Teenage angst may have paid massive creative dividends for Cali punk icon Jello Biafra – whether in the Dead Kennedys, Lard, Guantanamo School of Medicine, or heading up the Alternative Tentacles label – but when it came time to get bored and old, Biafra kept pushing the limits. He wrote books, became a spoken-word artist, ran for various political offices (with tongue wedged firmly in cheek), collaborated with everyone from Mojo Nixon to the Melvins, and even tried his hand at acting. Recently he's been hitting stages with the wonderfully named New Orleans Raunch and Soul Allstars, throwing "Incredibly Strange Dance Parties," and NOT participating in Dead Kennedy's reunion shows. This Saturday, Biafra performs at Will's Pub, with the Reverend Horton Heat, to ring in an increasingly uncertain 2017 like some sort of sonic herald of doom. In a rare interview, the former Dead Kennedys frontman weighed in to the Orlando Weekly on President-elect Donald Trump and ringing in the New Year in Orlando.
Orlando Weekly: How did Trump become the president-elect?
Jello Biafra: This is the first election for Jim Crow 2.0 after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. How much of this low turnout is because people weren't allowed to vote in the first place? The inter-state crosscheck program was put together by that right-wing evil genius Kris Kobach. Here's how it works in states: The states that opted in, 29 or 30 of them including Florida, gave the crosscheck program their entire database. Crosscheck is programmed to flag similar names if they find two names that match: "Oh, you committed voter fraud. You voted in Florida and Idaho at the same time."
So you're saying that's why he won by such a razor-thin margin in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia?
They were all crosscheck states.
Where were you when you found out that Trump won the election?
I was on a plane back from Colombia when things seemed fine. I was changing planes in Panama City and it was apparent that Trump had seized power. It was one of the worst nights of my life. I tried to explain how the Electoral College works to a Panamanian flight attendant. The response was, "How can you explain democracy to me when you don't have democracy in your own country?"
How bad is it going to be for the next four years?
It depends on how tenaciously people fight back. Here we are with climate change deniers in the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency. It's not foxes in the hen house – it's werewolves with machine guns.
Will this ignite a spark in a sated music environment?
People said it was great when Ronald Reagan was president because it made for great punk rock. But everyone from the Clash to the Bad Brains to the Dead Kennedys were all fully formed before Margaret Thatcher and Reagan seized power. We went after the corporations. The people at the top are like crack addicts. They have more money than they'll ever need but they're addicted to money. They have the just-win attitude, and everyone else must lose. They don't want capitalism anymore. They want feudalism.
What can we expect when you ring in the New Year in Orlando?
I'm doing a cameo with the Reverend Horton Heat. I'm playing in the middle of the set. I'm not sure if it will be at midnight. But when I look ahead, all I can say is who knows what it will be like for the next four years. It'll be a bumpy ride. The bumpier we make it, the less likely the plane will crash.