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ETCH VOL2#5, 12/96

the misfits
interview by d. wood

1996 was a very strange year in live music, with some of the biggest news
being the numerous re-union shows.  everybody got back together.  bands
who you thought would never again make music, once again took a shot at it
most notably, the sex pistols returned for a one-time history lesson, and
if you missed it, you're the little shitstain we all knew you were.  also,
hardcore punk legends and new jresey's finest export, the misfits,
reappeared.  but it wasn't a "re-union", the misfits were back.  gone in a
swirl of legal documents and check stubs was vocalist glenn danzig, and in
his place was one michael graves.  poor sir graves, how could he possibly
fill danzig's shoes?  before you shed a tear for michael, let me inform
those of you who haven't seen the misfits recently, mr. graves has taken
over w/o skipping a beat.  he demands your attention and throttles the old
material in a way that shows experience well beyond his years.  in
addition, bass player jerry only and guitarist doyle, as well as new
drummer dr. chud, have gelled into a much tighter version of what the
original misfits were.  with all the odds against them, the band returned
better than ever, retaining all of the excitement and raw energy they were
famous for.  when i was young, very few things meant as much to me as the
misfits.  now, a little older, those old classics sound damn good to me
and i was thrilled at the return of one of the best rock bands of all
time.  with an upcoming album on geffen records, the misfits return to
claim what was rightfully theirs all along.  etch senior editor and fellow
rabid misfits fan norman zebrowski and i sat down for a long chat w/ only
and new kid graves at last summer's phat tour concert at the phoenix
plaza.  guitarist doyle milled about, never officially joining in the

etch:  i was at the show back in may at st. andrews hall and it was
outstanding-very inpressive.
jerry:  that was pretty good, except i pulled too much power and
blacked-out my side of the stage

etch:  still a great show though...
jerry:  aaaaahhhh, i got pissed.  see, we were supposed to play harpo's
and the thing was..we got a lot of e-mail at our web page, and people were
saying that someone had gotten killed there and that the kids were
against it.  harpo's was supposed to be the biggest show of the tour, and
we took, like, a $7000 loss to not play harpo's and go to st. andrews
hall.  we figured the hell w/ it, it was more important for us to get
behind the kids on an issue like that than it was for us to play harpo's.
we also heard the bouncers were pretty mean there so..(i saw at least 75+
"kids" who were at the last show at the graystone who wouldn't have made
it to harpo's)

etch:  it can be a nasty place.
jerry:  well, you know our shows tend to get on the edge, so the thing was
for the safety of our fans-we took a back seat in that issue.  then we
play st andrew's, that was my decision to do it, and my amp blows the
system and i'm standing there w/ no way to play, so i got kinda pissed.
but detroit is like our real home.  we're real popular out in LA, and in
new york we argue w/ everybody, but it seems like detroit is always there
for us.

etch:  i was at your "last show ever" in detroit on halloween 1983.
jerry:  i sat on my amp(laughs), me and doyle.

etch:  that was a strange gig...
jerry:  well, that was the point in the road where i knew it wasn't going
to be what it was supposed to be.  see the thing is we believe it, that's
the important issue about this band.  we believe we are the best.  we
believe we're the band that's gonna go out there and put all the kids
together and make the music happen, and push the scene and make things go
so, when i don't believe it..i can't come out and bullshit you.  forget
it, it's just not in my vocabulary to bullshit you.  when we had that
argument w/ glenn backstage, glenn was wrong...i gave glenn the benefit of
the doubt.  i said "hey if you think this kid can play drums i'll get
behind you, but if you're wrong it's your ass."  i sat on my amps because
you know the thing is, todd swalla from the necros came up...

etch:  yeah he took over on the drums.
jerry:  that was great, but that didn't change what was going on.  glenn
was trying to be the boss in the band and there was no boss in the band.
say me and you are working together, and we're tight and we work together
really well and you're really strong about a call, and for me it's not
that big of a call, i gotta be behind you.  so i got behind him and he was
wrong, and i knew he was wrong.  he wouldn't play w/ googy.  googy was the
man to be up there (on drums) that day, and (was going) to go to germany
to do the tour.  glenn refused, he turned his back on themusic...when he
turned his back on the music, i knew it wasn't long before he'd turn his
back on us.  i said "well look, if you don't believe this music i'm gonna
sit on my amp/  i said i would do the show and i'm there, but..."

etch:  it got a lot better when todd took over.
jerry:  todd's a great drummer and he knew all of our songs.  he's
probably one of the best drummers we've ever played w/, but that didn't
change the fact that it was total turmoil.
(at this point the location of the interview changed)
jerry:  we did the tour in june and when we go on the road i go broke. i
don't have a dime on me.  i love living that way because money is no
longer an issue in my life, it's like i just focus on my music and
lifting.  i life everyday.  teh reality of the world goes away and when
i'm on the road and i'm in my own zone.  we came home july 1st and the
money from the first half of the tour didn't come unti lfriday and we were
leaving again on tuesday so i couldn't dring him(jerry's 11-year old son
accompanied the band on the road) anywhere for a vacation.  so i figured
he'd come on the road w/ us.

