Misfits news lying on a table of filth, Misfits news to which I’ve not yet replied.
Although an exact reason for his departure was not given when Dez Cadena left the current incarnation of the Misfits back in June, it turns out the guitarist is battling throat cancer. You may contribute to the “Help Dez Beat Cancer’s Ass” GoFundMe page here. Bassist and vocalist Jerry Only’s adult son Jerry Junior has been christened as Dez’s replacement; Jr.’s crazy if he doesn’t adopt the stage name Jerry Also (first suggested by Misfits Central message boarder “Mega Man”). In September the Misfits will embark on a U.S. tour wherein, at each stop, they will perform Static Age in its entirety. Why not? Gotta do something to commemorate the album’s 37th anniversary.
By the way, Dez Cadena played with the Misfits for fourteen years (2001-2015), approximately four times longer than his legendary stint in Black Flag. Does that mean he’ll go into the Punk Rock Hall of Fame with corpse paint? Can you even imagine a Punk Rock Hall of Fame? That’s what they should do with that abandoned Burger King on Governors Island in New York. Refurbish it as a shrine to everything Lou Reed wrought.
In July, Jerry Only told Metal Hammer he is in the midst of writing a book about his life. Now I don’t feel so bad about Jer never responding to any of my invitations to lend his voice to This Music Leaves Stains. Jerry’s book will include “a lot of the tragedies,” he says. You’re expecting me to make a Devil’s Rain joke here but I refuse to give you the satisfaction.
On the other side of the tomb: this Friday, Danzig (the band) will release single the first from their long-awaited covers EP Skeletons. Unfortunately, said single, a rousing rendition of the Devil’s Angels theme backed with a version of the Nightriders’ “Satan,” is confined to the European market via a limited edition vinyl run of 500 copies from AFM Records. If there’s a plan for digital release it remains secret for now. There is also no street date in place for the entirety of Skeletons, which shall find Danzig barreling through hits made famous by Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, and ZZ Top. Guys, we wanna buy your stuff. Why make it so challenging? Is that how Lucifer dictates it in the blood oath? I’d have your lawyer renegotiate that parchment.
Meanwhile, Danzig (the man) recently filmed a guest shot for the Peabody Award-winning comedy show “Portlandia.” Details are scarce, but somehow Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen convinced our Hellhound to unbutton his shirt and hit the beach. A vaguely iconic photo was produced, if only because it suggests Glenn has reached a new level of self-comfort.
Coincidentally, this pic popped up the same day “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” co-creator Dave Willis appeared on Tom Scharpling’s “The Best Show” to talk about the “Aqua Teen” series finale…and, at the behest of Scharpling, Danzig. Glenn voiced an animated version of himself on Willis’s cult cartoon in 2002 and famously caused a rigamarole before he could even step in the recording booth. Given final say on his two dimensional likeness, Danzig kept rejecting what the animators drew for not having the correct musculature.
“I’m way more cut than that,” was the Danzig money quote relayed from Willis to “Best Show” listeners. In order to circumvent any squabbling about the singer’s height (or lack thereof), “Aqua Teen” simply made him six feet tall from the start. Strategic move.
Now, on “Portlandia,” Danzig has no qualms about his physical definition (or lack thereof) and even told one news outlet he “had a blast.” Thirteen years can sure change a man. Who knows, maybe the people at “Portlandia” are just that much more charming and/or convincing.
And what of Joey Image? Over the Summer the percussionist who plays on the original storied “Horror Business” recorded a new version of that song—plus “Teenagers From Mars” and a couple originals—with Orlando-based punks Awesome & The Asskickers for their free release AAK. Download it here. Sounds like Joey can still rip it the hell up. Adrenalin O.D. drummer Dave Scott provides backup vox on the Misfits tracks (as well as drums on two A.O.D. revivals: “Nice Song” and “White Hassle”).
Speaking of the post-Static Age pre-Walk Among Us Misfits, Bobby Steele’s band the Undead continue to live up to their name: the group has scheduled an appearance at this year’s Chiller Theater convention in Parsippany, New Jersey. October 23-25 with a special performance on the 24th. For more info creep over to their website, TheUndead.com. Also appearing at Chiller 2015: Julie Newmar, Burt Ward, Adam West, and Antonio “Huggy Bear” Fargas!
Having authored a book about the Misfits you’d think I’d write about them here with more regularity. What stops me is concern over becoming trapped as “the Misfits guy” and also a perception that fiend-dom is shrinking as time goes on. Then I see viral stuff like the photo above, a Misfits t-shirt at Wal-Mart, coupled with endless “thumbs down” emojis from disillusioned ghouls of all stripes, and I realize the committed may actually be growing. So I rekindle my own flame. Once again, bonfire burnin’ bright.
