Jello Biafra

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Líder: zedtherapist
Política de associação: Aberta
Criado em: 18 Dez 2005
Lets talk about great "Liberal" JELLO BIAFRA!

Spoken word:

No More Cocoons - 1987
High Priest of Harmful Matter − Tales From the Trial - 1989
I Blow Minds for a Living - 1991...

Eric Reed Boucher (born June 17, 1958), better known by the stage name Jello Biafra, is an American punk rock musician and political activist best known as the former lead singer of the Dead Kennedys. In the wake of the band's disbandment, he has become a solo musician and spoken word artist. In his political life, he is an active member of the Green Party and has participated in activism relating to his progressive political beliefs. He is a self-proclaimed anarchist (though not a promoter of anarchy), and advocates civil disobedience and pranksterism in the name of political change. Biafra himself has been known to use absurdist media tactics in the tradition of the Yippies to highlight issues of civil rights, social justice, and anti-corporatism.

His stage name is a combination of the brand name Jell-O and the name of the short lived country of Biafra which attempted to secede from Nigeria in 1966. After four years of fighting and horrific starvation, Nigeria regained control of the nascent Biafran state. Jello Biafra came up with his name as an ironic combination of a non-nutritionally valued corporate food product and mass starvation.

Biafra was born in Boulder, Colorado, USA to parents Stanley and Virginia Boucher. Biafra developed an interest in international politics early on, which his parents encouraged him to learn more about. As a child, he would avidly watch the news. One of his earliest memories of his childhood is of the John F. Kennedy assassination. Biafra claims he has been a fan of rock music since first hearing it in 1965, when his parents accidentally tuned in to a rock radio station. During the 1970s, he became involved in activism in reaction to several events of the era including the Vietnam War, the Chicago 7 trial, and the Kent State shootings.[1]

He began his career in music in January of 1977 as a roadie for the punk rock band The Ravers (who would later change their name to The Nails). In the fall of that year, he went on to attend the University of California, Santa Cruz. He spent one quarter of the year studying acting and the history of Paraguay before leaving to become involved in San Francisco, California's punk scene. In June of 1978 he responded to an ad put out by guitarist East Bay Ray and together they formed the Dead Kennedys. He began performing with the band under the stage name Occupant, but shortly after began using his current stage name. Biafra wrote the band's lyrics, most of which were political in nature and displayed a sardonic, sometimes absurdist, sense of humor despite their serious subject matter. In June of 1979, Biafra formed the record label Alternative Tentacles with which the Dead Kennedys released their first single, "California Uber Alles". The label was created to allow the band to release albums without having to deal with pressure from major labels to change their music (although the major labels were not willing to sign the band due to their songs being deemed too controversial).[2] All later albums by the band would be released on Alternative Tentacles (with the exception of live albums released after the band's break-up, which were compiled from recordings in the band partnership's vaults, but without Biafra's input or endorsement).

In the fall of 1979, he ran for mayor of San Francisco as a prank, using the Jello ad campaign catchphrase, "There's always room for Jello", as his campaign slogan. Having entered the race before creating a campaign platform, Biafra later wrote his platform on a napkin while attending a Pere Ubu concert. As he campaigned, Biafra wore campaign t-shirts from his opponent Quentin Kopp's previous campaign and at one point vacuumed leaves off the front lawn of another opponent, current U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. Supporters committed equally odd actions; two well known signs held by supporters said "If he doesn't win I'll kill myself" and "What if he does win?" His platform included unconventional points such as forcing businessmen to wear clown suits and a citywide ban on cars (although the latter point was not considered abnormal by many voters at the time, as the city was suffering from serious pollution problems).[3] Biafra has expressed irritation that these parts of his platform attained such notoriety, preferring instead to be remembered for serious proposals such as legalizing squatting in vacant, tax-delinquent buildings and voting for police who patrol the city's neighborhoods.[4] He finished fourth out of a field of ten, garnering 3.5% of the vote (6,591 votes); the election was resolved in a runoff that did not involve him (Feinstein was declared the winner). In reaction to his campaign (and that of Sister Boom Boom, a drag queen who also ran for mayor), San Francisco passed a resolution stating that no candidate could run under any name other than their given name.

