East Bay Ray
East Bay Ray
East Bay Ray performing at the Harmony Music & Arts Festival (June 12, 2009)
|Birth name||Raymond John Pepperell|
|Also known as||Ray Pepperell, Ray Valium|
|Born||November 17, 1958|
|Genres||Punk rock, speed metal|
|Associated acts||Dead Kennedys|
The Killer Smiles
Raymond John Pepperell (born November 17, 1958), better known by his stage name East Bay Ray, is a guitarist best known for his membership in the San Francisco Bay area-based punk band Dead Kennedys. His guitar work was heavily influenced by surf music, jazz and rockabilly. Alongside Jello Biafra's astute lyrics and unique vibrato-based vocal style, East Bay Ray's playing was one of the defining factors of the music of the Dead Kennedys, and by extension, of the "second wave" of American punk. He is also the only Dead Kennedy to remain a constant member of the band since its formation.
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The Dead Kennedys were a notably idiosyncratic punk rock band. Although they kept their music for the most part loud, fast, and aggressive, they threw in eclectic flourishes that were easy for casual listeners to miss. These experiments were represented most prominently in the guitar playing of East Bay Ray, who took cues from sources such as film music (spy movie scores and Ennio Morricone spaghetti western scores), instrumental surf rock (the guitar stylings of Dick Dale and George Tomsco of The Fireballs), as well as the psychedelic music of the 60s (especially early Pink Floyd) with his trademark echo effects. With help from Jello Biafra and Klaus Flouride, East Bay Ray crafted a distinct and driving guitar style and sound.
In interviews East Bay Ray has cited the playing of Syd Barrett on Pink Floyd's first album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, as well as the music of the Ohio Players, and the guitar playing of Elvis Presley side-man Scotty Moore (with his trademark echo), as influences. East Bay Ray claims that he has never been consciously influenced by surf music, and attributes the recognizable elements of surf in the Kennedys music to "having grown up in California," although it could certainly be the influence of Klaus Flouride or Jello Biafra. East Bay Ray's fondness for spaghetti western music is evidenced by a 7" single he recorded in 1984 called "Trouble in Town"/"Poison Heart."
After Dead Kennedys stopped touring in February 1986, East Bay Ray formed the band Kage with female vocalist Bana Witt. He played guitar on a range of projects including an Algerian Raï music album for Cheikha Rimitti called Sidi Mansour, which also featured Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea (coincidentally, D.H. Peligro later became a drummer for RHCP for a short time) and Robert Fripp, to garage-pop with Pearl Harbor, retro-jungle-surf with Johnny Feelings, and exotica lounge music with Frenchy. He composed and recorded a sound track for an early independent film by David Siegel and Scott McGhee, who later made the film noir movie The Deep End. In the early 90's, Ray formed the funk/rock band Skrapyard and released Sex is Sex on Alternative Tentacles featuring Ron West, Robert Ball, Andy Kaps and Jason Collins. In 2000, Ray appeared on Hed PE's second studio album, Broke, performing guitar on the song "Waiting to Die".
East Bay Ray was involved in all the band’s early studio recordings and is credited for mixing and producing the band's first single, "California Uber Alles"/"Man with the Dogs," the band's first LP Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables with Oliver Dicicco, the EP In God We Trust, Inc. and he mixed "Holiday in Cambodia"/"Police Truck." Ray was one of the founders of the original Alternative Tentacles Records, set up for other artists and Dead Kennedys, and was a partner in it until the mid-1980s. Ray recently mixed and produced two CDs of live Dead Kennedys recordings, Mutiny on the Bay and Live at the Deaf Club.
East Bay Ray headed the legal struggle to win ownership of Dead Kennedys' intellectual property and to secure royalties withheld from the band by Jello Biafra. Biafra was found civilly liable for defrauding the band. Ray authorized and had a production credit for a CD of live Dead Kennedys recordings, Mutiny on the Bay, which Biafra claims is of poor quality. However, several reviewers disagree. Jello Biafra, proclaiming his abiding disdain of nostalgia, maintains a live album released 15 years after the break-up of the band is nothing but an attempt to make more money on the parts of his former bandmates. East Bay Ray was responsible, along with his ex-bandmates Klaus Flouride and D.H. Peligro, for licensing songs such as "Police Truck" and "Holiday in Cambodia" to major corporations for use in video games and films. However, earlier in their career, Biafra, along with the other band members, approved the use of Dead Kennedys' songs in the major film corporation releases Neighbors (1981), and Class (1983). Fairly recently, Biafra himself approved the license to Tony Hawk's video game  (May 5, 1999 Fax from Uli Elser, previous manager of Alternative Tentacles).
Ray was a featured artist in the April 2006 edition of Guitar Player magazine talking about recording production techniques and in the January 2006 issue of Guitar World.
Ray also released "Trouble in town" 7" single in 1984 (Alternative Tentacles Records), featuring "Poisoned heart" and "Trouble in town", with guest vocalists Vince and Steve One.
The origin of his nickname as 'East Bay Ray' comes from an advertisement sent out for band members which he signed with that name only, leading to the initial lineup of The Dead Kennedys and to his nickname.