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CLOSE-UP, May/June 1997

[Translated from Swedish by Emil ]


Return of the living dead

Its been 14 years since MISFITS put horror into the punk audience. 
Now they are back. The leather is still more black then night, the muscles 
loaded with testerone and makeup thicker then oil. Newly recorded 
"American Psycho" is in the shops and when you read this the band are here 
for no less then four Swedish shows. Yes, its once again time for MISFITS.

It feels kinda like getting the chance to talk to Santa Claus. In early 80's
MISFITS were one of punk's mystique bands. Black leather, pumped muscles, 
thick layers of makeup around the eyes and whacky hair-do's. Much more 
wasnt known about them, except that they had a affection for grinning skulls, 
mean aliens and the fact they wrote good punk songs.
Fucking great punk songs, even.

In spring of 1997, the MISFITS are back in the scene. Its 14 years since the
split after "Earth A.D", when singer Glenn Danzig moved on to form SAMHAIN 
and left guitarist Doyle, bassist Jerry Only and drummer Brian Damage 
without a frontman. Instead of countinue with the band they closed everything, 
to return in the fall of 1995 with a new singer, then only 19 year old Michael
Graves and the new drummer Dr. Chud. The question "Why?" is in order.

Santa himself, MISFITS well cut and muscular bassist Jerry Only, says he is
a bit nervous after the interview has been delayed a couple of times and 
finally happens six hours late.

"We are just about to go to LA to meet up with all the people we are gonna 
work with on Geffen. It feels a bit strange, since we are used doing everything
on our own" he laughs.

The fresh baked "American Psycho" is MISFITS fifth full lenght album, if you 
dont count the sea of compilations, bootlegs and live records that are on the 

"We started to work on it in September and wrote the music up to the beginning 
of December. After that we went into the studio and recorded over 20 songs, 
and 18 ended up on "American Psycho". "

Not suprisingly the title is from Bret Easton Ellis hyped book. As usual with 
MISFITS much of the influence is gathered from the 50's horror movies.
"We have three different subjects we are bouncing on "A.P". Mostly its the 
classical horror movies like "Frankenstein" and so on, then theres invasion from
outer space and other B-movie related topics. Exactly like its always been",
states Jerry.  

"When it comes to the lyrics, there is one major thing that is unusual today
- they are very strong, but contains no cussing whatsoever. The title "American
Psycho" dont just point to the book, it points to us too. We are a bunch of 
crazy Americans that travels around the world and makes hella much noise. We 
have a song on the record called "Mars Attacks" which was originaly written 
for Tim Burton's movie.  It was finished before we had recorded the song, so 
unfortunatly we couldnt provide it. We could easily follow that angle with 
the lyrics, the "Teenagers From Mars" style, if you know what I mean, but we 
felt it was better to get more of a 90's feeling in the lyrics. "

When it comes to the music it has not changed that much during the years. Jerry 
says that they have only picked it up where MISFITS once left it:
"We really just let the wheel spin some more. The MISFITS sound is still
there, and the energy remains. The difference is that we are a bit older and 
we have become more skilled musicians. I actually like some of the new material
better then the old stuff."

Its pretty suprising that the band managed to spit out that many songs in that 
amount of time. Last time MISFITS were a band, little Glenn Danzig was the
majority source of melodies. But not being able to write wasn't a problem, if 
we trust Jerry.

"The reason we didn't compose new material until September was the fact that
we did not know who would preform it. When you write a song its important to 
really make the song for the persons that are gonna perform it, so its played 
in the best way. You have to know what the people you are playing with are 
good at and what their weak spots are, cos the material is to be presented in 
the best way. When Michael joined we first wrote six songs that turned out 
really good, they are actually the back-bone of the record. After that we 
wrote 35 songs in a neck breaking speed, so any problems with new material 
really didnt surface."

According to Jerry there was no consideration of changing the MISFITS
musical path when "A.P" was written. 

"No, that was never an issue. But we have, naturally, a new sound since
there is two new persons in the band. 50 % of is changed, so its perfectly 
natural that it doesn't sound exactly like before. Another thing that makes 
us stronger today is that Michael is only 21 years old. He has at least 20 
years of energy left, but at the same time needs to grow into the part. I'm
convinced that he will, it's only a matter of time."

"When it comes to the music, we really just took "Earth A.D" one step
further. All of our previous records has different themes; for example we 
have "Static Age" which was very influenced by the eastcoast new wave 
movement, "Walk Among Us" has touches of 50's music and then there's "Earth 
A.D" that leans towards thrash and death metal. The new record is a mix 
between "Walk Among Us" and "Earth A.D", with a modern touch. Its cool."

In a way you can view the MISFITS as a meeting between two generations. Both
Jerry and Doyle is near their 40's, meanwhile the new singer Michael Graves 
just passed his 20s. 

"It was very inspiring to get Michael in the band. He is very talented when
it comes to writing songs. He wrote "American Psycho", where the inspiration 
came from the book he was currently reading. Those lyrics are really 
agressive, but at the same time he isn't using any hard words that will make 
controversy. It's only the thoughts he had when he read the book."

MISFITS may have a known and solid reputation worldwide. That didn't stop
Michael Graves from never even hearing about the band until he got the offer of
joining it.

"We met through our old sound man George Germain. He works in a studio in
the city Lodi in New Jersey, were we originate from. I had a cassette which 
was recorded during a concert 1977 or 1978, where we played "Blue Christmas". 
The instruments was badly recorded, but Glenns vocals was awesome, so we went 
to Lodi and recorded the music again. When we were in the studio, the owner 
came and told us about Michale who then was in a local band, since he knew we 
were looking for a new singer."

