Index Misfits Samhain Danzig Misfits '95 Undead Biographies Related Bands Appendices Lyrics/Tab Forum

UGLY THINGS #12, Summer 1993

This article was reprinted with the permission of Mike Stax. The original
Zine is chock full of rare never-before-seen pictures, if you enjoy the
interview, buy the magazine.

        Mike Stax
        Ugly Things Magazine
        405 West Washington Street #237
        San Diego, CA 92103 USA

US Copies are $6.00 postpaid
international copies $8.00 postpaid

Section #1



The Misfits walked among us: Flesheating astro-zombies, just arrived from
Mars. Graverobbers From Outer Space. Landing in barren fields to steal your
children from their beds and indoctrinate them to their violent world.
Only-Ones, Lonely-ones. It's a transformation with an urge to kill. Prime
EXTERMINATE the whole human race.......



They looked like they'd just stepped off the stage of some long forgotten
horror movie. A nightmare shock of ghoulish black leather cool, menacing
muscle, and scowling skull-like faces, each bisected by a long point of hair
- The Devil Lock.

Live they were chaotic, unforgettable. The stocky, powerful singer, Glenn
Danzig, wound tight like a cold steel trap, howling, snapping in a kind of
tense frenzy. Towering on either side, the brothers, Jerry and Doyle, their
huge arms savagely attacking their guitars as if the instruments were the
last barricade to be broken down before all hell_really_broke loose and they
waded into the crowd tearing and plundering: Death comes ripping. The world
of dangerous fun.  Prime directive: EXTERMINATE the whole fucking place.

And the music... There's not been a punk band before or since who could
match the power and the fury of the Misfits in their prime. They had it all:
energy, melody, hooks, all locked together in short, totally original songs
filled with images torn from the pages of EC Horror Comics, 50's B-movies
and Glenn's own twisted, morbid imagination.

Although they didn't release an album until 1982's classic Walk Among Us,
and weren't widely known until then, the misfits actually date back to 1977,
when the first line-up of the band was formed by Glenn Danzig, and bass
player Jerry Only. The band lasted from early '77 until Halloween '83,
leaving behind a string of explosive records in their wake.

Unlike many of their peers, the Misfits' music has endured. Today they are
more popular than they ever were when they were together. Collectors pay a
small fortune for original copies of their early 7-inchers, and bootlegs of
all kinds multiply. When Metallica covered two of their songs on an album,
they introduced a new generation of kids to the Misfits, and the legend
grew. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.

More than any other reason , the Misfits have prevailed because they created
a sound and image that is exciting, entertaining and wholly unique.

The band's break up in 1983 was a bitter one by any standards. Glenn
Danzig's subsequent projects - Samhain and then Danzig - have given him a
platform that no other Misfits have been allowed. In interviews, Danzig
usually seizes the opportunity to denigrate his old bandmates, belittling
their contributions. While there's no denying that the creative vision of
the Misfits was Glenn's, the role of the other members was absolutely vital,
a fact that this article will make clear.

To set the record straight, and to get - for the first time anywhere - the
full story of the Misfits, I talked to the man who was a Misfit for the
duration: Jerry Only

Jerry, or Mo, as he's now known, is a great guy. He comes across as a
direct, honest, no-bullshit person. He was totally candid in answering all
of my numerous questions. His recollection of events was sharp and colorful
and we had a lot of laughs.

Our story begins in Lodi, NJ.....

