Jerry Only - 2003

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Jerry Only is the founding bassist of punk legends The Misfits. Although the band originally broke up in 1983 or so, he and his brother Doyle (who had played guitar in the Misfits) launched a new Danzig-free Misfits in the mid-90s. That line-up released the studio albums American Psycho and Famous Monsters before falling apart and paving the way for a Misfits Supergroup (!) featuring Jerry, Marky Ramone and Black Flag's Dez Cadena. This line-up recently released a CD of `50s cover tunes entitled Project 1950. Having been a fan of the band for a good 14 years, I jumped down, turned around, picked a bale of cotton when Citizine's Thom White told me he could get me on the phone with Mr. Only to discuss the past, present and future of his fine outfit. This was me: "Howdy-do!" The interview is below. I'm bold, black and beautiful, and Jerry is plain text, but with a devilock.



Hello, I'm calling for Mark.

Hey, this is Mark!

This is Jerry.

Hey! How ya doin'?

Doin' well! How you doin'?

Ah, excellent. Thank you for calling!

Ah yeah, no problem.

So tell me about the new album.

The new album is a childhood dream come true. Got to sing with Ronnie Spector, got to cover a bunch of songs that I thought were definitely influential in drawing a line between the punk form of songwriting and obviously the original rock and roll. So it went well, we had an all-star line-up - it was great!

How did you get that line-up together? That is an amazing line-up you have.

Yeah! Well, what happened was that we were doing the Misfits 25th Anniversary run, and Joey Ramone was supposed to be singing with us. And Marky was coming along, and we brought Dez in as a special guest because he had come out from the west coast to see the shows, and when he was here, I was just like, "Hey Dez! Since you're here, why don't you come up and do some songs with us?" And he was like, "Yeah okay, sure!" So as one thing led to another, and then my brother had some responsibilities that kept him from touring, we were working together - me, Mark and Dez! And Joey Ramone's 50th birthday party had come up and Blondie was playing there, and I'd run into Jimmy Destri and told Jimmy about the project, and he was interested in playing. And Ronnie, we actually called her on the phone. She was a good friend of Joey Ramone's as well, so Ronnie heard that we were working on a project and knew we were good friends with Joey, and she said, "Well, let me see what I can do for you guys." And she came down and threw her two cents in. So we got the five of us on there. It's really great because Mark was up for the game; Mark was very excited about working on a `50s project, something he'd always wanted to do. And Dez is actually a second-generation musician, his dad had worked in the music business before. And it just all fell together. I'm real happy with the product. I think the kids get something, the parents get something they can relate to with the kids, and we got a bunch of kids moshing to "This Magic Moment" so -


I stand there and laugh, you know? We do an oldies block in the middle of our set, and I'll see these kids moshing to these songs and I just say to myself, "Did those guys who wrote this stuff and recorded it ever think for one minute that kids would be doing this while their music was being played?" I say, "Nah, I don't think so." So it's good. I think it's an album to really transcend just about every generation there is. We have a problem now with parents stealing their kids' CDs, so the roles have been reversed.

I'm gonna pick it up either this weekend or next weekend as a birthday type thing for myself.

Oh you're gonna get a kick out of it! The packaging is real good. We started our own label, and one of the main things we realized was that the packaging has to really sell the product today, because kids can go out and buy a CD and then ten kids can burn them. So you have to really be on your toes. Now all of a sudden the marketing that we've been perfecting over the years all comes into play. And it's nice because you're able to go into Best Buy and buy our album with a free DVD in it for $11.99.

Yeah, I saw that it had that. What's on the DVD?

