DH Peligro - 2004

Share:   Facebook  Danger Danger! Mark Prindle interviewed Dead Kennedys drummer DH PeligroTwitter   Email to friend               

DH Peligro was the Dead Kennedys' drummer from 1981's In God We Trust, Inc. through their 1986 dissolution, then went on to form the Jungle Studs, play in Nailbomb and create his own thrash metal band called Peligro. When I found out that he not only was performing with a reformed Jello-less Dead Kennedys but had also recorded his own version of a Jimi Hendrix classic, I said to myself and others, "I have to interview said man!" The rest happened and is gone. On a fine early November evening, we spoke for an hour, shared some laughs, enjoyed a few memories, basked in the glow of the suntime moon, lived and died a thousand lifetimes, and ran up my telephone bill to nearly ten dollars. My words below are fairly bold; his are thinner, but not to be discarded so easily.



Is this DH?


Hey! This is Mark Prindle calling for the interview.

Hey, Mark! Just a second.


(*A second? More like TEN seconds!!!!*)

Hey hey hey!


What's going on?

Great news! George Bush got elected!

AUUUUUUUUGGHHHH-GAHGAHGAHGAHGAAAAAAAAAAAH! Four more years of the same old garbage! Why don't we just instill the draft for some of the Republicans' kids? All the people who voted for him - why don't THEY go to war? And their kids go to war? So they can get to feel what it's like?

I know. He sure didn't. He's a draft dodger!

Ha ha! Draft dodger, yeah.

He's a tough president. A tough man.

I ain't a draft dodger, but I ain't gonna go to war for just -

Oh no, I mean HE was!

Oh, oh - HE was.


Yeah yeah yeah, right?

He was. But no one seems to care, because he's a strong leader -- who invades a country illegally and then claims that he's a war president.

Well, a strong leader leads his people.


Oh my god.

So what's this Jimi Hendrix thing you're into?

Oh man! My version of "Purple Haze"?


You know, we was just dickin' around one day at rehearsal and it just flowed through me. I really wasn't thinking about it. It was like, "Ahh, let's try that." And as it turned out, the drummer - oh, are you recording this?


Are we on? Okay. My drummer could play it live, but somehow he just wasn't getting it in the studio. So I did the drum track just to get that down. And then the bass player was like, "Well, you played the drums. Here, play the bass." So I played bass. And I did the guitar track on it and laid down the vocals, and so I pulled a fast one and just did everything on it. Which I did that before on a demo which I gave to Jello Biafra from Alternative Tentacles, and he was like, "Oh you need to get a band, blah blah blah." And I did, and he put out the first Peligro record, which is just simply titled "Peligro," even though it looks like "Peligro Peligro." "Danger Danger! Warning Warning! Danger Danger!"

I remember that one. I was in college when that one came out. You redid "Hellnation" on that, didn't you?

Yeah, we did "Hellnation" and also we did "King Of The Road," an old Roger Miller tune.

Oh! I forgot about that.

Yeah, that was a song from my childhood that was kinda instilled in me. I still remember Dean Martin doing, "Kii-iiing of the road!" And I've always had kind of a fascination with bums and hobos and having that freedom of traveling from state to state, you know, just hop on a train and Bangor, Maine! Bangor, Maine! "Bangor, Maine" just got stuck in my head.


And so I just laid down "King Of The Road." Of course, I sped it up 999,000 times the speed of light and voila! We had "King Of The Road."

How come you didn't do another record with that band?

With that band? Those guys? Actually I did play with the drummer; we just did a festival in Brazil called Porao Do Rock, where they expected 30,000 people. And I had him - he played drums and I had a new bass player. It's because those guys were living in San Francisco; I just went up there just to do the record. And it's just such a struggle to try to keep a band together when you don't have money, and I'd find myself just trying to take care of them and take care of their families and it was like, "Hey, well what about me?" I wasn't able to do it and it really almost drove me insane. It really did. So I just had to step back and get another band. And since then, my bass player's left - thank you, Rick Hanna - and my drummer's left, so I got a new bass player and I had that other drummer, but I don't know if I'm going to keep that. I might just get a whole new band. This is a struggle. People even in LA - of course in LA - they want some immediate gratification. And it's like I paid dues, and I'm still paying dues. You really gotta want to do this. You gotta want to rock. You gotta want to be in the band whatever it takes. You have to hold down your end, you have to hold down another job - whatever it takes to make a band happen. And I really am from the old school of like, "We're a band, man." When you're a band, this is what happens with the band. It's not like one person gets paid more than anybody else, it's not like we do some gigs here and there and rent's gonna get paid and everything. I think the only reason to do this is for the love of music. And if you believe in yourself and that everything's gonna work out fine, it will work out fine. But they want it yesterday. And I'm sorry but it's not available for them. So I'll just keep trudging roads.

How many solo records do you have out? Three?

