by Interviews

Jello Biafra is still really pissed off, is still really into mega-watt punk rock, is still laser focused on attacking injustice, is still really, really, really funny, still looooves to talk, and still has tricks up his sleeve. On Friday, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine suddenly released Tea Party Revenge Porn. The record RIPS. Yeah, it's fast, it's heavy, it rocks, but more importantly, Jello is on FIRE (and the band kicks ass, too). Jello's career has many highpoints, and here's another one.

Of course, the new album blasts Trump- a lot. But, it also goes deeper and looks at the machinations behind the machinations. And perhaps somewhat surprisingly, a few times, Biafra opens up about himself, instead of what's going on during this insane year.

In order to dig into the album, Punknews' John Gentile called up Biafra to chat about the record just before midnight. In true Jello style, he was wrapping up a label meeting, preparing things for a charity auction, and answering e-mails like it was three in the afternoon. The pair talked for hours and covered the new record in detail, the upcoming election, that recent pesky Dead Kennedys remix, selfies, and a LOT more.

Because the chat was so wide ranging, we will be presenting this discussion in multiple parts over the next few days. Today's segment begins just as AT is wrapping up their meeting- label manager, Dom Davi is lamenting that Jello once chastised Davi for standing still during a concert with his arms crossed. Davi says, "Jello said to me, 'Do you even like music?'" Strangely, the comment seems to slightly wound Biafra, who is as fiery on stage as he is sensitive to his own feelings and the feelings of others. Biafra responds, "I don't even remember saying that…". Davi, appears to be shocked as he now learns that a comment that has affected him for the past few years was really just a forgotten aside. And, that's where our interview begins…

I wonder if because you are you, you might make a casual statement that doesn’t have that much importance, but people see it as a message from on high. It’s possible. I too have been known to watch bands with my arms folded. It’s a way of relaxing. People think I’m judging with a big frown or something. I might just be relaxing. People sometimes think I’m unapproachable. I’m not unapproachable. It just depends on when and how you approach me.

I will say, this album ROCKS. You really, really nailed it out of the ballpark. Well, thank you! Yeah, it took long enough. We started recorded at the end of ‘18 Things went this way, and then that way, and personally family health problems, and then COVID happened. Then, not being able to get into the mastering room because of COVID, and then there was emailing “test masters” to each other for weeks. I wanted the physical copy in the stores well before the election, but just like the last album, it didn’t quite work out that way! But, finally, there’s something for me to like about the digital age!

Well, I guess there are many things for me to like about the digital age. You can at least release it online with the lyrics and art so people can have it and absorb it as things get weirder by the day before our so called alleged election.

Actually, yes, we’ll talk about this. But, I will say, this album really, really is a ripper and- Well, that’s what I tried to do. I mean both with the live shows and the kind of recordings that I make, I’m still a big ass fucking fan, as you know. So, I want something that rips my damn head off and gets my blood pumping and makes me actually want to work out on my damn Nordic-Trac. I’m trying to go for that. I’m not into the old man punk back in the day, don’t do anything too harsh or too different. That ain’t me!

You’re putting out this great album on the cusp of what I’ll say is an extremely dangerous election. What emotions are you having? Well, I also think it’s really good that these GSM videos came out of nowhere, too! I’ve known Ani Kyd for years and years and years, and Alterative Tentacles has even put out some of her music over the years. Then, she started sending me some of these news footage collages with some newer political songs that she had been working on. This was cool because she normally wrote personally lyrics and stuck to that, and here were these really great political songs with this great footage. I sad, “Ani, would you want to make one of these for me?” And she said, “I thought you’d never ask!” And then she went crazy and made about five of them in ten days! And then her computer fried!

But, there is still a video of “Satan’s Combover” that we haven’t released yet. that might be the deadliest one. That’s the one that has people in Charlottesville with the torches and people up high that thought they were really great people. And shit like that Sometimes, I think I should quit writing this shit because it keeps coming true.