Biafra was married on October 31, 1981 to Therese Soder, aka Ninotchka, lead singer of San Francisco-area punk band The Situations (she can be heard singing background vocals on "Forest Fire" and "Winnebago Warrior" from the Dead Kennedys' album Plastic Surgery Disasters, and playing synthesiser on "Drug Me" from the Dead Kennedys' Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables). Their wedding was conducted by Flipper vocalist/bassist Bruce Loose (who had paid to join the Universal Life Church as a minister just to conduct the ceremony) in a graveyard, while the wedding reception, which was attended by members of Flipper, Black Flag, and D.O.A., was held at director Joe Reis' Target Video studios. The marriage ended in 1986 (during the time of the Frankenchrist trial; see the end of this section) when Soder ran off with then-houseguest and ex-Feederz vocalist Frank Discussion.

Biafra became a spoken word artist in January 1986, starting with a performance at University of California, Los Angeles. In his performance he combined his sense of humor with his political beliefs, much in the same way that he did with the lyrics to his songs. Biafra has held this career since, but did not begin recording spoken word records until after the disbandment of the Dead Kennedys.

In April of the same year, police officers raided his house in response to complaints by the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), an organization founded by Tipper Gore. In June of 1986, Biafra was brought to trial in Los Angeles for distributing "harmful matter" in the Dead Kennedys album Frankenchrist.[5] In actuality, the item in dispute was neither the music nor the lyrics from the album, but rather a print of a poster included with the album, Landscape #XX (also known as Penis Landscape), by Swiss surreal artist H. R. Giger. Biafra believes the trial was politically motivated; it was often reported that the PMRC took Biafra to court as a cost effective way of sending a message out to other musicians who have "offensive" content in their music. Allegedly a family claimed that the poster harmed their children. How this alleged harm was discovered and the authorities' decision to press charges were disallowed by the judge. Facing the possible sentence of a year in jail and a $2000 fine, Biafra founded the No More Censorship Defense Fund, a benefit made up of several punk rock bands, to help pay for his legal fees, which neither he nor his record label could afford. The jury deadlocked 7 to 5 in favor of acquittal, prompting a mistrial; despite a district attorney motion to re-try the case, the judge ordered all charges dropped. The Dead Kennedys disbanded during the trial, in December 1986; in the wake of their disbandment, Biafra made a career of his spoken word performances. His early spoken word albums would focus heavily on the trial (especially in High Priest of Harmful Matter), which made him renowned for his anti-censorship stance.


In 1988, Biafra and Alain Jourgensen of the band Ministry formed the band Lard. The band became a side project for the members of Ministry, with Biafra providing vocals. In the same year, Biafra was given a cameo in the movie Tapeheads. While working on the film Terminal City Ricochet in 1989, Biafra did a song for the film's soundtrack with D.O.A. As a result, Biafra worked together with D.O.A. on the album Last Scream of the Missing Neighbors. Biafra also worked with Nomeansno on the soundtrack, which lead to their collaboration on the album The Sky is Falling and I Want My Mommy the following year. In 1991, he played an American border guard in the Canadian film Highway 61. In 1993, Biafra co-wrote and performed guest vocals on the Sepultura song, "Biotech is Godzilla", which appears on the album Chaos A.D.

In May of 1994, Biafra was attacked at the 924 Gilman Street club in Berkeley, California by skinheads who believed he was a sell out. Biafra was hospitalized with both his legs broken from the attack.[6] Biafra provided spoken word parts for "Disclaimer" off Offspring's 1997 album Ixnay on the Hombre.

In October of 1998, Biafra was sued by former members of the Dead Kennedys for not allowing them to use the band's songs in advertising. According to Biafra, the suit was a result of his refusal to allow the band's most famous single, "Holiday in Cambodia", to be used in a commercial for Levi's Dockers; Biafra opposed Levi's due to his belief that they use unfair business practices and sweatshop labor. The three former members claim that their motive was not strictly about advertising, but also because Biafra denied them royalties and failed to promote their albums. Biafra maintains that he did not deny them royalties, and in addition, he claims that he is not receiving any royalties on the rereleases of their albums or "posthumous" live albums licensed to other labels by the Decay Music partnership. He has also called foul on the misrepresentation of the songwriting credits of the new reissues and archival live albums, which miscredit songs whose music was composed wholly by Biafra to the entire band (contradicting information on BMI's online database). Band members other than Biafra reunited under the name of "DK Kennedys", replacing Biafra first with Brandon Cruz, then with Jeff Penalty. The new band has met with criticism from Dead Kennedys fans owing to Biafra's absence. Biafra himself has also openly criticized his former bandmates' legal tactics and reunion tours, most notably in the song "Those Dumb Punk Kids (Will Buy Anything)".

In 1999, Biafra along with other members of the anti-globalization movement protested the WTO Meeting of 1999 in Seattle. Along with other famous musicians from the west coast, he formed the short-lived band the No WTO Combo to help promote the movement's cause. The band was originally scheduled to play during the protest, but the performance was canceled due to riots.

