That one actually began with the cover art,” the punk legend told Song facts, referencing a sleeve that pictures a gold Jesus on a cross of dollar bills. “I saw that as a sculpture, a gallery exhibit of Winston Smith’s work and was just floored by it and thought, ‘There’s got to be a way to use this.’ And once Jerry Falwell began declaring him emperor of the country with veto power over the Ronald] Reagan regime, there it was, In God We Trust, Inc.
The EP’s mongrel mix of music featured anti-religious rages, a song about Minamata disease, a protest against Nazi punks, a Reagan-era, lounge-y reworking of “California Über Alles and a cover of “Rawhide.” Biafra said that the music came easily, partially because some of the song had existed since Dead Kennedys’ start three years prior.
Kepone Factory was the first song Dead Kennedys ever learned, ‘Rawhide’ went way back. As did ‘Religious Vomit,’ actually,” Biafra recalled. “And then ‘Hyperactive Child’ was new and then there was the updated ‘California Über Alles,’ where I realized I was wrong about my conspiracy theory about Jerry Brown. Sure, I’d made it up all by myself and it turned out not to be true, so it was updated with Reagan lyrics [and retitled] ‘We’ve Got a Bigger Problem Now,’ and the jazz version we goofed off with at soundcheck wound up becoming a staple of that record and the live show.”
Material was a snap, but recording wasn’t. The band’s first attempt to lay down the eight tracks on June 19, 1981, went belly-up when the tape proved to be faulty at the mixing stage. The band then did another one-day session on August 22 that resulted in the final version of In God We Trust, Inc. (Decades later some of the original tapes were salvaged, along with documentary footage of the first try, and released by the band.)