Well, how about novelty songs? Punk novelty songs. Any of those do you remember?
I'm trying to think of the one. There's an Australian comedian who is famous in Australia who is really famous in Australia called Norman Gundston who did a song with his song with his comedian schtick called "I May Be A Punk But I Love You."
What about the band the Mentally Ill? Who are they?
Some suburban people from Deerfield, Illinois, who didn't play live until much later. The singer on that EP, the last I heard, he was making kung fu movies in the Orient.
Winding up here Jello Biafra, Jello, did the Dead Kennedys ever play with Minor Threat?
Yeah. Um, twice, maybe three times. We were supposed to play with Minor Threat at UBC in Vancouver but there was a snowstorm and they got stuck in Calgary.
Wow! What was it like playing with them? How were they different audiences? Were there different audiences?
Um, I had never seen audiences sing along to the choruses and the words before. This was in San Francisco and people just didn't do that. Their people did. They were a really, really good live band and so it was a bitch to try and follow them. And, uh, the first time we didn't do so well. The second time we held our own, if not did as good or better. That was a magical show in LA where people were bouncing off the walls and each other clear back to the back wall. And, get this for a line-up: Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, MDC, the Zero Boys and the Detonators all on one bill.
Was that the Detonators from Portland?
Yeah, they started in LA and then they moved to Portland.
When people were singing choruses, were they singing Minor Threat and Dead Kennedys choruses or was it just Minor Threat or was it just Dead Kennedys?
Mainly Minor Threat but in LA they did some Dead Kennedys ones too.
How are things going at Alternative Tentacles now, Jello? Because Mr. Brett isn't doing too well at Epitaph, as it says in industry trade papers. Larry Livermore is no longer at Lookout! Records. Sub Pop Canada closed. You guys got Crucifucked. How are things going at AT?
Well, keep in mind that Rolling Stone piece dissing Brett Gurewitz has a really ugly message between the lines: "See what happens when you take on major labels? You should know better. Knuckle under and submit." Even some of Brett's most vehement Epitaph detractors are actually sympathetic over that Rolling Stone article because it is so - it is almost like a mafiosi article bashing anybody from going up against the big boss.
It talks about him being in rehab.
Yeah, why don't they talk about it the next time - you won't see them talking about it the next time a Warner Brothers or a Sony or a Geffen executive goes into rehab. I mean, it's funny how the head of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the songwriters organization that puts on the Grammy Awards, is calling for mandatory piss jar testing of musicians to clean up the industry, but not for executives, and executives are the ones who supply the drugs to the bands to begin with. I've known so many bands who become junkies after they sign with major labels. I figure there is a reason for that: it makes them easier to control.
Jello, I heard you had some falling out with your European label and you had to go to court, and then I was thinking, you've been to court quite a bit in your life, haven't you? I mean, fighting the PMRC, etc. But what about this Crucifucks thing that happened? What is the status on that? Maybe you can give the readers a quick background on what was going - because that was a scary case.
It still is. The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, you know, the white officers club, is suing, claiming we used a picture of one of their officers without permission who was pretending to lie dead in the street when he really wasn't, as it turns out. And, but there was no copyright on it, and we did not cause them any damages so, um, the identical case against Borders Books - whose money I guess they were looking for - got thrown out of court, so hopefully ours will get thrown out soon. We've never paid them a dime. The only reason a judge ordered us to pay them 2.5 million is that they had a hearing on the case and we didn't show up because we were not notified of the hearing.
What's the rumor, I hear, Jello, on Gene Simmons and you? Gene Simmons wanting the rights for Frankenchrist?
He wanted to make a movie about the Frankenchrist trial and it became clear from our first conversation that I would have absolutely no say in how the movie was made or what it said or how I was portrayed. He proposed Billy Crystal playing me, by the way. And, so, I didn't call him back.
All these people were offering support. Like Frank Zappa phoning you for support, but Gene Simmons wants to make a movie?
That was after the trial. Frank Zappa's support came before the trial. We didn't call him; he called us.
And now you're friends with Don Johnson?!
Not that I know of.
Didn't he ask for some song or anything like that?
His music director put "Insight At A Calcutta Agogo" by Tumor Circus in Nash Bridges. The music director for Nash Bridges is very dedicated to trying to help local San Francisco bands at least to get a little bit of a leg up and a little bit of cash to keep going. He's said he's put something like 150 local bands into that show so far. Incidental music, here and there.