For years, I assumed that I assumed that before the cameras roll, at every Republican convention, before the cameras roll, they put their hands over the hearts- as if they had any hearts- and had them sing “Kill the poor” as their new anthem!

On the new album, you make the point that you actually think, or believe in a significant possibility, that Trump has massive outstanding debt owed to Russia or Russian entities. There’s a fuckload of circumstantial evidence. I think it’s the main reason he’s so damn scared of Putin. He spent decades ripping off one bank after another. You lend money to Trump, he declares bankruptcy on that project, and you don’t get it back. Then, roundabout the turn of the current century, the American banks got together and they wouldn’t loan the Donald money anymore. So, then he went to Deutsche Bank and took them for hundreds of million of dollars. When he didn’t pay them back, they cut him off, which I assumed happened. And then, when the economy cashed, which was due not just the Bush administration, but also the Clinton administration who gutted the Glass Steagall act along with senator Phil Graham so that banks could play casino with our money just like they did when they caused the crash of the Great Depression.

Banks are failing. No one has any money, and here comes the Trumpzi organization, or maybe the Trumpamuck organization, opening all these new golf resorts. In one of the Golf magazines, there’s an interview with Eric Trump, or maybe there was another one with Don Jr, and the magazine asks him, “this is great spiffy new resort here, but where did you get all the money for this? No one is loaning money right now!”… “Oh, we don’t need any American banks. We use Russian banks.”

That was over 10 years ago. So my hypothesis- for get a pee tape or a Trump tower Moscow scam where all he would be doing is licensing out his name to somebody else- I think trump just goes “oh, a Russian bank! I’ll just take their money and not pay them back! I never pay back anyone!” Well, sorry Donny, nobody gets to be a great big bank who can loan you that kind of money in Russia unless you’re part of the Russian mob. And who’s the head of the Russian mob? You tell me. There are some credible reports that Putin is the richest man in world now, even more than Jeff Beeswax. Where’s he getting his money from? It can’t be just oil.

So, Trump is in a lot of trouble. Not only are a bunch of loans going to become due in the next year or two, where he owes 400 million dollars and he personally guaranteed them. Then, there is all the other money out there that is owed to the Russian mob. I think the law may have been laid down to him that, this isn’t like ripping Deutche Bank or Citibank or any of the others, “you don’t pay use, you’re fuckin’ dead. We won’t just foreclose on your properties, you’re fuckin’ dead. We can poison anyone we want to, anywhere, at any time, including when you are gorging cheeseburgers at four in the morning, sending out psycho-tweets. We can poison Ivanka, too. Do you want that?”

“Yes sir yes sir yes sir!” That’s what’s going on there. But, that’s only part of the “We created Putin” song. I’m just amazed that nobody at the top, or any of the punditoids, realized that we did create Putin. And the way we did is- let’s go back to World World one. Germany gets thrashed, nobody helps them out, their economy crashes, it’s so bad that it really did take a wheelbarrow of money to buy a loaf of bread for a while. The public gets angry, that they fell for Hitler. “Hey, he got our economy going, great!”

After World War Two, we learned. Marhall plan for Germany – bring in a culture of democracy, which at this point is more democratic than ours is. Same with Japan- rebuild, install a culture of democracy- no more Hitlers, no more Tojos.

But, when the Soviet Union fell, we just abandoned them. How could we loot them? And look what happens. There was an old cartoon from around 1990 that I quote in the song, where they are standing on a hill, “look what’s happening Everything’s going to hell! The economy is crashing! Gangsters are stealing everything! Capitalism isn’t working!” “No comrade, capitalism is working.”

If we had done our job, and not have had greedy budget hawks like Reagan and daddy Bush, and James Baker in there fucking everything up and looking for ways to scew people, and basically being “bad winners,” and if we had been “good winners” and help do positive things to rebuild and to shore up the former institutions of the Soviet Union, Putin never would have happened.