Yes. Three and a half because I have a couple of singles and just some other recorded stuff that I have stashed away that's unreleased. People were telling me that it sounds a bit like newer Metallica, some of it. Which I don't hear, myself, but that's what some people hear.

So are you still playing with the Dead Kennedys?

Yeah! Yeah yeah. As a matter of fact, we're gonna do a gig down in Scottsdale, Arizona on the 8th of December. It's kinda cool because there's no pressure with Dead Kennedys now. We've done what we've needed to do over the years, and as you can see, George Bush is back in office and names have changed but the problems are the same. Years and years of hardship and we've got a whole new pack of 'em - nothing's changed. This country is run by fucking Enron and other global organizations.

Yeah. Halliburton....

I'm just so depressed about the whole thing.

Kerry almost did it. It came down to Ohio.

Yeah! Ohio! Ohio.

Thanks for nothing, Ohio.

Yeah, thank you. You gave us Slipknot but you also gave us GEORGE BUSH. Well, they did give us Devo so they can't be that bad.

So what else are you working on these days?

I'm working on a film called "Tweaked" where I play like a tweaked-out, drugged up knucklehead, and I also did a small film called "Sex Date," (NOTE: I THINK HE SAID "SEX DATE" BUT I COULD BE WRONG) which - they're basically independent films. I like independent films. Sometimes big budget stuff is just - that's what it is, big budget stuff! And sometimes it's just not interesting. So I did this film called "Sex Date" with this girl; her and I wrote it, and I did the starring role in it. It's cool; it's like a little 15-minute short for a festival. "Tweaked" was a full-length film; I had a smaller part in that. I'm also working on a film which is not complete yet called "The Four Horsemen," for which I play the lead role, a Haitian drug dealer. I'm an underground guy and I've got all these henchmen, and a woman cop infiltrates our gang because she found out that one of my henchmen killed her brother. And I'm also working on my brand new book! My autobiography 'The Life and Times of DH Peligro.' I don't know if that's actually gonna be the title, but I've been working on it for a while. I'm hoping to finish it up and get it out there real soon.

Cool! Have you talked to any publishers about it yet?

No, but it's gonna have all the dirt, all the names. It's gonna be names - all that!

Uh oh!

I'm just dumping all the skeletons out of the closet. And I'll probably get sued left, right, front and center 67 different ways from Sunday, but I'll go through my life knowing that I left no stone unturned.

And you've told the truth.

I've told the truth, the whole truth - much unlike our president. Or somebody's president.

Yeah. Jesusland's president. How did you initially get into the band? How'd you become, when their first drummer left or whatever -

Oh, the Dead Kennedys? Basically I was living on the streets in San Francisco - I was actually living in a van. I had migrated from St. Louis; I was born in St. Louis. And I'd gotten turned onto all those, you know, Television and the Ramones and Radio Birdman and Devo - just a holocaust of bands, and there was a bunch of local bands like The Offs, Dils, Plugz, X, Go-Gos, you know, crazy crazy all kinds of bands. One thing about San Francisco is that it was always an eclectic array of bands. The punk scene wasn't just a punk scene because there'd be like new wave bands and pop bands and bad reggae/ska bands! And we had the Deaf Club, which was basically a club for the deaf! I was always at the Deaf Club. I played in a band called the SSI, and our rhythm guitarist Paul was like Joe Strummer, and so we played very fast and our lyrics were fairly politically astute, and Biafra had seen me play with them and he liked my drumming. Then I ran into East Bay Ray down at the Mabuhay Garbage - Gardens -


We used to call it the Mabuhay Garbage after a while. And he asked me if I'd come down and audition. I thought immediately, "Well, you know what? I'm not gonna get the gig. I'm black, and nobody wants a black drummer in their band, even though it is punk rock."

Was that really the case back then?

I'm sorry?

Was that really the case back then?

That's what I thought, you know? That was just my thinking. I mean, it wasn't the case at all, no. That's just what I thought. Let me point that out - that's definitely what I thought. Because I'd seen all these other bands, and I played a lot of rock before that, but I think I was one of the first black rock drummers. Or that's how it seemed to me. But I just thought that, but I auditioned. I was one of the first ones to audition, then they auditioned like 15 other drummers, and I came back when Biafra wasn't there and auditioned again with Klaus and Ray. We did "In Sight" and I just nailed it to a T. Because I basically said to myself, "You know, I'm gonna go in there and even if I don't think I have the complexion for the connection, I'm just gonna give it my all." That's what my mama taught me to do, so I gave it my all, and Ray and Klaus told me, "Okay! You've got our vote." And then we did another audition with Biafra, and voila! Next thing you know, I'm recording "Too Drunk To Fuck," the first single I played on. And then we played some theater in San Jose, and then of course we went on to do "In God We Trust," "Plastic Surgery Disasters," "Frankenchrist" with the "Penis Landscape" poster -

Oh, I've got it.

