Over 38 years the Misfits have created a legacy. Now, they’re building that legacy to new heights with aspirations of doubling their catalogue, over a decade of more touring and talk that these are their finest years yet.
They’re into their 38th year and they’re still killing it. The secret, according to frontman Jerry Only, is drive and passion. And it’s those two things that are bringing the horror punk icons to Australia early next year. On the long road of their career that’s spanned personal politics, line-up changes, eight albums and more tours than you’d care to count. Yet Only’s conviction has hardly lessened, in fact, it seems it has strengthened and he’s all too aware that the clock is ticking away on their career.
“I figure we still have 13 years left playing live and touring. If we can hold it together that long.” Says Only as though he’s about to drop a bomb. And sure enough, “we’ve started doing ten songs a year which will be both covers and originals… we’ll have doubled the catalogue in 13 years, so you’ll have 200-300 songs.”
Clearly, the Misfits are far from their end. And Only says once their touring life is complete, they’ll continue to record in the studio. When all is said done, this will be one musical legacy that can’t be overlooked.
The latest installment in that legacy was live album DeadAlive (their first live record since 1980), which was recorded over a series of Halloween shows and is a collection of later era Misfits material.
According to Only, recording in the studio and recording a live show aren’t as differen’t as you might think. He says the biggest changes in the process are time but with audio engineering Only makes it sound as though recording live is as as natural as breathing.
“[When you’re in the studio] You can design the sound to sound exactly how you want it. You have everything mic’d up and you make the instruments sound how you want them.
“When you’re recording live, there is only that day to pull it off…for us, we get the drum track perfect before we lay anything over top. Because you’re focused on your part and you work to make it the best you can. [Then] they’ll fix the drums or move them around and it was all for nothing.”
While DeadAlive is a reflection of the later Misfits; Only says he’s proud of how the band have evolved over the nearly four decades they’ve been the pioneering force of horror punk.
“I would say the band has evolved very well.” He laughs. “I loved working with Glenn (Danzig), he was a great crooner and when (former guitarist) Michale (Graves) joined, we became more riffy.” While Only says he wouldn’t class early era Misfits as metal, he does say they reached a “more advanced place of musicianship.”
From there Misfits continued to grow and Only says it came together on the last studio album, Devil’s Rain.
“I found myself. I worked with guys that wanted to make the album and there was none of that personal politics…it was all fun. Everything is better in life when you’re enjoying yourself.”
Fans of Wednesday 13 and the Murderdolls maybe a little disappointed to find out Only isn’t an avid fan (we ran out of time for Rob Zombie) but he’s as good natured man as you could hope to meet.
“There are a lot of bands that have followed in our footsteps but they mostly focus on the image, not the substance. I loved the Damned. They had a unique sound and they played purposefully and they were special songs.” He pauses for a moment.
“Show me a great song” he continues “the younger bands have got to have it all.”
The trick to great songs? Well, the answer to that doesn’t come so easily, but Only says isn’t from hours of binging on horror films.
“I’ll put it this way. Songs write themselves. I’m not really sure how to get that across. But you’ll sit down with a guitar and start playing or humming a melody and the words just pop out.
“Then you have what I call the catchline or bait and you keep going and bagging and tweaking…until you’re happy with it.”
Only says that being able to do that is a liberty and it’s one they were afford on Devil’s Rain.
“It wasn’t until we went into the studio and the producer listened to [the demos] with fresh ears that those songs were finalised. He would say ‘why don’t you play twice? Not five times and play that three times.’”
The Misfits have seen the rise of Horror Punk, they’ve been pioneers and continue to put on live shows and create music that has built on the roots they discovered 38 years ago. And Only says that their best days are not behind them, but ahead of them and they’re heading for some of the best Misfits material we’ve seen.
Thurs, Jan 16 – The Zoo – Brisbane
Fri, Jan 17 – Corner Hotel – Melbourne
Sat, Jan 18 – The Factory Theatre – Sydney
Sun, Jan 19 – Amplifier – Perth