Hitting the UK with the GUANTANAMO SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, Big Cheese caught up with punk rock legend Jello Biafra to talk mayoral bids and playing Israel…
Is it true you’re thinking about running for mayor of San Francisco again?
“No, I’d make a better mayor than the last few we’ve had, but then again so would a cockroach.”
Do you think that the current political climate could see a return to good, angry punk rock rather than what is deemed ‘pop punk’ these days?
“The very lightweight nature of the shit side of pop punk is enough reason right there. There’s nothing like taking the rock out of punk is there? Granted, a lot of the bands who initially got big doing that got there because they had talent and some good songs but every time I hear another kissy ass copycat of that stuff it sounds more like the Eagles with loud guitars than anything that means punk to me, and any girly lyrics, out of my stereo it goes. Life is too short to listen to bad music.”
What do you think about Obama and the state of America today?
“Worst fears are coming true. I said as he got in is it’s another Bill Clinton, who also used the word ‘hope’ to market himself. So all the people who did have hope and registered and voted for the first time, if they didn’t see some results may have never participated or voted again. Local elections are what really matter. They decide where a lot of that tax money actually gets spent. We could build some housing for poor people or build a golf course. It matters in schools because, at least in America, the fundamentalist Christian right is relentless at trying to inject their points of view into the regular school curriculum and having evolution kicked out of science books. The problem being that most school text books in the country are published in Texas where they are very strong so if they get censored in Texas they get censored for the whole country.”
You’ve collaborated with a lot of musicians over the years. Is there anyone else you would like to work with?
“Eugene from Gogol Bordello was proposing a project with him, me and Max Cavalera all at once but I have no idea how that would work, when we would do it, or any of the three of us will have the time. So I don’t know how much more of that I’m going to able to do because the priority now that I finally have a band again has to be the Guantanamo School Of Medicine. It’s an outlet for all those piled songs I’ve had in my closet that I’ve never been able to dust off, get recorded and play. If there are any collaborations it may be in another art field. I’m starting to get a few feelers big and small for film and the last couple never quite happened so maybe I shouldn’t talk about it.”
How did it go in Israel? Did you play a show in the end?
“I pulled the plug. It just got too heavy for a lot of bad reasons. I finally felt that I led my band too far into uncharted waters and was a bad leader in that regard. I may be used to taking all kinds of heat and sticking my neck out but not everybody else in the band was used to this experience. I just couldn’t drag them any further and decided to just use my plane ticket and just go to Israel and check out the situation.”
Guantamo School Of Medicine tour the UK in August.
5 Birmingham O2 Academy
6 London O2 Academy
7 Rebellion Festival, Blackpool
9 Glasgow O2 Academy
10 Galway Roisin Dubh
11 Dublin Button Factory
12 Cork Cyprus Avenue