You've got it?


- and "Bedtime For Democracy." Oh, you've got that. huh?

Well, I bought a copy used and that poster wasn't in it, and then years later a girl gave me a copy she had. You know, the actual copy - it had the DKs in the corner and everything.

Then you're a better man than I because I don't even have a copy. I wish I would have -



Not even when the record came out?

No, when the record came out I had one, but between moving here and there so much, somebody swiped it.

When you first joined the band, what was the dynamic like in the band?

I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but I sorta gave 'em a kick in the ass. You notice how the music got a little faster and more aggressive?

A LOT faster.

Yeah, yeah. I don't want to toot my own horn, but that was a lot to do with me. I remember pushing the beat a little faster, and pushing and pushing and then it was like "YEEEAAAAAHHHH!!!!" You know, I just pushed as hard as I could push. I'd get a little guff from Ray because he wanted me to slow down a bit, but I just kept going and I kept that pace up. Everybody got used to it and it was fine.

Did it take a while for you to feel like part of the band, since they'd already been together for a while? Or did you all get along immediately?

Sure, I kinda jumped right in with both feet and I was like, "Yeah! This is my gig. This is my job. This is my thing." I felt a little skittish at first because, you know, a band is a relationship, you have to feel everybody out, and it's like a long drawn-out marriage. And so I felt them out and figured out how to not step on peoples' toes or how to step on peoples' toes if necessary. But yeah, I felt definitely a part of the band, especially after recording. And it is was a weird thing, because there was some racism going on still, in the South and other parts, and some of the bouncers wouldn't let me into the club. And they'd be like, "You so-and-so, you -" I remember distinctly this guy who was like a skinhead who was like, "If they're black, send 'em back!" - saying that to me outside the gig that we were playing. Meanwhile, they were paying their money to get in, just to find out that I'm the drummer! There were no pictures on the record, so in those days nobody knew what I looked like - or anybody looked like - but they knew the music. And the same thing happened in Texas, with some guy going, "Fake Rasta!" This English guy going, "Fake Rasta! Bah bah bah bah bah bah bah!" and launching into this degrading - you know, like your basic racial slur-type shit. And HE still stood in line to pay to get into the gig. And right after MDC played, it was like BOOM! We're onstage. And I was looking for him, you know? But I knew he was out there.

That's horrible. Wait - they went to see MDC? Did they have problems with MDC being gay?

I don't know if they had - no no, they just had a problem with me being black.

That's ridiculous!

Yeah, it was really ridiculous. And Biafra would always do a speech right before "Nazi Punks": it's not what you wear, how long your hair is, what color you are -- it's what's inside your head. And therefore - boom, right into "Nazi Punks Fuck Off." There was a big skinhead movement over in England that sort of spreaded its claws into America. They didn't even really know what they were fighting for; they just wanted to belong to something, and they just happened to make a bad decision. I mean, people are entitled to their opinions but THAT'S WRONG. You're WRONG. Prejudice is wrong. And reverse prejudice, the same way. I feel the same way about it.

At least reverse prejudice makes some sense though.


Because there is this whole history, you know?


That's one thing I had - I grew up in the South, in Georgia -- and I'm not there now, thank goodness -- but that's where I grew up, and that's the one thing I always felt - if I had any racist feeling, it was this fear because I felt like, "Man, they have a REASON to hate me! They have a reason to hate white people."

Well, that's the truth. That's the God's honest truth. Yeah man - it's like my uncle, Sam. His name was Sam so we called him "Uncle Sam." - Ha-ho! And he like turned me on to music, and he had to work in the cotton fields and all that kindsa shit, but he was a blues player. They lived in a little shack basically; they had an outhouse and they had a well where you had to go pump your water. There was no electricity, no running water. They had a potbellied stove. If you wanted heat, you had to chop the wood and put it in the stove. If you wanted to take a bath, you had to jump in this tub and take the hot water off of the stove and pour it over you. And they had cotton fields and they grew their own vegetables, and the one redeeming factor was that he had some instruments. That was my first introduction to an acoustic instrument - to live sound. "A piano! Wow! It makes a sound! Wow!" And as primitive as they were and what little they had, there was still bias and just heavy racism there. Yet people wanted to hear his music. They wanted to hear his music. And now he's a little more famous than ever now that he's sick and dying. I'm gonna go visit him over the holidays; I haven't seen him in a while. And the crazy thing that I've never told anybody, in interviews especially, before is that I had grown up with this father - I thought he was my real father. But when I left to move to San Francisco when I was about 15, my mom said, "Oh, well he's not your real father." Later I came back to visit her, and I was like, "Ma, what's up with our family tree? Where did I come from? I have this name - where did it come from?" And she kinda broke it down for me. She said, "Well, he's not your real father. He adopted you." And by the way, some of this will be in the book as well. "He adopted you, and your real father was Uncle Sam's best friend." My mom had a one-night-stand with this guy, and it turned out that me and my sister came out of it. I have a twin sister named Diane. Hey, Diane!

