Backstage Pass: The Dead Kennedys' Klaus Flouride departs

While it’s not exactly “bedtime” for Klaus Flouride, the bassist is leaving the notorious punk band The Dead Kennedys.

Suffering from a recurring medical condition known as angioedema, Flouride, one of the band’s founding members, has decided to stop performing with the legendary punk firebrands.

Blazing through four proper albums (Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables, Plastic Surgery Disasters, Frankenchrist and Bedtime for Democracy) during their heyday, The Dead Kennedys mixed British punk fury with East Bay Ray’s creepy voodoo/surf guitar and politically charged lyrics imbued with an acerbic sense of humor.

Drawing up the blueprints for what would become hardcore in songs like their first two singles, “California Über Alles” and “Holiday in Cambodia,” and subsequent savagery such as “Let’s Lynch The Land” and “Too Drunk to F**k,” The Dead Kennedys outraged everybody from Christians to right-wing politicians in the ’80s with their politically charged lyrics and propensity for controversial album art.

Squabbles over the H.R. Giger poster “Penis Landscape,” included with the 1985 LP Frankenchrist, would tear the band apart, just before obscenity charges stemming from the decision to package the artwork with the LP landed the band’s frontman, Jello Biafra, in court. 

Flouride, who will continue performing with The Go-Going-Gone Girls, The Legendary Stardust Cowboy and The American Professionals, is not giving up on music, however, and he talks about his time with The Dead Kennedys and his future plans in this interview.

Sorry to have to do this at such a bittersweet moment for you, considering what’s happening with your departure from the Dead Kennedys.

Klaus Flouride: Yeah, well The Dead Kennedys has been… for one, it was a total surprise
that it went where it did as far as I was concerned. When we started, we thought, you know, especially with the name we had, we had a length of about six months to two years, and if we were lucky, we’d get to go to L.A. once or twice, you know?
When I was a kid growing up, and playing in bands, my dad, who was a musician, took me aside all the time and said, “There are 3 million kids out there who play guitar. Get a backup plan.” By the time I got in the Kennedys, I’d been playing for 15 years already in blues and R&B and stuff like that. And I’d finally decided, you know, I’m never going to make a living at this, so I might as well get into something that’s incredibly fun.

And I was watching the punk thing going on and just thought that is the original sort of energy, the rock ’n’ roll that I’d loved ever since I was five or six years old. And I was lucky enough the first band I tried out with was with Ray forming the Kennedys.

It was just me and Ray playing “Peggy Sue,” of all things, during the tryouts. [I thought] “Oh, I’ve made it to ‘Peggy Sue,’ you know, I’ve made the cut.” (laughs) And then we got Biafra and went on from there. Ray had already met Biafra and said this is a real interesting kid who … ’cause we were 10 years older than the rest of them, and stuff like that — at least I was. Ray’s ageless. I have no idea how old he is (laughs).

So, yeah, so it’s had its ups and downs, but it’s been mostly good stuff to be involved in, and my father’s statement about the 3 million kids resonated with me all the way through the Kennedys thing, even when we were onstage and watching mayhem go on, thinking, “I’m getting to do what these 3 million other kids want to do, and having to do it

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