Tag Archives: The Stooges

Ep. #109: Jello Biafra

Jello Biafra was the lead singer of the influential punk band Dead Kennedys and has since gone on to do significant work as an actor, spoken word artist, and vocalist, as well as being the head honcho at the still busy and prolific record label, Alternative Tentacles. His first band since he left Dead Kennedys is called Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine and their new album is called White People and the Damage Done, which they’re touring behind now, including stops at Call the Office in London, Ontario on June 16 and the Opera House in Toronto on June 17. Here Biafra and I discuss things like why Nardwuar the Human Serviette and I can’t pronounce Biafra, why Jello’s name came up in discussions about the Web Fast-Lane Vote spearheaded by the FCC, Guantanamo Bay and Chelsea Manning, the concept of the new album and how it delves into kleptocracy and retroactive feudalism, greed addicts, maximum wage, why “Shock-U-Py!” shows up at the end of the new album, how Jello engages with Canadian politics and our celebrity crackhead goofs, why people should stop talking about Hillary Clinton two years ahead of the election, thinking locally, why we should stop distracting ourselves, communication, reactivating our bullshit detectors, Jello has never felt alone in his thoughts and pursuits, what first turned him onto music as a kid, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and Azuma Kabuki music, garage bands, the Music Machine, the Animals and Eric Burdon, Jello used to be able to sing like Robert Plant, East Bay Ray has the Dead Kennedys master tapes, Jello has nothing to do with Dead Kennedys reissues and they seem to be muting his involvement in the band, Jello is proud of Dead Kennedys and doesn’t think the rest of the band cares about the music, Jello’s theatre background in middle school, Jello can play a mean Scrooge, acting in The Hipster Games and being typecast on Portlandia, how Dead Kennedys came together in San Francisco and the emergence of hardcore, how method acting influenced Jello’s vivid lyricism, his roles in Highway 61 and Terminal City Ricochet, Jello’s very first songs were written for Dead Kennedys, why he never played in some early cover band or something, the early D.O.A. cover band Stone Crazy, how and why the GSM is his first proper band since DKs, the Melvins wanted to avenge Jello, why he quoted the DKs song “Soup is Good Food” in the GSM song “Burgers of Wrath,” where he’s at now with the other Dead Kennedys and what it would take for him to agree to play with them again, playing DKs songs with the GSM, Jello’s getting back into spoken word performance, honouring Ralph Nader, the crippling losses he’s suffered lately, how much the Stooges meant to him, the plight of independent musicians and labels like Alternative Tentacles in the age of file-sharing, AT is doing cool stuff with reissues of records by the Dicks, Voivod, and new releases by young bands like Death Hymn Number 9 and Itchy-O, making stuff is important, why the GSM is not playing Amnesia Rockfest in Quebec this month, scams, the song “Burgers of Wrath,” and then it’s bedtime for bonzo.

Related links: alternativetentacles.com vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #104: Fucked Up

Fucked Up are a really awesome and prolific band from Toronto who make great, smart rock records and do remarkable, community-minded things for people less fortunate than themselves. On June 3, Matador Records is releasing the band’s fourth proper album outside of the thousands of singles and EPs they’ve released over the past 13 years. The new record is called Glass Boys, I saw some of it get recorded in Chicago at Electrical Audio last summer, and there are at least two versions of it, one normal, one slow, that you can listen to. A couple of weeks ago, I went to Fucked Up’s practice space and, like some journalistic Noah, interviewed the band in pairs, starting with singer Damian Abraham and drummer Jonah Falco, following up with bassist Sandy Miranda and guitarist Ben Cook, and finally guitarists Mike Haliechuk and Josh Zucker. So yeah, Damian and Jonah are first and we talk about their mysterious practice space, Sloan and Danko Jones, beefs, Career Suicide, 13 years of Fucked Up and serious practice spaces, roller coaster land, my odd hair day, the band’s current collective emotional state, #marriage, Sandy, hair, and cars, who in Fucked Up actually knows what’s going on, the lyrics of Glass Boys and the burden of nostalgia, working towards the future, punk rock and archiving, music is non-formalized, Mike’s interesting instrumental ideas and multiple drum kits, alternate tempos and the half-time, spatial version of Glass Boys, many suggestions for special guest ‘back-up’ vocalists, J Mascis, Gord Downie is a good person, Mike likes songs, marijuana, Damian thinks Glass Boys is a concept record, being perfectly set up to fail, where we fit in and fulfilling our dreams, the song “Warm Change,” Sandy and Ben and I talk about her broadcasting experience, which includes doing the Mods and Rockers radio show on CIUT with Damian and Collective Concerts’ Jeff Cohen when she was a teenager, another show she did on CKLN, and working for Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting, driving all the way to New Jersey to play for 25 minutes, how Sandy joined Fucked Up in March 2001, Ben was a fan of Mods and Rockers, Smegheads, Toronto punk, Melanie Kaye, opening up for the Stooges on August 6, 2008, Ben’s first Fucked Up show was in Montreal after being their roadie, Ben thinks Mike had a crush on him, packing tea, Ben was the buffer, removing oneself from an emo, dysfunctional group, Fucked Up Zen, Sandy might be losing it, some people are getting along better, Ben goes off about stuff sometimes, Toronto people should be louder, recording chunks of Glass Boys with only certain members at places like Electrical Audio in Chicago, the songs are written together, Mike and Jonah took lead roles, other people played bass on this LP and Sandy’s not really ok with that, proper pairing, ill communication, bands are too much like families, Ben thinks Glass Boys is about Mike and Damian’s weird vibes about getting older and now they’re friends, Sandy thinks it’s about end times and the uncertainty that comes with growing older, Ben is surprisingly optimistic, Fucked Up has more gas but there might be a hole in the tank, the song “Sun Glass,” it’s not all cotton candy and unicorns, the song “DET,” drugs, I try to ask Josh and Mike about the song “DET” but it’s a Damian song and it’s very personal, I went to a bakery, New Jersey might be better than Japan, work is work, Mike begins to become a very difficult interview subject, Mike thinks that he’s 29 and I’m old, I try to take him seriously, Mike goes through the litany of philosophical questions that Glass Boys attempts to answer, Mike says he and Damian didn’t actually write this record together, tension vs. weirdness, Mike played piano when he was a kid, Josh was in a Toronto hardcore band called Youngblood when he was 12 years old, at one point Mike was an aimless drifter, I keep asking Mike about songs Damian wrote, Damian references historical and literary figures, I didn’t do my research, another question about Fucked Up’s “tensions,” Mike blames the media, I’m asking stock questions apparently, Mike and I have interview tension, Mike breaks down the FAQ he’s been getting about Glass Boys, Mike didn’t know Sandy was upset, Josh is “honest guy,” Mike doesn’t think administration talk is good podcast fodder, how the ideas (not “concepts”) for Glass Boys came to be, writing about the music industry, Mike seems into my question about his references to “echo” on this album, the hardcore punk continuum, embracing nostalgia and taking responsibility for one’s place in time, what Fucked Up talk about amongst themselves, Positive Force, the groovy rationale behind Glass Boys’ multiple tempos, where the album title comes from, Mike likes writing, pharmacists don’t have to have good origin stories, the Year of the Hare Zodiac single and my haircut, Mike wants to know how my podcast works, Mike works out and he beat me at an arm wrestle in Newfoundland and I didn’t like it, Josh wants this horror show to end, Mike thinks the slower Glass Boys songs might be longer than the regular ones, “Sun Glass [Slow version],” Nils Bernstein, and then the fiasco is over.

Related links: fuckedup.cc matadorrecords.com/fucked_up vishkhanna.com

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