Did you grow up with Diane?

Yes. I had three younger brothers and sisters. They got preferential treatment and they didn't get beat nearly as much as I did. I was just a wild child. I couldn't sit still, I had ADD, I was super-super-hyper. Drums were just very fitting for me. And I'd just always wondered - what was your name again?


Mark. I'd always wondered, Mark, "Why am I so into music?" I mean, there was a point where I made a decision. They wanted me to be - some people were like, "Okay, if you couldn't play music, what would you do?" And I'm like, "Oh, uhh... buh buh buh...." And at times I've had to do something else, like work at Kinko's blah blah blah blah blah. But it always went back to music, and I always wondered why I have this affinity for music - especially rock music! And punk and all this aggressive stuff. It's because my father was a musician! And I never knew! I never knew the guy, never met him, still haven't met him to this day, and voila. I guess it's kinda in my blood.

Wow! Is he still alive?

I don't know. There's some thought that he used to be in East St. Louis living somewhere, but I don't know. I'm gonna go back for Christmas and see if I can look him up. Maybe. It's not that big a deal for me. Some people get really into that and make a big deal out of it, like, "Oh, I need to find my biological father, and tell him that he never loved blah blah blah." But it's not that big a deal for me, because I turned out... not absolutely perfect, but I turned out the way I am.

Did your mother ever see him again?

No, no. Never again. And my older brother has a different father as well. It's just weird. But yeah man, the more you live life, the more things you learn. That really tripped me out. I probably got way off the topic there. Did you have some other questions you wanted to ask me?

I was just wondering if you were happy with all the different steps that the Dead Kennedys took during their career, musically.

Uhhh....... You know, uhh.......

I like all the albums, but I know some people have their favorites and don't like others, so -

I think change is inevitable and it's good. Sometimes it doesn't always feel good and it's not what people want to hear, but I refuse to be stuck in the same rut. Yeah, I was! I wasn't disappointed, especially with my drumming. No, not at all. Oh! What I did want to say was that when I was growing up in St. Louis, it was like I was stuck in the dichotomy of - I was basically in the ghetto. Like the North County ghetto of St. Louis. Well, it wasn't a ghetto, but it was sort of Section 8 housing. And I'd always play rock music, and all the brothers would be like, "Maaaan! Why you playin' that stuff, man? Why you playin' that ol' rock - that ol' white boy stuff?" Yet they would always come out. We would play, we would set up on the carport, and they'd always come and listen and hang out - drink beer, smoke weed, do whatever they were gonna do, and hang out. So music was like the common denominator that brought people together, even though they thought it was shit and wanted to know why I wasn't playing Motown and why I wasn't playing the latest, greatest, most up-to-datest funk records or, you know -

How did you initially get into rock? Was it through Sam?

I'm sorry?

Was that through Sam that you got into rock?

Uncle Sam really just turned me on to live instruments, period. Rock just came like in Junior High. It just came to me and I went to it. Because I just started loving it! I think one of the first things I went to was I went to a kite-flying contest, and I saw Kiss! And a few other rock bands like Bang! and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and I was like, "I love the sound of distorted guitars. I love the big sound of the drum kit!" And I had Deep Purple records, Black Sabbath records, and I would always go to concerts. My first concert, my brother stole some tickets from this guy and - this is funny because we saw him at the concert and he was sitting a couple rows over, and he knew my brother had stolen the tickets! It was Emerson, Lake and Palmer. And I didn't know who they were, I didn't know their music, but it was like the LIGHTS! The SOUND! It was so sonic, and it was just three guys making all this music! And I was just like, "Ohhh!" I was already starting to play drums and when my mom came up for Christmas I told her I wanted a guitar. But she bought me an acoustic guitar. And "NO NO, MA! HELL NO!" I talked back to Mom. I usually didn't; I don't know how I got away with it. "Nah, I wanted an electric guitar like Jimi Hendrix!" And she went out and bought me a drumkit, which was a little plastic drumkit. I would smash it and tear it up. So I stole a snare from junior high school, and then I got a stool, and then I got a kick drum, and I would just sit in our basement and just play, man! To like Kiss records and Aerosmith records and just anything rock. I don't know what it is man. I can't put my finger on it. I was just born to rock, I guess. I just loved rock. The other stuff was all good, and I could play funk and I could play reggae or whatever, but I just loved rock. There was a lot of racism too, when I was growing up in St. Louis, where I played in -- not like garage bands, but we'd play parties and VFW halls and stuff. And it was all cool at first, but when people got to drinking: "You nigger! Aw fuck, you're really good for a nigger!" You know, that kinda shit. And it wasn't like I could say "You bunch of idiot redneck motherfuckers" and beat the shit out of them. What do you do, you know? I couldn't run. It wouldn't go anywhere, but you'd see the same guys like a week later and they'd be like, "Wow man, you're a good drummer!" You know, when they sobered up! But it was like, "You phony redneck cocksucker - fuck you."