Until the next batch of macabre happenings, consider this: the ex-Misfit Doyle is, as of last year, a vegan. No longer is the man who played on “Brain Eaters” a brain eater. Do they make soy brains? If so they must taste terrible.
The Devil’s Rain
When asked about the state of his band shortly after singer Michale Graves and drummer Dr. Chud both quit on the same night in 2000, bassist Jerry Only said something to the effect of “Anything concerning the Misfits is between me and my brother, Doyle.” These days, anything concerning the fate of suburban New Jersey’s most storied punk rock band appears to be secured firmly between Only’s ears. Brother Doyle was replaced on guitar by Black Flag legend Dez Cadena in 2001, but it still took a decade for this latest incarnation of the band Only founded in 1977 with vocalist Glenn Danzig to release an album’s worth of new material. Nail-biting fans must wonder—did Jerry Bear spend the Aughts trying to convince Danzig to return to the fold?
If so, he clearly didn’t wave enough money in Glenn’s face. The Devil’s Rain, lucky seven in the Misfits discography, finds Only assuming lead vocals. The monstrous bass player has a commanding and tuneful bellow, but the vampire bite of the two who came before him seems generally absent. Musically, the Misfits have stripped away here many of the heavy metal elements that punctuated their 1990s releases, barreling away in a mid-tempo rockish manner that only occasionally breaks into something Judas Priesty. This proves to be both positive and negative: While it’s great to hear a Misfits record that cruises more or less at the same pace as their dusty ’70s classic Static Age, even that record punched the hardcore throttle once in a while. Nothing on Devil’s Rain comes within a mile of matching the speedy theatrics of that album’s “We Are 138” or “Bullet.”
But what of theme? Anyone expecting The Devil’s Rain to offer biting commentary on the geopolitic or our nation’s planking epidemic will be crestfallen to learn the Misfits are continuing to simply swipe horror movie titles and write songs around them. “Land of the Dead,” “Dark Shadows,” “Death Ray,” and “Ghost of Frankenstein” all offer reasonable if not rousing tributes to their celluloid predecessors, although that last one is almost felled by a handful of corny monster grunts to drive home the point we are listening to a song about Frankenstein (or rather, Frankentein’s ghost). Similarly, “Death Ray” closes with album with—you guessed it—a sputtering of lasery death ray noises.
Only once do the Misfits of 2011 stray ever so slightly from their ooky spooky trick-or-treat tableau: “Where Do They Go” is a do-woppy lost love song centered around infamous murder burg Juárez, Mexico. The band fumbles a tad as they try to address such a shockingly real social horror in their quasi-cartoon style, but there’s enough hook to sink the chorus of “Where Do They Go” firmly into the recesses of your brain. Those gooey female back-up vocals, by the way, come courtesy of Joanna Powers, Jerry Only’s ex-wife.
Producer Ed Stasium gives the Misfits (a trio now consisting of Only, Cadena, and drummer Eric “Goat” Arce) a full, engaging sound on The Devil’s Rain, and there are moments where enough melodic horror flares up to remind skull jockeys of the band’s original intangible magic. Unfortunately, at fifty minutes, this outing is padded with too many so-so tunes that end up running together like trickles of lukewarm blood. Had they sliced the thing in half, the Misfits may have had something strong enough to shame devilocked doubters into corpse-like silence.
Then again, there’s nothing as stupid or embarrassing on The Devil’s Rain as that song Glenn wrote about his penis from the last Danzig record, and here it sounds like they actually paid to have the damn thing mastered. So the point in this round of “Who’s Working Hardest Not To Ruin Their Legacy?” goes to Mr. Only, unless it turns out “Curse of the Mummy’s Hand” is some kind of masturbation joke. In that case, well…anything concerning Jerry Only’s masturbation habits is between the man’s own meaty, leathered paw and his wang.
FINAL SCORE: Two Ghosts of Frankenstein (out of four).
