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JERSEY BEAT #59, March 1997

  By Jim Testa
      It's been twenty years since the birth of the Misffts, and they
  still walk among us.
      Fifteen years after the group officially broke up, they're still
  arguably the most popular, influential, imitated, bootlegged, and
  important rock band to crawl from the swamps of New Jersey and
  take on the world.  Which is totally amazing, considering how
  goofy the whole concept was to begin with - a bunch of guys with
  big muscles and floppy forelocks welding thrash-rock riffarama to
  high-concept lyrics abolit zombies, Martians, and B-movie mon-
      And yet, to this day, you can't go to a punk show anywhere in
  the country without spotting a few kids who weren't even born
  when the band broke up proudly wearing their Misfits t-shirts.
  The Misfits aren't just a rock and roll band anymore, they're
  icons, as American and punk rock as pizza and skateboards.
      The past year has been a virtual onslaught of Misfitsmania -
  a hugely popular box set of the band's old material, a tribute
  album featuring some of punk's biggest names, and soon, a new
  album by the reborn Misfits on Geffen Records.
      For years, Glen Danzig claimed ownership of the Misfits
  name and back catalog, even while pursuing his career in
  Samhain and Danzig.  But Jerry Only and Doyle never stopped
  being Misifts, showing up at trade shows and record conventions
  in full regalia, and flghting a legal battle to reclaim the mantle.  That
  struggle finally ended in 1995, and a new incarnation of The Misfits
  was born: Jerry Only and his brother Doyle on bass and guitar, Dr.
  Chud on drums, and Michael Graves on lead vocals.  Same demonic
  sneers, same big muscles, some crazy haircuts.  A new album,
  American Psycho, is scheduled to be released on Geffen in May.
     Armed with a well-sharpened wooden stake, a supply of silver
  bullets, and our favorite crucifix, we tracked Jerry down and asked
  about the band that refuses to die.

  Q: The original Misfits broke up on Halloween night, 1983, and from
  what I understand, this incarnation of the band made its debut on
  Halloween, 1995.

  Jerry: Yeah.  We did a special guest appearance with the guys from
  Type 0 Negative.

  Q: I guess the first thing we need to discuss is how you got to use the
  name Misfits again and what exactly happened between you guys and
  Glen Danzig.

  Jerry: When the band split up, I wasn't too concerned with what was
  happening with the band, and it slipped away on me.  And Caroline
  Records started putting out a whole bunch of stuff with Glen.  And
  when we started looking into it, those records were shitty re-mixes
  and, for instance, on the Legacy Of Brutality reissue that came it, 
  wasn't even me playing bass.  So I went through the roof.  This is
  absurd.  And at the time, we were working for our father in a machine
  shop, working on guitar designs and so on.  And it just took so long
  to take legal action.  We tried to talk it out first, and that didn't work.
  And it just got worse and worse and escalated.  Caroline just kept
  putting out more and more releases, and we had nothing to say
  about it, about the songs or the artistic design.  If you look at the
  packaging of the early Caroline releases, it's real cheesy and if you
  open it up, it's a picture of Glen.  So we finally threatened to take it
  to court, and it never actually got to court but we came to an agreement.
  The box set that came out was a result of us getting in there and
  having our say.  And what happened was we let go of all the old
  publishing, even though we had helped write it.  You'll never read that
  anywhere, but we don't care.  We weren't in it for songwriting
  credits, we were in it to write great songs.  So we gave up the
  publishing to get the name free and clear and be able to go ahead.
     The idea behind it was that Doyle and I had great ideas and we
  didn't want to limit ourselves to a Static Age, Waik Among Us, and
  an Earth A.D. album.  We didn't consider that the extent of our
  career.  Our career was to keep moving forward and continue getting
  better as we went.  So we wrote this new album and Geffen came
  along and the opportunity came at just the right time for us to put out
  what I consider to be the best Misfit album of all.  And that's where
  we stand now.

  Q: When you guys first got together, where did the whole monster
  idea come from?

  Jerry: When we first got together, I was 17 and Doyle was 12.  What
  you don't know is that originally, we were very artsy.  We were in the
  avant-garde.  Glen was really into Alan Vega and Suicide, and he
  was writing keyboard stuff along those lines.  Now here's some
  news.  Caroline is having the Static Age album coming out on As
  own and there's a song on there that hasn't been played in 20 years.
  We just heard the tapes and it came out really good.  So you'll be able
  to hear a little of that.
     But yeah, when we started, we were playing audition nights at
  CBGB for free and Glen was playing keyboards and we were like a
  lounge act.  The monster thing happened when we started playing
  Max's Kansas City.  The first poster we did was from something like
  Teenagers From Mars.  It had a picture of a skeleton that had been
  shot with a raygun or something on it. We used that as our first
  Max's poster.  And then on our second Max's poster, we stumbled
  across the Crimon Ghost.  And once we used that, God, it caught
  on so quick that everything we did after that just got more and more
  monster-oriented.  And that's how we got into the image we have
  today.  And what's beautiful is that working with Geffen, we're able to
  utilize all the old Universal monsters.  So it's good to be able to use
  Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi and Frankenstein and use all those
  images with our name over the top.  It's alvays been a dream of mine.

  Q: Has it ever surprised you how enduringly popular the Misfits
  songs have been?  I can never remember a time in the last 15 years
  when kids didn't like the Misfits, no matter what else they were
  listening to.