Did any of those guys ever try to attack you? Or were they too afraid - just big mouths?

Ummm.... no. No.

That's good, at least.

Ah yeah! One guy did try to attack me, but I checked him pretty hard -- because I was big and we used to fight a lot at school when I was in elementary and middle school because I couldn't sit still. I was always moving, shaking or doing something, so I would always disrupt the class. And all the cool brothers would be like, "Hey man, what's wrong with you?" and they'd fuck with me, and I got tired of it. I'd take so much and then I'd snap. Then the teacher would go, "Okay" and throw me out. But yeah, I would get caught fighting, and then I'd come home and get in trouble for disrupting the class, and I'd get an ass-whoopin' from my mom, and then my mom would make sure that I got another ass-whoopin' from my father, and then she'd give 'em the okay to whip my ass at school - it was nuts! And I was always running fast whenever I felt like one was coming. It was kind of self-destructive behavior, but I would just do crazy shit! I would experiment like, "Wow! I wonder what would happen if I jumped off that roof into the dumpster?" BOOM! My parents didn't have a lot of money, and of course they couldn't afford to buy health insurance for me. Thanks George Bush, by the way. But I would have to go to the hospital because I was just that bad. They would have to take me to the hospital. And Mom didn't like that. But she did buy me a drum kit. I started out with an acoustic guitar, and then later on I got my own electric. Then I moved on to San Francisco, which was an interesting story as well. I packed up my drumkit and I didn't have any suitcases, so I had a double-bass drumkit that I saved up for three years to buy, working at a restaurant in St. Louis. And I put all my clothes in the drumkit, and I didn't have enough money to pay the bus driver because, you know, it was extra luggage. And I said, "Please? Please? Please? Please? Please?" "Alright boy, just put 'em in." So I put all my clothes in there and went to San Francisco with no money. That was the first time. Then I moved back to St. Louis for awile, and thought, "This is pretty lame. I can't stay here! I'm just working at a factory. I'll be damned if I'm gonna let my life pass me by without at least trying to see if I can do something." I knew that I could try, and I knew that there was a better life and music scene in San Francisco. So I did save up and buy a van, and moved back to San Francisco. By the time I got there, I had eight dollars in my pocket. I crossed the Bay Bridge, got in there and boom. That's where I lived in a van on Shipley St. near Folsom between 5th and 6th, where I met all the cats from SSI and started playing with them. And they told me about thrift store shopping and clubs and punk gear - the whole nine, man! It was actually quite exciting, when I think about that time. Because people were accepted. It was my first introduction to gay people and different-colored hair and mohawks and people just living free. Like everyday was Halloween!

What year was that?

That was '79-'80. By late '80/early '81, I had joined Dead Kennedys. I also played with this band called Speed Boys and a band called the Nubs, and the Aliens from a la Roky Erickson and the Aliens.

You played with - really?

The Aliens, yeah! Right? It was just a pickup gig. Without Roky Erickson, because I think he was in prison or something!

Oh, in a mental hospital?

Right, right. But the rest of the guys - they got another keyboard player who was also black. And San Francisco was cool like that, you know? There was nobody calling me "Nigger." There wasn't all of that racism bullshit going down. It was like people were accepted. Gay people, straight people, bisexuals, fat, skinny, Filipino, black, white - it was like the melting pot, and that's what I dug about San Francisco. Of course now it's a... well, it WAS a dot.com thing. I don't know what's going on now - I can't afford to live there!

Ugh. Wait, where are you living right now?

I'm living in Los Angeles.

Oh, okay.

So... Where are we, Mark?

Oh, I'm just going all over the place.

You're gonna have to do a lot of editing with this, because I'm just like jump here, jump there -

That's alright! It's interesting! Nah, I was gonna ask you why, from your point of view, why did the Dead Kennedys end up winding down? Was it because of -

Why did - I'm sorry?

Why did the Dead Kennedys end up winding down and breaking up, from your point of view?

The honest to God truth from my recollection - of course, you might hear something different from somebody else - East Bay Ray came in and said, "I have a bomb to drop on the band. I'm leaving the band." And we were thinking about getting another guitar player and then getting like Ron Emory from TSOL. We were thinking about getting him, and it was just - we just came to the realization that it was not going to work. We wouldn't be Dead Kennedys without him, so let's just end it. And I was just like, "Oh my God, what am I gonna do now?" Because I was just sort of at a lost moment. Then Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers came up - they would come up and play from time to time - and he said, "Dude! You should move to L.A., dude! You can get lots of work down there! It's so cold up here! You should move down there!" Then my other friend Mark - another guy I know named Mark - he was like, "Yeah man, we should move to the beach. It's so cold up here." And I was thinking, "Ehh...eee...okay!" So we moved to Los Angeles.