The DVD is us on Halloween night with Jimmy Destri playing "Runaway." And then we played the Phillips Snowboard Championships up in Vermont, outside on the side of a ski slope. Specifically, Phillips called us up - this was before the release of the record, this was last February - and said, "Listen, we know you guys are working on a `50s project. We want you to debut it here. I mean, this is really why we're bringing you in here. We wanna see what happens." And we were like, "Yeah, you're callin' real early - we wanna see what happens too!" So it was funny because those were all the snowboarding kids and all the acrobatic skiers and stuff. They were all cutting edge! They listen to the hardest stuff there is while they skate and do their thing. So we had them all moshing, and when I seen them start moshing, I was just like, "Wow! Here we go - this is gonna work!" Because if these kids get it, then your average kid will get it no problem, you know? These were the more extreme kids; these were like all the crazy kids. So it was really good. We got hit with snowballs - that's in there. Then there's a bunch of footage of us and Balzac, which is a band that's on our label now. And that's on there too as bonus stuff. It helps promote the label, it helps promote the band, and it also really brings to light the similarities between the original rock and roll and the punk music. It's all about vocal melodies. And really that's what we were musically getting away from - as you'd see heavy metal start coming in, you wound up getting more virtuoso guitar players and drummers doing ten-minute solos and things like this. So punk music really came and was a slap in the face for everybody to say, "Hey! Let's just write a bunch of really great songs, go out there and kick them as hard as we can!" Make no highs and lows or strategic pauses -

And you guys were one of the first and one of the best. You started a long time ago!

Yeah, you know, I did! But it was funny because I was the young guy in the crowd. I was 17, Howie Pyro - who plays in D Generation and he played also in Danzig's band recently - he was 16, and my brother Doyle was 12!


Yeah, Doyle's five years younger than me! So Doyle saw the Jam play CBGB's, I think he saw the Clash with me, he saw Sid Vicious play Max's Kansas City - when he was in 8th grade! So we were like young guys on the scene, and most of the older guys that were on the scene - the Jerry Nolans and the Johnny Thunders and guys like this - they were about between five and ten years older than me, but they were totally into doing different things. We came out of high school and we were a bunch of football players and basketball players, so we were athletes - we would lift weights and we would do all this kinda stuff - and I think that's really what preserved us as long physically, was that we came in and we didn't get involved with heroin or other things like that that these guys were doing. And God rest their souls, we lost a lot of them. We managed to keep it going and keep it alive. And I think we managed to reinvent ourselves every step of the way, which was important too. I was always a big David Bowie fan, and what happened was that when David Bowie switched from Ziggy Stardust into doing Young Americans and doing that little disco kinda dancey stuff and dressing up, all of a sudden I couldn't relate, you know? And I kinda left him on the side of the road and we started our own band about the same time. So I discovered the Clash, I discovered the Pistols, obviously the Ramones, Blondie - now Blondie being more of a transitional thing where they have the ability to hit the charts, where other bands have always struggled. I mean, I don't know what the highest Billboard chart for a Ramones song was or anything like that; I really don't follow it because we're not Billboard-oriented kinda people. But at the same time, with this new album, we charted very, very high! For us, we got in the 130s or something like that, which for us was the highest rated Misfits record yet.

Oh wow! Really?

Yeah! And I think Famous Monsters came in at 138, which is one of our songs so we were kinda tickled -

That's pretty funny, yeah! "We Are 138."

We were tickled pink about that. Or tickled BLACK, we should say! The thing was that for the Misfits actuallyto have that kind of a landing with this is big, and it seems to be holding its own from week to week. And I think that as more people buy it, and more people see the packaging and they get the DVD, I think it's gonna sell really really well. And I also think that we're gonna be going to oldies stations during the Halloween season with "Monster Mash," and I think that when these oldies stations get their hands on it, you're gonna see a lot of parents going home and saying to their kids, "I was listening to the radio on the way home - did you ever hear of the Misfits?," and they're all gonna go, "OH MY GOD! My mother's listening to the Misfits!" So it's kinda funny. I didn't wanna be a goof in that way. I just really wanted to show the kids, you know, because when I was a kid, my mom - she was a cheerleader when she was in high school in the `50s, she graduated in '57. So what happened was she would go to sock hops and collect oldies records. And when I was growing up in the early `60s, she would just put a whole bunch of 45s on the turntable and let it go for an hour. And I would sit there and play with my toys and listen to Fats Domino and Buddy Holly and Little Richard and things like this. So when I hit high school, or actually in grammar school, my eighth-grade teacher was my DAD's eighth-grade teacher - that was his first class and we were just about his last class - and he would bring in oldies for us to show us his oldies collection from when he used to run the sock hops. So it was kinda very nostalgic for me. And I didn't discover real metal music until probably about '74 or in that area, when I was a Freshman in high school. We saw Kiss's second tour, we saw Aerosmith's second tour -

Aw man!

