POPsmear, Spring 1998 ---------------------- A day inside the Chiller Theatre Convention, Spring '98... By Peter Megler In one of the previous POPsmear issues, James put out a challenge to all publicists. He basically said that POPsmear didn't want to do the standard, monotonous, and generally shitty interviews that you find in scores of other magazines. He wanted something original, something that would really tell the character of the band or musician to the public. Enter Gaspar, publicist of the Misfits, who stepped up to the POPsmear challenge. We would be doing an interview with the Misfits at the Chiller Horror/Sci-Fi Convention in Secaucus, NJ. I had never been to one of these conventions before, because I had the preconceived notion that they were full of social invalids, Trekkies, and overly-obsessed fans that had no other ambition in life but to see how far they could trace back Dr. Spock's family tree. But to tell you the truth I was a bit curious, plus I would get to hang with Jerry Only and Dr. Chud from the Misfits. In case you need a little Misfits refresher course here is the short version. 1.) They are from Lodi, NJ. 2.) They burst onto the punk scene in 1977 and ended up becoming one of the most influential bands of their era. 3.) They broke up in 1983. 3.) Jerry Only and his brother Doyle re-formed the band with Michael Graves who replaced original lead singer Glenn Danzig, and Dr. Chud who took over the drums. 4.) They released, American Psycho, their first album in 15 years in 1997 to a new generation of Misfits. When we walked into the Sheraton Hotel, I immediately saw all of the aforementioned freaks I had expected, and more - but something was different. A man dressed in a GWAR outfit walked by me, and then so did two girls with enormous breasts, wearing bikinis. Now I don't want to sound like Beavis when I say this, but I thought, "This is cool...I get to see GWAR, and hooters...he-he." As I made my way up to the Misfits' room I took in the many sites of the colorful fans eager to meet their favorite B-movie actresses or science-fiction actors and animators. There were full, life-like models of the creatures from Alien and Predator that looked real enough to jump off of their displays, and enough vintage sci-fi memorabilia to fill a stadium (or in this case, a hotel). Finally, we got to the room where the Misfits had set up camp. Amid the groups of Misfits fans fiending for autographs and photos was Jerry Only, dressed in full costume, looking meaner than ever and obliging every single one of them. With his "bad-ass" persona, and wrestler-like build, he could be a very intimidating presence to most people. But what I found was that he is actually a really nice guy, and even goes to church and stuff. After signing one last autograph or two, Jerry and I were off to mull about the convention and do our interview. PS: Jerry, you met Sid Vicious the night that he died. Was it coincidence, or was it due to some sort of evil Misfits spell that you cast on him? JO: Well, I'd hate to think that. It's always funny, when you're alive and when you stop to think of the day you're gonna die, who's gonna be the last person you're gonna see. Unfortunately, this guy saw me last. It's kind of spooky that it happened to be me. The thing that got me in that situation was that he was really positive about what he was doing. He got out of jail and was into karate and all that kind of stuff. It was a shame, but I think it had more to do with the people he hung out with. The coroner's office said that the dope they found (in his system) was almost pure, so they didn't know if somebody set him up or what. I don't think it was suicide because why would he seem so positive when he was talking to me, if he wasn't going to be around the next day? PS: I hope I don't drop dead tonight after meeting you for the first time. JO: I hope not. That would be kind of a freaky thing. PS: So what kind of groupies do the Misfits usually attract? JO: Dr. Chud would probably be the best one to answer that one for you, 'cause he kinda samples them all. PS: You and Glenn Danzig are pretty pumped up guys. Who do you think would win in a fight between you two? JO: I think who could eat the most pancakes would probably be the better question. But, really I don't think of Glenn in that way. We were really good friends. Money and success just changes people, and I'm not gonna let it change me. What he let's happen to him, he let's happen to him. PS: Do you guys still talk? JO: No, not really. I guess we'll always be stuck together throughout the vault of history as starting this band and getting things going, and as friends, we were really good friends and as enemies, we're really good enemies. I moved onto my next question as we wandered by Frank Gorshin, who was the original Riddler from the Batman TV series. He's looking really good for a guy his age. PS: Who's your favorite porn star Jerry? JO: No comment. PS: You guys design your own instruments. Do you have a particular favorite from throughout the years? And do you have a name for it? JO: Well, the bass is called The Devastator and the guitar is called The Annihilator. We copyrighted the images and stuff like that. I have one specific shape that I use and I like, and Doyle has his, they're kind of like a matching set although they're not identical. I really like them because they seem, one, indestructible and, two, the body is made out of rubber so if I hit someone over the head with it they're not gonna get hurt. Also, the neck is made out of graphite and you can virtually play it by itself even without the rubber body surrounding it. I hand assemble the whole thing. Maybe one day when I retire I'll start a guitar company. It's too hard to do it now because everything is custom made so if you have a problem with the guitar you have to go through me to fix it, and I might be out in France or something playing a gig. Then we came across aspiring actress and Heavy Metal Comic pin-up gal, Stacey Walker. I just had to stop for a photo-op. I've never even read Heavy Metal, but Stacey made me an instant fan... It must have been her nice smile. The interview continues... PS: Jerry, do you worship Satan? JO: No. PS: Are you a good Catholic boy? JO: I'd like to be a better Catholic boy. It's