At some point in my life I started to develop a small interest in world politics. Nothing too involved, just the basic what’s going on kinda stuff. I started to hear and see things that were familiar but I didn’t know why or how. Political figures, terminology and places.
Similar to the phenomenon of hearing a song you know and have heard a million times but never really knew who sang it until you are at their show for some other band and realizing its them!
For example, that happened to me when I realized Pol Pot wasn’t some crazed rant of made up words at the ending of a Dead Kennedy’s song. Pol Pot is actually a person, a very historical person, to say the least.
I realized, I have actually learned things sub-consciously by listening to punk rock music. My school teachers would be pretty to hear that but my Mom is proud!
One of the bands I learned the most from was Dead Kennedys. Political charged, highly informed, extremely passionate and best of all, musically inventive and ground breaking.
I have been a fan of the Dead Kennedys since the eighth grade when a friends older brother put some of their songs on a cassette tape for me along with G.B.H, The Exploited, Sex Pistols, Descendents and Black Flag.
Now with the ClassicPunk website, we have been givin the opportunity to ask Klaus Flouride, origianl DK bass player some questions!
These are some questions that Jonas and I want to know…
Q: What was the recording process like for DK? Live one take? Overdubs?
A: Basically as live as possible, but of course there are usually scratch vocals and overdubs. With the exception of The “In God We Trust” – the lost tapes DVD, which was done primarily live as is. Usually more than one take.
Q: You can hear a distinct surf influence in East Bay Ray’s guitar tone. What were some of your early influences? Collectively did the band have similar taste in music?
A: On bass early influences were Jack Bruce, Felix Papalardi, Jaco Pastorius. But in general, music influences back to the late 20’s with a concentration on 50’s and 60’s.
The band as a whole however had influences from all over the place, and usually not the most mainstream. Usually the exception to the rules kind of performers, be they popular or not.
Q: When DK was starting out how did you branch out of the Bay Area scene and start touring?
A: Not easily. At first we were sort of shooting for lasting maybe 6 months to 2 years with luck getting to L.A. Our first tour of the east coast was a financial disaster and wasn’t planned at all well. California Uber Alles had just been released but hadn’t been distributed to any of the stores in the area. Word of mouth via primarily college radio stations was about all the advance promo there was. There was confusion in the booking causing us to be in cities on the wrong dates, etc. Poor management in general. So then we regrouped did some west coast north and south runs and then realized that Europe where California Uber Alles had arrived and been given support by John Peel and released locally on Fast Records was the place to shoot for.
Coming back from a successful Euro tour and having made connections with bands all over the states we cobbled together what we termed yo-yo tours as they followed no logical route, but did get us to lots of new thriving scenes all over the U.S. and Canada. There was no real template for touring punk bands. It resembled the 40’s-60’s “chitlin’ circuit” in style more than anything. A van or an old school bus and off we go. But the community was growing and connecting via fanzines, college radio, etc.
Q: What was the Bay Area scene like when you were starting out?
A: There were a few venues that independently had shows and a few indie promoters, Ben T Rat, Wes Robinson and others. The were venues like the Pit, (literally a building basement), The Art Institute, Berkely Square and Ruthies Inn occasionally. Bill Graham wanted nothing to do with punk and despised it. The main men who took chances at booking regular shows were Dirk Dirksen and Ness Aquino, the booker and owner respectively of
The Mabuhay Gardens. That is where we played our first gig.
Q: Who booked the early tours?
A: We had various people come and go. Robert Hanrahan was responsible for the first east coast try, the after him we had Chi-Chi as our manager/booker for a bit. She went on to work with the Mutants. Then there were a few more. Some more reliable than others. We had Bill Gilliam booking/managing in Europe. He did pretty solid work with us there and was a very colorful personality. We worked with Ken Lester from Vancouver on a few package tours. Etc.
Q: What was DIY promotion like before there was social media and the Internet?
A: Like I said before, word of mouth via bands finding each other and inviting each other to their cities for gigs. College radio and fanzines in the vein of Maximum Rock and Roll. It was pretty much free form at the beginning and then networks grew into the 80’s.
Q: Who designed the album art work and visual branding of the band? How hands on was the band?
A: Everybody from Ted, Biafra and even me making posters for shows, to ray coming up with the basic for the DK logo and Winston Smith stylizing it and working on album art with Biafra collage style. The band was basically hands on in that short of Winston we didn’t ship things out to a production art house to design the covers and inserts.
Q: Any advice to up and coming guitar/bass players? Any advice to up and coming bands?
A: Find people to play with and then a place to practice and then do so. It’s so much easier to record now, so get some music out there via the internet (although don’t expect to see any money from it at least early on and until better ownership laws are in place). Give a few tracks away. Play some low slots on bills around your town and to generate a following. Just don’t give up if you’re not a household name in a month or even a year or moreif you really like your music.
Q: Do you feel like you influenced the current incarnation of punk music?
A: It depends on how narrowly you define ‘punk music”, but I’d say yes we did. Not many followed our “template” soundwise, but the idea of aggressive vs. violent music with a sense of irony and humor thrown in. Just as we admired those before us who inspired us to keep at it(Avengers, Weirdos, Mutants, Offs, Zero’s, Plugz etc. etc. etc.), I think we have inspired some.
Q: DK was totally unique and inventive. Was the sound of the band a result of brilliant chemistry or more of a happy accident?
A: A bit of both.
Q: How have you evolved/changed as a musician?
A: I didn’t start out with punk and have played all sorts of different styles in between DK show and tours. A diet of punk alone would be like eating only one food because you like it. I think again that all of us (DK’s) like a wide variety of music.
Q: When bands/musicians cite you as an influence, how does that make you feel?
A: Good. Proud. Baffled. But generally grateful.
By Jon Pebsworth