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INTERVIEW – JERRY ONLY, The Misfits – September 2015

| 30 September 2015 | 3 Replies

INTERVIEW – JERRY ONLY, The Misfits – September 2015
By Shane Pinnegar

The Misfits - Jerry Only 01

When the legendary Misfits burst out of Lodi, New Jersey in the late ‘70s they switchblade-slashed their own genre of horror punk from the bruised and beaten body of rock, even though they released just two studio albums before disbanding in 1983.

While founding frontman Glenn Danzig went on to become ‘The Metal Elvis’ with first Samhain, then Danzig, bassist Jerry Only opened a popular New York machine shop before reforming the band in 1995, eventually also taking over the lead singer role in 2001.

Fuelled by dozens of bands such as Guns n’ Roses, Green Day, The Lemonheads, Volbeat, Wolfpack and most famously, Metallica covering their seminal tracks (including Last Caress, Green Hell, Die My Darling, Angelfuck, Halloween, Attitude), the new Misfits injected a healthy dose of heavy metal into the mix and went from strength to strength, releasing a further six studio albums, including the massively influential Static Age and American Psycho records, both out in 1997 (though Static Age was actually recorded in 1978).

Touring Australia this December, The Misfits will give punk-metal fans rockgasms when they play Earth A.D. and Static Age in their entirety.

The Misfits – Australian tour 2015:
Wednesday, 9th December 2015 – Triffid, Brisbane
Thursday, 10th December 2015 – The Gov, Adelaide
Friday, 11th December 2015 – Max Watt’s, Melbourne
Saturday, 12th December 2015 – Manning Bar, Sydney
Sunday, 13th December 2015 – Rosemount, Perth

The Misfits Australia 2015 poster
100% ROCK: How you doing, Jerry?

Jerry: I’m doing really well. Last time I was in Perth we were hanging out with the Sea Shepherds. They had come down to our show and were handing out fliers, and we hooked them up with all the merchandise we had left, because you were our last show. We gave them about 130 Misfits shirts for their crew.

100% ROCK: Wicked.

Jerry: If you see a bunch of Misfits shirts over on your docks, you know why.

The Misfits 2015

100% ROCK: There’s a lot of people looking forward to seeing you guys in December, man, and you’re going to be playing Static Age and Earth A.D. in full, is that right?

Jerry: Yes, sir. Yeah, we’re going to do some other stuff in the middle. Earth A.D. is only 22 minutes long. The Static Age album, we added a bunch of songs that were done at the same era that didn’t actually come out on the release of Static Age – Spinal Remains and The Doorway… we do She. There’s a few other ones. We’ll probably do Who Killed Marilyn? for you guys, stuff like that. It’s a learning process for my son [Jerry Caiafa II] who is in the band now, and we’re working on putting together a new album. We figured, ‘hey, look, we’re rolling into our 40th anniversary in about a year and half. Let’s go back and let my son walk through the footsteps of what the band had done earlier.’ We felt that he needed to learn every song that we did.

That’s what we’re doing now. We had a place in California call us up, and they said, ‘hey, out in California now, there’s this big revival of bands doing their original albums and we want you guys to do three nights at the same place, Static Age one night, Walk Among Us the next night, and Earth A.D.’ Obviously, Earth A.D. only being 22 minutes long, we had to add another hour’s worth of stuff to it. Put it to you this way: we played the Static Age album with the American Psycho album. Then we did the Walk Among Us album with the Famous Monsters. Then we did the Earth A.D. album with a whole collage of everything we’d done after that, Devil’s Rain and all that kind of stuff.

It was really cool. It was very enlightening to go back and run through everything we’d done. It refreshes your memory. It gives you a sense of being that nobody can pull the wool over your eyes on anything, and you haven’t left any details out. I think that was really the first step to the new incarnation of the band. We’re doing well with it. I’m very happy.

100% ROCK: It’s a rare album that you can play from start to finish and not have any filler in there, but I think The Misfits’ albums are just so ferocious that they’re always going to go down live really, really well.

Jerry: Actually, they are going really well. That’s the funny thing… I was hanging out with the guys from Biohazard the other day, and they said, ‘we were talking about bands and we came to the conclusion that The Misfits is the greatest American band of all time, because you guys don’t have any bad songs.’ I said, ‘well, you know, that’s true – we don’t have gold records hanging up on the wall, but there is no bullshit in between, every song is a good song. If it’s not a good song, we don’t record it.’ I had to agree with them on that. I said, ‘look, guys, I feel that way too. We’re not flashy, but we sure are consistent.’

