By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
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By Tom Murphy
"It was one of those things that never should have happened," Biafra notes. "But when I wound up being the pigeon, I knew I had to fight. There was never any question in my mind that we wouldn't. Who knows? Maybe I'd have pleaded guilty and paid a small fine if it had all been done quietly. But when the city attorney announced the charge at a big press conference and CNN and UPI were calling up looking for me, I realized, `Oh, my God, we're guinea pigs. Fuck these people.'"
To prevent the incident from being swept under the rug, Biafra recorded three spoken-word albums--No More Cocoons, High Priest of Harmful Matter and I Blow Minds for a Living--that document the trial in its entirety. On the musical front, the ex-Dead Kennedy recorded a series of collaborative projects with several of his Alternative Tentacles labelmates, including NoMeansNo, D.O.A., Tumor Circus (featuring members of Steel Pole Bathtub) and Lard (which includes Ministry's Jourgenson and Paul Barker). His most recent offering, a collaboration with Mojo Nixon entitled Prairie Home Invasion, is a knee-slappin' conglomeration of country-punk shakers and folksy sendups that decimate everything from America's recent fascination with the Sixties ("Nostalgia for an Age That Never Existed") to the corporation-financed alternative-rock scene ("Buy My Snake Oil").
"There's a lot of cool music out there in the underground," Biafra acknowledges, "but as soon as musicians sign on the dotted line, it becomes `alternative.' Major labels used [the same approach] to describe people like Blondie, the Knack and the Cars. I remember it well. It was like, `Don't listen to that punk-rock shit. This is the new music.' But at the time, they forgot about the metalheads. Now the raw guitar sound brings some of them in, too."
Jello is also suspicious of the forces that have pigeonholed those in the underground youth culture as so-called "slackers." He sees correlations between this trend and the negative media coverage that afflicted the original hippie movement. "I hope [these kids] notice that nobody slagged them for being `slackers' or the `blank generation' until after they helped vote Bush out of office," he says. "Suddenly then we started to hear all this hype about how apathetic people were, and major labels started snapping up anything they thought might tap into the Nirvana dollars--preferably with real self-absorbed, escapist lyrics."
These terms can't be applied to Jello's words, but "anarchy" can. His advice to fans is succinct and to the point: "Don't forget what fun it is to fuck shit up."
Jello Biafra. 8 p.m. Thursday, April 14, Ogden Theatre, 935 East Colfax, $7, 290-TIXS or 830-2525.