The legendary Dead Kennedys are at the forefront of the incredible legacy of hardcore punk. Since the early 1980s, Dead Kennedys have been pioneers of heavy, political, satirical punk rock, and their cross-generational legend lives on today. Widely considered one of the most important bands in American punk rock, the Dead Kennedys recently graced our shores with their presence. I had the incredible opportunity to ask bassist Klaus Flouride a few questions before their Australian tour, and to find out if punk really is dead.
Australia is very excited and very surprised about your upcoming tour. Why the decision to tour now?
Well, we’ve wanted to get back to Australia since the first time we were here back in ’83, but to be honest, it wasn’t really financially doable. We would have had to link the visit on part of a larger tour and we tend to keep our tours relatively short. So when the Punk Spring festival in Japan presented itself it looked like a good time to pay another visit to Australia. Well we all know how that unfortunately turned out but since the wheels were in action we decided it’s sort of now or never. Glad we did.
What are your personal favourite Dead Kennedys songs to play live?
That varies with time, tours and shows. I kind of always look forward to Moon Over Marin as it is sort of a change up within the set though.
What is your favourite Dead Kennedys tour memory?
Playing in Prague for the first time the club was maybe 600 people on 2 levels with a sort of 2nd story viewing loft. The stage was set up like a music in the round so we were surrounded 360 degrees all the way around and above by people. When we came out total pandemonium broke out with early Beatles style screaming to the point where we couldn’t even hear our own amps. It was ludicrous and fun as all hell at the same time. But, again, an impossible question to answer with just one example.
Is it strange seeing kids at your shows that probably weren’t even born when you guys were releasing music?
Yes. Strange and great. Its cool that people keep discovering us and in a way sad that the lyrics about the abysmal shape the world was in 30 years ago still fit so snugly.
I’ve grown up listening to Dead Kennedys and never expected I’d get the chance to see you in concert. What can I expect from a Dead Kennedys show?
Basically most of the songs will be familiar to you, but of course in a live situation something different happens every night. Energy though. Energy to spare with a good night.
What kind of music did you grow up listening to, and take the most influence from?
We all grew up listening to different things. I grew up on my dad’s jazz 78’s until I discovered rock and roll and then went hellbent for that. I remember that that music scared the hell out of parents in general at first and then slowly it got diluted. When punk started I saw that same beginning reaction which was cool and was something I wanted to get involved in. My good luck was that the first punk band I tried out for was when Ray was forming DK’s.
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t playing music? Did you always know music was your calling?
I honestly don’t know. Probably recording others playing music or working radio or driving a cab…who knows. But yes, I did always sort of think that this was going to be at least a major part of my life.
Dead Kennedys are frequently called the pioneers of punk. Who do you consider have been the most important bands in punk rock?
Well the obvious are Sex Pistols, Clash, Ramones, etc. But I think that lots of bands that made early waves like Stiff Little Fingers and Buzzcocks, and on and on to X to.the list would go on for pages and still be unfair to someone somewhere. I don’t like the whole list the top concept, it’s a bit to subjective.
Oh and Lothar and the Hand People. There.
If you could collaborate with any musician, living or dead, who would you choose and why?
I’d like to get Joni Mitchell in the Same room with Pete Shelly and John Lydon and see what commonality we could come up with. Another list question really though. Not that that’s a bad thing. Heh.
What does the future hold for Dead Kennedys? Can we expect any new material?
That would be telling.
My final question, is punk dead?
I hadn’t heard it was failing. Fill me in when you get a chance.