100% ROCK: What factors went into making the band so potent on those early albums?

Jerry: I’ve got to be honest with you. The thing was, I worked in a machine shop my whole life. I started when I was in the fourth grade. I was about 10 years old and I start going to work in the summer with my dad. When I got into seventh or eighth grade in grammar school, I started playing sports, so my dad got me weights and we started working out. If you look today at the bands that are out there, everybody’s all buff. Back when I was a kid, everybody that was in a band was getting high and they weren’t working out, so if you were a jock or you were an athlete, they didn’t think you had any business being in the music scene.

I think we changed that. I think maybe Manowar and The Misfits really put that into a different light. If you see pictures of my brother Doyle now, he looks like he should be on the cover of Muscle Magazine. He has every vein popping out of his body. He works for it. He works out constantly. I work out as best I can, but at the same time, I’m running the machine shop. I was actually working this morning.

What makes The Misfits so potent is that when I started to play guitar, I was a senior in high school. I picked up the bass and I started playing in February. In April, I was in a band – I started The Misfits with Glenn [Danzig], and then the following January, I recorded Static Age. I hadn’t even been playing a year when we cut the record. The reason it’s the way it is, is because I didn’t know anybody else’s music, and I didn’t even want to know anybody. I wanted to do whatever it is I was put here to do. I had no idea what it was and I had to develop that.

At the time, Pink Floyd was big and my music teacher tried – I took lessons [with him] – he was trying to teach me Money. [Jerry sings the bass line] I was just like, ‘shit, I don’t want to play Money,’ or ‘I don’t want to play this,’ or ‘I don’t want to play that.’ I said, ‘I want something that’s going to make me want to jump up and down and scream.’ The Misfits came down the pipe for me.

The Misfits - Jerry Only 03

Culturally, I wasn’t in tune to the scene or what was going on. We went to New York right after my senior year, me and Glenn. We’d go hang out at CBGB’s and stuff like that. Our first gig was at CBGB’s and I was still in high school. The thing was, when we started hanging out, I realized that everybody in New York, 90% of them were junkies, but because they were such – I hate to say it – but, gutter trash, they didn’t give a fuck what they were doing. The thing was that the music became primary and trying to be accepted with the music became nil. Nobody gave a fuck whether they liked what they were listening to or not, and there was some really crazy shit that was going on out of New York at the time.

I looked it and I said to myself, ‘well, look, I don’t want to be one of these guys, because they ain’t fucking really going anywhere.’ I mean, they may be talented, but the objective is to a live a long life; it’s not to die [young]. We took the physical aspect, we took the sense that there was no slate – we didn’t have an agenda, and then we took the horror image and we put it all together and we came up with a monster with no feelings that was pumped up and ready to go, that was on steroids, and the next thing you know, we created the band.

I think that above the image and above the physical aspect that we can go out there and do 45 songs in 90 minutes, I think that the integrity of the band and the actual balance of the music, and the intellectual value of what we do is unparalleled. I think The Ramones hit on it, but I don’t think that their image is as powerful as our image. I think that The Misfits image is something that, once you see it, it totally denotes what’s going on. The Ramones, you kind of get, “Okay, it’s punk rock,” but I think The Misfits immediately tell you, “Danger,” when you see it.

100% ROCK: Yes, definitely.

Jerry: It’s a blinking sign, it’s a blinking light saying, “Danger, danger, danger.” I think that’s really what it’s about. I think the most important thing about the band is that we’re a very good influence on people. If they take it at face value, they might think we’re fucked up, but if you really look into it and you see that we’re a bunch of family people who run a machine shop and we’re working out, we’re not fucking up, we have intellectual value: I think that that’s a really good influence. I think that influence brushed off onto Metallica, Guns n’ Roses, Green Day, all these other guys. I think they looked at us and said, ‘wow, there’s something to be taken from here and used in what we do. I think we made our mark, bro.

100% ROCK: Oh, I think so – absolutely. It’s been almost 15 years since you took the reigns of the band. Do you feel very protective of the reputation and the legacy of The Misfits?

