Dead Kennedys Interview - East Bay Ray | ThePunkSite.com
East Bay Ray
DEAD KENNEDYS are a band that should need no introduction. As a long time
fan of the band it was a great opportunity to finally get to speak to Ray.
The reason I wanted to talk to him was to try to get to the bottom of all the
rumors circulating about the lawsuits with one time singer Jello Biafra, as
well as find out what the future had in store.
The album "Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables" changed me from
a metal head and opened my eyes to the world of punk rock. It was a real
turning point in my life, and so it is truly an honor to speak to you.
Ray: Well thank you very much
Jeff: I have done a ton of background on DEAD KENNEDYS, but I feel your story
really hasn't been told in some ways, so I would like to discuss that with
Jeff: As I said to you previously, you changed my world musically. Is that
something you hear a lot?
Ray: Actually it is, when the band was starting we just wanted to make the
best music the band could make. It turns out that we are really honored that
it has affected a lot of people that way. That is why we in the band became
musicians in the first place, because we really loved music and music has changed
us and affected us deeply. It really is fulfilling for people to be influenced
by us, just as we were influenced by other bands.
Jeff: You guys never had what I would describe as a typical "punk" sound.
Your music was always very different from what was going on around you. You
were not a typical thrashy punk band, was that because everyone came from different
Ray: Yeah, I think it was because we all listened to different music. We all
listened to punk in common, but outside of that we all listened to different
music and that was brought in and spiced up the stew, so to speak.
Jeff: When you first started playing I had the impression that you tended
not to play with typical punks bands, you played with more diverse bands. Were
you trying to push the envelope?
Ray: Not really. We started here in San Francisco and the main club was the
Mabuhay Gardens and the booker, Dirk Dirksen who passed away last November,
would book 3 bands a night 7 days a week. So that was 21 bands a week and in
the early part of the scene the bills would be mixed up, there would be a pop
band, an art band and a punk band. I think that made the San Francisco scene
very vital because of the cross fertilization that happened. By the time we
were big enough to tour the genres had separated a bit and become more isolated
I would say.
Jeff: I am sure you have heard some of the many cover versions out. Have you
come across any you like? Or when a band does a different take and goes off
in a totally different direction to the original?
Ray: NAPALM DEATH did a version of "Nazi Punks". They sent me the
DVD and it was fun to watch. NOUVELLE VAGUE are doing a version of "Too
Drunk" in that lounge style, or mambo style - I will have to listen to
it again. Those are fun (when a band changes it up). There is a CD where people
do reggae versions of our songs - "Dread Kennedys". There is a punk
orchestra that does classical versions and they are great fun.
Jeff: There are a lot of things I would like to ask you about now, where the
band is going. Do you mind if I also ask about the past? That is not a subject
that is off limit?
Ray: (Laughs) It has had its ups and downs.
Jeff: Am I right in thinking that you guys never actually split up? I read
that you stopped recording and touring but the four of you never sat down and
said that is it we are not going to doing anything more.
Ray: There is a band partnership that we have had since the beginning and
that partnership continues. What happened is in January 1986; right before
we recorded "Bedtime For Democracy" I felt we were recycling the
music and ideas. I kind of gave notice, and everybody agreed to keep it quiet
until we had recorded the album and released it. "Bedtime" was released
Jeff: I will be honest and say that it is my least favorite record of yours.
It is not that it was bad musically or lyrically, but I kinda felt you were
going down an avenue you had been before.
Ray: So you see I was kinda right (laughing)? That is what I felt too; we
weren't really doing anything different.
Jeff: So after "Bedtime" that was going to be it? Later you released "Give
Me Convenience Or Give Me Death" which was a chance for the American audience
to catch up on the B-sides available on the singles in Europe, but not so easy
to get in America?
Ray: Yes, that is true. It was a compilation of our single releases as well
as some other tracks off of compilations and other places.
