Nardwuar: Who are you?
Jello: I wish I knew.
You are J. Lo. Get it? J-ello Biafra.
What, did my pink ruffle panties give me away? We all know what you like, Nardwuar.
And I want say, Ba-boom! But the new CD you're going to put out is called Ka-Boom!
Tentatively, yeah, but it's not named after the cereal, it's named after the World Trade Center being reduced to cereal. It's The Big Ka-Boom, Part I. There will be other parts in the series as this ill-advised war on terrorism continues to evolve or devolve. It's not a triple album like the other spoken word. It's just a single disc this time. It's sort of a teaser for the longer one. I'm not too sure what I'm going to call that one yet. It might be called Machine Gun in the Clown's Hand. It might be called Osama McDonald.
Boucher (Jello's last name.) Is that a French name? Do you have French roots in your family?
I think several hundred years back I do, but for all practical purposes, I'm generic.
Now, there's a rumour going around that you're up for the lead in Vampire Hookers II.
Well, that's the first I've heard of that one, but as long as I can play one of the hookers, I'll be okay. I've been already thinking about the implants and all.
Don't you actually sing the theme song to Vampire Hookers II? Steve of the Neos told me that. You sang it to him.
I think I saw Vampire Hookers at his house or something.
Maybe I sang it to him when I was at Cecil English's place when I was doing those albums with DOA and Nomeansno. I can't remember now, exactly. Maybe I had to do that to describe the song to him. Of course, since then, it's
been covered by The Show Business Giants and several other bands, but
I don't think it ever came out on record in its original version.
Jello Biafra, the Neos, Steve,
how come they were never on
Alternative Tentacles? Steve, you said, helped get Nomeansno get
Alternative Tentacles. How come the Neos never were? They could
have been as big as DRI!
We didn't have money to put out everything we wanted to put
Kind of like now, in other words. If we'd had money then, like SST
later or Epitaph or Fat has now, that's probably one of the bands
have worked with.
Do you have some sort of
aversion to Vancouver Island at all? I
heard you didn't like Nanaimo because your parents honeymooned there.
No, all I knew about Nanaimo before I went there
was that my parents
spent a night there on a travelling honeymoon and said it was the
walls of any motel they'd ever been in their lives and they didn't
sleep as a result.
How did they pick Nanaimo?
I'm not sure they picked it. Maybe it was getting
dark. That's the
way both they and I travel sometimes. Pick road at random, and when
time to pull over, you pull over and hope you can find a place to
And, Jello Biafra, you're
always hanging around Canadians. Tell
me about your collaboration with I Am Spoonbender, featuring Robynn
Iwata from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
I didn't know she was from Vancouver.
She used to be in Cub.
That explains the Mint (Records) connection, I suppose.
Yes, who stayed at your house once.
When I wasn't there.
Right. On the DOA tour.
Apparentlyä It's part of a tribute album for, maybe, the best band ever that never made a record, to my knowledge, namely The Screamers,
an LA band who was a huge inspiration to me when I first moved to San
Francisco when I was trying to get my own band going. They were the most original punk band then and maybe of any other time. They didn't even have guitars. They had fuzztone electric piano, a real creative drummer, a sound
driven by an ARP Odyssey synthesizer stacked on milk crates and a trained
mime named Tomata du Plenty, who had a lot of stage presence and all.
I miss them dearly. And so, we're doing a song called " Eva Braun."
I've heard, I guess it would be a rough mix, that Dustin of I Am Spoonbender wanted
to use as the final mix but it needed some repairs.
You're involved with so many
collaborations. Last time in Vancouver, didn't you do "Taking
Care of Business," with Randy ("the Riff Scientist")
Not as far as I know. Is that Chris Houston's latest
I'm not sure if it's some
sort of tall tale, but did you record with Chris Houston some sort
of song. What was it? "American Woman"! That was it. I'm
It was Chris' recording, but I was just dubbed in after Chris
yes, Randy Bachman and Brian Goble. Was the drummer Jon Card or
somebody else? Can't remember. Anyway, they laid down the track
and I'd heard Brian sing it before and he did a pretty good version.
I did it a number of
different ways and learned something from that session in that one
do vocals - if you think you're done and there's one extra track,
do the absolutely most obscenely bad version you can possibly come up with
some of it actually winds up being used.
And that was like a super
jam. Or at least Randy Bachman was on
that. Weren't you in Sweden and did some sort of jam with Wayne
What sort of super jams have you been involved with, Jello Biafra?
Well, that was a super jam. It was the twentieth,
maybe even the
twenty-fifth anniversary of that Swedish garage band - I'm sure
The Nomads. And they flew over special Guests of
Dishonor, I guess
you'd call it. Handsome Dick and Ross the Boss from the Dictators,
Royale from the Hellacopters came out. The main guy from Sator played.
