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Misfits: Live In London And Living Forever

Monday, 03 August 2015 Written by Alec Chillingworth

Photo: Jessica Wollstein Photography

To describe the Misfits' Crimson Ghost simply as a band logo would be to do it a great disservice. It's not just a logo. The cadaverous ghoul, nicked from a mid ‘40s film serial of the same name, appears everywhere: t-shirts, skateboards, flip-flops, pants, bath curtains. It's invaded all corners of modern society. It comes as something of a shock, then, to hear Jerry Only say: “Even to this day, the band still isn't commercially successful.”

You may call bullshit. You may be under the illusion that anyone who's in a band spends their spare time sailing yachts. But in today's musical climate, even for a band as ubiquitous as Misfits, that's just not a thing. Jerry called us from his family's machine factory – where he's worked since he was a teenager.

“Some people will say: 'Oh, they're just trying to capitalise on this or that.' No,” he said. “I gave up all the publishing to Glenn [Danzig, ex-Misfits singer] because he saw the value in it. When Metallica puts out an album with some Misfits covers on it and it sells a million copies, that's a lotta money in Glenn's pocket. I'm not here to collect money from Metallica playing my shit. I'm here to play my shit. I don't wanna be the guy who sits at home, walks to the mailbox with his little dog and collects his paycheck and just goes home again.”

We caught Misfits at Islington's O2 Academy a couple of weeks down the line and the dancefloor dissolved into a flurry of fists and wonky mohicans. Jerry thrashed at his bass, his bulbous biceps reflecting few of his 56 years. The set included the seminal 'Static Age' in full plus about 25 other cuts from the band’s history.

But, once again, something has changed. To the side of Jerry, there's a different guitarist. Following in the footsteps of axe-murderers (Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein and Dez Cadena, in particular) is no easy task. The new guy doesn't quite fill the hulking boots of the former, nor cut an ethereal figure in the same manner as the latter. But he's getting there. Plus, he looks exactly like Jerry. It’s weird.

“My son [Jerry Jr.] is in the band now,” Only said. “He's been with us for 10 years. He started out carrying our gear for us, then he went to sound engineering school and became our sound guy, then he became our tour manager, then our stage manager and now he's doing it all. Dez has had some health issues which he's handling – God bless him – and my son's playing great guitar out there and holding the whole thing together. I'm really proud of him.”

Having formed in 1977, the band can't go on forever. With blasphemy currently being spoken regarding AC/DC throwing in the towel, how long can the Misfits realistically plod on for? “It's coming up to our 40th anniversary, and I'm looking to make it to 50 years in the band myself,” Only said. “Now my son's in the band, I'm hoping he can take it from there. I'm looking for the Misfits to be a 75 year project. If we can make it to 100 years with another line-up in the last 25 years, then I'm excited about that. And with competent people, not just people we point at and go: 'OK, you can do my job.' People who actually get in there, write, get involved with the band and earn it and, at some point, it'll be their turn to carry the torch.”

We can't decide which side of crazy Jerry's plan for the Misfits falls on but, judging by their London performance, they've still got a few years left in the tank. The gargantuan set-list was strewn across the floor on the back of an A2 poster and they even went off-piste towards the end with Die Monster Die and Hunting Humans.

“About six months ago, I said to my son and Eric [Arce, drummer] that we really need to learn every Misfits song there is,” Only said. “When we walk on stage, if some kid yells 'I wanna hear this song!' then I can just turn to those guys, count it off and we can destroy it. That's what we need to be, not just a bunch of guys who are playing a set written for a certain tour. We need to be that band who has their entire catalogue in their back pocket.”

Of all the numbers ripped through in London, none are plucked from 'Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood'. The band's 1983 full-length was the last to be released by the 'classic' line-up and is an essential piece of hardcore punk history. We're a bit miffed it was left out. But it's still very much a part of the band's plans and was recently the cornerstone of their set at This Is Hardcore, Philadelphia's annual punk celebration. Speaking of 'Earth A.D.' obviously flicked some switch in Jerry's skull, and he proceeded to chat about it. That sounded good to us. As if we were going to stop him.

“We played a show with Black Flag – they did a reunion show in Santa Monica – and we got into the studio at midnight,” he continued. “By 6am, we cut 'Earth A.D.' Who the fuck can do that? You listen to that album and it's still ahead of its time. The way music's going – with all the commercialism and social media and crap – I don't think there's ever gonna be another 'Earth A.D.' It's like the meteor that hit the Earth and killed the dinosaurs. It's that kinda impact.

“The world hasn't caught up with 'Earth A.D.' yet. It was so revolutionary and I think it was one of the catalysts that destroyed the original band. Where do you go from 'Earth A.D.'? There is no place to go. That's the end of the line. In three albums, we went from creating something to total destruction. But you pick yourself up, you reinvent yourself and come up with other cool stuff and keep growing, and that's where we're at now.”

All in all, it’s hard to chat with Jerry and not put the phone down with your mind made up that he’s a bit of a hero. Sure, in London his voice broke like a pre-teen discovering his first pube during Hybrid Moments and he doesn't pack the venomous vitriol of Danzig, or the feckless youth of Michale Graves, but in many ways he is the Misfits.

As soon as the final chords of Halloween ruptured the eardrums, Jerry jumped – this isn't hyperbole, he literally jumped – from the stage onto the barrier, signing various trinkets and posing for obligatory selfies“Being there for the fans, being honest about who we are and not giving a fuck about what people have to say: that's the essence of this band,” he concluded.

Misfits Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon August 03 2015 - GLASGOW Queen Margaret Union
Tue August 04 2015 - BRISTOL Motion
Wed August 05 2015 - SOUTHAMPTON Engine Rooms

Click here to compare & buy Misfits Tickets at Stereoboard.com.


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