Not an Ad Man": Jello Biafra Breaks Down the Current Dead Kennedys Swindle
I read that this all started with a Dockers commercial featuring "Holiday
JB: Yeah, yeah. The ad agency contacted Ray who contacted
me and I said no, so Ray threatened me, saying if I didn't do it there
were going to be repercussions. And it turned out that Klaus Fluoride
-- who normally tried to mediate any disputes among current or former
band members to keep it from turning into something like this -- was
hell-bent on selling out to Levi's. So after all these years of trying
to keep the Ray that called and screamed at me in Texas from running
amok, keep things cool, keep checks and balances going on the other
end, he at that point fell in and hitched his wagon to the greed train.
I mean, he went to two of my closest friends asking them to "persuade"
me to sell out to Levi's. When I asked about this and reminded him of
what would happen to our reputation if this went through -- reminding
him that if it was money he was after to think about how much he was
going to lose when people don't respect us anymore because everything
we ever did would be a lie -- he said, "Why don't you just go to the
press and tell them we did it for charity?" Five percent to charity
and keep the rest of the money. That's what he wanted me to. I didn't
and they sued. They claim it was the accounting error that sparked the
lawsuit, but we were all trying to settle that together. Until I wouldn't
Show DK the money? "They knew full well there wasn't some fifteen-year
conspiracy to hide their precious royalty money from them."
What kind of crazy commercial did they have planned for "Holiday in
JB: Oh, the commercial aired. But they used a Pretenders song
instead. The commercial didn't last very long, for good reason. It wasn't
just the obvious moral reasons that I didn't want my favorite Dead Kennedys
song trashed by being in a coporate commercial; it was also personal
or emotional because of the sheer nausea of being in a commercial, and
this one was pretty damn bad. It saturated the screen for about two
days and then it appeared to be yanked. It was two young yuppies in
a loft -- which is a sensitive issue in San Francisco right there --
and then a mouse runs across the floor. The girl in Hollywood stereotype
screams and the hunk guy jumps into his Dockers, turns into superhunk,
and catches the mouse; she feels sorry for it so they put it in the
cage by the bed. That's the end of it. No dialogue in it at all. That's
what they wanted "Holiday in Cambodia" for.
That's surprising because Levi's is a Bay Area business.
JB: Only in theory. I mean, ironically as Klaus was making the
case to me that we should do it, that they're a good, responsible company,
they laid of 6,400 workers in Texas while simultaneously giving out
a $100 million bonus to a retiring executive. And then a few months
later announced that they were opening up manufacturing plants in China.
Levi's may be based here but their community roots don't seem to go
very far anymore.
Ah, the poor old days. "Think of the floodgates they would
have opened up for scamming on the respect of old punk bands."
That's what I was trying to point out. You guys are punk icons in the
Bay Area. It's hard to believe that they wouldn't understand that, of
all songs, using "Holiday in Cambodia" for a commercial that inane wouldn't
make any sense for them.
JB: Number one, they feel that anyone can be bought and that
everyone has a price. And number two, they're thinking that, "Hey, all
those skater dudes and snowboarders are wearing baggy clothes and some
of them are getting older and have money in a ponch now so maybe we
need to sell them some of our baggy pants. And we need a beloved punk
rock song to do it". That might've been the logic, I have no idea. I'm
not an ad man.
Well, that's the only thing that seems to make any sense.
basically the understanding on these so-called reissues is that they
were done behind my back, without my permission, and the band informed
me that I would no longer be paid on them at all.
So the people that give their money over for these things might not
be the only ones who aren't getting what they're supposed to out of
it. They should think twice before picking one of them up. No one likes
the remastering, either. I've never heard it so I couldn't say.
It doesn't sound any different to me.
JB: Not everybody says that. Some people say now it's way too
slick. I don't know whether or not that's it, because they won't let
me hear it. I'm sure as hell not going to go down to a chain store (which
is the only place that stocks these things) and line the pockets of
the people who are screwing me. Basically, I am being punished for sticking
to the principles of the band.
That's what so amazing: that they would throw away almost twenty years
for a Dockers commercial.
JB: Not just the Dockers commercial. They're throwing it away
now by trying to recast the whole band as a toothless, fun, poppy, punk
thing that just wants your money.
A karaoke band, as you've said on the site.
JB: Yeah. I mean, what really galls me is that not only would
they put out such a god awful live album when we could have put out
a good one, but they've taken the attitude into their fake reunion tour,
as well, where Klaus was witnessed bragging onstage in San Francisco
that they had only practiced twice in thirteen years. And they were
asked by a radio interviewer in Denver about Brandon Cruz never really
learning the words, blowing them, and they just thought it was funny.
Music That Matters
Press, indeed. DJ Shadow has ironically withdrawn further into
himself the more public he's become. Which is a good thing, because
he's a brilliant artist whose bad ideas are better than the majority
of the good ideas littering the musical landscape."
stuff is just marketing. I don't give a fuck about it. I feel
comfortable being called a punk band, because I feel that's what
we came out of."
a trend, it's a fad, it's a fashion, and it will be gone. We didn't
come to build walls, we came to knock 'em down."
anything, the White Stripes are doing their best to clean up the
dumb streak soiling Detroit's good name."
the JSBX have left splintered punk behind in favor of standard blues
rock riffs, these wolves still have teeth, and they bite real hard.
It's punk, that's the way it happens, right?
JB: Well, not with everybody.
I was being facetious.
JB: (Laughs). It's a shame that they didn't put some creative
thought into this. They could have at least gotten Gary Coleman to be
the singer. And if this works with Brandon Cruz, think of the floodgates
they would have opened up for scamming on the respect of old punk bands.
You could have . . .
JB: Well, Danny Bonaduce and the Necros is too obvious. People
used to tease Barry Henssler by calling him Danny Partridge because
they look so much alike. No, get the kid from Malcolm in the Middle
to be in the Misfits.
JB: You could get Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen to be in Black Flag.
Hey, how about Emmanuel Lewis in the reunited lineup of the Germs?
Or Bad Brains! I can't believe this is happening.
JB: I'm really shocked by how low it's gone, too. It's like watching
a crazy uncle in the basement go through a second childhood.
PAGE --> "Everything
they've done since they seized control of the catalogue just reeks of
Thill -- a media fanatic who finds the time to write on everything that
does not include the words "boy band" -- is a gainfully employed
dotcom editor currently finishing his first novel, The Dangerous Perhaps.