In case you haven’t been paying attention, here’s the cover of The Devil’s Rain, the Misfits album that’s due sometime in October. In case you really haven’t been paying attention, no, Danzig is not back in the band. Hell, they couldn’t even get Dr. Chud on this shiz. It’s just eternal Misfits champion Jerry Only, Black Flag legend Dez Cadena (who’s been touring with Jerry as the Misfits since George Bush’s first term), and Goat from Murphy’s Law. Depressing, sure, but let’s reserve judgment until we actually hear The Devil’s Rain. You never know. Even Battle for the Planet of the Apes had its moments (and they shot that thing mostly in a public park).
w/ Kepi Ghoulie, the Colytons
Asbury Park Lanes
So it’s 2008 and the Queers are still at it. I went through a long period where I actively denied they ever existed, probably between 1999 and three weeks ago. I’m not sure why. Maybe part of me was mad they never got the recognition they deserved and I felt like they were embarrassing themselves by continuing to play and make records. Maybe I was still holding a grudge over Joe not laughing at the hilarious Van Halen joke I made when I first met him. Who knows. As you could probably guess, I get weird about bands sometimes.
At any rate, I woke up a few weeks ago and I thought, “God damn it, the Queers were / are really fucking important to me. I’m going to stop pretending they never existed.” I’ve been spinning their discs night and day ever since (I also wrote this totally bitchin’ Crawdaddy piece about them). Last week, I went to go check the Queers out live at Asbury Lanes in New Jersey. I was gonna go see them on a boat here in NY the night before, but I bailed for fear of getting sea sick.
I showed up as opening band the Colytons were ripping through their nasally set. They sound pretty close to Screeching Weasel; in Screeching Weasel’s absence, I can accept this. The Colytons are from Australia. How they ended up touring boats and bowling alleys with the Queers is beyond me. The Internet? Text messaging? It’s gotta be some modern technology what got them to the States. Anyway, the Colytons—I approve.
Turns out I’m guilty of not really paying attention to the Groovie Ghoulies when they were around. I always thought their singer Kepi was a girl. Thus, I was fully expecting the second opening band, Kepi Ghoulie / Kepi the Band, to be fronted by some kind of woman-type creature. Imagine my surprise when this scrawny dude walked on stage wearing a shirt emblazoned with “KEPI” and then announced that he was, in fact, Kepi Ghoulie. WTF, LOL, LBJ. Kepi’s new band was typical sub-par pop punk yazz punctuated by the singer’s wacky presence (he cracked numerous jokes about the gentrification of once-decaying Asbury Park).
The interesting thing about this concert was every band used the same drums and amplifiers, and they all sounded great…up until the Queers. As soon as Joe and the boys (still that guy from John Cougar Concentration Camp and some new yutz on drums) took the stage, the lead microphone stopped working and the snare drum was making some weird scratching noise. The fellas were clearly not amused, but they waited patiently while the tiny sound guy ran to and fro the stage in something of a panic. Eventually, King Queer had enough.
“Fuck it,” Joe said. “We’ve had worse.”
With that, the Queers launched into “No Tit.” Overall, their set was a highly rockin’ affair. They only played two “ballads”—“Teenage Bonehead” and “Like A Parasite.” Everything else was straight up punk. Joe was exerting medium energy, but the band still sounded good. Well, as good as a band can sound with microphone problems and some weird scratching noise on the snare drum. They nailed the tunes that really counted. “Steakbomb” in particular was pretty hot. Also, “Love Love Love” and “You’re Tripping” made my balls explode.
Original Queers singer Wimpy Rutherford was in attendance, and you better believe he got up there with the boys to bark out some nasty jams (“We’d Have A Riot Doing Heroin,” “Fagtown,” “Monster Zero,” etc). I’d never seen Wimp live before. He comes off as a pretty disturbed guy. By that I mean I could see how maybe as a kid this guy really was kicked out of the Webelos. I don’t think I’d be comfortable leaving my offspring near him.
For their grand finale, the Queers tore through a few classic Ramones tunes with Kepi Ghoulie returning to the mic. It’s always a treat to hear the ‘Mones, even if there’s some six foot tall longhair drunkenly doing the Jitterbug next to you (people in New Jersey are weird). I was kind of hoping the Queers would bust out a Black Flag song or two, as former Flag singer Dez Cadena came out for these punk rock proceedings. They didn’t. Maybe Dez said to them, “Hey, don’t bother playing any of my old band’s songs, ’cause I’m not gonna sing them.” Or maybe they didn’t see him there. Who knows.
On a side note, I’ve been called out before for mistaking lesser punk rockers for the mighty Dez, but there was no question this time it was him. He was wearing a big sandwich board that said, “Yes, I am Dez Cadena, ask me about Rollins.” No, really, I’ve seen pictures of the guy recently and I’d swear on six Bibles and a copy of Crazy that this was him.
Final Grade: Three dirty Converse sneakers out of four.