SCENE Volume 28, # 32 - August 7-13, 1997 ------------------------------------------ [page 28] FORMING A NEW LEGACY - The Misfits Find a New Fit by: Erich Burnett typed by: Aaron Pacitti "I'd rather have financial problems than have people dying so that I can have something to do," says Misfits mainstay Jerry Only, speaking contrary to the ideals of any self-respecting, money-hungry, not to mention any spokesman for a death-obsessed punk band. Only knows there's money to be made in resurrecting the Misfits, nearly 15 years after the band dropped from the punk scene with little fanfare. The Glenn Danzig-led Misfits saw minimal revenue in the early 1980's, and may rightfully deserve a kickback for the post mortem impact on the neo-punk music that followed them. But Only, the bands bassist, expresses a lust for money only to help bail out his father's ailing New Jersey machine shop, which thrived on military business in wartime, but sits relatively idle in the peaceful 90's. The same shop that was used to forge the Misfit's grusome spikes through the years is now in arrears with banks, and a Misfits tour is as good a cause as any to get the progenitors of all things black, back in the black. When the Misfits folded in 1983 and Danzig left to feed his demonic whimsy with Samhain, Only and brother Doyle, who comprised two-thirds of the Misfits, returned to New Jersey to co-manage the family business, while a legal battle with Danzig ensued over the rights to the "Misfits" moniker and music. After almost nine years of litigation, Only regained rights to the Misfits, who were reborn January 1, 1995. "I was the Michael Jordan of the machine shop" Only says of his days as a screw machine operator in his dads factory, "and I didnt want to leave him hanging." Only is banking that the Misfits name and their highly marketable Crimson Ghost logo will restore financial order. After releasing music on their own Plan 9 records through most of their first incarnation, the Misfits of 1997 - complete with drummer Dr. Chud and vocalist Michale Graves - are a Geffen property, though their debut on the label, AMERICAN PSYCHO, retains much of the cartoonish morbidity of earlier records. "The music came full circle to catch us," Only says, his jovial, urgent tone a ringer for Jerry Lewis. "Our timing was impeccable. All of a sudden, the whole punk scene came back. We became a very accessible item because we were a forerunner of the music which was becoming the popular form of music on the planet. "Who better to come out with a great new album than us?" he asks clearly expecting no response. Where Glenn Danzig immersed himself in the nightmares about which he sang, Only - recruited by the elder Danzig shortly after beginning high school - is a family man, a youth league baseball coach who happens to dress like a ghoul by night. "Glenn kinda weaned me on the whole scene," Only says. "He had a much more knowledgeable background of the underground music scene in New York. And me, I just came off having a football season in high school and had no idea. It took me about a year to understand what the music was about." The band's first album, STATIC AGE, was cut when Only was 17, but wasn't released until 1996, as part of a Caroline four CD boxed set. "From the very day we recorded Static Age, I knew we had something," Only recalls fondly. "Nobody wanted to hear it, nobody wanted to work with it, but that didn't turn me off. "By the time we got to WALK AMONG US album , I was just as much an influence on the music and imagery of the band as [Danzig] was, and I was the guy putting up all the money." When Doyle joined the band, things became increasingly lopsided, causing Danzig to become defensive and forceful, and his subsequent concept for Earth AD ran afoul of what the other members envisioned. But Danzig struggles far behind them, Only and the Misfits now have the chance to view the industry in a way they had never known. "It's a whole new world. It's 100 times better than it ever was," he says, still amazed that concert venues bring him Gatorade on command. "We should have had this help in the beginning of our career. We were one of the best bands that ever rolled out of the New York punk scene." But those days were the Danzig days. Finding a suitable replacement to front the band was somewhat an arduous challenge, and most hopefuls attempted to mimic Danzig's emotive register in auditions. "That was one thing I wanted to avoid like the plague," says Only, who asked Damned vocalist Dave Vanian to take part in the reformation. AMERICAN PSYCHO is a certain return to the old Misfits feel - pounding rhythyms and beyond-the-grave harmonies abound - but Graves' vocals exude a more youthful, whimsical spirit than those of Danzig. "There was no way I wanted to bring in a Glenn clone," Only insists. "Bringing in a Glenn clone would have been a sign of dependency for Glenn. If Danzig was known for his brooding, Only will be known for his schmoozing. He is on top of the world, doing what he loves and laugh- ing at himself all the while. "We don't have alot of success," he admits. "Our legend precedes our success, but at the same time, we've taken the name "Misfits," and given it justice again. That was one thing we really wanted to do. The Misfits are bigger than Glenn." With the same conviction any Danzig tirade ever mustered, Only strays from his rock and roll musing, and returns to thoughts of his father and the machine shop. "I hope it works for us because my dad really needs some help. I'm hoping we can bust this big and I can go in and hire some people to help him." The Misfits have yet to bring great wealth to Only, and have yet to fully gain approval of his father, who has faithfully supported the band's efforts for years. "He is still a little skeptical about it," Only admits with a laugh. "I want to show him I'm not just pissing into the wind with my mouth open."