METAL MANIACS, 6/96 ------------------- Are They MISFITS?? by Tomas Pascual Black Sabbath, Venom, and their offspring didn't have an exclusive on the market when it came to macabre and satanic imagery in music. Punk rock, more commonly associated with anarchist politics and beer swigging lyrics, had a black sheep of its own. I'm referring to the Misfits, of course, organized on N.J. soil in 1977. Founding member, bassist Jerry Only, recounts the band's early history:"THE STATIC AGE" was our first album, recorded in January of 1978 with Franga (sic) Coma on guitar, Mr. Jim on drums, me on bass and Glenn Danzig on vocals. We did 17 songs in that recording, all of them are classic songs like 'Angelfuck,' 'Attitude,' 'Return of the Fly,' and 'Static Age,' it goes on and on. That was the first thing we did. At that time, we brought it to all the major labels who have offices in Manhattan and everyone laughed and closed the door on us. No one wanted to hear it." A good portion of the unreleased albums's songs later appeared on the LEGACY OF BRUTALITY LP, but as Jerry is quick to point out,"those songs appeared on LEGACY, but not the versions from the STATIC AGE recording. Glenn went over my bass on the LEGACY LP. I'm not on half that stuff." THE STATIC AGE was re-mastered during this past summer and will be out in early '96 as part of an upcoming Misfits box. Jerry's right hand man and Misfits' staple, Doyle had landed in the band's guitar ranks by 1982's WALK AMONG US. Jerry explains,"When the STATIC AGE alvum was not picked up, we had songs coming along like, 'I Turned into a Martian,' and 'Hate- breeders,' '20 Eyes,' amd 'Night of the Living Dead.' That was what we were working on at the time. Being that we were very into what we were doing at the time, we kind of let STATIC AGE slip through the cracks. We contacted Slash Records in California. Slash Records had Stiff from England and other alternative punk type of music, so we hit them with a proposal: we had a recorded LP and would they put it out? The WALK AMONG US LP is in my opinion the finest Misfits LP to date, until STATIC AGE. WALK AMONG US was recorded with Doyle and Arthur Googy on drums, which is really the backbone of the existing Misfits catalogue. You had STATIC AGE, which was a bookend and you had EARTH AD as the other bookend. All the WALK AMONG US material and everything else was stuffed in between. EVILIVE was like a live WAU album, and featured Henry Rollins on a song. The last thing we did were the EARTH A.D. sessions, which the DIE,DIE MY DARLING EP came out of as well. EARTH A.D. was the last thing we did with (drummer)Robo in the band. That lineup did only the one record and only lasted about a year and a half with Robo, before the band broke up in 1983." Glenn Danzig went on to form Samhain which later transformed into Danzig, but the Misfits had ended. Jerry explains,"I didn't want the Misfits to do EARTH A.D. Part Two...like FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 14. I didn't want to just keep something alive for the sake of it. We sat around a lot at the time and thought there wasn't enought absorption for us to really take an accurate shot at coming back and presenting the band in the way it should be. Sometimes there is more to be said for making a strong comeback that is well thought out then there is for just continuing for the sake of hanging in there." Ironically, the Misfits earned the vast majority of their fans after they broke up. First, the defunct band were the beneficiaries of repeated plugs by Metallica in the days of their first major successes. Then Metallica covered "Last Caress" and "Green Hell" on their GARAGE DAYS EP. Jerry acknowledges, "They made us! Metallica may have brought in six out of every 10 Misfits fans, but at the same time, once they listened to us they could have thrown it down and said, 'fuck this.' It was a matter of being shown it." This, in addition to Danzig's solo breakthrough, after the musical shift from the apocalyptic punk of Samhain, fueled the Misfits myth and generated interest. Therefore, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that they've recently gotten back together. What is surprising is that they would attempt such a feat without their original vocalist, the main-man Danzig. Jerry explains, "We got the rights to the name in January of 95 and by March we were plotting the reformation. We had a drummer, but we didn't have a singer, and now we do have a singer. We are the exclusive owners of the name on a performing level. We share the joint rights to the name with Glenn for merchandising." Legalities aside, the Misfits deliberated on a couple of different routes when it came to filling their vocal ranks. Jerry elaborates, "The first person we offered the position to was Glenn. We said to ourselves, 'look, we're men now, you have something like 200,000 fans out there' so obviously he was the number one pick to reform the Misfits with. We went to Manhattan to ask Glenn if he was interested in fronting the band. We located him and went to ask him in person, we didn't want to ask him through a bunch of red tape. We went to his door, and knocked and fifteen minutes later security came and walked us out of the hotel. So we took that as a no. so Glenn was our first choice, but he said no. Then [the Damned's] Dave Vanian is someone we had toured with in 1978 right after we lost the STATIC AGE band. I thought he was an excellent performer because he had his own style, which would separate him from Glenn, and he had a very good stage presence. He came from one of the forerunners of punk bands, the Damned, which is probably the closest comparison