So you've been there for fifteen - what, nineteen years, something like that?

In Los Angeles? I've been here since '87, yeah.


Wow! Good God, man! Where did the time go!? WEHAT'S HAP'NIN'!? Yeah. Yeah! I've been here for quite a while, on and off. I moved back to St. Louis and stayed there for five or six months, but I've been pretty much in and around Los Angeles and the Hollywood area for that long. Interesting! I did play in the Red Hot Chili Peppers for a little while and worked on the production for "Mother's Milk.," and also played in Nailbomb, which was a live record we did in Eindhoven, Holland, which is -

Oh, I have that. I didn't know you were on that!

Yeah! "Proud To Commit Social Suicide"?


We actually do a version of "Police Truck," and Max is going, "TOO-NOYT'S DA NOYT DAT WUH GOT DA TRUCK! GOYN DONTON GUH UHHHHH!!!! RAH RAHHH RAHHH!"

HA! You were in the Jungle Studs too, weren't you?

Yes! Ha ha ha!

That's a real classy album cover you had there.

I don't know what we were thinking or what we were doing. Probably too many drugs. Oh my god! One guy wanted to be Prince, and the other guy was like, "No no no, we gotta rock!" And I was just starting to play guitar again, and it was like, "Okay....." We lacked direction. But it was a fun project for the limited time that it lasted. Oh my god. I forgot about that! The Jungle Studs. Ha! But that band just goes back to what I was saying about how in San Francisco, just so much stuff was accepted. Like in San Francisco, everything was like, "Fuck L.A.! No matter what, fuck L.A.!" And now look at me, I'm sitting in Los Angeles. It was like, "Fuck L.A. It's too close to Hollywood. It's too fake." But you know what? As I've grown, I find that there are good people and bad people no matter where you are. There are dickheads - you know, there's President Bush - but you can find real artists here. And I have! It's had its ups and downs, but... Oh, I was told to say 'Big Ups!' to my boy David Simpson.

David Simpson.

Mention his name if you can.


Shout-out to all my people. 'All my people.' Ha!

Did you keep in touch with the guys from the Dead Kennedys after the breakup over the years at all?

I would talk to Ray from time to time, yeah. And I had Klaus come down and visit me a few times. His wife at the time was from Los Angeles, so he came down and visited. But no, we weren't that tightly bonded. Of course now we've gotten back together, but - We weren't tight chummy-chummy buddy-buddy, but we'd keep in touch. The reason that we got back together is like we went through the thing with Jello Biafra, the whole lawsuit and everything, and I said, "Well, why don't we just get up there and do a few songs to celebrate the release of the new record?" The live record - "Mutiny On The Bay." So we got up and played a few songs, and people loved it. Then a promoter came up and said, "Well, you could do a couple of gigs, you could do this, you could do that," so we decided to try it. And we got Brandon Cruz - I asked him and he came down and it started working out, you know? And then Jello Biafra's backlash. He was just so hateful with that. He sent out an email and did all this other stuff to persuade people that we were like ripping them off and we were a fake Dead Kennedys. Well, you know what? We were the musicians who made that fucking music, and we have every right to play that music. I love that music with all my heart and soul. All those motherfuckers who were calling me "nigger" and "you fucking tarbaby" - you know what? I would never go and give my problems to him or to the rest of the band. But I was in a lot of fucking pain and a lot of agony, so if anybody has the right to play that shit, it's me. I just think it's bullshit that he would do things like that - try to get people to be on his side and come down and throw shit at us. That's a fucking weakass copout. And I had his back for so many years. So many years. Whenever he would go do something, man, I was always right there. He never wanted to let anybody anywhere near him and nobody could love him - I think all hope was lost and all bets were off when he found out that there was no Santa Claus.

Wait, he wouldn't let anyone close to him?

Yeah, he had this wall. Sometimes you'd get kinda close to him, but he was always a character. Like The Joker or something, you know? He was quite a character. But you know what? We made some great music together and I ain't mad at him.

I actually - you know how he put out this record with the Melvins?

Oh yeah!

I haven't heard it yet. I wanna hear it. I like them.

They played at a gig we played at, but I didn't really catch them until the latter part of the last song. I'd be curious to hear that. You haven't heard it?

No, I need to get it but I just haven't managed to yet. I will. I'll get it. I like the Melvins. So anyway, he put that out and this zine I was writing for in Canada said that he would do some interviews. So I said, "Oh, can I interview him? I've been a fan of the Dead Kennedys for 15 years." Of course by the time I heard you, you'd already broken up, but I was young!


But anyway, so we got it all set up, but then he cancelled it when he realized it was me, because he'd read my interviews with Klaus and Ray, when I was pretty much bashing him left and right.


