On December 1st, 1999 Jello Biafra, Krist Novoselic, Kim Thayil and drummer Gina Mainwal performed a one-off protest concert against the World Trade Organization, and all that it stands for, at The Showbox in Seattle. History, insurrection and tear gas was in the air, as hundreds of fans and weary protestors defied the Seattle police curfew to show up and rock the house.
Tension was everywhere. No one knew if the show would even happen 'til the band walked out on stage. Biafra had been out rabble-rousing to gatherings big and small. Krist spent days filming as much of the ruckus as he could. Kim and Gina just wanted to reach the venue without being gassed and arrested. Somehow amongst it all, time was found for three rehearsals.
The plot began when Biafra and Krist were brainstorming with protest organizers for music talent to add to the events. Big names were proven "unavailable", so Krist drafted Biafra and the all-star pseudo-supergroup was hatched.
The NO W.T.O COMBO was recorded live on multi-track and mixed by Krist Novoselic and legendary grunge wizard Jack Endino; capturing the energy and 'you-are-there' ambiance of a night like no other. Artwork includes lots of W.T.O. info, photos, and a personal journal and reflections by Krist Novoselic. Biafra tied together many ideas from his spoken word albums and adds a few new ones on the opening track. The NO W.T.O. COMBO performed two new Biafra songs, one Dead Kennedys classic, and one Jello Biafra With DOA rager! This is just over 44 minutes in length- Roughly 15 minutes of spoken word and 29 minutes of music, plus iconic artwork by Shepard Fairey. A fantastic-sounding live document of insurrection, No WTO Combo style!
"The music on this CD was recorded live on Dec 1, 1999 several hours after a police enforced curfew had gone into effect on the second day of unrest at the WTO ministerial meeting in Seattle, WA. The show itself (which included performances from other artists) was reviewed here shortly after it took place (please see "Biafra & Franti: Live from the Occupied Zone"). The No WTO Combo consists of Jello Biafra (ex-Dead Kennedys, current Lard, etc.) at the mic, Kim Thayil (ex-Soundgarden) on guitar, Krist Novoselic (ex-Nirvana, current Sweet 75) on bass and Gina Mainwal (Sweet 75) on the drums. The sound quality on this live recording is excellent. From the opening spoken word / musical improv piece 'Battle in Seattle' all the way to the closer 'Full Metal Jackoff' the live music and vocals are clear and masterfully recorded. I was at this show and I don't remember it sounding this good (however, I was sitting on the bass side of the stage which is never a good idea if you like to hear musical detail). Jello's spoken monologue leads directly into an awesome cover of Dead Kennedys' 'Let's Lynch the Landlord'. I remember I just about left my body at that moment. You see, I got into the Dead Kennedys in 1986... the same year they broke up... never saw them live except on videotape. Seeing Jello do '...Landlord' was a beautiful thing especially since Thayil and Novoselic play the song so joyfully themselves. As I listen to this track again, I get the feeling Soundgarden and Nirvana must've played this tune for fun at band rehearsals. Jello wrote two new tracks that were designed just for the occasion ('Electronic Plantation' and 'New Feudalism'). These new tracks were conceived of and rehearsed mere days before they were performed in Seattle. As a result, they have a debut/demo quality to them. Soundwise you won't be able to tell the new cuts apart from vintage Dead Kennedys... Thayil's take on the music is very faithful to the guitar stylings of the Kennedy's East Bay Ray. 'Full Metal Jackoff' is a cover tune from another Jello project (Biafra with DOA). Here Novoselic and Mainwal lay down a steady and relentless rhythm to which Thayil adds some scrambling Soundgarden-isms. In front of this wall of sound stands Jello shreaking and preaching somberly from on high about everything that is wrong with America. Though I am nuts about the music, my favorite thing about this release is the insert that comes with the CD. In it, aside from the lyrics and cool photos from the event, are the WTO diaries of both Jello Biafra and Krist Novoselic. These detailed accounts of what went down before, during, and after this show (from two highly respectable artists) are worth the price of the disc alone. To top it off, an article from the Institute for Consumer Responsibility answers the question "What is the WTO?" (in case you're still unclear about this). Many links and addresses are inlcuded for the more curious and studious among us. Live From the Battle in Seattle is easily the most important release of the year. If there is justice in the world, this disc should be nominated for some damned presitigious grammy-type award or another." - Raptorial
"Live From The Battle In Seattle is an interesting release in that it mainly stands as a document to what happened in those few days. It's only 5 tracks and 45 minutes long, but the listener is able to get a good feel for what's going on (and what went on) through a combination of music and spoken word... As usual, Biafra's rant is a combination of good facts and rather inspired (and inciting) riffing on what has happened, and there's just enough crowd noise in the recording to make you sort of feel like you were there. The album actually opens with a 15-minute rant by Biafra and whether or not you enjoy the release will pretty much hinge on how much you enjoy his spoken word. As usual, he plays the crowd pretty well with some statistics and lacing his socio-political speech with a batch of obsenity and ripping on those in charge. From there, the group plays 4 songs, including 1 Dead Kennedy track ("Let's Lynch The Landlord"), 2 new ones ("New Feudalism" and "Electronic Plantation") and the album closer of "Full Metal Jackoff" that Biafra did with D.O.A. In the track, he's updated the lyrics for the performance with several references to the election (which had just taken place)... The band itself sounds pretty tight for only a couple days worth of practice and the two new tracks are pretty darn good as well. If you weren't there and wished you could have been, it's a way to get a little closer." - Almost Cool
"A new CD relives the night that ex-members of Nirvana, Soundgarden and the Dead Kennedys united to entertain the troops at the Battle of Seattle.