Jerry: No, not at all. I’m here to make new stuff. People say, ‘oh, do you have this record? It’s very collectible. Do you have one of those laying around?’ No, I gave every fucking thing away. I’m not a collector. I’m not here to relive the past. I’m not here to protect the past. I’m here to make new stuff. When we came back in 1995, nobody thought we’d last. Those two albums [Static Age and American Psycho] totally changed what a Misfits fan is today, because the young kids, they don’t like Dig Up Her Bones or Saturday Night or [some of the] other songs. They’re not about the older stuff.

The older people are – the people who grew up on it. If you talk to somebody who was a teenager in the ’80s or the early ’90s before the band came back, yeah, they’re going to tell you, ‘oh, yeah, Attitude – great song, it’s so cool.’ When we said, ‘fucking attitude,’ nobody was saying ‘fuck’ at the time. Now everybody does: the rappers, every other word. It was kind of funny, because when we came back, I came to a position where I just turned around and said, ‘look, we’re not going to swear on our records at all.’ Everybody said, ‘why?’ I said, ‘well, because everybody’s swearing now, and if everybody’s doing it, we’re not.’

I don’t need to protect the legacy. The legacy will always be the legacy, and I think people are starting to understand that The Misfits is much more than the original line-up and the first three albums. There are kids out there who give me shit about the original ones, the first three albums, and they’re all in their teens. Those are the kids who are coming to the shows and buying records, so I owe them nice new music – [that’s] really the way I look at it. There are young fans who really need their own Misfits, their NOW Misfits, not the old stuff.

early Misfits with Glenn Danzig

early Misfits with Glenn Danzig

100% ROCK: But it must get infuriating dealing with every second journalist or fan going, ‘when you going to reunite with Danzig?’ or whatever. It must be a pain in the ass, quite frankly.

Jerry: I don’t mind that. I don’t shun what I’ve done or where I’ve come from. I understand the romantic appeal to having Glenn back in the band and my brother [Doyle] back in the band. I really wish my brother would come back, but he’s doing his own thing, and I got a lot of respect for that. I got my son in my band now, and I really don’t give a shit if either one of them come back. The thing is that The Misfits is still a band of the future, and it always will be. It’ll always be a band whose next thing is the next big thing.

With Glenn – and I always say this – if Glenn would take two steps back and be cool, we can do it [reunite]. The only reason that I don’t want to do it is I don’t want it knock the future band off track to go back and relive the past. I know there’s a lot of money involved, and there’s a lot of hoopla and we’re all going to throw confetti and all that shit, but to me, what the band is going to do for the next 20 or 30 years is a lot more important to my agenda than what I did. What I did is already done. I did it. We did it. I don’t look over my shoulder. Bringing Glenn back would distract from where I’m going with this. I think a lot of things that we’re going to do going forwards, people won’t get immediately, and that’s okay. I don’t mind that, because they still haven’t understood Earth A.D. and that’s 1983.

Earth A.D. is still an anomaly to everybody. They have no fucking clue what it’s about. The thing is, Earth A.D. destroyed our band: [after that] there was no place to go. We had taken it to the limit. We tapped out. That was it. What Earth A.D. did was launch the hardcore scene, the death metal scene, the thrash scene. All those other bands, Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica, all those bands that came after us used that as their guiding light. I know that happened, but that’s fine.

When I saw Sid Vicious go down, I realized that fame isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. You don’t really have to cater to fame. You really need to be wary of it. I don’t want to be too rich or too famous and lose perspective and fuck up. I think if The Misfits would have been Metallica when we were in our twenties, we would all be dead.

I think it was a blessing for us to break up at the time. Can we revisit it? Yeah. Is Glenn going to be cool? I doubt it. If he’s not going to be cool, I ain’t doing it. I’ve got bigger things to do. If he’s going to be cool, we can do it, but if we do it, are we going to make a new album? Are we going to write songs together? Is he going to be cool to fans when we’re hanging out? What’s going to happen? Am I going to be miserable on the road? I don’t want to be miserable on the road.

My brother Doyle came up to me and asked me the same thing. He goes, ‘hey, we really need to go try and do this with Glenn and do what Glenn wants…” I said, ‘you know what? I’m happy now. I’m happy with the guys I’m playing with. Can you assure me that me working with Glenn, I’m going to be happy?’ That’s the most important thing. I really like what I do and I really like the people I’m working with, so why would I give that away for a boatload of money and be miserable? I don’t want that shit.”

The Misfits - Jerry Only 02

100% ROCK: Life’s too short, man. Life’s too fucking short for that.

