THANK GOD FOR JELLO BIAFRA (10,000 word interview)

(from Arthur Magazine No. 14 — 2005)

The inspirational former Dead Kennedy and veteran punk gadfly talks with Sorina Diaconescu about what to do when the going gets grim.

Is there anybody better suited to comment on the absurdities and contradictions of America today than Jello Biafra—musician, activist, performer, poet, indie entrepreneur, First Amendment champion, scathing satirist and all-around radical artist that has inspired generations of young ‘uns the world over?

Here’s a man who at the tender age of 20 formed his first band, the visionary hardcore punk outfit Dead Kennedys, and was born anew as a frontman with a peculiar, quivering bark and a stage name contrived to invoke “plastic America and its overseas results.” A legit icon of West Coast punk rock rebellion, the dude has withered blows that would have broken the hearts and the bones of the baddest motherfuckers out there. All the more, he did it with a big, lopsided grin smudged on his face, and an extended middle finger proudly pointing skyward.

Jello is now 46—which means he occasionally says things like, “you know, I’m not Iggy Pop and I’m not Henry Rollins, and I’m working my ass off trying to get in better shape and compensate for my age.” But his goal, as stated over the years, remains the same: “to kick over the apple cart of corruption.” While his avenues of expression have shifted back and forth between music and spoken word one thing is for sure: he can still provoke and enlighten, as his latest collaboration, with legendary iconoclasts Melvins, Never Breathe What You Can’t See, amply demonstrates.

Interviewing Jello is predictably fraught with intensity and drama but also deeply inspiring and laugh-out-loud hilarious. (continue reading)