Nardwuar the Human Serviette vs Jello Biafra
2002

 
 

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 on
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 out. Kind of like now, in other words. If we'd had money then, like SST had later or Epitaph or Fat has now, that's probably one of the bands we would 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 thinnest walls of any motel they'd ever been in their lives and they didn't get any 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 it's time to pull over, you pull over and hope you can find a place to crash.

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") Bachman?
Not as far as I know. Is that Chris Houston's latest tall tale?

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 sorry.
It was Chris' recording, but I was just dubbed in after Chris and, 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 way to 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 and 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 Kramer? 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 you knowä

The Nomads.
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, Nick 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 learned the lyrics, I realized they were just clear off the scale egocentric. They had to have been written either by a fundamentalist Christian evangelist or Charles Manson or maybe both at the same time, so I did it maybe in the style of the singer of the God Bullies might have done it or something. And then at the end, they brought out all of the guitarists and Wayne Kramer to 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 to handle it so the other instruments didn't get buried, so it felt like 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 how much my twenty-five cent copy of Kick Out the Jams meant to me in high school at 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, I'm on stage with Wayne. I couldn't believe it. Many things have gone wrong in my 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 or 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 rehearsed playing the same equipment at different times and the recordings were in real crude studios, which actually enhanced them, in my opinion, because the guitars sounded like an electric razor or something and they just went on and grew and have a following and whatnot, but have not lost their intensity or extreme nature. There's all sort of wimpy, poppy ways to do punk, and the generic side of hardcore, but when any type of punk is done well, or is as extreme as it's ever been, or breaks the mold, I'm as into 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 people 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 Biafra, right?
I don't know whether you'd call it replaced or just fronting a really cynical, inept karoke or cover band who happens to have the same members of Dead Kennedys, but have none of the consciousness or the soul anymore and their motivation is sheer greed. Apparently, they were asked in Denver a few nights ago, "What's this with Brandon not even bothering to learn the words?" And they just laughed.

And lyric sheets are falling out of his pocket in Brazil?
Yup.

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 surf.
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 it diving because Mabuhay Garden stage is only about a foot and a half off the ground. I don't know. I meanä

Iggy went into the crowd.
There's Iggy. There was Darby Crash. Stiv Bators. Apparently Steven Leckie or Nazi Dog, which ever name he was using at the time, did that, too.

Of the Viletones - but, did you float around the crowd?
Could be.

Rather than just getting held there.
Could be.

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 bodies that probably shouldn't have graffiti tattooed on them. I think my favorite was the people in Live Skull sent me a postcard from some little town in 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 and guess what was spray painted on the tank.

D...
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 logo.

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 mentions that you got a Mercedes or a BMW for a wedding gift? That's a cool gift.
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 places, 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, no nothing, and everybody from MDC to Helios Creed had a rehearsal space there. There was almost an entire Vat rat compilation at one point. The darker side was that it was also a magnet for a lot of teenage runaways who turn into speed freaks and things. It had a pretty seedy side, too. And some people didn't do what they could have done to discourage that.