We saw Queen's second tour. We missed everybody's first tour, but then again nobody knew about it! And once the albums started to be on the radio, and kids started wearing shirts, and you found them down the shore - I don't know if you're familiar with the Jersey shore, but you could win albums on wheel games. They had these wheel games - it's like a 20-to-1 shot. So you'd put a quarter up and if you got it, you'd win an album. So over the course of a week being down there with your parents, you wound up coming home with about 20 albums! And that's how I got Kiss's first album, and then I went to see Hotter Than Hell that fall. And we got Queen I and then Queen II - they did that album about the same year. And that's how we would get turned on to bands, so it was pretty interesting. So in the end, I thought that me reflecting on a `50s project was just a no-brainer. And it also gave me the ability to showcase the fact that I was gonna be singing a little bit here. And it really helped my game - that's the one thing. We're talking with Glenn Danzig; hopefully we can get things back together and do a little work with him. But either way, it's time to start really writing some stuff, and I really wanted to write some stuff in the vein of the original Misfits, and this was really the first step in that direction.

Okay. I was really fond of Famous Monsters. I thought it was kind of a sort of a step away from what the Misfits were when Glenn was in the band.


But in a good way! I mean, I thought you guys came up with a lot of good stuff.

Well, I tell you what - there was a thing there. First we did American Psycho - are you familiar with that?

To be honest, I wasn't as fond of that one, because it seemed like -

Oh. Well, that was a fastball. See, what happened was that we got signed to Geffen based on the premise of Green Day selling five million records, ok? So what they wanted, and what I knew we would be criticized by our fans for not doing, was kicking it the whole way. So when we wrote the American Psycho record, we really were looking for something that was nothing but a punk album from beginning to end, with really no variations from the theme - just straight up. And from our fans, we got the respect; from the record company, we got, you know, a FROWN.


You know, because they were looking for something for the radio. They wanted to use "Dig Up Her Bones" and we wanted to use something much more crazy. I wanted to go with "Psycho"! I thought "Psycho" was probably one of the most crunching tracks. But they were looking for something for radio play. And I said, "Listen, this isn't a radio play band. This is not really what you look for. What you look for is extreme polarity - to find interest! That's what the kids will find interest in - the fact that we come out and rip somebody's head off - they're gonna love that! We come out and sing a little lullaby, and everybody's gonna want to kill us! Don't put me there! And so we left Geffen, and we worked on Famous Monsters. And when we worked on Famous Monsters, everybody was kinda disheartened, because we had done extremely well on the road with Anthrax. The line-up was Cannibal Corpse, Life of Agony, Anthrax and the Misfits. And we had such a versatile crowd - a bunch of people coming from different areas. And we played really big places, had really big shows, and Anthrax was hungry! They were really looking to get to our audience, because that was really an audience that wasn't gonna die out on them. And then when we put the Psycho album out, we wound up opening for Megadeth, and it was just a rock crowd. And everybody was like, "Oh, what's going on?" We're playing for all these people, but nobody gets it. I was saying the same thing, and they were charging like $30 a ticket for us and Megadeth, and then taking an hour and a half to frisk everybody at the door. And our fans who paid 30 bucks didn't even get to see us! It was a real pain in the ass, so when we wrote Famous Monsters, everybody was kinda scattered, so Famous Monsters was written in about two months by people just like sending in stuff.


Yeah, everybody came down with ideas and basically we picked the best ideas, and we were just so - there was no consistency between everything. It was like 20 different colors just splattered on the board.

I really like that about it!

That's what Danzig liked about it!

Oh, he liked it too?

