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Jello Biafra Says Upcoming Dead Kennedys Reissue Was “Intentionally” Done Behind His Back

"Not one person from the band or the labels reached out to me at all"

jello biafra dead kennedys reissue comment
Jello Biafra, photo by Montecruz Foto
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    In September, Dead Kennedys are releasing a 40th anniversary reissue of their debut album, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, but former frontman Jello Biafra isn’t happy about it. In a message posted to the website for his label Alternative Tentacles. the DK co-founder claimed he was “intentionally” left in the dark about the project.

    “LISTEN BEFORE YOU BUY!! This was done almost totally behind my back. Intentionally,” wrote Biafra, hasn’t been part of the Kennedys lineup since the group first broke up in 1986 (Ron “Skip” Greer has been lead vocalist since 2008). “It was not ‘overseen by the band,’ as their press release claims. I was deliberately locked out. Not one person from the band or the labels reached out to me at all. Nor did Chris Lord-Alge, who did the remix. I guess he didn’t care, or value anything I brought to the band at all. Without me those songs wouldn’t exist.”

    Biafra continued by saying it took “several letters” from a lawyer to their manager to find out details about the release, which he claims doesn’t deliver on the promise of better sound quality. “I hate to say this, but to me it’s…. well…. kinda boring,” he said. “Sure, the sound is a little fuller, a little warmer, with a little more bottom end. But the top-end presence and power, so crucial to full-on in your face Punk, sounds rolled off and smoothed over, even muffly. And East Bay Ray, whose ego knows no bounds, actually turned his guitars DOWN!”

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    After concluding the new mix “sounds weak” compared to the “real thing,” Biafra went on to criticize the band for choosing renowned rock engineer Chris Lord-Alge, who has worked with pop punk bands like Bad Religion, Green Day, Good Charlotte, SUM 41, and more, saying there are “so many others” who would’ve had a better grasp of what it should sound like.

    It’s worth noting Alternative Tentacles lost the rights to almost all of the Dead Kennedys discography in the early 2000s after Biafra was sued by his former bandmates for failing to pay a decade’s worth of royalties. Unsurprisingly, Biafra has vociferously criticized the group’s subsequent releases (including live albums and reissues) as well as their decision to license out some of the Dead Kennedys catalog to movies and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.

    Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables 2022 Mix is out on September 30th. Pre-orders are ongoing. Compare Lord-Alge’s mix of “Chemical Warfare” to the original below.

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