Saturday, March 22, 2008

"The Dead Kennedys search for another frontman"

"It's likely that, if asked, the band will attribute my departure to scheduling conflicts brought about by my documentary work, but in reality it's a tediously long story involving personality conflicts, creative differences, arguments about splitting money equally, arguments about how the band should be run, arguments about the wisdom of hiring a band manager whose other star client was a Christian folk artist, arguments about whether we should or shouldn't go on MTV, and arguments about many other wretched things." --Jeff Penalty, hopefully the last singer of the remnants of the Dead Kennedys. (World Entertainment News Network, 03.22.2008)

'Frisco (that's right, San Fran)--Give it up, quit, retire, it's over, go away, stop. You're Van Halen. Jello Biafra is an asshole, but these guys really live-down to his own descriptions of their real reasons for the legendary civil trial. What was the suit over? The rights to the name and the music of the band, and royalties they claimed Biafra hadn't paid them. Outside of the residuals owed, the rest was unadulterated greed. Now former singer Jeff Penalty was with them for a whopping five-years. Biafra fronted them from 1978-1987, with a split brought-on by constant police harassment and internal-struggles like in the above quote. If you ever felt jealous of your the idols, this is a refreshing reminder that success isn't always what you think it is. Some people have an extraordinary knack for blowing it.

This whole saga began in 2000 when the other Dead Kennedys won the lawsuit against Biafra (I sold all of the copies of their discography at that time). The first thing they did was to re-release the catalog in what can only be described as un-remastered versions with shoddy second-generation copies of the artwork and audio. Then came the tours and merchandising. Some twerp I know even suggested to me during some of this that the Dead Kennedys were better without Jello, a patently absurd notion that deserves no further comment. Did Jello rip-off the others when he held the catalog? I believe the answer is a qualified "yes." He did, but these creeps are far worse, and it's finally showing.

Granted, things went to Jello's head after the break-up of the Dead Kennedys, and his arrogance was palpable at his lectures during the 1990s--something I and thousands can attest to. My own brother saw the incident where he was beaten-up, and I can attest that it was earned. But what did we expect? Punk is about rudeness and shaking people up. The albums are there forever as a document. What these clowns did afterwards is unimportant.

This story has been over since the late-1980s when the band was on trial for obscenity, having the temerity to publish a poster of artwork by Swiss Surrealist H.R. Giger, enclosed with their 1985 opus "Frankenchrist." Look at Jeff Penalty's comments on the rest of the Dead Kennedys, and compare it alongside the previous comments of Jello Biafra. It all sounds the same, doesn't it? That's because they're telling the same story, the same facts about a group of washed-up rock-n'-rollers. At least Jello isn't pretending anymore.