CHILLER #3 THEATRE, P.64-75, October 1995 ----------------------------------------- I AM MISFIT by Al Ryan AN INTERVIEW WITH JERRY ONLY Interview conducted with Jerry Only on 1/23/95 by Al (A.J.) Ryan Borrowing the title from Marilyn Monroe's last film, they named themselves and set off to create their first record. Armed with an early Casio keyboard, a bass, drums, and a formidable voice, Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only and Manny composed their first single. At that time, neither one could have guessed what legacy they would launch with that primitive record, and were soon to slam an enormous dent into the world of music like no other band in history ever had. Yes, I ain't talking Bon Jovi, Frank Sinatra, or Da Boss, I'm talking about those coffin-hoppin' fiends, The Misfits-- a baneful pack of rebels that put New Jersey on the map with a bloody smear, and made us damn proud. I once wrote that The Misfits were The Ramones from green hell: having the same poppish, but still raw and progressive rock sound, with catchy lyrics, and rarely did they ever surpass the thunder of 3 or 4 chords. But The Misfits possessed an additional ingredient that was stirred into their ominous brew: on the whole, they sang about horror and horror movies. What set them apart from others in the past who had tried anf failed, was that they didnt' sound corny or stupid. And not only were they more effective than their predecessors, but song after song, they maintained a consistency that never leuded them. In general, they weren't considered "juvenile" with their slick, dyed-black hair and deviocks, black greasepaint under the eyes, and skull motifed clothes and guitars. Maybe it's because there was such an abundance of demonstrative passion set behind what they were doing-- or maybe it's simply because they were so damn serious about having fun, and singing about the subject they enjoyed most. The difficulty with others who have written articles on The Misfits in the past were that, for the most part, what they wrote was simply wrong, but not at the fault of the writers: they had no better sources than the rumors and lies to work with. What has worsened this situation is the man who created and fueled the genius behind The Misfits; Glenn Danzig. With the success of his third band, Danzig, for whatever the reason, he refuses to speak about The Misfits-- the band that, whether he likes it or not, assisted to get him where he is now. One reason for his silence could have quite a bit to do with, when together The Misfits, by and large, were ignored and/or spat on by record companies and music publications. For years now, it appears that Glenn has been content to watch the disbanded Misfits grow stronger from a distnace, leave them dead, but still, I believe, quietly proud of what he accomplished way back when. Well, that time has ended. Don't turn around, Glenn or even you may feel a hint of dread. The Misfits have not only returned, but they've returned, and ... without you. For this article and interview I went to a different source, a man that was there from the very beginning when The Misfits were named, and became an established band. What you'll be reading is the truth as told by the friendly, intelligent, and most excited and energetic person that I could ever recall meeting, Jerry Only. He's sworn to tell us the way it was and is, and clear up any untruths that have been floating around for a long time. Also, Jerry allowed me to go through and pick what I wanted from his personal scrap book. What you'll see are some of the earliest and rarest photos of The Misfits that were never published before. Al: Let's start from the very beginning. How did you and Glenn meet? Jerry: Glenn and I met through a mutual friend who lived in Lodi, Manny. Manny was the first Misfits drummer. He told me that Glenn was looking to put a band together. Once I hooked up with Glenn, we decided we wanted to work together. Al: What year was that? And who were the original members? Jerry: It was March, 1977. At the time, the only members in the band were Glenn, Manny, and myself. Al: How old were you and Glenn at the time? Jerry: I was 17, and Glenn was 21, or 22. Al: What kind of families did you both come from? Is it true that you, Doyle, and Glenn were demented children? Jerry: (A hardly laugh) A lot of people think that, but no, no, not really. There were never any real problems. Glenn, Doyle and I came from your average middle class, suburban New Jersey families. My dad's a machinist, and Glenn's Dad's a television repairman. I did get locked up a few times with The Misfits, but it was more like good clean fun. Al: What was the first official Misfits release? Jerry: The first Misfits