About The Misfits
“It started as a twisted dream”… 25 years ago in a small town in New Jersey called Lodi. It was there in April of 1977, at the dawn of the punk movement, that the Misfits were born. Taking the title of Marilyn Monroe’s last movie as their name in a move to immortalize her image – singer Glenn Danzig and bassist Jerry Only set out to make an impression. They wound up making history and creating a legacy that’s power has not only stood the test of time, but also transcended into an entirely new generation. Lineup changes followed and by early 1980, the band coalesced around co-founders, Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only along with guitarist Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein (Jerry’s youngest brother). Throughout the span of their career, the Misfits audience has developed into an army of “fiends” (the term for die hard Misfits fans) generating more interest today than ever before.
From its inception the music was primitive punk rock, harsh and to the point. Yet that aggression was complimented with a strong sense of melody inspired by the roots of rock and roll bred in the 1950’s. What further separated the band from their hard-core peers of the 70’s punk scene was their inspired fixation on horror movies. It was from that inspiration that they created an entire world out of a passion for the genre. Utilizing B-movie-style artwork, the band appeared with slick, black “devil lock” hairstyles and horror make-up. The Misfits cast a fiendish aura of mystery embodied by ghoulish charm and landed themselves a massive cult following. That following continues to expand world wide on a daily basis. The “Fiend Skull”, (an icon that is the official symbol of the group), was once crudely painted on their equipment, leather jackets and everything the band could get their hands on, yet now it can be found on a limitless amount of merchandise carried in stores throughout the world.
After a split with Danzig in the mid 1980’s and a decade long legal battle, The Misfits were resurrected by founding member Jerry Only returning stronger than ever with “AMERICAN PSYCHO”, released in May of 1997 on Geffen Records. Only states: “We tightened everything up as much as possible. Sticking to our punk roots, the longest song on the album is three minutes and nine cuts are under two. We’ve still got the classic backup vocals, the ’50s sounding chord progressions, the different beats – 4/4 time can turn into a major thrash beat in the same song. But the sound of our instrumentation is so much better than on our previous records. We worked really hard.”
“AMERICAN PSYCHO” reestablished them as one of the most aggressive outfits in music and spoke volumes about their influence on many of today’s rock acts. From neo-punk bands Green Day, Rancid, Blink 182 and Good Charlotte to metal acts Metallica, Pantera and Slayer to hard rockers such as Slipknot, Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Guns n Roses (who covered the classic Misfits song “Attitude”) and more recently; My Chemical Romance (who covered the classic Misfits song “Astro Zombies” for the soundtrack to “Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland” video game). The Misfits have inspired many musicians and much of the music people are watching on TV and hearing on the radio today. Metallica emerged as one of the band’s strongest supporters wearing Misfits T-shirts on stage and even covering three of their songs on the double CD set entitled “Garage Days Revisited”. The centerfold section of the “Garage Days” booklet even spotlights the Misfits as a key influence on Metallica’s music. Further, there have been many Misfits tribute CDs released over the past several years featuring contemporary artists covering the bands back catalog. Asked why this hunger for all things Misfits endured, bassist and founding member Jerry Only ventures: “I think we filled a niche. We stuck to what we did, and we did it well. We never tried to pull something over on people – we just tried to entertain ’em while rocking ’em real hard. Besides, I think the love of the horror art form has endured.”
The music videos for the 1997 Geffen release (“Dig Up Her Bones” & “American Psycho” directed by John Cafiero) could not only be found on music television outlets throughout the world but even on the big screen. Theatrical screenings ran in film festivals both in and outside the U.S. garnering “Best of Fest” nods as well as award nominations from the Horror Writers Association. The videos also created a stronghold in the then, uncharted territory of online entertainment. They have been repeatedly on the top of the charts, listed as the “most downloaded videos on the net” with online outlets like Sonicnet. For several weeks the Misfits “American Psycho” video was listed on the Sonicnet chart at #2, book-ended by Backstreet Boys videos at #1 & #3. Over all the “Psycho” video remained in the top 5 for nearly a year while videos from many chart-topping acts quickly came and went.
1999 brought the follow up to the second coming of the Misfits “FAMOUS MONSTERS”, released in Oct. 1999 on Roadrunner records. The record went on to become the biggest selling title ever for Roadrunner Japan. The supporting music video “Scream” (which featured the band as zombies) was directed by George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead) who offered his services in exchange for two original Misfits songs to be featured (along with the band itself) in his film “Bruiser”. Prior to that, the Misfits appeared as themselves (along with ICP, The Jerky Boys and WWF’s Mick Foley to name a few) in director John Cafiero’s feature film debut “Big Money Hustlas”. The film debuted in the number one spot on the billboard video sales charts where it remained for several weeks.
