JELLO BIAFRA INTERVIEW
Courtesy of Spinner UK
Jello Biafra has never been one to mince words when he sees a problem. During a recent interview about his latest musical project, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine’s ‘The Audacity of Hype,’ the former Dead Kennedys mastermind told Spinner about what annoys him about politicians, health care, the media and American culture these days. Here are his five best rants.
1. Health Care: [What annoys me is] the audacity to exploit a desperate people who are desperate for real change and who are overwhelmingly in favor of universal health care complete with — call it what you will — a public or single-payer option. The coin-operated people in both Congress and the White House are blocking the will of a large majority of the population. Obama even said repeatedly during the campaign that people read into him what they want to read into him — he was never as progressive as a lot of people think he was. The trouble with branding yourself with hope and change and then turning around and hiring Bill Clinton’s economic team that screwed up the laws in the first place and allowed our economy to collapse, that’s slamming the door on a large number of the people who voted for you. As lame as most coin operated Democrats are, I fear that if Obama continues to blow the healthcare opportunity that we’re going to have another off-the-wall Republican Congress after the 2010 election.
2. Bailouts: What really bothers me about these bailouts is not that they just came with no strings attached right when there was a golden opportunity to strong-arm some reform into the greed structure. There’s this nagging question when all these financial institutions say ‘Oh, we need to be bailed out, tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars because we lost all other people’s money.’ Well, how much of that money was really just speculation? ‘We’ve invested this much money assuming we’re going to get this much of a return if the housing prices continue to rise,’ but then they’re getting bailed out in a way for money that never even existed. The way they could have done it with all these mortgage foreclosures is give the money to the people who are stuck in these bad mortgages, they pay off their mortgage, the banks get their money anyway, but people get to stay in their homes? Why didn’t they do that?
3. Conservative Media: Some people have urged me to try and go on Bill O’Reilly or see if I can get on with Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck but I don’t see the point. Why waste my time when all they’re going to do is yell at me to shut up and I won’t get a word in edge-wise? How can I communicate anything of value that would inspire anyone that goes out of their way to watch Fox News? The things they nitpick — not just about politicians but about pop culture figures as well — I’m like ‘Hey, how can you nail me on this? Drugs, adultery, creative crime and sabotage, vandalism, bad attitude — hey, I’ve already done that and I’m not ashamed of any of it.
4. Music Media: I’m realistic about the glass ceiling that’s kind of been over me and my projects from the very beginning. You don’t come out as openly anti-entertainment industry as I am without expecting some people in that industry are not going to want to admit you exist unless something bad happens to you, which is kind of the way I’ve been treated by Rolling Stone and Spin for as long as I can remember. If I get my knee smashed by thugs at Gilman Street, that’s worth putting in Rolling Stone but if I put out a new album, it doesn’t get reviewed. They feasted on the Dead Kennedys lawsuit too, in part because those guys were hiring Hollywood publicists and things and using money they owed me to help pay for it.
5. Censorship: Any time an artist in a position of influence ranging from Tom Morello to Steve Earle to Michael Franti to Green Day, when they stick their neck out and risk being chopped to pieces — not just by the Glenn Beck’s of the world but by their own corporate music label — I say ‘more power to ’em.’ Sometimes it’s almost a deafening silence, like when Tipper and Al Gore launched their war against free speech and freedom of expression in music. Where was Bruce Springsteen? Where was Bob Dylan? Even the bigger name metal bands and people like Prince were completely silent even though they were the targets. When the LAPD decided to make me their pigeon and maybe the City Attorney could get some political mileage out of kissing ass to Tipper Gore, the prosecuting attorney said he thought I was just going to pay a $50 fine and that would be it and then they could use that as a precedent to go after the big fish. Instead, I fought them and put a year and a half of my time into that but it made them a lot more reluctant to go after other artists.