to the Misfits I would say. So, he was our second choice and we contacted him in May, about a month after talking to Glenn. Dave dragged us along for about six months up until Halloween when we were supposed to do some special surprise gigs during Type O Negative encores. At the very end, he declined the position and said it wasn't something he would be able to keep up with." At the same time that Vanian ws stringing them along, the Misfits were working with a young, 20 year old singer, a fellow Jerseyite named Michael(sic)Graves. Jerry explains,"Mike was working real hard with us until the beginning of the summer, and then when it looked like Dave might be coming along Mike slacked off a little bit, but he came back in the fall after we figured Dave was a lost hope. The way we look at it is, Michael (sic) is a little green and we know that, but at the same time he is 20 years old and has the physical capacity to last for an hour of Misfit tunes. Mike did come through for us on Halloween." The Misfits' big comeback materialized over the course of three short surprise performances between October 30 and 31st, two of which were during Type O Negative encore. The Poughkeepsie show on the 30th went well and further fueled anticipation for the big sold-out NY date in front of over 3,500 people on Halloween. Disaster would befall the New Misfits that night, however, as they ended up playing most of the set without much guitar sound coming from the speakers and with what little sound they did manage drenched in feedback. It was a total mess which left most of the crowd staring, bewildered. "We learned we can never use someone else's equipment. We played Russian roulette with five bullets, it was genocide. The crowd was marvelous though. Even through we didn't come out in the grandeur that the world had expected, we showed we had a lot of guts," Jerry confidently points out. Later that evening, at about 3:00 am, they did another gig on St. Marks (intended to be the STATIC AGE listening party) where things went better musically. Mike Graves does exhibit an uncanny likeness to Danzig's early vocals with the Misfits, but will that be enough? Will fans accept them without Danzig? "They're going to give us all the shit they possible can," Jerry believes. "They still can't stop us. If we work with Mike he is going to grow into the best singer we could find anywhere. I'm looking at this on a longterm perspective." The Misfits rehearse in a secluded NJ barn, decked out in full ghoul gear. All 53 of their songs, Jerry claims, can be done in an hour and a half. "We're out in a cold freezing barn, it is probably 25 degrees and we're out there doing our full set, in full coats practicing. We open with 'Halloween' and we end with 'Wolf's Blood' but we do them without stopping. We figure if we can do all of them every day, it won't kill us when we have to do them live. We're doing the ROCKY thing. we've got Europe and Japan planned and then we'll do the States around the fall." The Misfits plan on performing their entire [ends paragraph here] The Misfits have addionally incorporated the Kryst song "Dr.Phibes Rises Again" into a TV pilot they've shot (?!) titled THE NEW CHILLER THEATRE PRESENTS which showcases B-movies. They've got about four new songs they're working on and the earliest we can expect to see a new LP is late May. "Putting new material out any sooner would be competing against ourselves and will only confuse people. Since there is the compilation Danzig put out in November, and our coffin box set will be out around February," Jerry explains. Jerry has a woking title for that project, but refuses to let the cat out of the bag. He claims, "I've noticed every time I send out a letter through the Fiend Club everyone steals my quotes. Bon Jovi's got a new album titled 'Keep the Faith,' and I used to write 'Keep the Faith,Jerry Only.' I gave Metallic a tape with a song called 'Whereever I Roam,' they then come out with a song called 'Wherever I May Roam.' You tell me?" They were'nt going to put out an album called 'New Jersey,' we hope? Jerry laughingly replies,"No." KRYST THE CONQUEROR After the Misfits broke up, Jerry and Doyle formed a metal band during the late '80s named Kryst the Conqueror, which was somewhat of a cross between Manowar and Judas Priest. If they stuck to it, they could have possibly toured with Grim Reaper or even Thor. Jerry explains, "That was me and Doyle going off on different writing styles. When the Misfits broke up we said, now that Glenn is gone we're going to have to write songs. So we wrote songs from a guitar player's standpoint. We looked at really great riffs that we thought sounded good. Kryst the Conqueror had 13 songs written in 9 months. It's a side step from the Misfits style. We kinda made a list of all the singers we liked in the industry and picked Jeff Scott Soto and he said he would do the job. But he was more into commercial type music than the heavy metal warrior we were looking for as a singer. We managed to record the album and put out the DELIVER US FROM EVIL EP in 89. I still want to put out the album, but it does not apply to the Misfits. UNDEAD Guitarist Bobby Steele was in the Misfits for about three seconds before getting into a dispute with Glen(sic)and Jerry, after which he ws booted from the band. He then formed the Undead, which always boasted 'featuring ex-Misfits guitarist.' The Undead released about three albums on Bobby's Post Mortem label, but had a difficult time keeping band members and even went as far as to perform numerous times without any other members, leaving Bobby standing center stage with a guitar backed only by a drum machine.