Jello Biafra was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, and is best known as leader, vocalist, and chief songwriter of the seminal punk rock band Dead Kennedys and as founder of Alternative Tentacles Records (AT). Established in 1979, AT is the longest still-active underground record label in existence. The label has been a powerful influence in underground culture and is a resource for out-of-mainstream artists to record and distribute their work. In 2008, he launched Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, his first full-time band since the Dead Kennedys.
Biafra was the first musician to be put on trial because of the content of a record album. The Dead Kennedys’ Frankenchrist (1985) included an insert of a “penis landscape” by master surrealist H.R. Geiger, leading to obscenity charges by the Parents’ Music Resource Center. Biafra was exonerated after prosecutors realized the album’s lyrics were “socially responsible, very anti-drug, and pro-individual.”
In 1979, Biafra ran for mayor of San Francisco, forcing opponent Diane Feinstein into a run-off. When he was tapped by the Green Party to enter the 2000 presidential race, he came in second to Ralph Nader at the party’s national convention.
Biafra’s recent recordings include his eighth spoken-word disc In the Grip of Official Treason and The Audacity of Hype, the debut album from Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine. Their new EP, Enhanced Methods of Questioning, is to be released in late spring. Among Alternative Tentacles’ new releases are recordings by Slim Cessna’s Auto Clun, Munly and the Lupercalians, Git Some, Akimbo, and Triclops!