Well, he liked that better than American Psycho. Now see, Doyle doesn't. Doyle likes Psycho better. And me - I like certain things about each one. I thought that the real versatility in Famous Monsters really showed a lot of talent. You know, we had songs like "Descending Angel" and we had songs like "The Forbidden Zone" - and "Helena!" The record company didn't, Roadrunner - we were on Roadrunner, we figured Roadrunner, it's an indie label, they've got Slipknot for Christ's sake. So why are they gonna kinda scrutinize what we're doing? They wanted to cut "Helena" out of the line- up! And I was just like, "Oh my god! This song is just - it's got it all!" You know? And it's a favorite with the crowd, and I like it too, "Crawling Eye" probably being one of my favorites on the album. Then there was some stuff I wrote with Daniel Rey, who worked on Joey Ramone's stuff, and he wrote "Pet Sematary" with Dee Dee. Danny's good - he's a good songwriter. He's a little, I don't wanna say on the pop side, but very well structured songs. You know, where "Helena" is like three different things welded together -


You know, SHABBILY welded together so you can tell the difference in every part of that song, Danny kinda writes smooth. We wrote "Hunting Humans," we wrote things like this. Danny and I wrote ten songs in seven songs, which I thought might be close to the record until you probably look at some of the Beatles statistics. But four of them made the record, or five of them made the record, and that was the foundation. Once that happened, everybody got a little bit scared that me and Danny were gonna write the album in the next three days, so then everybody started showing up with stuff. But the thing was, we had a deadline. We were supposed to have the album out for a Halloween release, which is always big for us. We had to cram it in, and I'm real proud of that because we put that together in two months, and there was a LOT of stuff on there for two months.

Yeah. Oh wow, I didn't know it was two months.

Yeah, that's all it took. American Psycho we put about six months into writing it and trying to fix stuff and working on lyrics and working on timings. That was our first studio album, so we wanted to make sure that all our i's were dotted and t's were crossed. It was a good working band for its time, and it kinda outgrew itself so what I did was, when we did the 25th anniversary tour, it bought me time to bring in guys like Marky and Dez - all-star home run hitters - and then it fell into this album. `Cause this album is really, in my case, a new beginning. If we don't lock down with Glenn, then I'm gonna have to start working with me on vocals for the next record and just work along those lines and start working with Doyle again.

What's going on with Glenn? I didn't realize you were talking to him.

Glenn and us, we had a few talks and we decided, "Hey - is there something that we can do here or something that we can't do." There's obviously a lot of distance between, but the idea is not a bad idea. And my premise was I really didn't want to come back and be just a band playing a bunch of punk songs that we did back in the `70s and the `80s. I really wanted to come back and work on new stuff and try to incorporate some of the new technology as far as drumming goes - the double-bass drum and, you know, the real aggressive low end that these guys got going. Those kind of production procedures weren't available to us, but now we've spawned bands like Metallica and Pantera and Mansun and these other bands that come along. Slipknot, for example, have come along and they got the show, and they've got this huge crunching banging around low end that blows out your windows in the car. I mean, we haven't accomplished that yet. Not that it's something that we won't easily master - I think that it'll wind up working really really well. But I think we should come back and show all the boys that learned from us what we had up our sleeve the whole time, just now that obviously recording technology has been so far advanced since then. We used to be 2-inch 16 tracks, you know? And now we bring the 16-track old tapes into the studio to remix stuff, and people are like, "Whoa - that's 16!" So it's a different game.

So do you think you will have Doyle back in the band at some point?

Oh yeah. Doyle right now, as a matter of fact, he's not at work for the last two weeks. He's got something wrong with his elbow. Some kind of tendonitis or something. They've got an electronical strap that he's wearing now. And the thing is - he's gigantic! He's twice my size! He's been lifting and working, his baby daughter just turned one, so that was a milestone, and he's got four kids now that he's taking care of. So it's something I was looking forward to, but he needs some time off. He said, "Hey listen - I'm going through a divorce, I'm getting remarried and now we've got some injuries." But I'm hoping to get him back if not next fall, as soon as we start writing some new material. `Cause we'll run this `50s record probably through the end of the year and maybe for a little bit of next year, but it's time to really focus and put together something great. And I know that, regardless of whether we work with Glenn in the future or not, it's just a matter of trying to write the best stuff. So based on that, I might have to go dump this stuff on Glenn's desk and have him review it and go over it. I wanna make sure it smokes, you know?

Oh, okay. Why is he interested in - is he kind of bored with what he's doing or -

He's launching a festival. We had just done the Fiend Fest, and the Fiend Fest was our answer to Horror Punk. We had Balzac from Japan, we had the Damned from England - it was international bands, it was six bands on the line-up. We had Agnostic Front, which brought in a lot of the hardcore kids - it was actually a really really great band!

Yeah, I like them.