Jeff: Although "Fresh Fruit" is probably my all time favorite
album, I hope you will not be insulted if I said that your singles often
for me than your full-length releases. It was as is those short sharp shocks
of music had the most effective on me.
Ray: I kind of agree with you. I like our singles "Holiday In Cambodia" and "California
Jeff: I like the second album a lot too.
Ray: "Plastic Surgery Disasters" is actually my favorite album.
Jeff: I think may people reading this interview still believe Jello's
side of things concerning what happened, even though…
Ray: And there are those that say there were Weapons of Mass Destruction in
Iraq (laughs). People will believe what they want to believe, you know? If
it makes them feel better hating us then go ahead, but Biafra is an entertainer
and he has been manipulating the media for 15-20 years. Karl Rove doesn't have
much on him (laughs). The truth is the truth. If you read the Appellate verdict
you know that it agrees with us. There were 12 jury members who did not know
us or anything on either side and a trial judge. There are three partners in
the band, Klaus, D.H. Peligro and myself and then there were three Appellate
judges. They all looked at the evidence from both sides. Biafra's attorney
was from a big corporate insurance law firm with 40 partners, Carroll, Burdick & McDonough
LLP (whose big thing is defending asbestos companies). He put forward a good
case and but it was all bull shit!.
One of the problems people have is they mix up the spirit of punk with the
personalities. One of the examples I use is when you are a little kid you believe
in Santa Claus then at a certain point you realize Santa Claus doesn't exist
but that doesn't mean the spirit of Christmas doesn't exist. People have turned
punk into a religion in a certain sense, which was what DEAD KENNEDYS were
always against. Biafra used to say think for yourself, but now he is more about
telling people what to think. You have to understand that he was caught with
his hand in the till so of course he is going to be defensive. And not admit
it to his fans. Why would he? He needed someone else to blame and to hide that
he needed the money to run his business. I mean, if he is going to defraud
his partners do you think he will be more honest with his fans? Biafra took
money from the band just like he tried to take sole song writing credit. Most
people feel that Biafra's post DK music is nowhere as good as the Dead Kennedys
material, your ears will tell you that the talent of Klaus, Peligro and myself
obviously made major contributions to the music of Dead Kennedys.
Jeff: The thing I hear which is crazy is that they had to take him to court,
and that is not in the spirit of punk.
Ray: This is blaming the victim stuff. How much more of these fictions do
Klaus DH and Ray have to suffer? I believe there is a copy of the Appellate
verdict online someplace (http://www.phillaw.com/html/dkappeal.html) and if
people actually read through it they will see that the other three (Klaus,
D.H. and Ray) did nothing wrong, Biafra only has himself to blame. All he had
to do was to live up to what he preached and the case could have been avoided.
Jeff: If you have grown up with the band as your heroes you don't want to
hear that one of them may be less than that. I think people find it hard to
believe that someone like Biafra, who was so strong in his beliefs, would shaft
Ray: He was very strong at espousing certain views. Biafra has honed his skills
as a charismatic public speaker and he flourishes casting himself as the martyr.
Talk is cheap but action is a lot harder. People confuse the fact that he talked
a good game with him playing a good game. He is not always like that but this
time he was. The sad part is that he is in total denial about it. The way you
grow as a human being is learn from mistakes and avoid that in the future.
Like in your interviews, you do something and realize it didn't work and change
how you do it next time. If you don't learn you are stuck in the same place.
Jeff: You were doing solo stuff, as was the rest of the band. I heard an insider
at the record label told you that you were being screwed. Is that kinda how
Ray: First let me clarify something. Basically I started Alternative Tentacles,
and for the single "California Uber Alles" I financed the recording,
the pressing, and the drummer (Ted) and I did the distribution out of the back
of our car.
Jeff: I bet you wish you still had a trunk full!
Ray: Yes, right. Well, I do have half a dozen left. Then we formalized it
more in 1981 when Biafra and I were partners and we had a manager who was a
partner. Then in '86 I saw that there was a conflict of interest between the
bands interests and the record labels interest. I decided to split the business
kinda in half, and I was running the Decay partnership, which was the bands
partnership, while Biafra was running the record label because he wanted to
continue doing that. What really started it was the label raised the price
they were charging the consumers and keeping the entire price raise for themselves.