   MS: What first got you into music when you were a kid?
   JO: When I was a kid, we used to go see Alice Cooper and Kiss and the
Allman Brothers and shit like that. Anything that was at the outdoor
concerts during summer vacation.
   Actually, what made me really want to play was that I saw David Bowie's
"Diamond Dogs" tour in 1974, I believe it was. I think I was a junior in
high school. I wasn't one of those people who played their whole life,
y'know? I actually picked up a bass in March, and in April I did my first
show (laughs). So it was a real quick learning procedure. But I think it
speaks for itself; I got it down in a relatively short amount of time. When
I saw that "Diamond Dogs" stage show, I said to myself, "Man, this
motherfucker's getting paid for this and I gotta go to work! There's
something totally wrong here!" 'Cos I would do that for nothin', you know
what I mean? (laughs) When I saw him I said, "How much money is this guy
making?" At the time it was like 10 or 12 bucks a ticket. It wasn't actually
the money though, it was the love of what I saw. I kind of liked the
entertaining - with the stage show and everything. The music just puts it
all together.
   MS: But it was actually a few years later that you actually picked up a
bass, right?
   JO: I got it for christmas, 1976, but it came late. I had to wait for it,
and I actually got it at the beginning of February. So I practiced two
months an then Glenn and myself formed the Misfits in March of '77.
   MS: How did you meet Glenn?
   JO: I met Glenn through the drummer, Manny, who played on the first
single. I used to hang out with friends at a park in town. It was like a
local hangout, and Manny's house happened to be next door to the park. The
side of his house was at the gate to the park, so I would hear them playing
and shit and I never thought much about it. Manny was a bit jazzier the the
kind of shit I liked to play. He'd go down there and jam to Santana for you
and shit like that. And for me, I didn't want to hear Santana play to
Santana! Why would I want to hear Manny play to Santana, y'know? (laughter)
So Manny introduced me to Glenn and that's how we formed the band.
   MS: What kind of music was Glenn into when you first met him?
   JO: I don't know if you know a band called the Adverts?
   MS: Yeah!
   JO: He was into the Adverts, he was into Generation X. We were all into
the Damned, along those lines - basically British punk.
   MS: What first got you into punk rock.
   JO: Well, I just liked it, y'know? I was always a big Ramones fan. We
used to go down to CBGB's and stuff to see the Ramones - at the time they
just had one single out. I wasn't hard right away to just grasp the concept.
You looked at them and said, "Hey these guys are bad, but we're fuckin'
badder than this!" You know what I mean?
   MS: Right away, what was the sound of the original Misfits, when you
first formed?
   JO: The sound of the Misfits was very Talking Heads-ish, Devo-type sound,
I'd say - with keyboards at the time. It was just bass, keyboards and drums.
We didn't have the image yet. We really didn't know what we were doing yet;
we were feeling our way in. But we got out there and did it and we played
our first show, I think it was April 18th at CBGB's.
   MS: Were you opening for somebody?
   JO: It was actually like an audition night.
   MS: What was your set like to start? Was it stuff that Glenn had written?
   JO: yeah, it was stuff like "She," "Cough/Cool"... "Bullet" was written,
'cos Glenn actually had "Bullet" written six years before the band. A lot of
the earlier stuff Glenn had ideas for and he was workin' on it for awhile,
but it didn't really jell until it came to be. I mean idea are great until
get 'em put down and worked out  and you work a little bit of a buzz about
them, and then they become something tremendous - as opposed to just a good
idea, y'know?
   MS: How long after the band first started did you do the first single?
   JO: Not long at all. It actually came out in like June. Glenn was a
stickler at getting in there right away with something. Me, I'm more of a
sit back and prepare and practice and get things ready kinda guy. He was
like, "Hey, let's just go." The good thing about just goin', you get a
little bit of experience of playing shows and stuff like that. But at the
same time I think it distracted us from what we should've been working on.
We should have sat down and said, hey, we'll work on the band this way, or
we'll work on the band that way. But over the years it found its own way.
Things will find their own way if they're not pushed in a certain direction.

   "Cough/Cool" was a tentative first step. It builds quietly from the
simple pulse of Jerry's bass and Glenn's "electric sync piano," the gaps
being filled up with Manny's complicated drum patterns as the song
progresses. It has a dark, intriguing quality, but Danzig's silk and leather
voice - somewhere between Elvis Presley and Jim Morrison - is the only part
already in place in a record which sounds very different to what the Misfits
would become.
    The B-side, "She," is a step closer, picking up the tempo and letting
Jerry's thumping bass attack give the sparse sound some guts at the bottom
end. Later a guitar track was added to "She," and it is this version which
appears on the Legacy of Brutality album and The Misfits collection.
    500 copies were pressed of the original single, though - as with all
Misfits records - several bootleg versions exist. It caused barely a ripple
on the New York punk landscape, but it was an interesting beginning.

   JO: We switched personnel immediately after the first single. Manny wound
up being a drunk and not practicing. The thing was musically he and I didn't
jell too much. I wasn't an experienced musician, so to say, but at the same
time I knew what was cool to play and what sucked to play. Trying to play
shit that's over your head, when your not good enough to pull it off, sucks.
- y'know what I mean? But that was Manny's attitude, "Hey, let's do
solo's...." I said, "Manny, I'm not interested in playing a fuckin' bass
solo." I don't know if you've ever heard a bass solo, but they're very
boring! (laughter) I mean, I like the bass, but I wouldn't want to sit there
and sit though a bass solo, and I don't think there should be one just so
there's a drum solo, if you catch what I mean! (laughter)
    So we blew off Manny and got this guy Mr. Jim. Then Glenn got off the
keyboards and we brought in this guy Frank Lacotta, whose name is Franche Coma.
    MS: Who was Mr. Jim?
    JO: Jim Catania. He was from Lodi also. He was about the same age as
Glenn in that area.
    Then what happened was, we had a label called blank records - if you
ever notice, "Cough/Cool" came out on Blank. Immediately afterwards, Mercury
Records came out with a Pere Ubu album and put it on a label that they
called Blank. But we already had "Cough/Cool" out and nobody knew about it.
So legally the release of "Cough/Cool" wound up binding us to the name, and
put them in jeopardy of being sued by us - but we had no money to sue 'em!
They came to a compromise where they would buy the name Blank from us for
studio time. So we went in and recorded "Static," "TV Casualty," "Angel
Fuck," "Bullet," "Teenagers From Mars" - a whole album. It was supposed to
be called Static Age with thirteen cuts on it.