Jerry agrees it feels pretty strange to play old MISFITS songs with someone
else then Glenn, but points to Michaels good sides:

"Personally, I think Michael is at least as good at singing as Glenn, if not
better. But personality matters much, you have to be satisfied with the people 
you work with in order to do great music and gigs. If you fight with each
other the focus is too much on that, instead of going out on stage kicking 
ass. Glenn could usually only sing around a hour before he got tired, but we 
have done shows with Michael that lasted over two hours....  He (Michael) is
a really cool guy, he is like a little brother for me and both my wife and 
my kids love him. I much rather fail with Michale behind the mic then win
with Glenn. It is that simple."

But Michael wasn't the first who got the offer of singing in the reformed
MISFITS. The first person they asked was a little gentleman with the name 
Glenn Danzig.

"It was mostly from respect towards our fans. We didnt want him, considering
the fact that it was his problems that brake the band the first time. We had 
won the rights to the name in a trial, so we went to Glenn and asked if he was 
ready to go on a tour with us so all the people who wanted to see him as the 
frontman would get that chance. All this time we hoped that he would say no, 
but we felt like we owed it to the fans at the same time, to get him involved. 
So we asked, he said no - fine! When we met Michael for the first time he was 
only 19 years old and only half as good as he is today.  Then it was really
doubtful that we would put him through this, the audience could beat him up
or whatever.  But when we got invited to do a couple of tunes with TYPE O 
NEGATIVE in New York 1995, we tested him - and it went great as hell. He did 
very good and the crowd liked him."

Jerry continues to praise his new singer:

"Michael wrote the most part of the material on the record, and as said
before, he is only 21 years old. Who knows how good he will be in two or 
three years? On top of that, it works good for me to write songs with him, 
Chud writes with him and Doyle too. Everyone are writing and its going good. 
Our new line up will beat the old one for sure. "A.P" don't show that 
perhaps, but I can assure you that the next one will. Some may see it as a
one-off if we succeed in making a great record, but we will prove with the
second one that wasn't the case. A lot of people will be suspicious, but I'm
convinced that we will get a gold or platinum record for "A.P". It's that 

Considering that everything seems so lovely in the MISFITS camp, it's
suprising they even asked "Evil Elvis" to join them. Glenn is known for being
a ... hrm...  special person.

"An asshole, you mean?"
Err, kinda. He seems to have a really weird view on the people he works with
and the world in general. 

"Yeah, thats true. I can only say that I don't understand where you end up
with that kind of attitude. I know that many people will be wondering about 
MISFITS without Glenn, but our goal is to show that we can pull it off without 
him. MISFITS was, and is, a band.  MISFITS was never about Glenns ego-trip, 
even if it became that more and more in the end.  Glenn can say "Hey, I
was MISFITS, I was SAMHAIN and I am DANZIG", its nothing to pay attention
to. The reason he does that is cos he wants to decide, he does not want to be 
part of a team. Before MISFITS broke up, he had the worlds best team, but he 
wanted to be on his own more.  That was the main reason why we split up.

But to be totally honest, it wasn't the abscence of Glenn as frontman that I
was most worried about. With the fact that he wrote the large part of the 
songs in mind, I was mostly worried that that part would be the hardest. But 
look at how it turned out, we wrote new 35 songs in two months....  We do fine 
without Glenn, and I'm sure people will realize that when they hear "A.P"."

MISFITS have in many ways other artists to thank for their success. Without
METALLICA, the band would have been swept away from peoples memories by time. 
METALLICA has, since they started in the business, supported MISFITS through 
recording their songs ("Last Caress" and "Green Hell"), wearing their t-shirts 
as often as possible and also used the same artist, Pushed Lamort. 

"They are a big reason why the big audience discovered us, I have to admit
that. There was alot of people that thought if METALLICA digs us, we have to 
do that too, without knowing what it was about. Naturally Im grateful towards 
METALLICA for what they have done, they did keep the name MISFITS alive while 
we were gone. But, if I'm totally honest, I don't think the fans of today is
because of METALLICA. I have the idea that they like us for our music which
they come to see us play, not because METALLICA wear our t-shirts with our 
logo. It's possible they buy a MISFITS shirt just because James Hetfield wears 
it, even buy a record. But does the same persons come to the shows? I dont 
think so."

In a couple of months time there has been no less than two tribute
compilations to MISFITS, the american "Violent World" and the Swedish "Hell On 
Earth" on Tribute.  Jerry thinks its fun that younger acts takes on the 
material, even though he thinks they do the songs justice (he has only
heard the american record). 

"I really only liked the Snapcase and Farside versions. The other stuff is
good, but it didnt knock me out. I think its a good example of Carolines bad 
taste to release a tribute right before we release "American Psycho", that was 
really a blow below the belt. Because we are a new band now, so I thought they
could let us release our first record before they made us into dinosaurs with
a tribute." 

It seems like Jery don't have any warm feelings for his old record company.

"Fuck, no. Caroline has enough MISFITS stuff out on the market, so I think
they could be decent enough to let us get the new record out. But, that is 
just how Caroline are.  They dont give a shit about us, except selling our 

The question "Why?" still remains though. What does Misfits have that no
other group has? Jerry figures it is honesty:
"All new music deals with violence - or worse - politics. I would rather sit
at home, eat popcorn and watch a black and white monster movie than care 
about politics. The way I see it, Misfits has a place in todays music. Misfits 
ain't something you just can say is in the past. Our concept is so powerful 
that it do not matter if the rice price in China goes up or down, we are not
controlled by any trends or whats hot for the moment. Rolling Stones are 
Rolling Stones, Beatles are Beatles and Misfits are Misfits - we have our 
place. Now its our time to show what we are about and stand for."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, we should only be grateful about.