Then I went in and said you need to split that increase between the band and
the label and they refused to do that. The general manager of the record label
was going through the books, a new person had joined about a year before this
and they discovered we were also being paid a lot less than all the other bands
on the label. Needless to say we were the biggest seller on the label. So we
wrote a nice letter asking about that and there was a meeting where they started
to act very belligerent. Biafra had with him his attorney, Richard Stott, who
was an old friend of his that he had made band attorney in 1984. They got angry
with me and said nothing was owed. At one point I said that this is not the
way a musician should be treated by the people on this label and they said
maybe you are not a musician. It was heartbreaking. Klaus was at that meeting;
he can verify what they said to me. That was when we knew we were in trouble,
so Klaus and I went and got an attorney because this was just bullshit and
not punk rock. I think standing up for your rights is punk rock.
We tried to negotiate for about a year and they just would not admit they
under paid us. So we were forced to get a litigator and file a lawsuit and
everybody said we were crazy. The bottom line was, what they were telling us
was, the distributor Mordam told us we were crazy, all the punk rock magazines,
the people on the scene told us we were crazy. Klaus, D.H. and I knew what
was right. Basically what everyone was saying, which is such a sleazy sell-out,
is that you need to protect Biafra's image, as his image is more important
than the truth. Is it punk to promote hypocrisy? If you tell me that is punk,
then punk rock really is dead. But you cannot confuse image with reality and
that is what is going on here.
Jeff: Biafra has become larger than life, well that is the way he portrays
himself anyway. I used to think he was being ironic and I enjoyed the first
couple of spoken word albums.
Ray: His press releases are all about how wonderful he is. He has kind of
fallen into the thing of believing his own hype, his image is more important
than reality. I am sorry but that is not punk. That is what punk was supposed
to be against, at least DEAD KENNEDYS were. You know the whole plastic mohawk
and uniform that aren't punk underneath. However, there are people that wear
the uniform and are punk underneath. You cannot judge a book by its cover.
Jeff: I think because Biafra is a great speaker that people are not
looking for the facts. I have heard numerous accusations about the band only
interested in money, wanting to sign to a major label, and wanting to use "Holiday
In Cambodia" in a Levi's commercial.
Ray: That was voted down. That happened like 2 years before the litigation
but he resurrected the issue - look at the timing of it. We get offers all
the time and we voted it down. He grabbed on to it as a good media spin. Where
is the commercial? The partnership won the court case in 2000 and there is
no commercial. If people use a little bit of logic they would realize that
we have all the rights now so why don't we license it to Levis?
Jeff: Is Biafra not allowed to make comments about you? I thought I read on
his website that he said he had been told he couldn't make any comments.
Ray: (Laughs) Are you kidding, have you seen his website? He just makes stuff
up. Look, he got caught taking royalties from the band to run his label and
he is in total denial about it. He will just make up anything to get out of
it. What more can I say, it just goes on and on. He said he wasn't getting
paid yet there is a page on the website that shows four checks were cashed
by him. The other thing is, if the partnership weren’t paying him, we
would be in jail right now. If what he says is true, why doesn't he sue us
for the money if he is not getting it? He won't because he knows it’s
not true. He makes more than the rest of us because of the lyrics.
Jeff: I appreciate you discussing this stuff even though you are probably
sick of it.
Ray: Most of this is nerdy guys at home that spend too much time on the computer
and probably live at their parents’ house. They have nothing better to
do, and I feel sorry for the people that believe them, they are not DEAD KENNEDYS
fans. There is another one; there is a Tony Hawk video that Biafra says he
never approved. For years he was saying that, yet there is a fax from Biafra's
manager saying he saw it and approved it. Like you said before, if people actually
did their homework. People like having opinions, but if you have an opinion
before you actually look at the facts that is kind of ignorant.