    The tracks which would've made up the aborted Static Age album showed
the new, harder-edged Misfits as a band who could easily hold their own
against - or even surpass their contemporaries. In particular, Glenn's
creative songwriting  and powerful, wide-ranging vocal dynamics (check out
the incredible "Come Back" for example) set the Misfits apart from the pack.
     The songs "Static Age" and "TV Casualty" present frightening real-life
portraits of the world, as seen thought the eyes of a new generation of
children raised by the icy blue glow of the television and video screen - a
theme that lay at the core of the Misfits' future direction as B-movie
horror mutants. The horror obsession was already taking form in "Spinal
Remains," "Return of the Fly" and, most importantly, an early version of
"Teenagers From Mars," which portrayed them as nihilistic avenging invaders
from outer space.
    Eight of the Static Age songs can be found on the 1986 Legacy of
Brutality album, although clumsy remixing has obscured some of the group's
power in a drum-heavy balance. This is particularly evident on the otherwise
brilliant "Hybrid Moments," which should be sought out in its original form
(on various boots) to fully appreciate its impact. However, the recordings
do show that by the beginning of 1978 virtually all the pieces were already
in place.

    JO: That stuff was ready to go when Blondie's first album was out, the
Ramone's first or on the way to the second was out. That stuff was already
recorded, but no-one understood what it was y'know what I mean? That was one
of the problems with the band, was that we were too underground.
    MS: Yeah. If that would've come out then, you would've been at the
    JO: Well, the thing was, if it would've come out then, everything
would've moved up five years. We would've been the forerunners of the new
scene, instead of the new scene happening in '87, y'know? That was the main
problem with our band, that we didn't focus and get somebody to sit down and
look at the imagery. But, y'know, we were a band and we were having a good
time, and we could give a fuck, y'know? (laughter) So basically, that was
the problem with it. We had some really great stuff ready to go at the same
time like Generation X's first album came out, but we didn't get an album
out 'til '82, and then it came out on Slash, and they were pushing Fear at
the time. What happened was our thing went right down the tubes. It's
unfortunate, but the Misfits was doomed to drop out once we didn't get that
first project out the door - which is why, in a lot of ways, I'm taking my
time the second time around.

The 4-song Bullet EP (on the band's own Plan 9 label - after Plan 9 from
Outer Space, natch) was, in a way, the Misfits' real debut, consolidating
their transformation from the subtle art-punk sound of "Cough/Cool" into a
roaring, high-speed, guitar driven punk rock band somewhere between the
Ramones and the early Damned. Every song is top notch: "Bullet," an
incredible sex and death fantasy about the JFK assassination set to the fury
of a gale-force hurricane; the stomping, anthemic  "We Are 138"; "Hollywood
Babylon," a sinuous, mood-drenched look at the evil side of Hollywood,
inspired by Kenneth Anger's book, and the snotty, threatening "Attitude,"
with the band proving they could employ melody, and even harmony, without
danger of being called "pop".

