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- Posted on Oct 22nd 2010 2:30PM by Jenny Charlesworth
Releasing 'Terminal City Ricochet,' a 1990 indie flick, which, according to Biafra, "is more of a rumour than a film anyone has actually seen," has always been a goal of his, and he's in fine spirits now that his record label, Alternative Tentacles, has put the movie out on DVD (the previously-released soundtrack is also included in the package).
"It's weird that a struggling music label would suddenly decide to become a struggling film label, too," Biafra tells Spinner, noting that Alternative Tentacles is also behind the DVD release of another obscure flick from the late '90s, 'The Widower.' "We have other DVDs out on Sixteen Horsepower and a documentary about the Gilman Street project ['924 Gilman Street'], but these are the first feature films we've ever tried."
Biafra's connection to the two projects run deeper than his label, though. The former leader of the Dead Kennedys just so happens to star in both films, too.
"Ross Gilmore -- the mayor/dictator played by Peter Breck -- I'm his Karl Rove, Oliver North and G. Gordon Liddy rolled into one," Biafra says of his "Bruce Coddle" character in 'Terminal City Ricochet.' "It was a tough juggling act because I was trying to resurrect every last method acting thing I'd learned before I was in bands and stuff, and at the same time wrangle the soundtrack rights for Alternative Tentacles, and come up with soundtrack music. In the end, everything cross-pollinated each other in a weird way."
As for the plot of the dystopian comedy, Biafra says it's rather "intricate" and "confused -- mostly in a good way."
"It had five different screenwriters, and then the director also wanting to take it in his own direction, so everybody's pet ideas got crammed in," he says. "They do connect, though."
The fact that the movie has heavy political undertones obviously resonates with the politically-minded musician, who's also a leading figure of the Green Party of the United States.
"Since it's a film about a corporate dictatorial-type ruler using tabloid media and a fear of largely non-existent terrorism to keep himself in power, I think every time there's a national election in America, it gets more and more like 'Terminal City Ricochet.' More people need to see this before every American election."
It's this type of call to arms that Biafra has used to engage listeners over the course of his musical career, especially through his work as a spoken word artist. With his cryptic statement about "Phase Next," some might wonder if it signals a return to the spoken-word format, which he's kept more or less on hiatus since touring the 2006 album 'In the Grip of Official Reason.' Biafra says, however, that this new chapter is all about Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine.
"I want to concentrate on the music now that I've finally got my mojo back," the 52-year-old states. "We need to get the next batch of songs together and record that, and actually see how it all works."
Biafra admits he's uncertain how things will play out having new bassist Andrew Weiss (Butthole Surfers, Ween, Rollins Band) stationed in New Jersey when he and the rest of the crew reside in California. "We're going to try it with Andrew, I think, but how we're going to get enough practices in and get the songs to gel... It's going to be an interesting work in progress," he says.
Meanwhile, the rest of the recordings from 'The Audacity of Hype' sessions, which feature original bassist Billy Gould (Faith No More), are slated to come out sometime early next year.
"The EP is called 'Enhanced Methods of Questioning' -- another lovely War on Terror-incorporated kind of term -- and hopefully we'll be able to get some visual footage together to go with it," says Biafra. "And by then, hopefully, the new stuff will be partly ready to roll."