We were on tour with them in Europe, and the problem is when a band goes on right before me, I never get to see them because I have to do a vocal lesson and prepare to get on stage. So the red zone for me is an hour before we go on, and most bands that open for us usually get 45 minutes or an hour. So I can catch maybe the first couple of songs, but the way it was laid out, Agnostic Front was during my make-up time, which is before that!


It's a pain in the butt, but you are who you are and you do what you gotta do. So the thing is I got a formula for pulling off these shows. So people were just coming up to me saying, "Man, Agnostic Front is great," so we had them on the bill. We had D.I., which is kind of a - and the Dickies, so it was a really really strong show.

Oh wow. Oh man! I should have gone to that - I like all those bands!

Yeah, well that's it! There was a point when we were in San Francisco and I had to do a Guitar Center signing for our new string line that came out. So Dean Markley hooked that up and they said, "Hey listen, we want you down at the store at 3 o'clock." So it was an early show in Frisco and I got back to my bus - it was parked right outside the door, and the doors were open and I could hear the bands getting ready to go. So I said, "Okay, let me get ready - aaah, I've got about five hours before I go on! I'm gonna lay down for a minute. So I laid down with the windows open, and I listened to every band one after the other. And after each song, I heard the crowd scream. And I was just like, "Wow!" I said, "This is really really good!" I said, "You know, every song is getting a very huge positive response - every band!" And that's something that I think a lot of the bigger festivals lack, you know? They're just so diversified - I mean they've got Mansun with Limp Bizkit. That's two totally different crowds. And if you're spending a lot of money to see one type of music, you gotta sit there with your thumb up your rear end `til it happens! With us, it's a very specific audience. Come see this, `cause you'll like the whole thing. If you like steak, this is it for you. This is our little barbecue. So it wound up working really well. I was happy with it. One of the things that Glenn was working on, which I knew would be a hard sell, was the Blackest of the Black, which is a bunch of death metal bands, mostly from Europe. I think that's what he had planned on working on, so I'm hoping that we can get this together and do some stuff, `cause it would be fun. It would obviously be an attention getter. And we've always worked well together, so I really don't see an issue of us moving progressively forward. But you know, in time!

Why did the band originally break up in '83 or '84?

Well, it was a stressful time. I had gotten - I had been married - just gotten - well, I was married for about a year and I had a daughter, and we weren't making any money, and it was just getting to the point where, if I was gonna play like I did all the time and walk out the door every time I needed to, then I wanted it to be fun. You know? I wanted to enjoy it. I didn't want to be told what we were gonna do or I didn't want to see egos get in the way, and it just wound up getting that way. There were some situations where I was giving up everything I had for the band and I just expected everybody else to feel the same way. And when I saw that some things were just undoable for the good of the band, I realized that I was just kidding myself. In a way, I'm happy, because I think if we were to hit the level that like say Metallica or somebody like that hit, then we'd have had a hard time dealing with it. I think in the end, it would have been our doom.

Oh yeah?

Well yeah, I mean the money, the drugs, the -

Oh okay, yeah.

It's hard for anybody at that level. You know what I'm saying?


And I was, my God, I was 23, so my brother Doyle was 18. And we stepped out of the picture, and three or four years later - boom! Metallica hit, and I think that we would have been just as well a candidate for that kind of level of acceptance, based on the melodic songs that we have. I mean, they play a lot of them - I'll put it to you that way. And they do them well, but we do them better. Heh heh!

I know. Yep, yep.

So I think it would have been good, but at the same time, I think a lot of things from a family structure point would have fell apart. And I think a lot of us being more mature, being more responsible and having the band now is probably a blessing in disguise.

What kind of stuff did you do between then and when you relaunched the band later?

We worked on a bunch of different projects.

I've heard of Kryst the Conquerer.

Yeah, we worked on that. Well, everybody thought we were demonic. That was the impression that was being put out there, was that basically Glenn was the band and he was into that Danzig Son of Satan stuff. So I didn't want the kids to think that, and I didn't know if we'd ever get our name back, but we did. And we also designed our guitars during that period of time, and we're trying to get them licensed through BC Rich right now so the kids can buy them. The ones we make I think are too high-endy, too expensive, `cause they're made out of graphite.