Jeff: I am hoping that this interview puts this to rest.
Ray: Good luck (laughs). You have to understand that Biafra is running the
record label for 15 years and he has spent a lot of money on promotion, buying
ads, doing interviews and he has a 15-year head start on us. He is very good
with the media; he is very good at coming up with the one-liners and the slogans.
But that doesn't make it true. I mean Klaus had a solo record that was one
of the biggest sellers on Alternative Tentacles at one point and they told
him they didn't have any money to spend on promotion anymore. At the trial
it came out that Biafra was hiring an independent PR firm for thousands of
dollars a month to promote his spoken word records, while they were telling
Klaus they didn't have any money to do promotion (laughs). You have to have
a sense of humor about this stuff.
Jeff: You don't seem to have the hostility, and you seem to see the funny
side of it, from what I have heard Biafra is still fairly hostile towards you
guys. Would you put it that way?
Ray: I am Darth Vader! I guess I take it as a compliment that I have that
much power over the universe, yet I can hardly control my cat (laughs).
Jeff: I am trying to piece this together. I believe you got back together
for CD release party of "Mutiny On The Bay"? You weren't originally
going to play, is that correct?
Ray: That is correct. We were releasing "Mutiny On The Bay" and
had bands that were friends of ours going to play. We were going to have a
meet and greet where we release the CD and shake people's hands and signs autographs
and CDs and such. And then I think it was D.H. who said you know there is going
to be equipment there and stuff so maybe we should get up and play some tunes.
Jeff: Well, you are musicians!
Ray: Right. We said who could we have sing and he was hanging out with Brandon
Crux from DR KNOW, and said let me ask him. So, he said OK he would do, so
we did it. It was planned as a one off, but we got an amazing reaction. Klaus
and I flew to LA to rehearse at a rehearsal studio and we hadn't played DEAD
KENNEDYS stuff for a long time but when the sound came out, there were dozens
of people outside the door. We never announced we were playing, but those dozen
people told other people so on the night of the show there were like 400 or
500 people outside of the club who had to be turned way. It sold out just on
Jeff: At that point you never thought to ask Biafra to play or were things
Ray: When that happened his appeal was going on. After the trial he was the
one who spent 3 or 4 more years in court. He filed a federal lawsuit against
us, an appeal against us, and I think he filed one more Superior Court action
against us (laughs).
Jeff: I read that he said you guys approached him numerous times to play,
but he kept saying not while you are suing me.
Ray: Yes we did approach him and his attorney approached us probably about
a year, year and a half a go. We said sure but I guess he changed his mind.
He toys with it.
Jeff: Jeff Penalty is in the band now, right?
Jeff: Do these guys find it tough trying to take Biafra's place?
Ray: Oh yeah, they get a lot of static, especially when we started. We were
playing 200-300 capacity clubs and nobody gave us a chance. Of course back
then most people didn't know much about the case so people were 99% against
us. Brandon took a lot of crap and I know Jeff has. Klaus, D.H. and myself
also have for that matter. But there is D.H. drumming, Klaus on bass and myself
on guitar so there is three quarters of the sound. Have you seen us play?
Jeff: Unfortunately no.
Ray: We started at 200-300 capacity heavy metal clubs, while just last year
we played the Fillmore where we headlined. We have headlined CBGB's and Irving
Plaza New York, headlined House of Blues on Sunset in Hollywood, and then last
year we played a festival in France to 10,00 people. We were third billed with
KORN, MOTORHEAD and DEAD KENNEDYS - quite a combination. Biafra first said
let the audience judge for themselves and the audience liked it and now he's
changed to saying nasty things about us.
Jeff: Do you think the European audience is more forgiving as they are not
caught up in the petty politics of what has happened?
Ray: No, it depends on the people. We have had good shows here, like New York
was really good.
Jeff: I have heard great things about you live as I have a ton of bootlegs,
which I am sure you frown upon. I really enjoy the CDs and DVDs from the last
Ray: Really? I don't have many.