single was Cough/Cool. We released it in the late spring, early summer of 1977. Al: How many were pressed, and on what label? Jerry: We put out only 500 copies, and it was on our record label called, Blank Records. The single had "Cough/Cool" on one side, and "She" on the other. That was a pre-guitar recording. Both songs had Glenn playing keyboard, and I, of course, played bass. Looking back at it now, it was all right for the time, but it was a rush job. I suggested that we should wait, and do something else, but Glenn felt that it was worth our time. He wanted to show the gigs that we were booking that we had something substantial to offer to press that point that we weren't just another band from around town trying to get a gig to pay our rent. That we were a band that was taking things very seriously, and wanted to move up the chain to bigger and better things. Al: Who came up with the art (The Crimson Ghost) as a symbole for the band? Jerry: At the time, Glenn and I started a tee-shirt company. It was called, "Horror House." What we wanted to do was go into Manhattan, and sell different monster shirts that we thought were cool... just to make some extra money. One day, Glenn and I were thumbing through a bunch of monster magazines looking for new tee-shirt ideas, and we stumbled across The Crimson Ghost. We placed the Misfits log over him, and it just worked. Al: Do you have any original Misfits singles? They're worth a fortune. Jerry: Nah, all my stuff's gone. I gave it all away. Kids would hear the band practicing, and they would bang on my front door, and say, 'Hey, we heard your band! You guys sounded great!' So I"d pull out a "Horror Business" sign it, and give it away. Personally, we didn't get to keep much. It wasn't like we got 100 copies apiece for each guy in the band... it was more like three or four, and after a period of time, the stuff disappears. But it all went into good hands. Al: What was Glenn like offstage? As a friend? Jerry: I'll be totally honest with you, Glenn was like an older brother to me. I watched his back, and he'd watch mine. If anybody fought with one of us, they fought us both. And many times, you know, it came down to that. Al: How was he to work with as a performer? Jerry: Glenn was very opinionated. And he wasn't easily swayed. If he felt strong about something, it was hard to make him bend. So, in some ways, he was hard to work with. But he wasn't lazy, and he was very progressive. In the band, he held up his corner, and sometimes even more than that. And I was the same way. Al: Who came up with the Devilock which became one of the stand-out looks of the band? Jerry: I did. At the time, as far as the look of the band, we looked like, well, I wouldn't say British punk. But we did have the standard leather jackets... we all wore the pointed shoes or motorcycle boots that came from England. As far as the hair, Glenn wore his straight down over his face. My hair was dyed blue, I had it choppy, but standing up. Now, as my hair started to get longer, I began combing it into this tidal wave. Back then, we used to call it a tyra-(tyrannosaurus Rex) do. What wound up happening was, it kept growing and growing, and eventually, it got down to my nose. And I thought, wow, this really looks great. And after that, the rest of the guys just followed. So as far as the image or look of the band, Doyle and I pretty much had that locked down. The guitars, the devilocks, all that stuff. Al: More so than Glenn. Jerry: Yes, but Glenn, being the superb vocalist and song writer that he is, was able to hold his own with these two pillars of horror; Doyle and myself, on each side of him. Al: It was a totally different look. Jerry: Exactly! It's like a DA (duck's ass) with this huge wave that goes down to a point. It wound up being a cool look because it had the elements of a slick 50's look that separated us from the whole British punk scene. We didn't want to be tied to them in any way. Al: Why? Jerry: The reason was because British Punk were kids with an attitude problem. American punk was, or is, kids without an attitude problem... it's just kids that are really into great music. It's kind of a different world because in England, it was a social statement. Over here, it had nothing to do with society. Al: In your opinion, what country had more of an impact on the music industry? Jerry: I think the American punk was more devastating to the music industry than the English and it's still progressing. The British punk just came and went because, right from the very beginning, it was on a road to ruin. And the reason for that was simple--it was an unstable element. And it was only a matter of time before that unstable element self-destructed. Billy