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Dead Kennedys' Jello Biafra Speaks Out Against Reissue
Christian Eede , July 14th, 2022 10:58

"This was done almost totally behind my back," the band's former frontman has said in a statement about the upcoming reissue of 'Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables'

Dead Kennedys' former frontman and lead songwriter Jello Biafra has spoken out against an upcoming reissue of the band's 1980 debut album Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables.

The updated version of the album, dubbed The 2022 Mix, is set for release in September, and the full record has been remixed from the original multitrack tapes by engineer Chris Lord-Alge especially for it. In a lengthy statement that sees Biafra claim he was shut out of the process of setting up the reissue though, he's encouraged fans of the band to "listen before you buy!"

He continues in the statement: "This was done almost totally behind my back. Intentionally. It was not 'overseen by the band', as their press release claims. I was deliberately locked out. Not one person from the band or the labels reached out to me at all. Nor did Chris Lord-Alge, who did the remix. I guess he didn't care, or value anything I brought to the band at all. Without me those songs wouldn't exist."

Biafra's statement goes on to allege that it required a lengthy back-and-forth between his lawyer and Dead Kennedys' current manager, Kevin Raleigh, to inform him of the full plans for the reissue. He also questions the quality of the album's latest remaster, as well as the choice of Lord-Alge to oversee it. "Sure, he's bigtime Hollywood, as big as it gets," Biafra writes. "But there's so many others with a better, more heartfelt grasp of what Dead Kennedys really is, who I think could have done a better job."

Calling out Cherry Red – the label that originally released Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables, has overseen a number of past reissues of the album, and is releasing this latest updated edition – Biafra says the label's Matti Ingham previously bragged in a press release that the former thought it was "'terrible', as though that was some kind of clever genius 'promotion'."

Speaking further about this in the statement, Biafra says: "Shit-talk the heart and soul of the band, that'll spark more interest and sales for sure! If someone at [Biafra's label] Alternative Tentacles did something that petty and unprofessional, I would fire them on the spot. Then a year ago, out of the blue, Cherry Red sent me a test pressing. No letter, no follow-up. I listened. No, I don't think it's 'terrible'. But I'm not sure I'd fork over 30 bills for it either. It's not 'like hearing your favourite album for the first time all over again', or anything like that."

The reissue of Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables – which comes with previously unseen imagery from the time of the original release, as well as essays by Dave Grohl, Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, and David Ellefson of Megadeth – was originally announced earlier this month.

In the press release, guitarist East Bay Ray is quoted as saying: "When the label suggested we remix Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables [bassist] Klaus Fluoride and I were sceptical. But we thought, 'Why not? Let's give it a try.' And, wow, Grammy-winning maestro Chris Lord-Alge was interested! It turns out he's a big fan of the band. We tried one song, 'Chemical Warfare'. What Chris came back with was amazing. Everyone heard the difference, so we said, 'All right, let's go!'"

Read Biafra's full statement about the reissue via Alternative Tentacles' website.