Samuel Barker: How long have you all been on tour so far?
East Bay Ray: Since about November. We did some shows in California. Our first show was in September, it was unannounced in Los Angeles. We put a new record out, Mutiny on the Bay, a live CD, and D.H. suggested we do a record release party in Los Angeles. We were there mainly to meet and greet and sign autographs. D.H. got the idea of getting on stage and playing a few tunes unannounced, which we did. We had been rehearsing in Los Angeles with Brandon and the rehearsal studio had a window and people were looking in when they were hearing the sound. Word spread around Los Angeles and it sold out like two to three weeks in advance. There were 200-300 people outside hoping to get in.
Klaus Flouride: Then there were plenty of happy promoters who wanted to put us on tours. We decided to with someone who wasnít to ridiculous about it.
Ray: So here we are in Houston.
Samuel: So was the record release what got you guys together and wanting to play or were you planning to do shows before the idea of the live record?
Klaus: No, itís already out. The album itself is already out. Itís music from the 80s.
Samuel: Yeah, I knew it was a compilation of older live tracks, but what Iím trying to say is, was the album released because you wanted to tour or are you touring because the record was released?
Klaus: Weíre playing because it came out. Thatís not how we planned it, but that is how it happened.
Ray: Yeah, weíre at the tail end of this. The promoter is our tour manager now. He promotes punk shows around Los Angeles and said he had never seen so many smiles on the kidsí faces. People were singing along, it was very fun and very intelligent. We didnít realize how much love there was for the band. In Texas weíre getting a really good response.
Klaus: Yeah, the thing too is that weíre not playing so much, well, that show was more of a promotional gig, but we are also realizing 80 percent of the people who are coming to the shows never saw the band live and are having a blast. Itís just a group of people who have never been able to see it before.
Ray: It sounds a little different than your home stereo.
Klaus: Yeah, itís a lot louder than you can crank it up at home.
Samuel: That is something interesting, that so many young fans are coming out. The line outside right now is made up mostly of kids, is it surprising that these kids are so into the band?
Ray: Well, I think the most experienced people will come later.
Samuel: Well, is it interesting to see that so many younger kids can not only relate the music, but understand the ideals in the lyrics?
Ray: No, there have always been intelligent people out there, and we feel, not to toot our own horn, that the music is pretty good. We feel itís good music.
Klaus: Yeah, and our audience has always been a bright audience, to put it mildly. It wasnít a pile of idealistic crap that some bands were doing, not that most bands do that, but we stood out beyond that. Musically we sounded different. Itís a fun thing to be playing to a younger audience again. Especially intelligent audiences, which are not fighting much at all,, unlike back in the day. There are a lot of differences from those two eras.
Samuel: You said youíve gotten a good response in Texas, which Iíve heard stories of shows in this region in the late 70s and early 80s, how is it to see how far this style of music has reached, as opposed to back then?
Ray: I donít personally recall Texas being negative in the 80s. I know in Corpus Christi when we played, it was huge. We played San Antonio as well, and had a great response. We are loving it.
Klaus: The other thing too is that the music has been around a while longer than it had been in the 80s so obviously, the people who originally liked it, if they still do, will be coming back and there is a whole two generation area that hadnít heard it.
Brandon Cruz: Iíve seen dads bringing their kids and all of them know the lyrics. Dad puts the records on for the kids and they all come together.
Samuel: I know on this tour youíre doing old Dead Kennedys songs, are there any plans to write anything new with this line-up?
Klaus: We donít know at this point. Weíre not really looking for anything beyond learning some more of the old stuff. There is some of the stuff people are requesting, so we want to get to that. Weíll cross that bridge when we get to it, as they say. Right now I think Brandon has been thinking of some words, but we havenít worked on anything yet.
Brandon: Well, Iím still in Dr. Know too. This came up as a surprise.
D.H. Peligro: Same with Peligro too.
Samuel: I know youíve all had other projects over the years since the initial stop of the Dead Kennedys.
Ray: Yeah, on deadkennedys.com, you can go to the band members page and see all the projects weíve done since then.