Jeff: I will have to send you some. The problem I see is people have already
made their mind up and don't want to give you a chance, but once they have
seen you they are blown away.
Ray: Exactly, that is kind of what is happening. The fact is that at every
show someone comes up and says I was really skeptical but then I came and you
guys rocked out. The thing is nobody is forcing anyone to go to it. If they
don't want to go they don't have to go, but it is amazing the people that call
themselves punk rock and are aware and fall into the trap of being prejudiced
and buying spin. Amazingly they think they are punker than thou. Nazi Punks
Fuck Off! I am not talking Nazis with swastikas and stuff I am talking about
people’s minds that are closed. There is a line in the song that talks
about punk rock not being a religion, but some people treat it that way.
Jeff: To these people you sacrificed their high priest! Some people see you
three as the evil ones.
Ray: (Laughs) I didn't do anything, let's get that straight. It is all his
Jeff: You must feel a section of fans have moved on with you, while still
embracing your past?
Ray: When we play the audience is about one third from back in the day and
two thirds are new people, so we have two generations. For a band that is quite
an honor. Here in California the MOODY BLUES will play up in Reno and the audience
is the same age as the band. For our band it isn't, we have both generations.
For a musician that is quite something.
Jeff: Is there any chance you are going to release anything live with Brandon
or Jeff, just to show people?
Ray: I don't know at this point?
Jeff: Do you have other things in the works?
Ray: If I had that would be telling.
Jeff: I hear this term and it drives me crazy, and I think I have
seen Biafra use it and that is the "FAUX KENNEDYS", as in you are
somehow the false Kennedys. Have you heard that? It is as if the band is
not the band without
Ray: (Laughs) No, I haven't heard that one but I am not surprised. And who
is saying this? Look at the source of that nasty attack. You think it might
be a little suspect because he has an agenda?
Jeff: I liked "Mutiny On The Bay" but it is kinda disjointed as
I guess I am so used to listening to bootlegs where you get the whole concert,
where the band screws up, shouts at the audience, etc. So "Live At The
Deaf Club" is for me one of the best releases ever. Any chance you will
raid the vaults for something else?
Ray: For live stuff? The only thing I know that might be of high enough quality
is a radio broadcast from Germany. But the whole problem with that is it was
mixed to stereo. You see the "Deaf Club" was recorded on 8 track.
Jeff: You were a heavily bootlegged band back in the day, would you not agree?
Ray: I presume so.
Jeff: I have heard some incredible quality recordings. So what are your feelings
about bootlegs, is it something you just live with?
Ray: Really? I have a lot of stuff, but none of it is that incredible quality.
Yeah, it is something you live with.
Jeff: Nowadays most people share them so no one is making money off of them,
what with the Internet and streaming. One person buys it and by the next day
there are a hundred copies out there.
Ray: Yeah, well the Internet has made it a little different.
Jeff: I will be honest, there are not many bands were I want to hear every
concert they have ever done.
Ray: You are quite the fan. Even now when we play the songs live we don't
play them exactly like the record.
Jeff: And that is what I love. The one thing that I think is missing from
now compared to back in the day is how Jello always seemed to be trying to
piss the audience off as much as he could. Was he being confrontational or
Ray: I think funny more than confrontational. He was trying to get them out
of their complacency, not being confrontational, and just wanting to make them
think. There is a subtle difference.
Jeff: I noticed with a couple of the early DVDs which you have released you
have taken cuts from different shows, so you obviously have the whole show.
Is there are chance you would consider releasing the whole thing?
Ray: Probably not. Back in the day we were a little bit inconsistent.
Jeff: You don't think that adds to the charm?
Ray: I don't and I don't think anybody in the band does. Everybody in the
band took pride in their craftsmanship, and I know it sounds old fashioned.
On the studio records we really worked hard on making them as good as we could
to our ability and resources at the time.
Jeff: I would say you were definitely under-rated musically. The playing on
the records was better than you can hear even now.