    MS: Not long after Bullet the horror image really started, right?
    JO: Yes, as a matter of fact it came in right between Bullet and Horror
Business. That's when I came up with the devilock thing.
    MS: How'd you come up with that?
    JO: Well, at the time when Horror Business was released, I had thus
electric blue hair - not the sissy turquoise color, it was like brand new
denim jeans! (laughs) It was really slick. So I had this thing, my hair
started to grow. What happened was, as it got longer I just kept messin'
with it, so I did this wave thing with it - this tidal wave do. And as it
got longer it just grew down the front. Then we did our hair black and that
was it! Once we got this "Horror Business" thing, all of a sudden we had an
identity. We looked good, and all of a sudden the sound was right.
    MS: What did you use to keep the devilock in place? Hairspray?
    JO: Some hairspray, but in the end I would up using Vaseline, 'cos the
hairspray was really burnin' my eyes.
    MS: In between Bullet and Horror Business you got Bobby Steele and Joey
Image. What was the change? How did it happen?
    JO: The change was that we picked up two local boys from the city who
were more into the scene. We went on the road with Frank and he couldn't
handle the road; it was beyond him. He didn't wanna go on the road, and when
he did he freaked, so we couldn't count on him as a perpetual thing - sorta
"Oh yeah, I expect to be touring with Frank twenty years from now" - 'cos
you couldn't go down the street with him without goin' nuts! (laughs) So
eventually we had to do something about that. At the time I was grooming my
brother. My brother Doyle used to roadie for me. So what happened there was
later, when Doyle was ready, we brought him in. 'Cos Doyle was playin' with
our band when he was in 8th grade - he's younger than me, y'know?
    MS: After you got Bobby and Joey, it was pretty quick that you did the
Horror Business EP?
    JO: Well, that was '78; we banged out a lot of stuff in a short amount
of time. I had to come up with the money for all this stuff - that's what
hurts. I had to get the band financially off the ground; there was no other
source of money. None of the other jerks that played with the band could
come up with the money.
    MS: You were financing the records and all that?
    JO: Yeah. I sacrificed a lot to make the band happen. I could've been
dumpin' my money on things for me, instead of things for the band. But I
guess you learn your lesson the hard way, y'know?

By early 1979, when the Horror Business  EP was released, the evolution of
their ghoulish B-movie image and furious yet tuneful punk sound was
complete. The EP was their strongest performance to date, featuring three
compelling songs; the treacherous, careening title track, which featured
imagery from Hitchcock's Psycho ("You don't go in the bathroom with me...I'll
put a knife right in you"); a new, faster, tougher "Teenagers From Mars";
and the desperate "Children in Heat."
    According to the record's insert: "On February 28, 1979, the Misfits and
a mobile recording unit entered an abandoned haunted house in northern New
Jersey. They recorded and left. While mixing the tapes back at a NYC
recording studio, strange voices and noises were heard in the background. No
explanation of these sounds could be given by the band or recording crew."
    I asked Jerry the story behind  the haunted recording session...

    MS: So Horror Business - that was recorded in a haunted house?
    JO: That's shit! (laughter)
    MS: What's the story behind that then.
    JO: What happened was, there was a weird sound on there, and we didn't
know where the hell it came from. So we said, "What are we gonna do? Are we
gonna remix it?" I said, "Well, I don't got no more money. This is it. You
gotta like what you got." We thought about it, and we thought, we don't want
everybody to think we're a bunch of jerks. So I think I mentioned it, "Let's
just say it was recorded in a haunted house. Everybody'll love that!" (laughter)
    MS: I kinda expected there was an element of bullshit involved.!
    JO: Well, there actually was weird shit on there. We were just covering
up for that.
    MS: You mean the noises at the end of "Teenagers From Mars"?
    JO: Yeah, might be. It sounds weird. I don't even remember exactly what
it was, but that was my answer to the problem, rather than giving more money
to do it again.
    MS: I heard Glenn claims he played guitar on that record?
    JO: According to what I heard, Glenn goes around telling everybody that
he re-recorded all the tracks on the guitar so he can say he doesn't owe
anybody any money. Now on "Horror Business" you may be right 'cos I don't
know if Bobby knew how to play it. He may have, but Glenn's not a really
good guitar player, to be honest with you. He can fake his way through a
Buddy Holly song or something like that, but as far as being a guitar
player, he's not. He comes up with some halfway decent chords that are
offbeat, like the beginning of "Earth A.D." and shit like that. But he's not
a good guitar player.
    So there was a point down the road where Glenn was going, "Oh, I'm going
back into the studio to re-record everybody's guitars and everybody's
basses." Why? Has he got nothin' better to do?
    MS: Well, you'd be able to tell if he re-did your bass parts, right?
    JO: I heard one that he claimed... and I heard my bass right on there, so
I know that's just a lot of shit. But my lawyer says it doesn't matter what
he does. He can shit on the tapes if he wants, so... you know what I mean?
(laughter) It's past history, so he can do whatever he wants.
    MS: What happened between Horror Business and Night of the Living Dead?
    JO: Pretty much dead wood, local gigs. At the time we were in the scene
- what would be like the New York punk scene. Between projects and between
big gigs, there's lot's of running around. Your going out to clubs and
seeing other bands. Your hangin' here, your hangin' there. Everybody would
go see the Clash if they came to town, or the Jam. That was pretty much our
boppin' around time. That's when we had Bobby and Joey in the band. They
were local boys, they used to hang around the city all the time. You didn't
have to drag them out to go out; you'd run into them.
    MS: When this was goin' on, you guys were still workin' day jobs?
    JO: Oh yeah. Except Glenn. Glenn Doesn't work, he never did. That was
one of the problems we had too. The thing was, he wouldn't have respect for
what anyone was doing, because he didn't know what it was to get the fuck
out to work.