I saw this coming. I actually wrote the first version of the song long before that. The first version was called “Do the Zhirinovsky,” which was about Vladmir Zhirinovsky, that crazy Russian blowhard that was even more insane than Trump that looked like he was going to take over Russia. I think Clinton was president at the time - getting into fistfights on the floor of the Duma. He went from running heavy metal boutiques to saying “when I take over there will be dictatorship!” A friend of mine saw a picture of him holding a pess conference, and below himw as a map of greater Russia and suddenly even Finland had disappeared off the map and it was all Russia. I was like, “this guy isn’t quite knocking off Yeltsin, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to succeed, so they are probably grooming a smart Zhirinovsky.” And then, we, and especially the Russian people, are deeply fuckin’ fucked.

You compared Trump to Zhirinovsky. Is Trump smart, is he dumb, is he crazy, does he just not function like most human beings? What is he mentally? Oh, he’s all of the above. Sometimes he believes his own bullshit, sometimes he doesn’t. There are quotes from his friends where he just makes up things and does it to do it, and behind the scenes, he is somebody else. We shall see- especially when he doesn’t have any pussies to grab/

But, one, two, three levels below Trump, anywhere you look in the executive branch, they are doing their jobs very effectively in the most evil way they can. Look at what is being down to the EPA, the interior, the education department, the justice department- the people running it are accomplishing their mission very well while the Trump circus rides over everything and gets all the media attention while no one looks at what DeVoss is doing to the school system. Or what Ben Carson is doing to destroy public housing. At least for a while they paid attention to what DeJoy was doing was to try to destroy the post-office. But what no one mentions is that the reason that the post office is so in debt was that a law got pushed through when George Dubya was in Office that required the post office to pre-pay all the pensions of their employees for 75 years in advance. So, they are having to pre-pay the pensions of employees that won’t even be born for 30 years. No other business on earth is required to do this. And did Obama or Biden do anything to fix this? No! Supposedly it’s a nest egg for all those pensions, but every year, its gets skimmed and put back into the general fund to force the post office to defund and be privatized. And now they are really putting pedal to the metal because they realize that the more they fuck up the post office, the more it get privatized or worse, and the more they can fuck with the election and mail in ballots… which Trump uses, I might add.

They already caught the Republican party installing fake ballot collection boxes in California and labeling them “offical ballot collection boxes” and they already caught them!

What I don’t understand is why doesn’t the Governor send out the sheriff to confiscate the boxes and arrest people. Because California doesn’t have a statewide sheriff’s department. Nor does it have a statewide law enforcement agency or investigations unit, aside from the Highway patrol. Some states have their own bureau of investigations. Which is normally kind of comical. Growing up in Colorado, there’s the FBI and sometimes these little guys “we’re the CBI” which is kind of a chuckle. But then again, in Georgia, the GBI are the ones who took over the Investigation of the death of Ahmaud Arbery because the locals let them off the hook- it was their buddies and “it was a black guy, what do we we care? He obviously was the guy because he jogs passed the place that we burglarized so he is obviously the burglar. Case closed.” It was the GBI who reopened the case and got them indicted. Whether they’ll be able to convict or not is a different story. It’s far from guaranteed that they’ll be able to convict Chauvin who murdered George Floyd and choked him to death. He’s going to say he was just following out procedure and point the part in the manual that allows for that. He might walk. Just like that kid in Kenosha and danced by the cops saying “I just killed someone” and they didn’t do anything. He might walk, too. He’s got the best money lawyers can buy because his gofundme is probably over a million dollars by now. He might just say “self defense.” The guy with the skateboard looked at me so I had to kill him. “Okay, that’s fine go.”

What should people do in the next two weeks leading up to the election? Vote and vote smart and be ready to do voting defense. Voting defense is what we have to do like we do with abortion clinic defense. When these people show up to jeer and intimate when someone wants to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, or even vote- there are going to be people showing up all over the country with pick up trucks, and machine guns, and confederate flags, and Trump flags, and whatever- parked across the street trying to intimate voters. Trump brags he has people organized all over the country to do this. I don’t know if he actually ha organized people, but even if he didn’t, I have a feeling that they are doing it themselves.

