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East Bay Ray, who sparked the breakup of the band when he announced he was leaving, went on to form the ill-fated ( and rightfully so) band the Kage, with female vocalist Bana Witt. Klaus Fluoride continues to produce exciting local bands such as Whipping Boy and Tragic Mulatto, and to release his own bizarre solo discs, including Because I Say So. He's currently playing with the Muskrats. Darren Peligro played guitar and sang in the Jungle Studs, a truly exciting mix of pop, soul and punk, and is now with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. According to Biafra, original drummer Slesinger is now a San Francisco architect, and 6025 is working on his goal to become the "Captain Beefheart of gospel music."
There are several collectible Dead Kennedys releases floating around., including a couple of bootlegs. "Skateboard Party is a bootleg... I know the guy who put out the original pressing, and then he farmed it out to somebody else who ran wild with it and we had to put a stop to it," says Biafra. And what about that DKs picture disc that's being advertised everywhere? "That's a total, total bootleg. This guy wasted our time for doing an interview for a fanzine in England, and then pressing it as a $25 dollar picture disc. And people wonder why I'm so mean about not letting people tape my shows now... Because I'm really sick and tired of people making shitty recordings and then who gets the complaint letters saying they're a crook? Me! It's another example of where greedy people wreck it for everyone else.
"There's another bootleg, too, it's really horrible, recorded in 1980 in Germany with a fold-out poster with an iron cross on it which was the tour poster at the time, leading me to believe the promoter put it out. I think it's a recording of a show in Bonn recorded on someone's walkman, which they probably set right in front of the PA or they couldn't possibly have gotten it to sound so bad. Usually it goes for about $30, and it may be that rare, but there's a good reason for that. There was a second pressing on brown vinyl that came out four years later.
Another rare Dead Kennedys item is one that was unknown until now. "Oh, ho, ho, ho, ho... oh, he's gonna kill me for letting this out of the bag but I can't resist: Ray was in a band called Cruisin', who made a single; one side was called 'Vickey's Hickey,' with Sha-Na-Na type doo wops. 'Vickey had a hickey...' I can't remember the other side of it. On Cruisin' Records I guess; it was sold at their shows. I think they may even still exist in some form around here."
While looking at the discography that was being prepared for this article, Biafra suddenly yelled "What is Viva La Revolution? Needless to say, if I haven't heard of it, it probably means it was not supposed to come out. "Some 'CD connoisseurs' have told me that they think Frankenchrist sounds a great deal better on CD than it does on vinyl, which shouldn't surprise me in a way, since I have a habit of trying to squash as much music onto one disc as possible, and so the last three DKs albums were over 23 minutes a side, and you lose a little bit of loudness when you do that."
Biafra himself does not own a CD player. "So many of my favorite records are never going to come out that way: they're just too old or too obscure or they're from countries where CDs just aren't a practical item, especially for bands like that."
Among Biafra's collection are items from a trading system he has with a friend of his up in Portland. "We pile up both the most unusual and the absolute worst records we find at garage sales and thrift stores, and just trade stacks to each other. Once he came up with The Singing Cops from Yakima, Washington, which I guess were these patrolmen, all trying to be a Sha-Na-Na type band, so there they are, posing in the police locker room on the back cover, with their sleeves rolled up pseudo-'50s style, and one of them is even flashing a switchblade, which he'd probably confiscated from some poor kid he'd probably beaten up earlier in the day.
"Another one I got is by Buzz Martin, the singing logger. He sings all these vintage country tunes about his logging truck and how much he hates environmentalists and the forest service; and his chainsaw, things like that. And on the newer one he has his wife in this ridiculous 'Alice in Wonderland' queen outfit, singing with him on stage, and his son who has a Herman's Hermits haircut in the 1970's, singin' a cover of "Rhinestone Cowboy.'"
There are a couple of Dead Kennedys videos available, one through RAM video, another released by Target Video, and Biafra briefly appears in the movie about the band X, The Unheard Music. The DKs also perform in Urgh! A Music War film, along with Gary Numan, the Police and others.
"At the time, Miles Copeland was trying to sign us to IRS, so he was courting us as a possible future item, to rape and pillage and profit off of. And so we were put on the bill at the Santa Monica Civic in L.A. Unfortunately, my mic cord got tangled right away when I'd figured out a way to step on top of one of the movie cameras and jump over the barrier into the audience. So that didn't happen. We are in the movie, but A&M forbid our presence on the soundtrack because of our name. Jerry Moss, the 'M' in A&M, supposedly is a yachting buddy of the Kennedy family and didn't want anybody called Dead Kennedys on the label.
"That's why Faulty Products was started as well, as a branch of IRS, because originally Fresh Fruit was supposed to go out through A&M, but A&M wouldn't touch it, so they created an American arm of the very appropriately named Faulty Products."
The Dead Kennedys' name did cause its share of trouble too, although Biafra says, "I've heard unsubstantiated reports through the grapevine that various third or fourth generation Kennedys actually like the band and understand the real reasoning behind the name... I was also told that the Kennedy that died of a drug overdose was into us and maybe even had seen us live in L.A. at the Whisky. What I heard from one of his friends was that he was actually quite a talented poet and an aspiring rock shaman. But try as they might they couldn't get him to kick the drug habit, and plus, of course, his family wouldn't hear of having a bohemian in their midst, so he was quite alienated supposedly."
Biafra plans to return to doing music imminently, and has finished an EP with a one-time only band he calls Lard. The only other music released from Biafra recently was one cut on a ROIR compilation credited to Bank of Sodom. According to Biafra, his music "could go in any number of directions and possibly under several different names." In the meantime, fans will no doubt also enjoy his next spoken word record, High Priest of Harmful Matter.
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