Ray: Well, the way you can do stuff in the studios now it is amazing. You
can really fix a lot.
I think all those bootlegs are out there and the collectors have them, so
someone who likes us but who is not a totally enthusiastic fan that listens
to other kinds of music, this stuff wouldn't be interested. I am a great fan
of MUDDY WATERS and HANK WILLIAMS but I really don't need everything they ever
Jeff: I think that is just the obsessive side of me.
Ray: That is OK. I think obsessive can be put to constructive use, and I think
everybody in DEAD KENNEDYS is obsessive when we are in the studio. You have
to understand that we had really, really low budgets, so we had to make up
for it with the amount of time we put in. After a certain point there was only
so much we could do. Like "Fresh Fruit" the bass could be louder.
Jeff: When you remastered that, was everything cleaned up?
Ray: Cleaned up? You cannot clean up in mastering; all you can do is reveal
what was originally on the tape, what we heard in the studio. If the tape is
distorted you cannot make it not distorted. You can take a clean tape and make
it distorted but not clean up a tape that is already distorted. Part of it
was our stuff was transferred to CD in the late '80s and the technology was
really not that good back then. Another thing, there is an EQ used when you
put stuff on vinyl. Like, vinyl does not have a very good high end response
so when you master a tape to vinyl you will lose the high end and it will get
softened, taken out by the vinyl. What happened with CDs in the late '80s across
a lot of genres is they would take the vinyl EQ and put it on the CD with the
boosted high end, but the CD does not cut the high end like vinyl does. So
they came out harsh and brittle and then technology came out and people got
wise to that. A good example is video games, there used to be "Pong" and
now look at the quality of games.
That is what has happened to CDs so it wasn't cleaned up, I kinda find that
insulting, as you are used to hearing distortion. This is the tape we made
in the studio, this is what we were listening to, and is a true representation
of what we wanted to put out. Cleaned up is a derogatory term. You know, people
get used to a certain sound, for example there are people who think 8 track
tapes sound great.
Jeff: When I first played the remastered version of "Fresh Fruit" through
my headphones the difference was night and day.
Ray: OK. The other thing is the original CD is too fast as the tape recorder
is at the wrong speed. I remastered that and it is 1.3% too fast from the actual
pitch of the tape. Have you compared the old "Give Me Convenience" with
the new "Give Me Convenience"? You should do that, as it is an atrocity.
Alternative Tentacles put that our for 15 years and it is like someone took
a fine painting and put some plastic wrap over it.
Jeff: With vinyl you could put copious notes on the sleeve and it was part
of the release, which is lost with CD booklets.
Ray: Well, CDs are on their way out now due to downloads, with very little
artwork. The current music fan doesn't seem to care that much. The other thing
is downloads are mainly mp3s and there people who have only heard mp3s. I have
an iPod but I changed the sample rate from 128 kbs to 192. I find that 128
cuts the transients off, the beginning of the notes. There are 1000's of people
who will listen to that and then a vinyl record and say this is all cleaned
up as they will be able to hear more of the high end, the cymbals and the transients
of Biafra singing and the snare drum hitting, which mp3s tend to squash.
Jeff: I want to talk about 9/11 and how that changed the political climate
in most countries, there was a rise in nationalism and people tying themselves
to the flag. How did this event affect you? How did you feel about the government?
Ray: I am not 100% against government; I don't know where you got that assumption.
For example, my town has a sewer system so the government has some useful functions.
In 2000 there was a big Green Party thing to vote for Ralph Nader, who helped
elect George W. Bush. I agree with the Green Party goals but that year was
not the year to vote for them. For instance, Jesse Jackson used to run for
President every four years then right at the end he would stop and throw his
votes at a candidate and have access to the Whitehouse and the ability to talk
about the issues he wanted to talk about. I thought Ralph Nader was extremely
arrogant. It is not about who is the President it is about who appoints the
Supreme Court. Back in 2000, the people here were saying there is no difference
between the Democrats and the Republicans. Usually it was men saying that.
