Jerry Only - bassist / vocalist, Misfits
San Diego Comic Con International - San Diego, CA - July 1999
The Misfits - a legendary name from an infamous band that has spanned over 2 decades (forming around 1976) and spawned many stories, rumors and music covered by some of the world's greatest bands (Metallica doing "Last Caress" and doing a practical biography of the Misfits on their latest "Garage, Inc" CD). Whereas it seemed for many years that there were more people sporting Misfits T-shirts and stickers than who actually owned any albums, times change and some bands come back a second time stronger and more vocal than ever. Thus comes the Misfits - rock's answer to the public's undying interest in horror films. The Misfits have always been a band that went for the underbelly by singing songs about shlocky 1950's horror/sci-fi films and dressing the part. At the same time, the showed homage to the classic greats of the times by sporting "overeager" Elvis Presley hairdos (albeit, in their own Misfit-ian manner) with exaggerated hair-flips that reach down to their chins (the Misfits trademark, as it were). As former lead singer Glen Danzig once pointed around 1997, "The Misfits are more famous now, broken up, than we ever were when we were together." But, things change and times change and the Misfits are back, stronger than ever, with a growing popularity in new fans that actually get to hear their music. The Misfits of old had written some incredible classic tunes ("Die, Die My Darling", "Green Hell", and "Mommy, Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight") but the production wasn't the best.
The Misfits of new have a revitalized energy and are able to create with the latest production values. Original cofounder, bassist Jerry Only, has introduced new members to the fold with Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein (guitar), Dr. Chud (drums) and, replacing the legendary throat of Glen Danzig, vocalist Michale Graves. They recently reclaimed their crowns by releasing "American Psycho" in 1997 and suddenly realized the fan base that they have out in the world. Cutting to the present, the Misfits are working on a new CD and, to keep with the trends, a Misfits toy line that features action figures that "you can eventually give to your own children when you are done playing with them" - meaning, that last. A tour for the CD is to follow.
We recently met up with Jerry Only at the San Diego Comic Con International during August and were able to grab some words from him. He seemed really happy and proud to be on the road with the Misfits, and rightfully so as they seem ready to take on new generations who may better know how to encompass a band such as this.
With the new toy line and CD coming out on October 5, 1999, Jerry gave us some more insights (in classic New Jersey accent) into the workings of a legend.
K2K: When did this band reform?
JO: That would be March of 1997. That would be with me, Glen, and Manny. Glen played keyboards.
K2K: Have you guys changed at all since back then? You seem a "friendlier" band now.
JO: Me? No. You were seeing with your eyes and not doing it in person so you really can't judge people by what you see. I just ran into Marilyn Manson a couple of days ago and he's a really nice guy. I haven't changed though. Maybe Glen has and maybe Doyle has, but... To each his own.
K2K: When did the original version of the Misfits break up?
JO: Halloween 1983.
K2K: And when did you decide to put it all back together again? And why?
JO: November 1984. We had a lot more to say. The music was still in us. It wasn't something that was just a hobby, it was something that we felt inside. You know, you can't deny what you are from yourself and I tried not to do that.
K2K: Are you now more just a "fun" band?
JO: I think that we're the best band ever. My goal is to be the most ferocious band out there and I think that at certain shows we've accomplished that. You can't be at your peak every night, it's impossible. When we're up against big bands we rise to the occasion and dump them. That's what it's all about is us kicking everybody else's ass.
K2K: How did you come up with the idea of making toys?
JO: It was something that we wanted to do when we were kids. The thing was that, as a child, I used to play with G.I. Joe's, and I still have some of them left around today. When my son was growing up we had the other 3 and 4 inch G.I. Joe's that fell apart every time you tried to do something with them. I got really pissed and I said when I would try to bring back the toys that I used to play with and make a toy that, once was sold to my fans, they could hand down to their kids. That's what toys are about - playability. It's not about making money. It's not about coming off as "bigger than life". It's about making toys that kids can use and really appreciate and I think that we've accomplished that. The thing is that we're doing a lot of charity work and I'm kicking in my money that I make on the deal. We buy toys for kids who can't afford them, so this is done for the kids. That's the only reason I did it. I don't want to make a dime out of it. I just want to have the best toy, the best band, I want to be the best. (laughs)
K2K: Bigger than KISS at some point?