Idol fluffed out. And Johnny Rotten, well, I said before and I'll say it again, he was and still always be an asshole. Al: What's the true story about Bobby Steele? Why was he ejected from The Misfits? If you don't want to answer, that's... Jerry: ... no, I do. It's just that now, I've got nothing, bad to say about Bobby. Al: One rumor is that you wanted Doyle, your brother, up there on stage instead of him? Jerry: There's no truth to that at all. I'll admit, I was grooming Doyle from day one. That's a fact. He was always going to be my guitar player somewhere down the line. He used to come on road for me when he was only 13 years old. He was with The Misfits, pretty much, from the day we started. What happened with Bobby was, at that time, he was supposed to track The Misfits Three Hits from Hell. Back then, we liked to record our songs all in one take. We'd all stand in the same room, and do it live. That's how we were gauged to record. The problem was, if one person didn't show up on time, you're limited to what you could get done. So we'd be there, doing what we could, stuck without a guitar player, and Bobby would roll in hours late saying that the trains were late, or that he had to wait for this guy to show up, or he head to go do this, or had to do that. Now because he was late, we'd have to wait around for him to warm up, to loosen up and get his amp sourding right. The the time he got his amp sounding right, he just wasn't loose playing at all. He would stop halfway through a take because he couldn't keep up witht he rest of us, and we would have to start all over again. So since he was falling behind the rest of us, I told Doyle that he might as well start practicing. And what would up happening was, Doyle's tracks were coming through a lot cleaner and a lot better than Bobby's tracks were. So it finally came to the point where I had to say, "Hey, I'm paying for the studio time, let's go with what sounds better, and that was Doyle. It's true that I used the excuse that he couldn't jump out of a coffin to throw him out of a band only becuase I didn't have the heart to tell him that the real reason was because he was constantly screwing up. Looking back now, yeah, it was a lame excuse, but I was trying to spare his feelings. But see, Al, my poit is now, I don't want to argue with Bobby. And I really hope that he does well for himself. Hey, Bobby can even open a show for us, I don't care. He thought that after he left the band, that we (The Misfits) were telling club owners not to book him, not to deal with him, and to be 100% honest with you, that's just... not... true. People might have told him that, for what reasons? I don't know. I have no idea. But believe me, it's just not true. Al: What do you think of The Undead? Jerry: I'll tell you what I think--he stole the name from me! Check this out. One night, while he was still in the band, Bobby and I were hanging by my house, and I told him that I was thinking about starting a side project with Dave Vanian from, The Damned. Not to leave The Misfits, but to do something different. You see, at the time, the guys in The Damned were screwing Dave around big time, playing gigs behind his back and keeping the money. So I wanted to put out this album, or mabye a four song EP, release it on Plan 9 Records and call it, The 1980 Undead. Becuase it was 1980 then, and when Bobby was asked to leave The Misfits, he used the name Undead. I can even show you on my leather jacket. I have The Misfits on the top, and I had The Undead on the bottom. So after he did that to me I said I better scrap this Undead s**ty off. But if you look close, you can still see it. But that's old now, and I truly hope Bobby does well for himself because I know he enjoys his music. Al: That Undead 1980 project. Is that when, or the reason why, Glenn wrote the song "Archangel?" I read that he wrote it for Dave Vanian, but I wasn't sure why. Jerry: Yes, Glenn wrote the song for him, and we (The Misfits) did it great. Dave came over my house, and Glenn sang it for him. Then Dave sang it, and its ounded great. So I told him that when he gets back to The States, we'll record it, but he never came back. Al: Dave's a great performer. What about the rumor that you want him as the new lead singer of The Misfits? Jerry: That's no rumor. I'm trying to get him right now. He was my first choice. Why? Because I think he can get the job done. Does he want to do it? Well, Dave wants to do more of that gothic stuff. So I told him, Dave, why don't you run with us, get The Misfits off the ground, and if you want to do your own side projects, I don't care. Do whatever you want. Join The Misfits... even if it's just for our come back tour. So that's what we're