etch:  being on the road with the misfits must be more fun than any
jerry:  yeah i think so.  it's been working out real well.

etch:  have things changed radically as far as the audience goes in the
last 15 years?
jerry:  the more things change the more they stay the same.  our music, to
me, i like playing it today as much as i did then.  kids like watching it
as much.  the difference is there's a lot broader age group.  how old are

etch:  i'm 33.
jerry:  i'm 37.  there's kids that, when i was 17 playing in the band,
they were 25.  we got people now who are from the age group of 10 to the
age group of 50 who are into the band.  in that way it's changed, but
that's a very welcome change.

etch:  you played a show at the roseland in new york in june, how did that
jerry:  that was one of our better shows.  we played last halloween as an
encore for type o negative and doyle's amp didn't work and we were really
bummed out about it.  so roseland was like our vengeance show.  we came
back and took 'em.

etch:  i was really impressed w/ how tight the set was at st. andrews; i
heard four or five new songs that night.
jerry:  yeah, there's gonna be a new single.  there's also gonna be a new
album.  i didn't come back to play old songs.  i mean, i will play old
songs because i like playing 'em.  right now we got about two hours worth
of music.

etch:  are you getting any points from caroline, with all the old misfits
stuff they're releaseing?
jerry:  yeah.  caroline bought up our whole catalog.  anything that has
glenn on it belongs to caroline.  (i'm) happy in a way because i don't
have to deal w/ it.  the only thing i really wanted from caroline i got:
the boxed set.  my son's 11, and there's lots of kids his age that like
the band and they don't deserve to be tortured by the pirates who bootleg
our stuff.  they should be able to go out and spend $70 and own everything
we've every done, and now that exists.  i don't promote anything other
than the boxed set.  anything else, in my mind, is crap.

etch:  michael, do you feel any pressure filling in for danzig?
michael: i felt pressure..i don't think i'm filling in for anybody...

etch:  i didn't mean "fill in"
michael:  the only pressure that i was like my own vendetta i
was nervous.
jerry:  i think michael is what this band needed.  the thing is, you got
my viewpoint of the band from 1977.  then you got doyle's viewpoint of
what doyle was looking at in the '80s, and now you got somebody like
michael who comes in fresh with a whole new clean aspect.  this gap of
audience needs to be filled with visions from all of those areas.  in
other words, i bring to the table what it was like in the beginning and
michael brings to the table what it's about now.  we work really well

etch:  i think michael does a great job!
jerry:  yeah- you saw the show in may.  you know our philisophy is that we
play every show like it's the last show we'll ever get to play.  it
doesn't matter how many people come, or who likes us or how many we fights
we have during the show.  we're just gonna play the goddamned set and
nothing but death is gonna keep us from finishing the gig.  that's what
this band is all about...always been.  michael's very good in this band.

etch:  absolutely, the set at st. andrews was ferocious.  you didn't let
up once.
jerry:  the only thing that fucks up is our equipment.  that aggravates
the hell out of me because i don't like being limited by a piece of
equipment, but we make our won shit so we can't even point a

etch:  why re-form the misfits?
jerry:  well, the misfits is something we couldn't escape.  doyle and i
have worked on a couple of other projects together trying to evolve
musically a little bit..and we did.  but you know, if you're the misfits
what do you do after that?  i haven't quite figured it out(laughs).  i
started the band when i was 17 and doyle joined when he was 14, and we've
been together ever since.  so the misfits never broke up, we just took a
long time to recover over the fact of cutting glenn loose.  and cutting
glenn loose, as you may realize, is not an easy job.  there's a lot of red
tape, a lot of money to be paid out to get rid of glenn and took
many years to get through that.  but i think thatduring that time we grew
because we now know what it's like not being able to play.  now for us,
every gig is like going to heaven.  it's as good for us as it is for the
people who come out.

etch:  a lot of people percieve it as though glenn broke up the band--that
he walked away from it.
jerry:  well, no, we just told glenn to take a hike and glenn without us
is not the misfits.  we're proving today and every other day for the rest
of our lives, that the misfits was not glenn. we're the misfits and we're
out there to prove it.  see, we had a big issue over publishing and half
of getting the name back meant that we had to let go of all the
publishing.  publishing is money and nothing else, and we immediately cut
that loose to be who we are.  so the thing is, if you look back on it and
say, glenn owns the rights to all the songs, and we can't re-record songs
or 'put 'em on video or nothin' without dealing w/ him, which is what
we're trying to avoid.  that forces me to make new stuff and that's a fire
under my ass, instead of me worrying about recording and making videos of
old shit...fuck it.  who owns the songs?  the guy who comes down and can
rock 'em in your face every night or the guy who's getting a paycheck in a
fuckin' PO box?!?

