Though many of Jello Biafra’s “collaborations” (Lard, No WTO Combo, Tumor Circus, & records with Melvins, DOA, Nomeansno, & Mojo Nixon) would have been called solo albums by other artists, this is his first full-time working band since Dead Kennedys, and it shows. Also on board are Ralph Spight (Victims Family, Freak Accident, Hellworms) Jon Weiss (Sharkbait, Horsey), Billy Gould (Faith No More), & Kimo Ball (Freak Accident, Carneyball Johnson, Mol Triffid, Griddle).
In the twenty or so years since his brainchild Dead Kennedys officially disbanded, Jello Biafra has made a career of spoken word gigs interspersed with musical collaborations with some of the most compelling figures in underground music. Recording projects and touring with the likes of Melvins, No Means No, DOA, Mojo Nixon and Lard (with Ministry’s Al Jorgensen) among others have kept his “hardcore as political weapon” message sharp, but the lack of his own band made these collaborations usually short-lived and left Biafra with a ton of songs that had never seen the light of day.
Inspired by The Stooges gig on Iggy Pop’s 60th birthday gig in San Francisco, Biafra laid plans for his own 50th birthday party and finally decided it was time to start a band of his own. After cramming rehearsal for a month the four piece band called themselves Jello Biafra and the Axis Of Merry Evildoers! The band, which featured Jello, Billy Gould, Ralph Spight, & Jon Weiss, took the stage in a sold-out 2-night stand at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall. Flush from that exhilarating triumph, the band did 9 months of rehearsal & writing, and added ace guitarist Kimo Ball. This led to the recording of “The Audacity of Hype.”
Now christened Jello Biafra and The Guantanamo School of Medicine, the band’s record was produced by Biafra and engineered by Hip Hop producer and long time Jello co-conspirator Matt Kelley (Hieroglyphics, The Coup, Digital Underground, Victims Family, Tumor Circus) at Prairie Sun Recording in Cotati, CA and San Francisco’s Hyde Street Studios.
The band’s twin guitar attack retains some of the space-punk overtones and spy-music-on-meth chaos of Dead Kennedys while adding a healthy dose of Detroit style proto-punk, flavored with Weiss’ industrial excursions into metal percussion.
Topically, the album explores how our forced Iraqnophobia and Homeland Insecurity continues to feed lawlessness at the top (“The Terror Of Tiny Town”) vs. a runaway police state and class war towards the bottom (“Three Strikes,” “Electronic Plantation” (originally done by the No WTO Combo, Jello’s one-off collaboration with Krist Novelselic (Nirvana) & Kim Thayil (Soundgarden). “Clean As A Thistle” becomes more timely every day as “Family Values” blowhards from Sanford to Berlusconi get caught in sinful trysts, while album closer “I Won’t Give Up” offers an age of Obama anthem on how change comes from agitation from below, not from glamour and sound bites from the top.
Thirty years on, Jello Biafra has made an album that solidifies and expands his uncompromising vision and updates it for the new century, with a powerhouse band that promises to be a terrifying live machine, currently in Europe Jon’s brother Andrew Weiss (Rollins Band, Ween, Butthole Surfers) filling the live bass position recently left vacant by Billy Gould’s return to Faith No More.
The Audacity of Hype Tracklist
1. The Terror of Tinytown
2. Clean As A Thistle
3. New Feudalism
4. Panic Land
5. Electronic Plantation
6. Three Strikes
7. Strength Through Shopping
8. Pets Eat Their Master
9. I Won’t Give Up
See the band play on Sat. October 31st at Voodoo Experience in New Orleans, LA. More US tourdates are coming soon!