  Jerry: You have to remember the framework.  I was born in 1959,
  which was pretty much the beginning of rock and roll, with Buddy
  Holly and that stuff.  And that's what I grew up listening to.  And the
  Misfits was based on that kind of music.  If you listen to it, it's a
  lot of Fifties stuff.  But we had a Nineties sound back then and it's
  still the same now.  It's just basic American home-fries rock and roll
  chord progressions, and you just love 'em.  You're just so damn used to
  them that you know them as soon as you hear them.
     That's why I think we're more a rock and roll band
  than a punk band.  A lot of friends were telling me a
  year ago that the whole punk era was coming back and
  we ought to jump on it, and I said no.  The last thing 1
  want was to come out and be just another early punk,
  band to come back for a revival.  This is about much
  more.  We stand for much more than that, I think, thar
  just being categorized.  And I think the music shows
  that.  You've got "American Nightmare," which is almost
  a rockabilly song, and then 'London Dungeon,'
  which is slow and eerie, and then things like "Queen
  Wasp" and "Earth A.D.," which is like speed-metal
  bible material.  And the other thing is the science
  fiction element.  The biggest movies of the year are
  always science fiction movies, whether it's The Terminator
  or Alien or Independence Day or whatever.  Because
  you're using your imagination, which enables
  you to make anything possible.  That's why science
  fiction is always so popularity, and that's the kind
  elements we have going.  That's our topic material.

  Q: So the new stuff is like that too?

  Jerry: Even more so!  Lyrically, we don't have any swear words on
  the album, which I think is big, And we don't have any guitar leads.
  It's just flat-out balis to the walls rock and roll.  And the lyrics are
  fantastic.  And the production is the best we've ever had.  We had
  six months to put it together, and that's about six months more than
  I ever had to do an album before.
     We did this panel with a six person panel.  The four of us, and a
  guy from Geffen, and Daniel Rey, who produced it, and every week
  we would update our lyrics, if someone didn't like a line that person
  would go home and work on ft.  We wrote 35 songs and tracked 20.
  There has to be a thousand hours of songwrfting time invested in
  this project.  In twenty years, we never put this much time and energy
  and attention into writing songs.
     Daniel was a good choice for producer.  He's got a real Fifties feel
  for the material like I do.  Like he's working light now wfth Ronnie
  Spector and Joey Ramone on a new Ronnie Spector album.  And the
  other good thing is that he's a calm individual, where we're a bunch
  of maniacs.  He's like the buffer zone between everybody.  We
  weren't used to doing things with so much going on.  We did Walk
  Among Us for $3,000 in three days.  It's a totaity different atmo-
  sphere.  So it was good having him as producer.  And I really liked
  it.  I think that creatively you have a much better chance of getting
  where you want to go if everybody has a say, rather than having one
  guy be a dictator and tell everybody else what to do.
     My one fear with signing to a label like Geffen is that I didn't want
  to get involved with some big money-making
  corporation that was going to drain all the gusto
  out of my band.  But they've been terrific.  The deal
  with Geffen is that we do everything and they just
  put it out.  So we designed the artwork and we
  recorded everything prefty much the way we
  wanted to.  We did an 8 hour photo shoot
  yesterday and we just kept playing the tape of the
  album over and over, I just kept wanting to hear it again.
     For me, it's like when the box set came out.
  When that came out, I cried.  I really did.  I tell
  everybody that for the last ten, twelve years, we
  had really great stuff on tape, but Caroline wasn't
  getting great stuff to put out, they were getting
  garbage.  Like Earth A.D. I know if I could go into
  a studio and take my time and re-mix Earth A.D.,
  it could be a great album, because we had great
  stuff on tape that nobody ever heard.  I mean,
  now, I give it a B, but when Earth A.D. first came
  out, I gave it an F. It was a fucking failure as an
  album.  The idea at the time was that Earth A.D.
  was gonna be the Misfits meet Motorhead.  Because
  the Misfits during the Walk Among Us era
  were doing more doo wop material.  But then we
  heard Motorhead and they were doing all this
  radical, fast shit, and we wanted to take their
  speedmetal sound and put it to our Fifties-type
  progressions.  But we broke up before that came
  out and Glen really put that out.  And he slept
  while we did.  He was sleeping when we recorded
  most of it and he didn't know what was on those
  tapes.  We could've done ten times better with
  Earth A.D. than what came out.

  Q: Have you heard the tribute compilation
  (Violent World: A Tribute To The Misfits on Caro-

  Jerry: Yeah, I like the first song and the last song The rest I wasn't
  crazy about, but all those bands have their own interpretations
  The last song on the compilation is "Return Of The Fly" (by Farside)
  and that's the shit.  Even Doyle liked it and Doyle don't like nothing.

  But he heard it and he's like, this sounds like it was the original and
  then we covered it. (laughs) And we're doing an Iggy song, "I Got
  A Right," for a compilation that's going to support Lifebeat.  We used
  to do it live and Glen always hated doing it, but now we have an
  arrangement and Doyle has a guitar part for it, so we're recording it.
  It's cool.  I just hope Iggy likes it when he hears it.
  As far as the compilation, since Glen has 100 per cent of the
  publishing, they didn't have to talk to us about it, and I would have
  liked to have had some input.  Type O Negative wanted to do a song,
  Anthrax wanted to do a track, Life Of Agony wanted to do one, all the
  guys we were hanging with wanted to throw something on there and
  we didn't have any say.  And the artwork!  We could have come up
  with some really good artwork.  What they put together was political
  artwork.  It completely misses the point, "Violent World" isn't about
  kids throwing rocks.

  Q: What are the plans for the new album?

  Jerry: We're going to Europe first.  Then we invested in a mobile
  home so we can do America.  We think with the mobile home we can
  just do good shows on weekends and concentrate on that, getting
  the word out and playing good shows in major cities.  That way we
  can get a lifting workout going during the week and play good shows
  on the weekends.  Our tour is supposed to start in June and go all
  the way through to October.

  All Misfits graphics courtesy of Mark Kennedy's Misfits Home Page: