Interview with The Misfits
by A.J. West
After forming in 1977, releasing a string of underground singles and hits, and breaking up in 1983, the Misfits were pronounced "dead." Only, his guitarist brother-- the other member from the Misfits of old-- Doyle (Wolfgang Von Frankenstein), new-comers Michale Graves (vocals) and Dr. Chud (drums), had to "let a lot of things go" when it came to putting the Misfits back together recently.
Among such sacrifices offered by Doyle and company after winning a protracted nine-year legal battle with former lead singer Glenn Danzig for the rights to the Misfits' name, was the publishing rights to their previous releases.
"We let that go to get rid of him (Danzig) and move on," said Only. So, after all the trouble Danzig stirred, it took an incredible act of nobility on Only's part to try and give fans what they had longed for... Of course, reuniting the two true originals-- albeit an attempt devoid of bursting enthusiasm-- ended only as an inevitable act of humility. "I just said, 'I don't wanna play with him, but I'll do it for you guys (the fans).' (Laughs). So, we went to see Glenn in his hotel and he basically had us thrown out by security. So, we took that as a 'no.' But, at the same time, that's good, because when anybody gives me bullshit about Glenn, they catch my wrath because I asked."
Known to sometimes perform over 50 songs per night, the band apparently still had their energy when spotted in July 1996 by Geffen A&R rep Michael Alago, who, interestingly enough, hired the Misfits for his first show as the booking agent for The Ritz in New York City in 1983.
Only explained, "We had such a tremendous show (at the Milwaukee Metal Fest last year) Michael said, 'Man, this is great. Do you have this kind of intensity every night?' I said, 'Yeah, pretty much. The hard part is going to bed.' He said, 'Look, I'm working with Geffen now,' and wanted to sign us." As if explaining to Alago the cornerstone of do-it-yourself fundamentals. Only warned, "I can't get into a pissing contest with Geffen where they're gonna take my concept and fluff it up and ruin it on me.' He said, 'Well, they'll do whatever you want."
The magic words were spoken.
"If Geffen does what I want," said Only, "what's the difference what label I'm on? For example, they made bubblegum cards for me. People say, 'Have you succeeded?' I say, 'Check out my cards.' (Laughs) Not even, 'Listen to my CD'-- fuck my CD! (Laughs) How stupid is that? At the same time, that's what they did for me and I appreciate that."
Only continued, "I had planned to go indie and do my own thing, but even though we were out there busting our ass touring all last summer long, we only made about $2,500 each. My bills at home were double that, so I came back to the realization that I have a great new band, I just did my U.S. tour and it was time to go make the album."
And what better time, considering the Misfits had already written several songs earlier in the year.
"I refused to have our band play without having any new material because that would make me like an oldies act like the Sex Pistols or any of those fuckin' jerks that came back," said Only as-a-matter-of-factly.
With the release of the 17-song American Psycho in May-- their first release of new material in 14 years--, the Misfits are back sporting their traditional devil's haircuts and all the terror of the most frightening B-horror flicks they so adore.
And there will no doubt be naysayers-- even among their own fans. Only related he had heard that some Misfits fans from days of yore have been refusing to buy the new album.
"Hey, look, these people are definitely not my fans. They're out buyin' bootleg copies of stuff for 50- and 100 bucks, but they can't buy my new album that I broke my ass to make? Bull shit. I don't accept that as a fan. That doesn't show me loyalty, that's mutiny (Laughs)."
Only said the Misfits' fan base surprisingly centers around a supportive base of kids in their late teens-- like it did in the late '70s and early '80s before those kids grew up.
"I'll be honest with ya', it's like seven-to-one where they're all new kids. That's more of the direction we should be going instead of talking about something that happened when I was in high school.
A lot of people listen to our new stuff and they don't get it. That's understandable. But, I gave you 18 songs that rock, so if you don't get it, you're not gonna get it." (Laughs)
"The problem with a lot of music is that it's very political or it's very social-oriented. You remember Russia, right?" he said, for example. "At one time, Russia was a big problem. It doesn't even exist today. So, what about all those songs about Russia? Who really gives a shit about that? (Laughs). "I Turned Into A Martian" will never be a dated song and that's it. That's the bottom line. It's things that are a part of your imagination, therefore you dodge every bullet and you create an immortality type of aura around you where these things will live on. I'll be dust and people will still be buying my records like crazy and they won't know why." (Laughs).