for me, I might go [sings], "He's the president but I'm so hesitant to buy some shoes with a man with those views." How would you sing that, Jello? I'm just curious.
I have no idea. [sings] "He's the president but I'm so hesitant to buy shoes with a man with those views." God, that sounds heavy metal. Fuck that. Next question.
Okay, so I guess that song's not going to be a Top 40 hit for the punk band the Nomads then?
Uh, not if they make me sing it.
Have you heard of any of the Village People's stuff, like their new wave song, "Food Fight"?
Because I actually have it here. I got this. When the Village People went new wave, they did a song called "Food Fight."
Oh my God! They look almost as corny as Spandau Ballet themselves!
What do you know about stuff like that? People trying to cash in on the punk - Did you see that Chipmunk punk album, no, sorry, the Pink Panther punk album?
Is it any good?
It's got a song called "It's Punk" on it. But I guess what I'm curious about this, Jello, is, like, like, bands that start out kind of like - the Village People turned punk, the Pink Panther turns punk. Do you have any examples of this?
Doesn't the packaging and the titles and everything remind you of the current Lookout! releases?
It does, actually, quite a bit! What do you know about that, though, Jello? The Pink Panther punk, the Village People turning punk. Bands that were glam turning punk. Do you have any examples of this?
Well it didn't - punk never got as big as it could have to inspire a lot of things like that. I mean, we never saw a Deep Purple punk album, or anything quite as magnificently desperate as "the crew cuts go long hair" that came out in the '60s.