Yeah. I felt pretty bad about that, but the fact is that he really is acting kinda childish.

You know? Stubborn, immature - yeah, yeah. Yes. I'll agree with you on that. It's a shame too. It made me wonder, "How did I put up with that for all of those years?" Wow. And it just got worse and worse, and it's getting worse and worse. Sooner or later, you gotta fuckin' grow up.

Yeah, that's the thing. He's gotta be -

You gotta give respect if you want to get respect.

There's another thing - why does he CARE if the Dead Kennedys are playing without him?

THANK YOU! Why? Why?

All he talks about is, "Oh, our legacy this, our legacy that" - that was like seven years of his life a LONG time ago!

A long time ago!

He's done a lot since then to be proud of and to call his own.

Yeah! Look at the shit we went through. He never paid for guitar strings, he never paid for drum heads, he never paid for any of that shit. We would go above and beyond, and we was always late to rehearsal and shit. Ugh.

Yeah. The reaction was pretty good when you played live this time around, wasn't it?

Yeah, people were there for the music and they loved it. The music sounded better than ever. Better than ever.

When I first heard about it, I remember thinking - you know, my initial thought was, "Come on! They're not the Dead Kennedys without Jello Biafra!" You know, that's the instant thing. But then thinking about it, thinking it through, it's like, "I'd still like to see that! Those three guys made all that great music." I mean, I wasn't into it just for Jello's voice or his words; the music is what I sing to myself.

Yeah, we transposed a lot of that stuff. We tried to experiment, we tried different keys, tried this, tried that - yes, of course he had a part in it, but we ALL had a big part in it. And generally when people come to our concerts now, if they go in thinking, "It's not gonna be the Dead Kennedys. It's not gonna be this, it's not gonna be that," their minds are changed by the end of the show. Because it's tighter and we're all better players than we were then. And you know what, I have fun now. I have fun. And if it wasn't fun and it didn't sound good, I wouldn't be doing it.

It wasn't that fun the first time through?

Oh no no no no - yeah, it waw fun back in the day as well, but there were some strange times where Jello would cause some shit or whatever. And the audience - it was typical back in the day for them to taunt the band and throw shit at us and spit - you know, shit like that. But there was a lot of fun. I'm a true musician, and playing my art, playing my craft is my expression, and I tend to give it my fullest when it's fun! Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. Of course, I didn't have any state-of-the-art equipment back then, but we made do with what we had.

Looking back now, are you - what are your feelings about the, the - pretty much like all the records you've played on really? I mean, are there any that you look back at and go - well, I know how you feel about the Jungle Studs now -

Ha! Those were some fun days too, though. We did it for fun. I didn't expect it to be somne long "We're gonna tour around the country," because we were all just so scattered. But I wanted to play guitar, so I did. The same way I did with the Hellations, another band of mine. That was a fun band. And it's great to have a small audience - I had a dream, I wanted to play, and I fulfilled it. The same way I did with the band Peligro. Peligro is a lot harder and a lot edgier. You've heard "Purple Haze" - or have you?

I haven't, no! And I've wanted to.

You haven't!?

No! Is the single out? Or is it just online or -

I'll get you a promotional copy.

Oooh! Okay.

You've GOTTA hear this.

Yeah, I wanna hear it!

It's like -- heh heh, I'm just gonna let you hear it. You know what? I don't mean to speak for myself, but I think it's AWESOME. Really really awesome. And the Jimi Hendrix people, they were just so - there's Jimi Hendrix's sister and there's somebody else in the family, and they both have the rights to "Are You Experienced?" and they were both just fighting over it to get it. It's crazy! I'll have a copy sent to you.

Great! Cool. Is it gonna be available to the public?

It will be. I'm getting all the artwork together and holding a photo session, and it will definitely be available on Dirrty Records, with two "R"s! D-I-R-R-T-Y. dirrtyrecords.com - Check it out, check it out, check it check it CHECK IT OUT, PEOPLE!


And I guess I got nominated for a star on the Walk of Fame in St. Louis.



Oh, nice!

I'll be on there with Redd Foxx, Scott Joplin, Chuck Berry, all these people. There's not that big of a music scene - well, there's a big music scene, but there's not that many people that make it out or whatever? That have made it out and toured around the country - to my knowledge, I mean. Other than Nellie! But yeah, that's quite a compliment. I'm humbled that they would even say that. And also I won "Rock Album of the Year" according to the AIMA - American Independent Music Awards - which, they don't have a ceremony; they just vote on it. That's for my latest record "Sum Of Our Surroundings." Pick it up at the stores. If they don't have it, tell 'em you fuckin' wanna order it. I gotta get this disc out to the people. My Citizine readers of America! Is this worldwide? Or are we just America?

Just America. Maybe Canada? I know America. It might be, I'm not sure.