If ever a protest deserved a soundtrack, it was the tumultuous anti-WTO demonstrations in Seattle. On Dec. 1, after shutting down the city center and disrupting the trade summit, 400 weary protesters took a break from the fiery all-day demonstrations to brave the dusk-to-dawn curfew. The tired troops crammed into a popular downtown club called the Showbox to witness an unlikely USO band: singer/spoken-word performer Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) playing the Bob Hope role, backed by guitarist Kim Thayil (Soundgarden), bassist Krist Novoselic (Nirvana) and drummer Gina Mainwal (Sweet 75).
Calling themselves the No WTO Combo, the one-off group ripped through a blistering set of Dead Kennedys-style hardcore. "Jello just exploded," says Novoselic, remembering the show. "Kim was bombin' those riffs out, just shredding. Gina was rockin'." Neither Novoselic nor Thayil had ever performed onstage with Biafra, one of the most enduring, notorious and politically active figures to come out of the late 1970s and early 1980s California punk scene. The idea of the No WTO Combo came about when Biafra and Novoselic, president and founder of the Joint Artists and Music Promotions Political Action Committee, were touring together as speakers on the activist-oriented Spitfire Tour. The two talked backstage and agreed that the forthcoming WTO protests needed "a music show in the middle of everything."
The No WTO Combo used a few hours over Thanksgiving weekend to practice politically charged songs like "New Feudalism," "Electronic Plantation" and "Full Metal Jackoff." Then, as the week of protests unfolded, Novoselic spent each day walking around the downtown area, keeping a daily diary of events that ended up in the form of liner notes for the album.
"The thing that made the biggest impression on me was when I walked up to this one police line and they were starting to [fire] tear gas. Our eyes were burning and our throats were burning," says Novoselic. "People were getting mad. Some people were yelling 'fuck you' at the cops. But there was something in particular that other people were [yelling at the] police that made an impact on me. They [were shouting], 'This is what democracy looks like!'" "It inspired me to the power of direct action and nonviolent protest," Novoselic says. "To see so many people mobilized and utilizing the mechanism of democracy was inspiring. I got a real charge out of that." Thayil, for his part, supported the protesters, but explained that he had certain reservations about Western campaigns to improve environmental and labor standards in developing countries. "I suppose it's only natural that we turn around and say, 'Let's [bring opportunities] for health and a cleaner environment to our brothers and sisters elsewhere.' It's a good thing to do. But it should also be kept in mind that we shouldn't use this kind of legislation and sentiment to bully other countries and to maintain the U.S. position in its imperial dominance over the world."
Thayil, who earned a degree in philosophy from the University of Washington around the time his group was beginning to make major waves in the Seattle grunge scene, hadn't played a live show since Soundgarden disbanded in 1997. The amount of time he had spent away from live performance, as well as the heavy police and military presence around the Showbox, gave Thayil a generous case of pre-concert nerves. But once on stage, he says, everything fell into place." Novoselic echoes the sentiment. "I've had the feeling a few times in my life where there's something going on that's so exhilarating and magical. I know the whole world was watching Seattle there for a few days," he adds. "I remember coming off that stage high as a kite. Natural adrenaline. I was high, man." " - salon.com
"There's no way a protest against the WTO (World Trade Organization) is going down without Jello Biafra getting involved. Jello has helped expose the evils of corporations and government for over 20 years through spoken word and music. This past December, Biafra and makeshift band Krist Novoselic (Nirvana, Sweet 75), Kim Thayil (Soundgarden) and Gina Mainwal (Sweet 75) performed live, amidst a sea of cops and tear gas, for some of the 40-50,000 protesters at the "Battle in Seattle". The introductory track is a fifteen minute spoken ramble by Biafra explaining the importance and details of the protest and various other related tangents. Of the 4 songs, 2 are new and 2 are old. The band, who were raised on old school punk, do justice to the Dead Kennedy's classic "Let's Lynch the Landlord" and the 16+ minute Biafra/D.O.A. epic "Full Metal Jackoff". The new songs "New Feudalism" and "Electronic Plantation" are fast punk rock anthems that lyrically attack the WTO and big business practices. The 26 page booklet contains all the lyrics (some updated for the year 2000), liner notes of the happenings by Biafra and Novoselic, information on the WTO courtesy of the Institute for Consumer Responsibility and photos of the band and protesters in action... The NO WTO Combo helped make a little bit of history, in style, and this cd does a great job of documenting it and informing the public (myself included) beyond the agendas of the mainstream media" - Brainwashed