It is hard to believe that it has already been over 35 years since the Misfits crept up from the New Jersey underground. In that time, the band has gone on to influence most, if not all, punk rock and heavy metal bands to emerge since, and are adored by some of the most die-hard fans you will ever meet outside of a Slayer concert. Back when I got my first Misfits cassette (that’s right) at around 10 or 11 years old, I knew there was something about this band that would stick with me forever, and they have. Though lineup changes and personal battles within the band have been a big part of the Misfits lore, and has sparked much debate among the legions of fiends (the Misfits’ name for their fans: The Fiend Club) about which era and lineup is best, it all comes down to the music. For the first time in almost a decade, there is a new Misfits album. ‘The Devil’s Rain’ features a three man line-up, with original member and bassist Jerry Only taking up vocal duties, as he has been on tour for many years now, legendary Black Flag guitarist Dez Cadena handling guitar and Eric“Chupacabra”Arce taking care of the thunder. Last year, the Misfits played for a sold-out crowd at Vinyl Music Hall, and they enjoyed it so much, they decided to add Pensacola to their regular tour routing and are on the way back to do it all over again. Jerry Only was excited when he called up for a chat to tell IN all about the new record and tour.
“Man, I’m happy to have this record done and out there for our fans to hear,” said Only “I gotta tell you, I’ve been listening to this thing for about a year now, and it’s one of those records that you keep finding new things each time you listen to it. A few of the songs were written a while back, with ‘Monkey’s Paw’ being the oldest. That was originally written for the ‘Famous Monsters’ album. ‘Twilight of the Dead’ was also an older tune. We had about ten or so songs, but only four actually made it onto the album. We decided to start fresh and write new songs for the rest of the album.”
When getting into the meaty conversations over which era, Danzig or Graves (with the larger percentage of fans leaning toward the Danzig years), were the Misfits’ golden age, many like to compare the sound of the records released with each front man. On one side, you have the raw, violent Danzig material, which was aggressive and sporadic, with the band members barely knowing how to play their instruments, yet crafting classic tunes that would become sing-along staples at every show the band plays. On the other, you have the refined and structured material from the time with Michael Graves on vocals. This demonstrated how years of toil and time perfecting their craft could produce solid songwriting and amazing records with sharper production and far superior musicianship. That debate will rage on for eternity, but where does ‘The Devil’s Rain’ fit into that picture?
“The new record, I think, is a good mix of both eras with a little something new here and there,” continues Only. “People are always going to have something to say about this and that and what we do, but we can‘t spend too much time worrying about things like that. Dez came up with some really cool thrash style tunes which are really heavy and we’ll probably do more heavy stuff as we go forward. We even have some double bass drumming on this record, which is new for a Misfits album. There are also those tunes that have more of a 1950s, early rock and roll sound, which has always played into our music. And of course you have the science fiction and horror inspired lyrics. I think the new songs speak for themselves, and when we are out on this tour, the first ten songs we play right off the bat are going to be new ones. I’m very curious, even a bit jittery to see how they go over, but what better test of your new material than to play ten of ‘em in a row to people who may not have heard them yet? It’ll either be accepted, or we’re gonna have a riot on our hands.”
The last time the Misfits came to Pensacola, it was one of the most talked about concerts in recent memory. This time, they return, again with label mates Juicehead, to unleash a new fury upon another capacity crowd. As to when the Misfits’ train runs out of track, that isn’t something we have to worry about any time soon.
“I almost feel as if the Misfits have been reborn with this album,” said Only. “It has definitely inspired me to write a lot more and keep this thing going. I want to do this for 50 years, and I’m only 14 away from that, but I feel like I can go for another 35. We aren’t going away any time soon. We have a long way to go yet. The Devil‘s Rain is just the beginning in a new chapter of this band.”
WHAT: Misfits w/ Juicehead, Cockfight
WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Sunday, November 20
WHERE: Vinyl Music Hall, 2 S. Palafox Pl.