discussing right now. We'll have to wait and see what happens with that. Al: So until Dave or somebody joins the band, you're just really noisy without a singer? Jerry: You got it. Al: People used to say you guys never practiced. Is that true? Jerry: Al, I've heard that so many f***ing times and I"ve got to say, that's bulls**t! The Misfits used to practice all the God damn time. In the Winter, in my cellar freezing with smoke coming out of our mouths--in the summer baking in 90 degree heat until we almost died. We were really taking ourselves serious, but at the same time, we didn't take the business end of it seriously at all. The attitude of the music and the whole scene was-- who gives a s**t about the business. Al: Where did you get your influences from? Or what are some of your favorite bands, and why? Jerry: I liked The Sex Pistols and people like that, but my favorite band was Generation X. They had it all, and I'll tell you this, I'd like to punch Billy Idol right in the face for breaking up that band. Because without them, he s**ks. He's all leather and buls**t now. His music is all this slow, throbbing S&M theme--f**k that s**t. Billy lost touch with what was really going on. He was too busy believing his own hype when he should have been paying attention to what was really important, and that was the great sound that they had. I still love that band, "Ready Steady Go", "Kiss Me Deadly," and all that great music. Hey, I know you love them, too, so let's not talk about this anymore. Why break our hearts anymore than they've already been broken. Al: Let's talk about when The Misfits went to England and were supposed to open for The Damned, but it didn't happen. Why? Jerry: Okay, this is when we ran into problems with Dave Vanian. You're right, we were supposed to open for The Damned. It would have been one of our biggest shows. It would have put us in a class that would have helped us headline other places because we were getting opening gigs with big acts. One day, Dave and I got together, and he and I agree that since The Damned were planning to tour England, it would be great if The Misfits opened for them. Later, I get a telegram about three weeks before they needed us over there. So we ran around like a bunch of jerks, got our passports done, and I have to come up with the money for the plane tickets to get us there. When we got there, their manager, Doug Smith, screwed us, and he wouldn't give us the money that we were promised. What happened was, Rat Scabies was producing a band from Ireland, and he put them in our spot. And Dave or nobody went to bat for us, so we wound up walking off the tour. Al: How about the lock-up in England? Did that come next? Jerry: You got it. What happened was, we set up with this guy Derek. He saw us walking down the street, and wanted to be our manager. He was doing some artsy, fartsy, color mag at the time, but he was real interested in us. Since we had no money, and no place to stay, luckily, he owned a bed and breakfast and put us up. It was in the basement... they had three or four bunk-beds in one big room... we had a kitchen, and a bathroom. Al: The Misfits in bunk-beds? Jerry: Scary, I'll tell you that. Now when he put us up, things got kind of boring. We had no money, and nothing to do. When Sid Vicious's mom was here in the States, I had helped her our when she ran into a tragedy. So I called her, and I told her that I was in London, and there's nothing going on. She said she was going to visit a friend, and she's like to take me along, and show mthe sights. Now I told the guys, look, I'm going to Southern England to look at a few things, and all you guys have to do is lay low. I'll be back in a few days and everything should be cool. Now when I left, I didn't think that I had to call and check up on them because they had no money, and no place to go. But what happened was, they got free tickets or something and went to see The Jam over at the Rainbow Theater. Glenn told me that him and Bobby were walking down the street, and he turned around, and told Bobby, he, there's a bunch of skinheads following us, and it looks like they want to start something. The guys came over, and they wanted to start some shit with Glenn. Glenn said he looked for Bobby, for some help, and he was gone. Bobby was like walking the other way down the street. So since there were six or seven skinheads, Glenn grabbed a piece of broken glass from a broken window and the Bobbies grabbed him. Derek wound up getting Glenn out by the time I got back, but he was in an uproar. Glenn said all these British guys in jail were busting on him... saying that they hated Yanks, and all that kind of s**t. Al: Let me guess. That's when and where Glenn