I would like to point out that yes there is a difference as I really believe
Al Gore would have appointed different Supreme Court Justices. You have to
realize Bush appointed right wing nuts disguised to sound reasonable. They
have their views and find a rationalization for it, and they are on there for
life. People say Nader wouldn't have made a difference as Gore won California
but there were tons of money and tons of phone calling. If Nader had gone up
until the end then thrown his votes with Gore we would not have these two Supreme
Court Justices. Also, we probably wouldn't be stuck in Vietnam, I mean Iraq,
On the TV program "Six Feet Under" one of the characters was complaining
about Bush and the other said well you voted for Nader, thank you very much.
I discussed with someone and they said they felt good about voting for Nader,
but what about the rest of the people? What about women? I don't like to call
it pro-choice, I like to call it pro-liberty, because the definition of liberty
is keeping the government out of the private part of your life. Those Supreme
Court Justices are not pro-liberty they are pro-government control. That was
such a close election and was not the year to do it (vote for Nader) and I
was trying to tell people to wait until 2004. You know, get some publicity,
get as big as you can and then step back. I said if he doesn't he is going
to set the Green Party back 10 years and look what happened, they went from
3.5% to 0.75%.
Bush had the opportunity to rally the country against a common enemy and that
was squandered. The New Yorker magazine had an article back during Vietnam
that some advisor told Lyndon Johnson to send in more troops, it probably won't
help, it only has a 1 in 4 chance of succeeding, but at least then you will
look like you are doing something. They are sending 20,000 more troops to Iraq
take them off the big bases and put them on the city streets. The death rate
is going to go up geometrically as we try to take over with US troops. Are
we doing this because it looks good?
Jeff: I have a question that I think is tough to answer, but can you support
the troops but not the war? The reason I ask is I have had family members go
Ray: It is possible.
Jeff: I read somewhere that D.H. had said something to that effect and you
were then criticized for being pro-war! Do you remember that?
Ray: Oh yeah, I remember that. These punk fanatics will throw up anything
and see what sticks. They were trying to say that we support George Bush (laughs).
They don't care; it is like the swift boat veterans for punk truth. They don't
even know that they are so self-righteous it is funny. If you are a fanatic
like that you are not a punk rocker. Question authority is not in their vocabulary.
The Middle East is becoming a catastrophe - the scariest thing is I read an
article about teenage boys getting their martyrdom pictures taken.
Jeff: Do you think this can be sorted out?
Ray: Back in the Dark Ages the Muslim civilization was very advanced, they
were the ones that saved Greek medicine and mathematics from the Catholic Church.
They were also tolerant of Jews and Christians in their society as opposed
to when Catholics took over Spain they tortured Jews. It is possible. The news
is always filled with stories about car bombs, but they don't tell you why.
These people are not stupid, they don't do it randomly. They don't tell you
who the parties are, what their goals are, or what point they are trying to
make. The biggest mistake Bush made was going in to Afghanistan and the Taliban
headed to the hills, so they thought it was easy. They didn't understand that
Russia was in Afghanistan for 10 years. This is their homeland but they are
not going anywhere. Bush went into Iraq thinking it was going to be easy. They
should have talked to Henry Kissinger, because Saddam Hussein was the counter
balance to Iran and now he is gone. Iraq is in a civil war and there is no
way we can win, we cannot pick a side. There was a big democratic election
three years and look at what happened. The whole domino theory comes into play;
remember, "If Vietnam falls the whole of Asia falls to communism".
They are saying the same thing now, if Iraq falls. What would Syria and Iran
do if they had to fix Iraq? You have the Kurds, the Shiites, the Sunnis, and
you have tribes below that. It is like Catholic and Protestant, but for them
it is also tribal as well, and there are big interlocking clans and networks
going on. When Bush went in to Iraq they only had one person at the FBI who
could speak Arabic.
The problem with terrorism is it attracts psychopaths they enjoy the terror.