Jerry: Yeah. I’m actually supposed to be sitting down with him over some other matters Friday. If it comes up, I’m just going to see how he is. If he’s cool, I’ll do it, because one thing, it’ll shut everybody up [and] I won’t have to hear about it – not that I mind. I really don’t mind. Because Glenn – I know when we first got the band back together, Glenn didn’t want to be involved, and [said], ‘oh, I don’t want to mention it or talk about it.’ Why? What’s the big deal? If you’re ashamed of what you did, you shouldn’t have done it.

100% ROCK: I’m looking forward to seeing Misfits 2015, man. I’m really amped for this gig. It’s going to be cool.

Jerry: Yeah, me too. Me too. I really enjoy coming to Australia. It’s a good crowd, good people, warm people, and that’s really what I like. We made a lot of friends down there. Every time we come down, we’ll make friends with the people at the diner down the block or the coffee shop, and it’s good. We’ve got really good friends there, and I think that’s really the blessing of having a band and travelling is getting to meet people, not avoid people or think that you’re better than them. That’s really missing your own point, and I think it’s a matter of being cool to people. We’ve got friends there, so it’s all good.

100% ROCK: Cool. I’ve got one very quick question and then I’ll let you go, man. The Misfits have always had such a very strong, almost cartoonish image, and I’m really surprised that despite a few cameos in things over the years, there’s never been a dedicated movie around the band. Would you consider doing something like the KISS have just put out, the Scooby Doo and KISS movie?

Jerry: I haven’t seen the KISS one. Our drummer’s really a big, big KISS fan. So is Scott Ian from Anthrax, I know that. I saw KISS’s Hotter than Hell tour. I won their album when I was a freshman down the boardwalk and they had already toured that album, their first album. I saw the Hotter than Hell tour in the fall of 1975. I’m very familiar with KISS. The thing is, I’ll be honest with you, we put the kibosh on [doing] a lot of that Misfits stuff. I think that until we’ve run our course, I think it’s kind of premature. People want to do documentaries and they want to do this and they want to do that. I always steered clear of them because I’m not done.

When I’m done, then I got time to do it and do it right, but right now, I don’t want to recap. We’re not at the recap stage yet. We’re at the advancing stage. We’re still infiltrating the human race. Until we’re done marching, I don’t want to set up a campfire, and like, ‘we’ll do that.’ Would I consider it? Sure. Is now the time? No. Maybe after the reunion. That might be an idea. If we get a reunion, why not make a movie doing it and everybody sit around telling old stories? Cool. That would be fun. Right now, the band is [still going]. We’re working on our next album. I don’t want to lose that perspective.

The Misfits logo

100% ROCK: What about something fictional? Do you see yourself as an actor?

Jerry: [Laughing] Yeah, I act a little bit everyday, I guess. I wouldn’t mind acting. We’ve been in a couple of movies doing cameos for different things. People think acting is an easy job. You’ve got to be there at 6am and they don’t let you go until 1 or 2 in the morning, and sometimes you sit around for 12 hours before they call your name. I don’t think I have the patience for that shit.

But I would try it. If I had the right role, I would give it a shot. I’d like to be in Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3 or something. [laughing] My daughter loves Papi!

100% ROCK: Cute, man. Thanks very much for you time. I’d better let you go. I’m sure you’ve got other interviews calling you. Thank you for your time. We’ll see you in December.

Jerry: Yeah, please do. Make sure you say hi.

An edited version of this interview was first published in X-Press Magazine’s 16 September, 2015 issue.

Category: Interviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

Comments (3)

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  1. zombiehorror says:

    Jerry Only’s Misfits™ were responsible for American Psycho, Famous Monsters, Cuts From the Crypt, Evilive II, Project 1950, Devil’s Rain and Dead Alive; they had nothing to do with Static Age, that album was recorded in 1978 and the songs were written (music/lyrics) by Glenn Danzig. Please correct your information!

  2. Shane says:

    Thanks for your comment Zombiehorror – Jerry Only was bass player for The Misfits on Static Age, according to my information, sooooo… not sure what information I have to correct…??

  3. Sam Jameson says:

    Hey Shane. I know this is an old article and *everything* has changed by now. But what zh was saying was about” Those two albums [Static Age and American Psycho] totally changed what a Misfits fan is today, because the young kids, they don’t like Dig Up Her Bones or Saturday Night or [some of the] other songs. They’re not about the older stuff.”

    Static Ages *is* the older stuff, so your editor’s note should’ve clarified that Jerry meant Famous Monsters instead.

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