They take a long time to make, they take five minutes to screw `em up.

Ha ha!

I go bang `em against stuff. It's almost a sin what happens to our stuff! But the equipment we were buying and hacking up to make look like Batman guitars - we decided that for just about the same amount of money, we should be able to build our own, so we got into doing that. There was a lot of stuff that wound up being preliminary work for what followed - the Psycho record and things like this. So we were pretty much prepping the whole time - building props, building drum kits. We built a giant drum kit with these huge spikes on it that glowed in the dark.


Crazy stuff! Just off-the-wall kind of stuff, amusing ourselves. So I think that's probably one of the things - we had too much time with nothing to do! But we work every day; I'm in the machine shop right now.

Do the Misfits keep you financially set? Or do you have to work a day job?

Well, the thing is that we have a lot of things going on. So the Misfits pretty much funds the Misfits. In other words, it used to cost me money to be in the band. When I was in the band with Glenn, Doyle and I would take our paycheck and throw it on the counter at the music store and spend all our money on keeping the Misfits going. And I think we got paid the last gig we ever did. That was about it. After that, during the `80s, pretty much we had to work to support our families, and then when the new band came back out, we hit levels but we didn't hit the levels that I thought we could have. I thought that Geffen dropped the ball. I thought that Roadrunner pretty much exploited our fans and took what they could from the project while putting in as little as possible. That's why we started our own label. It just came to the point where, hey look if we're gonna sell a quarter of a million records to our fans, then WE should be doing it. Because that's your break-even point when you deal with a big label.

Is it you and Doyle who own the label?

Right now, it's me and John Caferio, my manager, and then as soon as Doyle's back in, then Doyle as well. It's a good situation. I think it's gonna be a great label. We're gonna do horror films and put out DVDs. We're gonna branch it out! Right now, we've got merchandising up the gazoo as you know, so -

Do you think Dez and Marky are gonna stay in the band for a while, or is this just a one-off thing?

Oh well, I hope so! I really would like Marky as a permanent drummer; I think he's fantastic. I think Dez as a guest star would be great once Doyle gets back, if we can work with Glenn `cause I'm sure the kids are gonna wanna see a straight-up line-up. And Marky by far in my opinion is the best drummer on the planet. I mean, I hate to blow his horn, you know, because everybody does, but he's really solid. He cut our whole oldies album in eight hours, and that includes bringing the drums upstairs. He's an amazing drummer. I've never seen anything really like him; he's really good. And Dez is fantastic as well. And we work well together, and there's a really good vibe. I mean, that's the one thing that, in the end when we had Graves and Chud in the band, we wound up losing - was that it wasn't fun anymore. It was like everybody was like not digging each other. It wound up really getting terrible. The thing is that I would walk out of work and dread going on tour, and I said, "Well, this is wrong."

Ugh! I didn't - that sucks! Was it more ego, or just four different types of people?

No, it was just a kinda rebellious attitude. I was trying to point these guys in the right direction - you know, do your vocal lessons, lift your weights, step into the shoes, become the image. And people sometimes don't like to be told they gotta get out of bed. But my job is not really to be babysitting people; my job is really to be focusing on making the best band I possibly can. And in a lot of instances, there were a lot of times I felt we had the best band in the world. We would walk out on that stage, and I felt there was nobody that could touch us. And that's really what it's about. And losing Michale and Glenn, and being in a position where I had to go out and do leads, it really helped my game. I may never be the greatest singer on the planet, but I'm gonna be definitely the best..singing bass player on the planet! So I'm gonna be the best number two guy in the business, so it doesn't really matter. I might not be Shaq, but I can be Kobe, you know?

Did you get a lot of - I remember back when there was the whole lawsuit, getting the name back and everything -

Aw yeah, that was disgusting.

When you first started playing out again, did you have the problems that the Dead Kennedys without Jello are having now? With people boycotting and saying you're not the Misfits?