When society gets past that, these people cannot change as they are used to
the exciting life. Do the ends justify the means? Well no because when you
get psychopaths who blow civilians up you create a monster. That has its own
momentum its own inertia, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. One of
the generals Bush fired said our army is delaying these people reconciling
with each other and sitting down at the table and talking.
If you are right, Iraq will sort itself out and they may vote for a fundamental
Muslim government, but that is democracy. Let's not kid ourselves, Bush went
in there for oil and he wanted to avenge his dad. Well, where is all this oil?
Didn't they say the war was going to pay for itself? We haven't even paid for
the war. Bush has been doing these tax cuts and borrowing the money so a generation
or two will be paying for this war. Bush has stirred up a hornet's nest that
is going to go on for 20 years against the United States.
Bush acts tough all the time but if you look at the actual facts, his is one
of the most incompetent administrations ever. He got into a war, he couldn't
handle Katrina, and yet people still think he is tough. I don't care if he
acts tough he is incompetent. What has Bush actually accomplished? He hung
Saddam Hussein and put two Supreme Court Justices in office, but in terms of
being an administrator he is incompetent. Yet Fox News still takes the state
of the union address seriously. Didn't he say we were going to Mars and would
be greeted with flowers in Iraq? Why do people still believe this guy? This
is one reason why the parliamentary system has an advantage because when you
have lost confidence in your leader you can switch them.
Jeff: What about the Weapons Of Mass Destruction?
Ray: There was a guy called Hans Blix from the UN who was doing the weapons
inspections. He found nothing and said, "Give us another year and we will
have a definitive answer", but Bush wouldn't wait that long. They didn't
want to wait. Public opinion seems to be we have to get out of Iraq, which
is going to end up fundamentalist
Muslim no matter what we do. As Ralph Nader has been saying we have to get
over our dependency on foreign oil. Our government is giving tax breaks to
SUV's while companies like Toyota are producing hybrid cars (and the tax breaks
for them are being reduced). Bush doesn't care, as he believes it is all going
to end in Armageddon anyway, and the rapture will happen 10 years down the
line! The Bush administration is so into spin and it has caught up with them,
particularly with the last election. I was surprised the Democrats won the
Senate, although they too will get corrupted over time. Nancy Pelosi has got
Congress to do some good stuff in three months. However, there is the old joke
that when the Democrats form a firing squad they form a circle! That is what
Ralph Nader did wrong; he was shooting back at the wrong time. Bush allows
us to use inexpensive labor from Mexico, but doesn't want us to get inexpensive
drugs because of the big drug companies.
Jeff: So, having said that DEAD KENNEDYS have always expressed their opinions
on world events, is now not the time to do that? Is it time for a new record?
Ray: Oh, I see where you are going, (laughs), that is a very good question.
Jeff: Punks talk about politics, but has much really changed since CRASS,
DEAD KENNEDYS and others started pointed out things that are wrong with the
Ray: I guess we all used to believe music would change the world but what
I realized is music can change people but it really doesn't change systems.
People change systems. Music can inspire people but it cannot change the situation
Jeff: So how about you inspire us again?
Ray: That is a good idea (laughs).
Jeff: You are not giving anything away, are you? The reason I ask this is
I read an interview that you were maybe thinking of doing something new. Are
you still thinking about it?
Ray: Maybe (laughs). Still thinking about it.
Jeff: Any plans to tour?
Ray: We are on a little bit of a break but we may do some stuff this summer.
I am a little embarrassed to toot my own horn here, but most people are probably
not aware that in the Oakland Tribune there was a top 25 guitarists in the
Bay Area. I don't know these people and we are not on a major label but they
put me as number 19. Everybody on there is on a major label except for me,
so obviously those guys are music fans. We didn't do anything to push that.
You have to understand that I grew up here so my relatives and friends all
saw it and said, "That's you!"
Jeff: Any last thoughts?
Ray: "Punk ain't no religious cult, Punk means thinking for yourself?