In 2000, Biafra was drafted as a candidate for the Green Party presidential nomination, and a few supporters were elected to the party's nominating convention in Denver, Colorado. Despite the positive reception of his address to the convention, Ralph Nader was overwhelmingly chosen as the party's candidate. Biafra, along with a camera crew, would then go on to report for the Independent Media Center at the Republican and Democratic conventions. Biafra detailed these events in his album Become The Media, which has resulted in him being credited with coining the slogan "Don't hate the media, become the media". Indymedia and related alternative media often use this line, or the now more apt "Don't hate the media, be the media."

Biafra provided spoken word parts for the song "As Seen on T.V." off Pitchshifter's 2000 album Deviant. He collaborated with Life After Life singing on a cover of Willie Nelson's "Still Is Still Moving To Me".

Also in 2000, Biafra was the keynote speaker at the H2K hacker conference. Though Biafra had never used a computer in his life, he was seen by attendants as being capable of drawing insightful connections between hacking and activism.[7] He has also spoken at the 2002 and 2004 conferences, and audio of these speeches are freely available online for download.

In April of 2001, Biafra took part in a protest against the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas conference in Quebec. In 2002, he appeared on-screen in the film Bikini Bandits, alongside other musicians such as Maynard James Keenan of Tool, and Dee Dee Ramone of The Ramones.

In 2005, Biafra appeared as a guest vocalist on the Napalm Death album The Code Is Red... Long Live The Code on the song "The Great and the Good". Biafra also appeared on an episode of This American Life, themed "Know Your Enemy", which featured an phone call between Jello Biafra and Michael Guarino, the prosecutor in the 1986 censorship trial. The episode was about Guarino's change of opinion and the reconcialiation between Guarino and Biafra.

As of late 2005, Biafra is currently performing with the band The Melvins, being dubbed as "Jello Biafra and the Melvins" or by fans as "The Jelvins." Together they have released two albums.


Biafra has been a prominent member of the Californian punk rock scene and, while a member of the Dead Kennedys, was one of the founding members of the San Francisco hardcore punk scene. The Dead Kennedys was one of the first U.S. punk bands to write politically themed songs (possibly inspired by Black Flag, another major Californian punk rock band of the era). The lyrics Biafra wrote with the Dead Kennedys helped popularize the use of humorous lyrics in punk rock. Many later punk rock bands would cite the Dead Kennedys as a major influence.[8]

Biafra's initial attempts to compose music were done on guitar, but his inexperience on the instrument and his own admission of being "a fumbler with my hands" led Dead Kennedys bassist Klaus Flouride to suggest that Biafra simply sing the parts he was envisioning to the band. The end result, artistically, is that Biafra's musical compositions end up being free of the cliches and comfort zones many instrumentalists fall into. Biafra's composing method has led to some critics claiming that Biafra is untalented; however, fans of Biafra claim that his talent is shown in the lyrics that he writes, while other musicians that Biafra has worked with (D.O.A.'s Joe Keithley and The Melvins' Buzz Osborne in particular) have had nothing but nice things to say about the quality of his musical compositions.

Biafra's first popular song was the first single by the Dead Kennedys, "California Über Alles". The song, which spoofed California governor Jerry Brown, would be the first of many political songs by the group and Biafra. Not long afterward, the Dead Kennedys made a second and possibly bigger hit with "Holiday in Cambodia", a song about the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, from their debut album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. Minor hits from the album included "Kill the Poor" (about potential abuse of the then-new neutron bomb) and a satirical cover of Elvis Presley's "Viva Las Vegas".

The Dead Kennedys received some controversy in the spring of 1981 over the single "Too Drunk to Fuck". The song became a big hit in Britain, and the BBC feared that it would manage to be a big enough hit to appear among the top 30 songs on the national charts, requiring them to play a performance of the song on Top of the Pops. However, the single's popularity was slightly less than what was required, peaking at the 31st position.[9]

Later albums would also contain memorable songs, but with less popularity than the earlier ones. The EP album In God We Trust, Inc. contained the song "Nazi Punks Fuck Off!" as well as "We've Got A Bigger Problem Now", a rewritten version of "California Über Alles" about Ronald Reagan. The band's most controversial album, Frankenchrist, brought with it the song "MTV Get Off the Air", which accused MTV of promoting poor quality music and sedating the public.

