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From scandal to punk legacy, Dead Kennedys return to Boston



There was a time when the very title Dead Kennedys was thought-about scandalous, particularly on this neck of the woods. Forty years later, they’re now a well-respected, punk legacy band — and happy with it.

“We always tended to be on the smart side of the punk spectrum,” guitarist East Bay Ray stated this week from his Bay Area residence. “And we have a unique sound that you’re not going to hear anywhere else. Most of the Ramones are gone. Part of the Clash is gone. And let’s face it, we’re not going to be around forever. Our shows are getting bigger and bigger — and I can remember the first time we played 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 D.H. Peligro, and bassist Klaus Flouride — is the exact same one which performed the Rat and the Channel again within the early ’80s. But they’re lengthy estranged from authentic frontman Jello Biafra, whose place has been taken by Skip Greer (he’s Biafra’s third alternative; former little one star Brandon Cruz was the primary).

“It helps that Skip is a team player. He has a skill that we didn’t know he had, to insult the audience in a friendly way. We’ll be in Europe and he’ll make fun of their football. In some ways he’s like Johnny Rotten, except that he hasn’t gone right-wing.”

The Dead Kennedys haven’t gone right-wing both, regardless of a latest dust-up between them and Biafra — which began after a submit supporting Mitt Romney appeared on the band’s Twitter feed.

“That came from our social media person, who cops to it. But certain people don’t care about the truth and like to make themselves bigger by cutting other people down.”

The actual downside, says Ray, is a longtime dispute between the band and Biafra, who was additionally the proprietor of their document label.

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

After successful a authorized battle, the band acknowledged that Biafra had probably withheld royalties resulting from an accounting mistake.

“Every human makes mistakes. So you have the choice of learning from it, or denying the mistake ever happened.”

That stated, Ray stated he’d do a reunion tour if a promoter tried to swing one.

“That’s actually happened, and it wasn’t Klaus, DH or me who said no.”

Meanwhile, the present lineup is completely enjoying songs from their ’80s catalog. Ray stated they really tried debuting new songs onstage a number of years again, however dropped them when the viewers didn’t react.

“I feel the same way 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 enjoyable to play and they’re good songs; that’s why we’re still playing ’em.”

Besides, he says, the topical references nonetheless maintain up — even “California Uber Alles,” about Jerry Brown’s failed presidential candidacy.

“That’s really about hippie decadence, so it still applies. ‘Bleed for Me’ was about oil, and that’s as big a deal as ever. And ‘Nazi Punks’ (which was strongly anti-Nazi) is still timely. I wish the context for these songs was different, but the situation is actually worse.”

Then there’s their most infamous track, about being too drunk to make love — however after all, that isn’t fairly what it’s referred to as. And now we will lastly ask if that was a real story.

“It was. But the innocent person shall remain nameless.”



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