Well, I get that from time to time. The thing was that the actual image itself - the look of the band, the haircut, the make-up, the spikes - I made the spikes at work - pretty much I fabricated the individuality of the band. So when people look at me, I kinda personify what they envision the band to be. And that's why I'm able to hold it even now without the presence of Doyle. I mean, if Doyle needs some time, I got his back, and it was nice because it also gave me the opportunity to do this solo project, and really tie in the band, but not totally lock the band down to it, where people would say, "Well, we don't know if this is it" or whatever. But it came to a point where I was able to take number one songs and go out and showcase my vocals that I've been working on, and really not be harshly judged for doing it. And really that's what I wanted to do. In the event that I do have to sing in this band, then I would like to get Dez on one side of me and Doyle on the other and double up on the guitars. That's when Black Flag stepped up to a level where - we used to play with them a lot, when they were a four-piece and we were a four-piece. When Dez stepped to rhythm guitar and they had that extra guitar, it was like the difference between Iron Maiden and Van Halen. So all of a sudden, you had this extra dimension of guitar playing. Not that Eddie can't do it alone!

But I know what you mean though.

You know what I'm saying? It's got two different feels! It's fatter and it's thicker, so that would be an evolution in the music scheme that I would consider. But the main thing is that we keep the continuity of the band and write great albums. I mean, the Ramones went through a couple different line-up changes, and Johnny and Joey held through the whole thing. So right now I'm the only one hanging in there, but at the same time, I expect Doyle to come back and maybe even Glenn and put this thing really into a level where people are gonna sit up and take notice. In the meantime, like I say, I just keep sharpening my teeth!

Has there been a move - I know it's been a lot of years since you started, 25 years - are the Misfits shows the same as they used to be in terms of, it seems like there used to be a lot of anger and violence in the shows.-

Well, I tell ya what - I've been getting a little pissed off lately, but that's my personal gripe with, I don't know, just kids that are being jerks, you know? We're faster now than we've ever been. That might be an issue once we get Glenn back, because I tell you what, you gotta really be on it to keep up. And the other thing is that I think we're very well-rounded by having Marky and Dez in the line-up. It enables me to do a couple of Ramones songs that are hits. You know what I mean? And also we get to do a couple of Black Flag things which the kids appreciate. We do "Rise Above," we do "Six Pack," we do a couple songs like that. So it's a little more diversified. I think with the release of a true new Misfits album, that would have to change. We'd have to really focus on more Misfits stuff, which is really what we're starting to get ready for for October. Because, you know, I just wanted to pay homage to Joey and Dee Dee. I thought that since their music really inspired us and obviously made Marky who he is, and just doing songs like "Lobotomy" and "KKK" and "Sedated," they're great! What are you gonna do? You can't bypass them. We have the ability to do them, so why not pull them off? But there's a limit to that too.

Were you following Glenn's career after he left? Were you into any of his music?

In the 80s, no. I mean, I know "Mother" did really well for him; he was in the top 40 with that. Glenn's stuff got really dark and really, I wanna say grungey but that wouldn't be the right word. But more grindy sorta stuff.

Less melodic?

Well, more hard blues almost? And that's even a bad word too! But I would say more rhythm-oriented and less melody-oriented. But that's Glenn trying to be hard, you know? And I think he did well. I think he did what he set out to do. And I think it went farther than, if somebody were to just throw it up in my face in the beginning and say, "Hey, we're gonna run with this. What do you think of this?," I didn't think it would hit top 40. But it did. Every once in a while, you hear "Mother" on the radio, you know? And everybody breaks my balls.


Everyone says, "Aww! Listen to this!" But that's cool! I learned something from my whole legal battle - the better Glenn does, the more I'm worth as an artist!


It's a sad reality, but it's true.

Did you co-write a lot of the early songs that ended up -

Musically I arranged a lot of it and wrote all of the intro riffs and stuff like that. On a musical level, we probably wrote 25% or maybe 30% of the music between me and Doyle. But Glenn was real psyched on having everything in his name and all that kind of stuff. That was one of our settlement things. But that's okay. He did write all the lyrics. I wrote a line here, a line there, just because I thought he said something and when I ran it past him, he liked it. So that was me just stumbling in there. He was doing that. The way things used to work was - the way our business ran was he would book the shows and basically put together the songs, and me and Doyle would go to the shop and build the equipment and pay the money to get the band where it needed to go. So it was a good relationship, and I thought that it ended up working well because he's an excellent songwriter. And based on that, it was real good to see that when we put American Psycho and Famous Monsters together, that our stuff sounded more like us than something he did after. If you listen to the last two Misfits albums, you would say, "Well, that sounds more like the Misfits than Danzig's albums," you know?