JO: I don't care about KISS because we're already better. That's the way I look at it.
K2K: What about your live show?
JO: Show-wise, we'll dump s*** all over those jerks. That's a given. If I had as many bombs as they have, we'd be 20 times bigger than them. It's a matter of what you want. I mean, it's like those guys don't even treat each other fairly. I know that Gene and Paul make all the cash, so, if it's about money then get out of our way because that's not what we're here to do.
K2K: What about the issue with simplicity in creation of your products?
JO: Well, the thing was that when I first brought back the band, I didn't have a singer and the drummer was kind of in place. The situation was that I started working on a whole bunch of designs and they were really colorful and it seems like the kids like the really simple prints. I didn't understand it. I think bigger and more colorful is better than plain and simple. But, that's just my opinion on the thing. I'm not buying my shirts, I'm just selling them, so I pretty much have to accommodate what people want. So, we came out with, what we call, the "bootleg line" which is all our old designs and they sell as well as the new designs.
K2K: Are you going to do any 18 and over shows?
JO: No! I hate those. We have no purpose to do those shows. 18 and over shows are done by people who have a bar and are concerned about selling drinks and don't care about the kids or the show or anything of that matter.
K2K: (jokingly) So, you really are a "family-safe" band now, aren't you?
JO: We're the American dream. (laughs)
K2K: How are you tied-in with old movies?
JO: Well, we write songs about them. I mean, that's about as far as you can get to being tie-in to old movies. They're already done.
K2K: Will you have anything else going on later?
JO: Well, we're going to get started working on new movies. I'd like to remake a couple of the old ones. I'd like to work with Hollywood and work with soundtracks. Hollywood is our future. We're going to do wrestling. We're going to be working with the WCW, I think. The thing is about the Misfits is that I felt it was a band that should be viewed by the whole world. I don't necessarily worry about the record sales as much as I do about keeping the concept of the band and the originality of what we do. I think that everybody should get to experience us and see what we do. I think people have a lot of respect for how we've toughed it out over the last 23 years and we haven't changed one bit. I will not change what I do to sell records or to try to fit into anything.
K2K: How do you keep your reality in perspective?
JO: I have two kids. (laughs) That's my reality check every day.
K2K: Are you still doing any old material?
JO: All the time. We play for about an hour and a half. We have about 55 old songs and about 38 new ones. We're closing in at about 100 songs, so what I'm trying to do is to phase out the old ones and just keeping the classics - the "Skulls", "Last Caress" - pretty much everything Metallica covers. So, people are always going to want to hear it. I don't want to play it. I mean, I've got a lot of respect for where I came from, I wouldn't change one thing. I've missed 13 years, that's probably the only thing that I would like to have changed. But, I think that coming back in the late 1990s and being an incredible act really shows the depth of what we do. You know, the songs that we played back in the late 1970s are covered and are hit songs today. You don't get much of that anymore. Things are kind of trendy. The 1980s were a big waste of time and I'm glad that I wasn't involved. It seems to me that, let's set our focus on the year 2000 and show everybody where they should have been back in 1977. I think people finally caught up.
K2K: So, any Elvis influence?
JO: Very much. "Day Of The Dead", "American Nightmare", on our new album, a song called "Scarecrow Man", Elvis is the king and I walk through his house and I am totally in awe of the man. He has a trophy room of gold and platinum records that, just one of them would be a career for anybody else. So, the thing is that the man has a roomful.
K2K: What about a tour?
JO: We will be touring through the next year and a half. We have the United States in October. We have GWAR opening for us. We have a tour with Type-O Negative in Europe in November. We have Japan and South America in early spring. And then with Manson in Europe and probably a world tour with Manson. Manson is very nice guy. We met him in Japan and he was very nice. My daughter rode a rollercoaster with him and we had a really great time. The guys are really great in his band and I'd love to work with him.
And with that, we were off to peruse the rest of San Diego Comic Con International.
Written by and Photo © 1999 Philip Anderson

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

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