Chris Bailey from The Saints did "(I'm) Stranded" and
they brought me out
to do "Let's Lynch the Landlord" and "Five Years
Ahead of My Time," that
old The Third Bardo '60s garage song that they re-did and when I
the lyrics, I realized they were just clear off the scale egocentric.
had to have been written either by a fundamentalist Christian evangelist
Charles Manson or maybe both at the same time, so I did it maybe
style of the singer of the God Bullies might have done it or something.
then at the end, they brought out all of the guitarists and Wayne
do "Kick Out the Jams," which I got to do one of the versus
of and that was
pretty cool. It was five guitars at once and the sound guy was able
handle it so the other instruments didn't get buried, so it felt
Ministry covering "Kick Out the Jams"; the whole stage
taking off like a
jet plane and all of these emotions running through my head about
my twenty-five cent copy of Kick Out the Jams meant to me in high
a time when most of my friends were abandoning rock'n'roll for Emerson,
Lake, and Palmer or Yes or something and all these years later,
stage with Wayne. I couldn't believe it. Many things have gone wrong
life, but every once in a while, something goes right.
Let's skip over to South
America for a moment. What was it like doing, "Holiday in Cambodia"
with Sepultura in front of 70,000 people and when was that?
That never happened.
Didn't you sing "Holiday
in Cambodia" with Sepultura in Brazil or
something like that?
It was one or two people from Sepultura and then
one or two from
Ratos De Porao, the Brazilian hardcore band we put out on Alternative
Tentacles and it wasn't 70,000 people. It might have been, oh, three
four hundred in San Paolo and double that or more in Rio de Janeiro.
How come Brazilian hardcore
is so cool? Like, that Ratos band is amazing. How come they're not
huger? What's so great about Brazilian
hardcore, Jello Biafra?
Uhhm, with them, they came from a time when just
being able to buy
instruments and play was a real struggle, so a lot of the bands
playing the same equipment at different times and the recordings
real crude studios, which actually enhanced them, in my opinion,
the guitars sounded like an electric razor or something and they
on and grew and have a following and whatnot, but have not lost
intensity or extreme nature. There's all sort of wimpy, poppy ways
punk, and the generic side of hardcore, but when any type of punk
well, or is as extreme as it's ever been, or breaks the mold, I'm
it as I ever was and Ratos de Porao do it to the extreme.
Now, speaking of cover bands,
guess who's playing tomorrow night
in Tucson, Arizona, Jello Biafra?
Uhhm, are you hitting at the fake Dead Kennedys
that they advertised
as a reunion and put my picture on the flyer and in the ads to bilk
paying twenty dollars American to get in?
Yes I am. What the hell is
going on there? Brandon Cruz - who does have some hardcore cred;
he was in Dr. Know - he's replaced you, Jello
I don't know whether you'd call it replaced or just
really cynical, inept karoke or cover band who happens to have the
members of Dead Kennedys, but have none of the consciousness or
anymore and their motivation is sheer greed. Apparently, they were
Denver a few nights ago, "What's this with Brandon not even
learn the words?" And they just laughed.
And lyric sheets are falling
out of his pocket in Brazil?
He didn't know the lyrics
to "Viva Las Vegas."
Maybe he didn't care.
Now, I was curious, Jello,
regarding the court battle, I read in Exclaim! Magazine, a Canadian
publication, about how you didn't make the jury laugh enough.
I didn't isolate that statement.
Vale said that.
When there's people on the other side of the room
trying to wipe out
your life and things are stacked against you, you can get nervous.
Jello, there's a book out
by Steven Blush called American
Hardcore and in it, it says that you were the first guy to crowd
I don't know whether if I was or not. I definitely
did a lot of
stage diving before I even had a band, although I wouldn't call
because Mabuhay Garden stage is only about a foot and a half off
ground. I don't know. I meanä
Iggy went into the crowd.
There's Iggy. There was Darby Crash. Stiv Bators.
Leckie or Nazi Dog, which ever name he was using at the time, did
Of the Viletones - but, did
you float around the crowd?
Rather than just getting
And in that book, also, there's
an interview with Winston Smith, Jello, and he mentions about how
Dead Kennedys graffiti is actually in a
Moscow jail. Where have you seen a Dead Kennedys graffiti.
All kinds of places, including parts of people's
probably shouldn't have graffiti tattooed on them. I think my favorite
the people in Live Skull sent me a postcard from some little town
Minnesota and all they could put on the postcard to show how wonderful
their little town was was a photo of an old tank in the city park
what was spray painted on the tank.
K. And on top of that, I also collect newspaper
clippings of local
articles of mysterious satanic cults where it shows a cop or somebody
shining a flashlight on satanic graffiti, and, again, it's the DK
And in that book as well,
Jello Biafra, and this is kind of a
personal thing, but I think you've addressed it before, maybe. It
that you got a Mercedes or a BMW for a wedding gift? That's a cool
That's not even true.
What did you get as a gift?
I don't remember now. My former wife took them all.
And speaking of "tooking"
and taking - do you know that Frank
Discussion of The Feederz still brags about stealing your ex-wife?
Well, as far as I'm concerned, at this point, they
deserve each other.
Speaking of San Francisco
and marriages and stuff, what were The
Vats like, Jello Biafra? The Vats.
I wasn't in them much. It was the stomping grounds
at one point of
MDC, DRI, and many others. A lot of tweakers there, too. In some
there were rehearsal spaces.
It was a squat, right?
I think you rented there. I don't think it was strictly
a squat, but
people did live in old beer vats. They put floors in. No windows,
nothing, and everybody from MDC to Helios Creed had a rehearsal
there. There was almost an entire Vat rat compilation at one point.
darker side was that it was also a magnet for a lot of teenage runaways
turn into speed freaks and things. It had a pretty seedy side, too.
some people didn't do what they could have done to discourage that.