Thematically, the bands music continues to focus on time-honored Misfits interests: “Vampires, monsters, alien invasion, Frankenstein – we are the Misfits after all,” warns Jerry. Of the band’s refusal to address weightier issues, he explains: “People who buy our records and come to see us perform – from the guy all the way back in the balcony, to the guy getting his head banged around in the front – they come to have a good time. And we make sure they do, you can hear about social and political issues somewhere else. When you come to a Misfits show, you get a bunch of guys who go out there and give 110 percent (they’ve been known to rip through 55 songs a night) take it or leave it. That’s what we have always been. At a show, everyone’s just part of the crowd there’s no them and us – we’re all us.”
Aside from an inventive approach to music and its visual presentation, their all-encompassing DIY mentality was and continues to be their strong suit. From their Misfits compound in the far reaches of North Jersey which includes even a family owned machine shop business, they craft their own instruments: guitars and bass down to the studded leather straps and even their spiked leather jackets. Creativity rules as they design and construct on site their own elaborate stage sets and wide array of infamous props.
Over the past ten years alone the Misfits have released four studio albums, a limited edition live album through their fan club (dubbed “The Fiend Club”) and a limited edition glow-in-the-dark 45 covering the classic song “Monster Mash. The 45 was fully endorsed by longtime Misfits supporter Sara Karloff, (daughter of the late Boris Karloff) who gave consent for the use of her father’s image in connection with the record. The Karloff estate had shown similar support in 1997 approving the band’s use of footage from the classic film “The Bride of Frankenstein” in their first music video “Dig Up Her Bones”. The Misfits and their “Fiend Club” were also instrumental in petitioning and seeking approval for the 1997 release of the U.S. Monster Stamp series, which among others, featured Bela Lugosi Sr., as Dracula and of course, Boris Karloff as Frankenstein.
Although the band has seen several lineup changes throughout the years, the common thread that has kept the Misfits thriving is founding member JERRY ONLY. In addition to a huge catalog of music over the past 30 years, Only and the Misfits have toured relentlessly across the globe and celebrated Halloween 1999 with two Sold Out shows at Madison Square Garden in NYC. In addition to their countless TV appearances world wide, the band appeared in four feature films, as well as a stint in professional wrestling with Ted Turner’s WCW. The band’s now classic “fiend skull” logo can be found on a plethora of top selling merchandise throughout the world and the collectibility of anything Misfits continues to grow on a daily basis.
Even the toy industry took notice bestowing the honor of “Action Figure of the Year” to the 12″ G.I. Joe-styled Jerry Only action figure released in 1999. In the year 2000, the Misfits were named #91 in VH-1’s “100 Greatest Hard Rock Bands of all Time”. The segment included interviews with Alice Cooper, Rob Halford (Judas Priest), James Hetfield, Jason Newsted & Kirk Hammett (Metallica) and Kid Rock commenting on the fiendishly legendary band. The impact of the Misfits on pop culture has become a phenomenon in itself. The power of the horror-punk icons transcends into the most unlikely of places. Most notably, teen-idol superstars N’Sync were photographed, prominently sporting Misfits logos on their attire. The photos ran in an issue of “TV Guide” (2000) and the year-end issue of “Entertainment Weekly” (2001). Now that is truly scary!
“We’ve survived over 25 years now,” Jerry reflects. “Maybe the times have caught up with us. And 40 years from now, people will still be playing our albums because we won’t water down what we do. Our goal is to keep perspective on who we are and where we’re going. When we started playing out again, we were surprised to see how many fans both young and old, still go nuts for the Misfits. It shows that we have a very strong following and we can still stay true to ourselves and grow as a band.”
2001 brought the launch of the Misfits 25th Anniversary. In celebration of 25 years of Misfits (and 25 years of classic punk rock in general), founding member Jerry Only recruited what is truly an all-star line up of punk rock. Special guests performing within the Misfits line up for this historic current tour include punk pioneers MARKY RAMONE of the world famous RAMONES – (recently inducted into the “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”) and BLACK FLAG’S DEZ CADENA along with MISFITS & BLACK FLAG alum; ROBO on drums. Robo’s participation as drummer in the Misfits dates back to the early 1980’s. His debut recording with the Misfits also happens to be one of the legendary horror-punk band¹s most well known classic era albums entitled “Earth AD² (released in 1983). To commemorate the 25th Anniversary, artwork of Jerry Only and the classic Misfits “fiend skull” was commissioned from “Batman” artist Butch Lukic whose unmistakable style is showcased in Warner Brothers “Batman the Animated Series” and “Batman Beyond” and countless DC comic covers. The 25th anniversary Lukic artwork quickly became a #1 seller in the Misfits popular T-shirt line.