Samuel: So I guess everything has been put on hold while youíre out on the road doing this.
Klaus: Yeah, itís really a pain in the ass. I was in the middle of producing albums for two groups and theyíre like ĎYeah, I understand youíre on tour, but when you get back can you work on it a little bit,' because we have little sections where we take off. Weíre doing it regionally, so we have time off between each one, so people are calling me and wanting me to work on their music when weíre home.
Ray: ĎHey, Iíll be in South America.í
Ray: We did our first tour of South America last November. There were 2000 people in Brazil.
Brandon: It was nuts. It was great.
Ray: They donít speak English over there really, but they knew all the words to the songs.
Brandon: Some of the most rabid fans Iíve ever seen were down there.
Klaus: Foaming at the mouth they were.
Samuel: Well, youíve talked about the positive response in the band, but if you go to message boards and sites online, there is the negative verbage about the band touring without Jello singing, have those people avoided the shows thus far? Have there been any problems with angry fans?
Ray: I think people canít form an intelligent opinion until the see the show. If you go on deadkennedys.com, we have letters from people who came into the shows skeptical and came out totally convinced. Every night, I have one or two people who come up and tell me itís the best show theyíve ever seen.
Brandon: Yeah, a lot of people walk up to me and say that they were very skeptical about me singing instead of Biafra. My response to that is, I was skeptical too. I didnít know how it was going to turn out, but people have walked up to me after the shows and said ĎYou did it, I liked the show.í
Ray: The message of the band is more important than any individual, the message isnít about certain personalities, itís about thinking for yourself. The other messages are how itís not what you say, itís what you do to make life better for the people around you. Anyone can talk, anyone can say anything, but actually doing something for your friends, family or community...
Klaus: Positive stuff.
Ray: Yeah, make the world a better place.
Klaus: To say what Brandon said, people have come up to me, as close as last night, and said that their friends were dissing them for coming to the show, because J.B. is not there, but Iím going to go back and tell them ĎHa ha, look what you missed.í Basically, a lot of people come in with a very skeptical attitude and eight or nine out of ten come out and have fun. Not many people are saying ĎFuck you, I feel ripped off.í No one is actually saying it to us.
Brandon: I havenít heard that at all. If they come in with an open mind, as soon as you hear the guitar ring out on the first song, all the political bullshit goes out the window, the lawsuit and everything. Itís the Dead Kennedys playing, just a different voice singing it, and yeah he was a unique individual, and yeah, he has a unique voice, but like Ray said, the message is the same. Theyíve never retracted from that socially or socially. I grew up on the music. I opened up for these guys when I was starting Dr. Know in the early 80s. So Iíve been a huge fan of the band for a long time. Then to even get the call from D.H. to see if I wanted to come jam with them was just really amazing. Then when I heard I was going on the road with them, I didnít know what to think.
Klaus: It's akin to when Ringo got the call to play with the Beatles.
Brandon: (laughing) Yeah, exactly.
Klaus: And all those people who loved Pete Best had to either not go to the show or go to the show.
Samuel: Has it been rewarding to come out and do this after all these years? Has it been everything you had hoped it would be?
D.H.: Well, we didnít come into this with any expectations, at least I didnít.
Ray: We donít do it because we like the inside of a bus, we do it for the music and the people who like the music.
Klaus: What bus? Weíre in a van! (laughs)
Ray: Yeah, weíre in a van. A lot of work goes into this before we ever hit the stage.
Brandon: I love being on stage, I hate everything else about it. The travel, the airports, long drives, but being up on stage, even though I didnít write these songs originally, I see the look on the kids faces and their smiles. I like to get the audience involved, Iím not the only singer in the band, the audience is a part of the band too.
Ray: In any art, as well as music, is communication to another individual. To do it live and see people reacting to it is wonderful.
Klaus: Itís one of the few, outside of theatre, which is involved in this any how, but itís one of the few instant gratifications of any of the arts. Painters, movie actors donít get to see the immediate reactions on their faces. Itís great, there is nothing like it.
Brandon: Whether they are screaming ĎFuck you!í or ĎFuck yeah!í You know what theyíre thinking.
Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.