Riot Festival has successfully seen the reunion of many iconic punk bands, including: The Replacements, Naked Raygun, Screeching Weasel, and, most recently, the Misfits’ original lineup of Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only and Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein. They have developed a reputation of getting never to be seen again bands to put differences aside and rock their stages. This reputation, however, fell short on San Francisco’s Dead Kennedys this year, or rather original front man Jello Biafra.
“Dead Kennedys had a sincere invitation to play a reunion show at Riot Fest in Chicago this fall,” East Bay Ray wrote via Facebook. Jello Biafra turned it down. Klaus Flouride, DH Peligro and I were looking forward to doing it.”
The band disbanded back in 1986 following a legal dispute, in which the band members sued Biafra over unpaid royalties. The band would succeed in their attempts as the ruling Judge ordered Biafra to pay $200,000 in royalties and damages. On top of the already outstanding sum, the Judge would also make Biafra hand over the rights to a majority of Dead Kennedys’ back catalog. The remaining Dead Kennedys would then go on to replace Biafra with Brandon Cruz.
Biafra has expressed his views on the new lineup, referring to the group as a “karaoke band,” reported by NME. Aside from the new lineup, He has also been highly critical of the way his former band mates are trying to cash in on their music via commercials and reissues. Dockers had originally pursued the band in an attempt to feature “Holiday in Cambodia” in one of their commercials, which Biafra was wildly opposed to. He said, “The ad agency contacted Ray who contacted me and I said no, so Ray threatened me, saying if I didn’t do it there were going to be repercussions.”
“The commercial aired. But they used a Pretenders song instead. The commercial didn’t last very long, for good reason. It wasn’t just the obvious moral reasons that I didn’t want my favorite Dead Kennedys song trashed by being in a coporate commercial; it was also personal or emotional because of the sheer nausea of being in a commercial, and this one was pretty damn bad,” he then added.
While it looks like the Chicago festival will have to look elsewhere for their big ticket reunion, if a band like Guns and Roses can get back on stage together there should still be hope that these punk icons can do the same.