They already showed up on the first day of early voting in Virginia. There was one of the Trump truck rallies where they parade down the street and try to intimidate everyone and of course where do the end up- at the polling place. Luckily, people did show up to protect the people who wanted to go in and vote. Older women and other people said, “We were very, very frightened.” Eventually, the polling chief himself had to go out and escort people inside because they were too terrified to go in and vote.

This is normal for countries where people are used to having many people die in elections, like the Philippines or Jamaica…. But here?

The other thing is that people can go to the guy that exposed all the voter fraud in 04, 08, 16, and he has a new book out called How Trump Stole the Election. He has all these ways of how to protect your vote, such as putting an actual stamp on it- the people go “we only count the canceled letters”- but it’s business reply and doesn’t need a stamp and they don’t cancel that! “Well that means you didn’t vote, ha ha ha!” So there are all kind of things that they are trying to expose.

And once fundamentalist Amy Coney Barrett gets to take her cult regime onto the supreme court where she even wants to band contraception, we are facing a supreme court where five of the nine justices are illegitimate. They were all appointed by presidents who stole elections and shouldn’t have even been in the White House with the power to appoint judges. Dubya didn’t just steal ’00, he stole ’04, and John Kerry was too fuckin’ wimpy to march to the steps of the Ohio capital building and say “give me back my vote!” And eventually, his vice-president, John Edwards, urged Kerry to go fight, and Kerry wouldn’t do it. And in typical John Kerry soft spoken style, a year later he was like, “oh, I think they stole the election.” Well, why didn’t you say that at the time, motherfucker? Was that because you were supposed to play the loser because the fix was already in, and so the corporate coup could continue the march right in? what the fuck?

Dubya stole’00 and ’04 and Roberts and Alito got in, and we all know Trump ‘em up stole ’16. It wasn’t just the electoral collage, it wasn’t just the gerrymandering that went on, it wasn’t just Putin, it was the inter-state cross check program that Palast exposed in the film that’s called The Best Democracy that Money can Buy. The Crosscheck program was were that right wing wunderkind Kris Kobach, who is running for the Senate form Kansas right now, and is one of these behind the scenes guys like Karl Rove and Steve Bannon who is really, really smart and is really, really connected- he put together around ’14 or ’15, he got twenty nine states to opt in and send him their entire database of voters. So, Kobach got to combine twenty-nine states together and create one program that the extreme right and Trumpzi’s called “voter fraud” and then commit real voter fraud. They would connect one voter name to the same voter name that voted 1,000 miles away in another state and say “you’re the same person, that’s voter fraud, you’re off the list.” It was programmed to flag people whose names were things like “Washington,” because 75 percent or more of the people with that last name are African American. There people that are trying to stonewall Palast that “no, no ,no, we check social security numbers”- well, Palast was able to show that this isn’t true at all.

If your name even kind of looked like you might be a person of color, off you went. So, if your name was Jose Gonzales, all 5,000 of you didn’t get to vote and probably 4,999 didn’t know they didn’t vote. And then, when people are shocked, “the black people didn’t show up to vote for Hillary! Not even North Carolina!” where Trumpzi won by just a few thousand votes. They did show up, they just didn’t get their votes counted because of Cross-Check. Instead, they were tossed out. A lot of these so called swing states with crosscheck , Trumpzi won by just a few thousand votes. Palast estimates that anywhere between one and a half million to seven million votes didn’t get counted. It also meant that a whole bunch of tea party crackpots who were supposed to be voted out, came back in, instead- just in time to confirm Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett. None of this should have happened. I'll add that the Interstate Cross-Check Program has collapsed! They were sued successfully by ACLU and Palast in Kobach’s home state of Kansas and then it all fell apart.

All five know that they are illegitimate. So, how do you think they are going to rule when it gets to the Supreme Court whether or not to enforce the twelfth amendment and tip the election to Trump. He’s banking on it. We shall see.

To be continued…