The next record, in October 1979, was another 3-song 7" on Plan 9. Night of
the Living Dead continued where Horror Business left off, although this time
the performances were a little rougher. The title track allied a great
singalong melody with fantastic lyrics that mixed comic book humor with
gory, ultra-violent images:

"Stumble in somnabulance
Pre-dawn corpses come to life
Armies of the dead survive
Armies of the hungry ones
Only-ones, Lonely ones
Ripped up like shredded wheat
Only-ones, Lonely ones
Be a sort of Human Picnic..."

On the B-side, "Where Eagles Dare" includes the timeless chorus hook, "I
ain't  no goddamn son-of -a-bitch - you better think about it baby!", while
the band's sense of fun ran amok on an anarchic rave-up version of "Rat
Fink," kidnapped from an Allan Sherman B-side.

    MS: Night of the Living Dead was the first Misfits record that was the
title of a horror movie - and there was a lot of 'em after that. You guys
were real big on horror movies?
    JO: Oh Yeah! And that was when the band was really at it's best, to be
honest with you. The band was really crankin' at at that point, 'cos that's
what it was: it was a '50's horror band. If we would've marketed it that
way, we could've done very well.
    MS: Whose idea was it to do Allan Sherman's song "Rat Fink" on that EP?
    JO: Well, we were all into models at the time - those Big Daddy Roth
models - So we figured we'd cover it. At the time, we were all into wearing
Rat Fink shirts and things like that. I didn't like that cover that much. It
could've been a lot better. Bobby Steele's guitar sounds like shit - the
playing on it. But what are you gonna do? In my opinion we could've done a
better job of it.
    MS: In '79 you toured England with the Damned...
    JO: Yeah, that was a hell of a lot of bullshit. The thing is, I don't
like workin' for people - I don't know if you get that about me. I'd rather
work for myself and struggle along than hive myself a bad attitude because
somebody's tellin' me what to do.
    In England we ran into a lot of trouble - a lot of people bossin' you
and shit, and fuckin' with your sound, tryin' to make you sound stupid so
the Damned would look better, you know what I mean?
    MS: Was that the Damned personally or their road crew or...?
    JO: Their whole management, you know what I mean? They were just a bunch
of fuckin' jerks followin'...Nothing against the guys, but at the same time,
they have no authority to say whether the bus is gonna turn fuckin' left or
it's gonna turn right. When we're getting fucked over, nobody's got a say -
and that's what aggravates the piss outta  me. If I'm in a band, record
company's gonna work for me (laughs), and that's the different attitude I
have about the situation . So we got shit on. They burned us on money. And
we're in England! Don't go fuckin' burnin' the band on money when they're in
another country! 'Cos you can't do nothin'. It's not like I could pick up
the phone and call my lawyer.
    MS: What was the reaction as far as the crowd ?
    JO: Er...they were a bunch of assholes. (laughs) If I caould find the
plug, I'd pull it out and let the island sink! (laughter) At the time, it
was a bunch of little kids who were gettin' into spittin' and throwin' shit
at you. You ran into a lot of these clowns, y'know ?
    MS: Do you think  there was some hostility because you were Americans?
    JO: Yeah, there was that too.
    MS: So what happened with the tour ?
    JO: We walked off the tour because, see, the guy was supposed to pay me
$100 a night for the band , for 25 shows in 28 days. That was 25 hundred
bucks - the whole tour came down to money. So I worked day and night to get
the money from my old man to pay for everybody's plane ticket to England. I
didn't even get to practice for three fuckin' weeks before I left. I wanted
to go to England with my shit together, and that was one thing I was
deprived of, I think. So we got there, and we played two or three shows, and
the guy - he was handling Motorhead at the time, and he was handling the
Damned - he fucked us on the money. He said, "Well, basically, I'm not
payin' you guys." And were in the middle of fuckin' Northern England
somewhere. And we just said "Oh, pretty easy FUCK YOU !" (laughs) And we
split. We walked off the tour. 'Cos we weren't gonna play for nothin'. I
wasn't gonna let this guy fuck us over. So we split.

----to be continued--------