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- Posted on Oct 20th 2009 12:30PM by Dan Reilly
While Biafra has maintained an active music and spoken word career since he split with the Dead Kennedys, he hadn't had a true band of his own. That all changed in 2007, when he saw Iggy Pop and the Stooges perform at Iggy's 60th birthday party and was inspired to form a new group. "I never stopped writing or making albums, it's just that I saw the Stooges and it occurred to me, 'Hey, I turn 50 next year. I better do something,'" Biafra tells Spinner. "'If it's a tenth as good as the Stooges, I'll declare victory.' So the Guantanamo School of Medicine was born."
Originally starting out as the Axis of Merry Evildoers -- Biafra switched the name to Guantanamo School, as it's "a little more demented" -- the band set to work on the album, which eventually got its not-so-subtle title. "It was a pretty obvious frontrunner because of the hype given to 'The Audacity of Hope,'" he says, referring to President Barack Obama's autobiography. "After all, Obama even won the award for best advertising campaign of 2008. The minute I saw that O with the American flag doubling as the amber waves of grain and the sun, I thought 'My god, this is the most diabolically brilliant political logo we've had since the early 1930s.'"
As expected from Biafra, the album is full of driving punk with hard-hitting political messages. 'Audacity' kicks off with 'The Terror of Tinytown,' a song Biafra calls "A requiem for crown prince W.," that calls for the prosecution of Bush administration staffers for war crimes and crimes against humanity. "The problem with letting the war criminals walk, well, I'm not worried as much about people like Rumsfeld and Cheney as I am the people who worked right under them whose names are barely known -- you know, David Addington, John Yoo, Douglas Fife, the rest of them," Biafra says. "If they aren't held accountable as war criminals now, they're going to have the opportunity to be even bigger war criminals when they come back into power in four or eight or 12 years. Even Robert Gates should still be in prison for his role in [the Iran-]Contra-gate, yet there he is digging us in a deeper hole as both Bush and Obama's secretary of defense. There's change for you."
While Biafra isn't so optimistic about the future of the country, he does seem to plan on keeping this band around for a while. "It's going to be an on-again, off-again situation, just like the spoken word shows where we're out for a while then we're home for a while," the 51-year-old says. "I never thrived on the super long tours and now I'm a lot older than when I was doing them in my 20s. I'd rather do shorter length tours and put everything I've got into it than go out for three months straight and just stand still like a wooden mannequin onstage and sing the words and call it a show. I want to give people the kind of show that I would really like to go see."
'The Audacity of Hype' is available now, and Biafra and the Guantanamo School will play a handful of shows, including New Orleans' Voodoo Fest and three gigs in San Francisco, over the next few weeks.