wrote "London Dungeon"? Jerry: You got it, pal. And to make it worse, Glenn said that in England, they don't use bars in their cells. They hav this gully, or a trench in the land, and they let badgers and wolverines roam around free. So if you tried to escape, there was a very good chance you'd get eaten. But I know that Glenn and Bobby didn't go out looking for trouble, they just wanted to look around, and see the Jam. We, The Misfits, weren't like that. It was just something that happened. Al: Let's talk about when the Misfits broke up. Your last live show was Halloween of 1983, and shortly thereafter, the band was history. Why didn't you just roll right over into Samhain? Jerry: It kind of wound up the way it was meant to be. When we broke up, Glenn went ahead, and started his own band that he wanted to be the boss of, Samhain. See, The Misfits didn't have a boss... we worked like wild animals. We could not have been governed... we had no sets of rules... we all worked like a pack of wolves... that's how we operated. Each guy was a part of the pack, and each guy had a say. Now with Glenn's newest band, Danzig, a lot of that subsided because of the concept that he's trying to portray. The Misfits only tried to govern our image, where we were going, and we let the music do what it did. And what The Misfits were selling was pure honestly. Now when Glenn and I split, I didn't take care of the business end of it all like I should have which caused this great drought... not being able to go out and perform as The Misfits. So we kinda screwed ourselves instead of saying, look, if Glen''s going out on his own, maybe we should line up the name Misfits. But we figured we'd just pick it up later. And when we went to do that, it was gone, Caroline Records had it. Now, Glenn has cut us loose--he let us have the name back, and we're moving forward. But it took us many years of wasted time to come to this conclusion. Al: Is it true that you were erased off Legacy Of Brutality? IF true, why was this done? To be continued.... In the second half of this interview, Jerry Only discusses the problems that he's had over the years with Glenn Danzig, what the lawsuits were all about, why the Misfits were never paid for their work, what he thinks about Glenn Danzig, and Glenn's band, Ddanzig. Also, he talks about the return of the Misfits, all the new Misfits products, model kits, comic books, new but previously unreleased original Misfits CDs, and much more. ( All photos courtesy of Jerry Only, Doyle, & Al Ryan) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- MISFIT MODELS by Al Ryan The Jerry Only Model kit, Earth A.D. and Pushead Wall Plaques. From tee-shirts to singles to stickers to albums and posters, there has always been a fine line as to what Misfits merchandise is authentic or bootlegged. Now with the recent re-establishment of the band, that problem has been solved. From the early designs, sculpting, packaging, and final creation, The Misfits are possibly the only band who have their hands directly into the production of their many new projects. When discussing them with Jerry Only, he said that The Misfits are completely committed to marketing nothing but the very best for their fiends, and believe me, he means it. The Jerry Only model kis is their first release and it's incredible. Slightly larger than 1/5-scale, this beast of a model is composed of solid, cold cast porcelain and white epoxy resin. Teh body stands 14 inches tall and is 5 pieces, including the devilock and the skull for his back collar. They also provide you with the most famous ghost of them all, the Crimson Ghost's face, as teh flat base. The bass guitar is 14 inches in length, and is an exact replica of the monster Jerry's been banging at for years, right up to the famous skull found at the head stock. If that wasn't enough, you get three sizes of real metal spikes (99 small, 18 large, 44 medium, with plenty of extras), a real leather guitar strap, real guitar strings, and krimp beads to hold the strings in place. For those sticklers for detail to the original crature (Jerry), it's 100% from the boots, to the leather jacket painting (scribed on the back), and I can't help but say this, don't fret, the bats and skulls are carved in there, too. The instructions are easy to follow, with clear and informative photographs that take you from the beginning to the final placement of the figure. Painting suggestions and an easy-to-cut guitar strap are also included. The steel studs are easy to glue in place since the holes have been perfectly drilled and/or sculpted to each size. My only suggestion is that since this kis is large and relatively heavy, you might want to drill holes in the feet and into the