(sings) "O Canada! Where they don't want to let me into the country most of the time. I just manage to get in there, even if I have to squeeze into the trunk - Goddammit, you will not hold me back!"


Hee hee. Oh shit, man. What else have we got goin' on, Mark?

Jeez, I've kept you for about an hour now, haven't I?

Well, I set aside this hour for you.

Oh! Thank you! So what's next? After "Purple Haze," what's next? You're getting a new band together?

Yeah, I'm gonna get this band back together. I'm either gonna get some new people, even though I have the option - I love the guys I played with. I love their playing, including when we recorded that record, but unfortunately one of the guys - the bass player - he was playing with the Dickies, and he wanted to be a singer and this whole thing. And the drummer Steve - I think he just wanted more immediate gratification, which I was unable to give him, and he's playing with some other band. But I think they'll be available to play some gigs with me. So I'm either gonna approach it that way or get a whole new band, because I like working with people who want to be in a band. You know, a band is like "We're a band" - it's "we," not "I." So that's in the works. And you know about the book already; that's gonna be coming out.

Have you talked to publishers about that?

No, I have not.

It sounds like a story that -

Yeah, I'm gonna get some bidding going on that. If you're interested, you've got my number! Or you can get it from Cynthia, of course.



Yeah. That's awesome, man. Do you write songs constantly, or -

I'm sorry?

Do you write songs constantly?

Yeah. I wrote one just the other day. I always seem to have something in surplus and reserve - although I just had an accident where I fell off my mountain bike while tooling around, and I damaged the nerves in my hand so I'm gonna be out of commission from playing guitar for a little while. Fortunately I can play drums, but I have to simplify things a bit because of my nerves. It's like a regional palsy, where my hand kinda locked up. So I'm going to physical therapy and I've got this brace for it, and it is getting better but sometimes it can take up to six months. I was BUGGING OUT when that happened. I was like, "FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! MY CAREER'S OVER! I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!" and dealing with all the pain and self-pity and all that shit. Then I finally went to the hospital! I didn't even go to the doctor, and finally my girlfriend goes, "Why don't you go to the emergency room?" "Oh, that's an idea. Okay." So I went, and they hooked me up to this machine and did the nerve tests and told me that everything was cool. So I'm getting acupuncture and doing some yoga stuff for it. You know, just some holistic healing. None of this Western medicine "Take a pill for this, take a pill for that, take a pill for this, take a pill for that, take a pill til you become a Stepford wife!" robot nonsense.


When can I get a copy of this article?

Oh, this article?


Oh, well I'll have the guy send you a bunch.

Yeah, send me a bunch! Yes, please.

Did you give him your address?

No I didn't. Send it to Cynthia.

Alright. Well, thank you so much for your time. And are there any plans to release any more old - I love the old Dead Kennedys stuff you guys have been putting out. That DVD is awesome!

Yeah! Just keep on hangin' out. Mooooooooooore will be available!


Okay, and watch out for Peligro because I'm gonna be going back in the studio. I've got over half of the stuff already done, so I'm gonna go back out and do it again, and put out the rest of the stuff. And "Purple Haze" is coming out, and also we're gonna be touring. And don't forget about the book! Okay?


And keep an eye out for "The Four Horsemen," a film that I'm in.

Okay, Mr. Busy. You're not doing way too much at the same time?

No, I'm just - my head's in so many different directions -

Do you sleep? DO YOU EVER SLEEP?

I say "Yes" too much. That's why I can't slow down. Where are you - are you in New York?


Is it cold?

Yeah, it is.

Yeah? It's kinda chilly here too. It's supposed to rain today.

It's raining right now. It's been raining for hours. Ehh, you know. We're all in mourning over the Kerry loss.

Every time that comes up, my sphincter muscle just pulls in.

Makes you feel bad about America.

It really does, man. Ive really been thinking about moving to Brazil. I really have.

He hasn't been a good president!

I don't think that would solve anything - running away. And I'm like, "You can't run away, man." We've gotta - WE have got to do something.

Four more years! Of recession and war, yay! Alright. Well, have a good evening. Or try to.

I will, Mark. You do the same. Don't forget to send me some maggies!

Oh, we will. Yeah, definitely. Thanks again.

Alright, man. I'll keep you posted.

Okay, thanks.

Alright, ciao.

Reader Comments

I'm pretty sure he was talking about Mushroomhead. Mushroomhead is from Ohio. Slipknot is from Iowa. Yeah. I guess it's easy to get them mixed up. Yeah. Nice guy, though. And DEVO rox0rs.

Add your thoughts?

Click here to buy Dead Kennedys CDs featuring former Dead Kennedys lead singer Jello Biafra on vocals.

Head back to Mark Prindle's record review and interview site for interviews with East Bay Ray and Klaus Flouride! That's THREE of the Dead Kennedys! (Haven't managed to line one up with legendary DKs frontman Brandan Cruz just yet)