Dead Kennedys Free To Dig Into Archives
The former members of the Dead Kennedys say remastered albums and live releases from the defunct punk pioneers can be expected to hit the market as early as this spring. The flow of DK goods comes asThe former members of the Dead Kennedys say remastered albums and live releases from the defunct punk pioneers can be expected to hit the market as early as this spring. The flow of DK goods comes as the result of a December court ruling against the band's former leader, Jello Biafra, who previously controlled the band's catalog through his Alternative Tentacles label.
Band members East Bay Ray, Klaus Flouride, and D.H. Peligro filed suit against Biafra in 1998 for unpaid royalties and to force recognition of majority rule with regard to control of the band and its recordings through its Decay Music partnership. A San Francisco jury found Biafra and Alternative Tentacles to be "guilty of malice, oppression and fraud" in regard to the band's affairs, including failure to promote the band's catalog.
Last month, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Anne Bouliane upheld the jury decision, finding that Decay had legally terminated its license with Biafra's label, and that Decay once again controlled the rights by majority rule. Boulaine also upheld damages of nearly $200,000 to be paid by Biafra to Decay, of which he is a partner, and will therefore receive a share of the judgement.
"The jury found that Biafra purposely defrauded us, his band mates and partners," Flouride said in a statement. "This was about equality, fairness and the democracy of a band. We did the Dead Kennedys together, it was a collaboration, and each of us has a voice in our future. Now the money he was taking as the label will be shared with all the band members."
Biafra responded to the ruling in a late December post on the Alternative Tentacles Web site. "In a sense, I am being punished for sticking to the vision and principles of the band and saying no to corporate branding and co-opting of our culture," he wrote. "[The label] is at risk of being wiped out if the verdict stands. If so, they can and most likely will pimp our music to corporate labels, TV commercials, etc.; regardless of how people who believe in Dead Kennedys' message feel about it."
Biafra still vows to appeal the verdict, saying, "I do not want to see over 20 years of hard work ruined, and my old band's legacy dumbed down into a cash-in retro cartoon." To fund further appeals, he has asked for donations to the Alternative Tentacles Legal Defense Fund "to help cover spiraling legal expenses," adding, "If you feel this request isn't cool, feel free to tell us."
Several labels have contacted the band with regard to releasing digitally remastered albums, as well as archive audio and video material culled from more than 60 hours of taped performances, according to Ray. The band's former guitarist also noted that Biafra will be invited to vote on all partnership issues, and will continue to share in the band's royalties.
"This was never about the money. This was about principle, about being fair with the guys you're with in a band," Peligro commented. "There's a whole generation of kids who are into the band, but never saw us live. It's about laying it down for the people.""