etch:  yeah.
jerry:  see that's my point.  we don't own the songs on paper, but in the
three dimensional world they belong to us.

etch:  it seems like danzig's popularity is slipping a bit: that last
record didn't seem to make an impact.
jerry:  well, i don't know.  if you're not fair to people, it comes back
to you.

etch:  i remember talking to glenn at a samhain show in kalamazoo, asking
him what he thought of the necros' "tangled up" single which had just come
out and he said, "they sound like a heavy metal bar band," and a few years
jerry:  i think if you listen to his "who killed marilyn?" 45...

etch:  that was terrible...
jerry:  it is terrible, and we did it so well.  i wanted to put out a 45
w/ "i turned into a martian" on it, w/ "astro zombies" on the back, and
make it an "invasion" 45, and glenn wanted to do the "marilyn?" thing
because he's into marilyn.  so i said, "do what you want."  he got pissed
and had to play all the instruments himself.  it sounds so stale--it
sucks.  we had versions of us doing it and it sounded great.  he was
sabotaging our music for 13 years.

etch:  how long is this tour gonna last?
jerry:  this goes til the last weekend in august and then we're doing a
show on our own at action park.

etch:  are you planning any tours for the fall or winter?
jerry:  we're supposed to go back to europe and i wanna go to australia.
i also want to do a tour of college cities in the fall.  but we want to
put out a new record because if we keep playing w/o something new out, i
fall into my own trap and i'm not gonna do that.  i probably won't play in
the states after the action park show; then we have a wsou benefit in
asbury park, 4000 seat venue.  after that i don't think we'll play live
in the states until we've got someting new to show here.  that's why we're
here.  we're not gonna come out here and talk a bunch of shit and then not
back it up.

etch:  the new songs sound great by the way:
jerry:  thanks, we just gotta go get 'em down and get 'em out.  but
playing was issue number one and that's what we figured.  "fuck it!  let's
go play what we got and worry about new albums later."  we're a lot better
now than we ever were.

etch:  that was always the knock against you in the early days--that the
misfits were always great on records but if you saw them live it was
always a crapshoot.  i saw you in the early '80s and some of the shows
were great and others weren't, but everybody who saw you at st. andrews
raves about it.
jerry:  yeah, but i blew out the power.

etch:michael what band were you in before the misfits?
michael:  it was a local band called mulch.

etch:  from new york?
michael:  it was in new jersey, but we played in new york.

etch:  how did it happen that you ended up in the misfits?
michael:  i was recording a demo with my other band at a studio in lodi,
and the guy that was producing it knew jerry and doyle from the old days.
while i was doing the vocals the guy mentioned that the misfits were
looking for a new singer.  i had never heard of the misfits, i thought they
were a band like cannibal corpse or something.  so, he put me in touch w/
jerry and doyle and they sent me lyrics and stuff, so i went out and
bought the first record and learned all the songs and auditioned.

etch:  do you find playing big shows like this intimidating or are you
used to them by now?
michael:  i'm starting to get used to it.  at first it was really freaky.
i used to look down because i couldn't look at everybody.  i still get
nervous.  at roseland i was almost throwing-up back stage, i was so

etch:  mike achtenberg, who was the bass player in the meatmen at the
time, told me when they were on the process of elimination tour with the
necros and negative approach, they stayed at your house.
jerry:  everybody used to stay at my house.  my mom would cook for
everybody and she would schedule showers for everyone.  we had a built-in
swimming pool and a basketball court.  those were good times; that was
before money was involved.

etch:  i think the band is better now than it ever was.
jerry:  thanks...thanks.  to me it's better.  when i walk out there i feel
like i got a good team and i feel like everybody's gonna try their best.
if something breaks down i know it wasn't because somebody was jerkin-off.
i know everybody is on top of their stuff.  every day, no matter who you
are, what ever you do, you get up and try your best.  that way you can
always hold your head up.

etch:  do you appreciate the band now that you're older?
jerry:  yes.  being out of it for 13 years, and the fear of not being able
to come back and show you guys what we have, that was the scariest thing.
when i was 18, 19, 20 and i was out drinking w/ glenn hanging out, i
didn't know what we had.  if i would have thought on the last day, when we
kicked glenn out, if i wouldn't have know i wasn't gonna play music for 13
years, i would have thought about it twice.  i would have still did it,
but i would have thought twice.  that was my cross to beat, to make this
happen, and today i'm sitting here with you.  sometimes you really gotta
stand up for what you believe in.  that's what we did.

etch:  do your son's friends at school think he's the coolest because his
band is in the misfits?
jerry:  they have no idea who i am, but we're playing at action park so
maybe they will

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