From Scandal to Punk Legacy, Dead Kennedys Return to Boston

There was a time when the very name Dead Kennedys was considered outrageous, especially in this part of the country. Forty years later, they are now a highly respected – and proud of it – punk heritage band.

“We’ve always tended to be on the smart side of the punk spectrum,” guitarist East Bay Ray said from his Bay Area home this week. “And we have a unique sound that you won’t hear anywhere else. Most of the Ramones are gone. Part of the Clash has disappeared. And let’s face it, we’re not going to be here forever. Our shows are getting bigger and bigger – and I remember the first time we played in Boston, doing the Rathskellar. They always seemed to like us in Boston, even with our name. They return to play Big Night Live on Wednesday.

The band’s instrumental lineup – Ray, drummer DH Peligro and bassist Klaus Flouride – is the same one that played Rat and the Channel in the early 80s. whose place was taken by Skip Greer (he is Biafra’s third replacement; former child star Brandon Cruz was the first).

“It helps that Skip is a team player. He has a talent that we didn’t know he had, of insulting the public in a friendly way. We will be in Europe and he will be making fun of their football. In some ways he looks like to Johnny Rotten, except he didn’t go right.

The Dead Kennedys haven’t gone right either, despite a recent tussle between them and Biafra – which began after a post supporting Mitt Romney appeared on the group’s Twitter feed.

“It comes from our social media manager, who takes care of it. But some people don’t care about the truth and like to get bigger by bringing others down.

The real problem, says Ray, is a long-running dispute between the band and Biafra, who also owned their record label.

“You know why he’s saying those things – because the label skimmed off $76,000 and wouldn’t pay the band. So he’s got these weapons of mass distraction, shall we say.

After winning a legal battle, the band admitted Biafra likely withheld royalties due to an accounting error.

“Every human being makes mistakes. So you have a choice to learn from it or deny that the mistake ever happened.

That said, Ray said he would do a reunion tour if a promoter tried to organize one.

“It really happened, and it wasn’t Klaus, DH or me who said no.”

Meanwhile, the current lineup exclusively plays songs from their 80s catalog. Ray said that they actually tried to debut new songs on stage a few years ago, but they had them. abandoned when the public had not reacted.

“I feel the same when I see a show. When I see Iggy Pop, I want to hear ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’. The songs we have are really fun to play and they’re good songs; that’s why we always play them.

Also, he says, the topical references still hold up — even “California Uber Alles,” about Jerry Brown’s failed presidential bid.

“It’s really about hippie decadence, so it still applies. ‘Bleed for Me’ was about oil, and that’s more important than ever. And ‘Nazi Punks’ (which was strongly anti-Nazi) is still relevant. I wish the context of these songs was different, but the situation is actually worse.

Then there’s their most famous song, about being too drunk to have sex – but of course, that’s not quite what it’s called. And now we can finally ask ourselves if it was a true story.

“It was. But the innocent person will remain anonymous.

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