More recently the Misfits have launched their own brand of electric guitar and Bass strings available through Dean Markley Strings. Aptly named “Misfits Skullbusters” Only describes them as “the crunchiest strands of steel ever produced”. The line makes available to fans and musicians alike, the actual gauges of strings used by the Misfits themselves both live as well as in the studio to deliver their inimitable sound. The Misfits even launched a line of sneakers and footwear through Draven/Select Distribution (formerly Vision Street Wear) that immediately proved to be the best selling shoes the company has offered in over 20 years of successful business! Shortly after their initial release the Misfits sneakers were prominently spotted among other high profile places, on the feet of singer/songwriter Avril Lavigne during an appearance on NBC TV¹s The Tonight Show hosted by Jay Leno.
The power of the Misfits also transcended into a record label “MISFITS RECORDS” distributed worldwide by Rykodisc. Misfits Records now houses all current and future Misfits releases as well as a few acquired bands under development with the label starting with “BALZAC” and the upcoming debut release from “OSAKA POPSTAR”. The first release under the new label was unique in that the Misfits teamed up with Japan’s premiere horror punks; “Balzac” (a Misfits influenced band) for a split CD single/EP in which each band covered the other¹s material.
In 2003, the all-star lineup recorded a Misfits stylized special project showcasing punk covers of classic 1950’s era rock and roll hits. Some of the tracks included are “This Magic Moment” (Jay and the Americans), “Dream Lover” (Bobby Darin) and “Donna” (Richie Valens). Only, who had the project in mind for many years, states: “the backbone of punk has always been the 3-chord progression which was ultimately inspired by classic rock and roll of the 1950’s. I’ve always wanted to record some of the music that inspired the Misfits to show fiends where it all began. With this album…I will.” In addition to the all-star line up, the new CD “MISFITS PROJECT 1950” features special guest vocals on two tracks (“This Magic Moment” & “You Belong to Me”) by 60’s pop-rock icon RONNIE SPECTOR as well as guest keyboards on two tracks (“Runaway” & “Great Balls of Fire”), by JIMMY DESTRI of BLONDIE. Released worldwide July 29th, 2003 “Misfits Project 1950” (which comes complete with a 24 page booklet featuring extensive liner notes and personal quotes from the artists as well as a limited edition bonus DVD), debuted on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart at #2, Billboard’s Top Independent album chart at #5 and #133 in Billboard’s Top 200.
Only states: “The band has continued to evolve and grow more powerful with each passing day. I don’t discount the importance of our past but at the same time I can’t deny that we are far more relevant now than we EVER were back then. That’s something I’ve worked very hard to achieve for over a decade now. I think the fact that our most recent CD (“Misfits Project 1950″ released in 2003) is the highest charting Misfits CD in our entire 30-year career, speaks for itself.”
The Misfits currently remain more aggressive, more topical and more sought after than ever before. Relentlessly led by founding member; Jerry Only (Bass/Vocals) with former Black Flag alum Dez Cadena on guitar and original Misfits drummer Robo still behind the kit, the Misfits continue to sell out shows and draw thousands of fans night after night around the globe. The band is currently preparing to return to the studio in 2006 to deliver the hardest, most aggressive Misfits material yet to be heard in the band’s legacy. Only revels: “Our next album will coincide with our 30th anniversary and that album will only reinforce how potent the band has become with time.” As a footnote, the Misfits 30th Anniversary will fall on April 18, 2007.
In closing, Only surmises: “The Misfits have been preserved on determination and the sheer will to survive. That determination has been bound by the unequaled loyalty of our fan base of fiends. Our goal is simple, to be the best. In resurrecting this band I risked all that I’d done in the past and I dared to challenge a legacy born in my youth. Today I am stronger, smarter and faster than I have ever been. We plan to continue as always, eclipse the past, block the sun and drag humanity by the throat into a world of darkness filled with ghouls, goblins and creatures of the night, where we are king.”
One thing is certain, The Misfits are here to stay and once again everyday is Halloween.
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