funny, my daughter had her confirmation like last weekend, so I brought all my little nephews to church with me and they had a really great time. I thought it would be fun, when I'm home, to take them all to church. The kids behaved and I was like, "Come On! You guys are behaving? You're bad all the time, and now you're gonna behave?" PS: Do you go to church in full Misfits garb? JO: No, no it's usually jeans and a dress shirt for me. I think church is good, when I was a kid I went to church all the time, it was kinda fun...we used to have an 8th grade teacher who had this thing called First Friday. On the first Friday of every month they would let you out early to go to morning mass, and then we used to play basketball and eat donuts and stuff. It was fun. Supposedly, if you made it to so many First Fridays in a row God would have you covered in case you died or something. PS: Interesting. When we came across Dee Snyder's table I had to ask him about a Twisted Sister reunion tour. PS: So when is Twisted Sister going to do a reunion tour? Dee: There's going to be a Strangeland Tour for this movie that I'm doing, and we're taking five bands out on the road from the soundtrack, and we're thinking about doing a reunion for that tour. PS: Thanks. Dee: No problem. Back to Jerry. PS: You really stay true to your punk roots and your style hasn't really changed in the 20 or so years you guys have been around. Is there any temptation to experiment with your sound and do what some of today's bands are doing, such as flirting with electronics, etc? JO: No, no, not at all. Actually, I try to stay away from it, but what I try to do is stay true to the song. If it needs something, and you hear a sound that should be in the background, add it-you can always delete it. It's real basic stuff, but I really don't want to get away from the three-instrument thing that we're doing. I don't want a keyboard player, I think what we have is a great sound...why mess it up? PS: Do you have any advice for little Misfits fans out there? JO: Yes, stay in school, I think that's key. When I got out of high school, I had started the Misfits my senior year, and four years into it we really hadn't gone anywhere and we didn't know what we were doing. I could have easily gone to college, and been in the band for the amount of gigs that we played. If you're able to get an education at the same time, it gives you a better opportunity to keep it going. It's been 20 years since we started and we're still banging the pavement trying to make it happen. You have to be able to endure that kind of time and an education helps you do that. As we passed by the many tables we came across Spice Channel host Stephanie Stokes, who was busy signing photos and promoting her band Wayward Soul. She was even nice enough to let us take a picture. Thanks, Stef. Later, we tried to get Peter Mayhew (the guy that played Chewbacca in the Star Wars Trilogy) to take a picture, but he politely told us to 'fuck off' in his snooty British accent. I did get his autograph though. PS: What do you think of some of the other bands out there who are trying to emulate the same kind of thing that you've been doing for so long. Like the Marilyn Mansons and GWARs of the world? JO: There's basically two kinds of bands that we battle, the bands that can play really well and the bands that have really great shows. What we're trying to do is be the best of both, ya know? Go out there with the best songs and the best sound and then still have the best visual thing going. You know, thank God that we've been able to hold our own with every band that we played with. The true test of a band is to be able to go up against as many different elements and be able to overcome them. We've played with bands who are great musicians, like Anthrax, who are probably one of the best bands that we’ve played with, and Megadeath; then we go up against bands like GWAR that are basically total show. If we can outplay the playing guys and outshow the show guys that makes us the best in my book. On our way back upstairs, we stopped by one of the most disturbing, yet intriguing items of the show. Serial killer dolls. Yes, serial killer dolls, and they were for sale at one of the booths. Nothing like a cuddly little Jeffrey Dahmer or Charles Manson doll to bring home to the kiddies. PS: Being from Jersey you must be a big Springsteen fan. JO: No, not at all. When he came out it was more of a corporate rock star than they were trying to build. To me, that's not what music is about...it starts underground and then it emerges and blossoms and later withers and dies. At that time I was very anti-corporate and anti-record business, it just seemed like they were trying to build some kind of image and persona with him PS: What about Bon Jovi? JO: Actually, Bon Jovi has the same vocal teacher that I have. I do like some of Bon Jovi's tunes; I think their chord progressions and the way some of the songs are arranged are not bad. I think they're kind of a "sweet-heart" band, but it was the '80s...What are you gonna do? PS: How about all the Calvin Klein stuff he's doing nowadays? JO: Well I know he likes kissing Cindy Crawford. I heard she was in a video with him or something and they started making out all over the place. Finally, we came across a group of people that were more Jerry's style. The wrestling team The Wrecking Crew. I swear that if he put on a wrestling mask he could have joined the team. You might want to try it out for a while after you retire Jerry, then move onto the guitar building business. After a few more pictures we made our way back to the Misfits room where I met Dr. Chud and asked him a few questions. Including the groupie question that I sprung on Jerry earlier. PS: So what kind of groupies are the Misfits attracting these days? DC: We don't have groupies. PS: You don't have groupies? DC: Nah, we've always been faithful to our wives. PS: Really? I didn't know you were married. DC: Well, actually I'm the only one that's not...I'm filled with sin...All right, all right. I get porno chicks, I get chicks with pierced asses, I get it all man. PS: Do you have a favorite porn star? DC: Nah, I love them all. PS: Well, enjoy your sinful life while you still can. DC: Thanks, I hope I wasn't too revealing. PS: You were fine.