After the disbandment of the Dead Kennedys, Biafra's new songs would be recorded with other bands, releasing only spoken word albums as solo projects. These collaborations were met with less popularity. However, his song "That's Progress", originally recorded with D.O.A. for the album Last Scream Of The Missing Neighbors, would receive considerable exposure when it appeared on the album Rock Against Bush, Vol. 1.

Biafra is an ardent collector of unusual vinyl records of all kinds, from 50's and 60's ethno-pop recordings by the likes of Les Baxter and Esquivel to vanity pressings that have circulated regionally, to infamous German crooner Heino; he cites his always growing collection as one of his biggest musical influences. In 1993 he gave an interview to RE/Search Publications for their second Incredibly Strange Music book focusing primarily on these records. His heavy interest in such recordings eventually led to Biafra discovering the prolific (and schizophrenic) singer/songwriter/artist Wesley Willis, whom he signed to Alternative Tentacles in 1994, precluding Willis' major label deal with American Recordings. His collection grew so large that on October 1, 2005, Biafra donated a portion of his collection to an annual yard sale co-promoted by Alternative Tentacles and held at their warehouse in Emeryville, California.


Biafra claims to be an anarchist in his personal dealings with people, though does not advocate the replacement of current governments with an anarchic system. He claims that mankind is not yet ready for anarchy, and still needs government to control the order of human life for the safety and progression of human events.[10] In speeches, he has advised people to partake in civil disobedience, political pranks, and hacktivism. Some such acts that he has advocated include hacking corporate owned websites and planting marijuana seeds in public areas.[11]

Biafra was a swift critic of the Parents Music Resource Center during the 1980s, and has constantly criticized co-founder Tipper Gore, as well as the Tipper Sticker, a warning placed on records indicating explicit content. Biafra confronted her twice on episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Many of the songs he wrote for the Dead Kennedys during the 80s showed opposition to the religious right and Ronald Reagan. In the 1990s, Biafra's opposition to the right continued with his opposition to George H. W. Bush and the Gulf War, though he also was opposed to some practices of Democratic president Bill Clinton. Most notable among these are Biafra's opposition to the United States' involvement with NAFTA, GATT, and the World Trade Organization.

Biafra advocates what he refers to as the "maximum wage": increasing taxes for the wealthy and eliminating taxes for those in the lower and middle class. On top of this, the maximum wage would close tax loopholes for both large corporations and religious organizations. He has advocated using these taxes to provide the public with several free services, including free health care, free education (including amnesty on student loans), and free transportation. Taxes would also be used to give subsidies for the arts, organic farms, hemp and kanaf farms, urban squatters, and renewable energy sources.

Biafra has been an advocate for ending the death penalty in the United States. In his address to the Green Party, he chose Death Row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal (whom anti-death penalty activists believe to be wrongly accused of murder) as his vice presidential candidate to help point out his stance on the issue as well as attract attention to Abu-Jamal's situation.[12] Because of his support of Abu-Jamal, which includes releasing spoken word albums by him on Alternative Tentacles, Biafra is now on a Fraternal Order Of Police boycott list.[13] He has also proposed ending police brutality by making officers stand for public election every four years.

Biafra believes in ending the war on drugs by legalizing marijuana and other narcotics. He believes drug addicts should be treated instead of jailed and should be given legal outlets to get drugs from, thus eliminating illegal drug sales. He also advocates ending jail sentences for minor, non-violent, drug related offenses. In drug education for public schools, Biafra advocates educating students on drugs by using demonstrations of drug use in classes and allowing experimentation in controlled environments to help reduce the possibility of addiction. These, he believes, would provide an alternative to anti-drug advertising, which he believes does not work. He also advocates ending drug testing of employees and students.

Other subjects that Biafra advocates include anti-gentrification, election reform, increasing the amount of low-income housing, gay rights, eliminating sport utility vehicles from urban areas, labeling of genetically modified food, and withdrawal from NAFTA and the World Trade Organization. He also claims to be a supporter of the Green Party's Ten Key Values.[14] Interestingly, he also supports the use of an air marshal on commercial flights, highlighting the fact that Biafra's beliefs challenge both liberal and conservative politics. (Noted Biafra: "I'd rather have a cop on an airplane than wind up dead, thank you very much.")

Though Biafra takes on serious issues, he uses sarcasm and humor to get his opinions across. Thus, some of his claims as to what he advocates are not always taken seriously by the public. Some of the ideas he proposes, such as forcing polluters to swim in the pollution they caused until they clean it, are obvious jokes. Other joke propositions are not always taken as humor, and thus turn off some people from his ideas. Still, supporters of Biafra see his comedic approach as a useful way of getting the public to pay attention to the issues.

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