Jello, you were mentioning that Search And Destroy was such a great fanzine, you could open up any page and see something interesting, there was something about the Dead Kennedys that was interesting. In 1978 you said you liked the Ugly Ducklings! How did you discover Canada's punk masters, the Ugly Ducklings, and their ultra rare LP in 1978?
Their ultra rare LP was for sale in Denver when I was still living in Colorado at a store called Wax Trax whose owners later relocated to Chicago and started the Wax Trax label. Back then, instead of dance floor music, they scorned anything with a synthesizer in it and they were into glitter, glam, garage punk, Gene Vincent, and they were the first people in America to import a Sex Pistols record. And, um, one of the things they got ahold of in their collector wheeling and dealing was an Ugly Ducklings album. I couldn't afford it but I heard it and was immediately blown away by that song "I Need Nothing" which is one the Nomads should have covered as far as I'm concerned. And so later I saw it on a list that was a mainly '50s rhythm and blues auction, and so I made a low ball bid for the '60s album by the Ugly Ducklings and got my own copy, scratched to hell, but at least I got to hear the record. It was one of those that obviously had a young owner because he had written his name all over the cover, both sides, several times. My Ugly Ducklings album has in ballpoint pen, Magic Marker, psychedelic marker, you name it, "Harley Zuretski" written over and over and over again.
You also mention the Moon Rakers and Essential Logic?
Um, Moon Rakers I heard growing up, back when commercial radio played local bands in the mid-'60s. They were one of the garage bands that jumped up and down on my bed to at night when I was supposed to be going asleep in second grade. They did the best version of "Baby Please Don't Go" that anyone ever recorded. It is way wilder than the one the Amboy Dukes did.
And what about Essential Logic? Do you remember that at all, what that was?
Oh, just some way of pointing out in Search And Destroy that we had strange influences. I got the idea from the Screamers because as I said, the thing about Search And Destroy was - I guess I didn't say this - is back then, the pressure, especially in San Francisco, is not for all bands to sound exactly the same like it is now thanks to MaximumRockNRoll and all, but every band had to sound different and you had to flaunt something you knew or were into that nobody else knew about in Search And Destroy to make your interview more interesting than the last band's interview. Search And Destroy was a good zine because they only asked one or two of these stupid "What's the scene like?" or "What's the band like?" questions that have made a lot of today's zines such a bore to read. One or two questions like that then they'd go off into outer space. One of the things that shocked me about the Screamers and made me want to see them so badly before I actually got to was, I think, KK the drummer said, "Well, yeah, we pay attention to the Pistols and the Clash but we're equally interested in what Nelson Riddle is doing." I was going, "What?" And so when they listed the Screamers' record collection, I figured well we'd better inject some that the Screamers didn't put in and so, uh, I think Essential Logic was mainly done because it was 6025, our second guitar player's favorite band at the time.
And right now you're going to give the readers a special treat. You've brought all the way from San Francisco, Jello, please reiterate, B.J., who is this person again?
B.J. Snowdon, a music teacher from Massachusetts, the kind of music teacher I wish I had. She has a very special place in her heart for Canada. Once her song about Canada is heard, it is never forgotten. It is kind of like hearing "Rock And Roll McDonald's" by Wesley Willis for the first time or something like that. Everybody who hears this is going to be singing it day after day whether they like it or not because it is such a catchy song.
You've made a special effort to contact and get this song played. You really are B.J. Snowdon's number one fan, aren't you?
I would say I am one of them.
She's a high school teacher with no tone.
I don't know if she teaches high school or elementary school or what, but considering how often or unoften she actually sings in key, I would much rather have had her as a music teacher rather than the child abusing one I remember so well who made me stand up in front of class and sing "The Star Spangled Banner" off-key again and again and yell at me until I got it right but of course I never could.
All right, Jello. Anything else you would like to add? Why should people care about B.J. Snowdon, or Jello Biafra for that matter?
Because our music is more interesting than MuchMusic!
All right, well, keep on rockin' in the free world, and doot doola doot doo...
Doot doot. And if we don't keep on rockin' in the free world, it won't be a free world anymore. Just ask President Suharto. When Sepultura played there, soldiers aiming bayonet rifles at the crowd surrounded the stage.
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