base, and attach the body with dowels, or use clearn A & B epoxy putty. The kit calls for 1/16 of an inch pin striping tape (not included) for the horn of the guitar, and where it attaches to the guitar strap. This tape can be found at car supply stores like R&S. Get 3M's Scotchcal 1/16IN X 40 FT black. It'll cost you less than three bucks a roll and one roll should do it. If you have to order, it's # 70102 CPII NSA 4/black. Even though the tape details has been sculpted into the horn, and you could easily affix the strap without it, I'd still go out and get the tape, it's inexpensive and adds an overall nice touch of realism. Depending on your model building skills, I would rate this model easy to moderate. The only problem that I came across was the placement of the guitar in conjunction with the arms if you epoxy the arms the way they should go. The left amr needs to be moved up, so play around with the placement like I should have, and you won't have to pull the arms off. The body was sculpted by the skullful hands of Bill Paquet who did the sensational "Scanners" kit, and the Crimson Ghost by Jerry and Doyle's older brother and manager, Rock. The bass guitar was crafted by Jerry Only himself. Each kit comes with a certificate of authenticity, signed, numbered, and officially stamped. I tried every possible reason to cut a skull or at least half a skull off of the rating (one out of four) but I have to give this kit four screaming skulls. The kit doesn't really have any down sides, and they went to too much trouble to satisfy model builders and Misfits fans, which is something that some (really most) companies don't bother with these days. I recently found out that, for future kits that will probably be rady to ship by the time this article finds print, they've already fixed the problems with the arms that I mentioned above. What more could you ask for? Shawn McLaughlin of Death, Inc., shoul dbe commended for a fine job on the casting- not much flash, and the seams are almost nonexistent. The major down side to the kit is only 200 are being produced. That's just not enough to go around. So if you'r ejust a model collector, or a true, fiend, you better act fast. The kit retails for $150.00 and it's worth it. Order now, because this kit will cost you a fortune down the line. One last minute 'safety tip.' The spikes that come with the Jerry kit are as sharp as needles. So take care. If my fingers could talk they'd be cursing! When you have all the spikes on the model, it's like handling a porcupine. The art the Misfits chose in the past was always B movie-ish, and quite non-offensive, but the same can't be said for the infamous Earth A.D. painting by the not-as-famous-as-he-should-be, Mad Marc Rude. With that, older brother Rock returns, but this time instead of a simple flat base, he's sckupted the ultra detailed Earth A.D. wall plaque. This 18"x18" three dimensional resin piece is about as 100% faithful replica of the Misfits last album as you can get. And for you demented types, all guts, kulls, Misfits, headless angels, as well as our friend the Crimson Ghost, are there. The Earth A.D. plaque is indeed magnificent. If any of you have seen the art, you know how much time and work went into this sculpture. Again, four screaming skulls. It's priced at a very low $50.00. If you can't paint, I'd suggest you have them (The Misfits) '60 year old brass or copper' it for an extra $15.00. I've seen the brass version at the last Chiller Theatre Expo, and that would be my pick. Yet again older brother Rock returns, but this time instead of the ultra detailed Earth A.D. wall plaques he's sculpted The Misfits Pushead wall plaque, which will be available as soon as this cult-hero artist okay's its production. You've probably seen this one on the back cover of the infamous Die, Die My Darling EP: it's the skull guy who has popped out his eye, and would like you to see it. Scheduled to retail at 75 bucks, it measures at 14"x17" and is one inch thick. This plaque is a more in-your-face shock- style sculpture. Though it isn't as detailed as Earth A.D., it's an important relic of Misfits history, and is worth picking up. Rock did a great job, three and a half skulls. The new kits coming soon are Doyle (that should be frightening) and 'Misfits Skeleton in Robe' (aka The Crimson Ghost). It's about time this guy is finally being created, and the fnial touches are being sculpted as I write by the gifted Phil Bracco, whose other work includes Boris Karloff from "The Raven," and the monsters "It Came From Beneath The Sea." I got a chance to see the clay version and it is stunning. Call or write to: Saber Models, P.O. Box 310, Vernon, NJ 07462 201-764-3700 or fax your order to 201-764-6718.