Last week, when asked why he ceased legal action against his former Dead Kennedys bandmates, the typically outspoken Jello Biafra offered a no comment. He has since ended his silence, making it clear that while the legal battle has ended, his hostility has not.
“I and Alternative Tentacles have thrown up our hands at getting any justice from the three ex-Dead Kennedys’ greed-motivated lawsuits, and the shocking denial of our appeal,” wrote Biafra in a statement. “But that does not mean that the verdict and court rulings are the real truth any more than George Dubya was democratically elected president. They just got away with a lot of lies. O.J. Simpson would be proud.”
The dispute began in 1998, when bassist Klaus Fluoride, guitarist East Bay Ray and drummer D.H. Peligro discovered a $76,000 underpayment from Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label to the band partnership, Decay Music. They sued, and, in 2000, a San Francisco Superior Court awarded them $200,000 in compensatory and punitive damages and denied Biafra’s attempt to dissolve the partnership and gain sole control of the Dead Kennedys’ music. Biafra claimed the band brought its suit against him because he denied permission to license the song “Holiday in Cambodia” to Levi’s for a television ad. He appealed the ruling, but a California Court of Appeals upheld it last year.
Since the initial ruling, Biafra’s former bandmates have reissued the band’s back catalog on Manifesto Records and released a DVD and a live album, both of which Biafra has renounced.
Last week, upon announcing that Biafra had dropped all legal action against the Dead Kennedys, Fluoride expressed hope that the two camps could “bury the hatchet.” Biafra’s verbose statement would seem to quash that possibility.
“What they have done to Dead Kennedys since their hostile takeover speaks for itself,” Biafra continued. “Their money uber alles mentality has more in common with Dick Cheney than the vision and principles our band stood for. I’m as proud of Dead Kennedys as I ever was. It seems obvious I love and respect what we accomplished far more than they ever will.”