Yeah. When American Psycho came out, I didn't like it as much because it seemed like - you know, I was excited like, "Oh, let's see what these guys can do without Glenn Danzig," and it sounded like - to me, I'm just one guy - it sounded like you were TRYING to do the exact same kind of thing? Whereas -

Well, we were trying to write really fast, aggressive three-chord songs. But when we got into the studio, Mike was a little gun-shy, to make a long story short. He didn't sing with any kind of aggression. He was like being a little prissy about it, and we were like, "No man, dig in!" But it was a learning experiment. I think "American Psycho" is a great song, "Dig Up Her Bones" is a great song, "From Hell They Came" is a great song.

But then Famous Monsters came out and I was like, "Well, they DON'T need Glenn Danzig. These are great songs!"

Well yeah! That's true. That diversity end of it showed up more in Famous Monsters. It was just something that - I was basically judging by what the fans would think. If I was a Misfits fan, what the hell would I want the first album to be? And then after that, I didn't care! "Hey, I did what you want, now I'm gonna do what we do!" I liked it a lot. I thought that was the thing. But you gotta realize - if you look at the original Misfits albums, Static Age is very New York and dark sounding, Walk Among Us is very just, I wanna say - not pop, but really fast and catchy, and Earth AD is really the turning point in rock and roll history because all of a sudden, after Earth AD, all the speed metal bands and all the death metal bands came rolling down the pike.

I've heard - Earth AD, I don't know how you feel about it at this point -

We recorded it in six hours!

I think it's incredible! I think it's an amazing record!

We did it from midnight to six in the morning after we played a show with Black Flag at the Santa Monica Civic, I think. That was after a gig! We recorded me, Doyle and Robo all at once, and Glenn slept! He was tired, and he didn't have to sing `til the music was done, so I said, "We know the stuff - go to bed!"

One of those books - I don't know if it was American Hardcore or This Band Could Be Your Life or something - one of those books was talking about how somebody, when they mixed it, they had all the reverb noises too, or the feedback noises too loud so you couldn't hear the guitars or something?

Well no, the thing was that there were feedback tracks that actually a lot of them weren't used. We actually - Doyle and I just opened the door, ran the tape and threw our guitars on the floor, and let them feedback. Closed the doors.

That album just sounds like it's on fire - all that "whooooo!"

It is on fire! It is. It's a great album. The thing was it was supposed to be Motorhead meets the Misfits. "Death Comes Ripping" is a key example of that because it's almost the "Ace of Spades." That album really changed a lot of the way people viewed music, and the sad thing was that the band fell apart after that. Because I think we could have taken it to another step if we would have just pulled together and said, "Hey look, we had an argument. Who gives a shit? Let's - hey, I'm wrong or I'm right, it doesn't really matter. The main thing is that this band keeps going." But I think Glenn was up for a change too. I think that he was looking to be the boss, and we weren't a boss kind of an outfit. But that shows over the years; every time he puts out a Danzig record, he's pretty much got a new line-up, you know? But that's okay. That's fine. Hopefully, everything will pass and we can get on to doing great stuff again.

Even if not, I'm really looking forward to hearing, well, first of all the new album I gotta get, and then what you guys come up with next. I was impressed with Famous Monsters; I think I'd probably be impressed by the next thing you do.

Well hey, thanks! Okay, anything else? `Cause I got another one I'm a little behind on.

Oh okay, I'm sorry!

No, that's fine!

Thank you. Thank you very much.

I'm glad you're interested! That's cool.

Thank you very much for your time.

Okay, great!

Alright, thank you! Bye!


Reader Comments
Well, Only sure is a talker! Good you ask him about Earth AD because is such a great album, I can't believe that it was recorded in only six hours!

Only is a great guy. He always brings the Misfits to South America, and he is real nice on stage and with the fans. Sadly when they came the 2000 some kids started spitting at them, having Graves busting the mic into someone's head and Doyle punching a guy in the face that stepped on stage for the third time! Kids can be real jerks, he's right, no wonder he's losing patience.

But I REALLY HATE Helena. Awful song. Their parts are just rip-offs from other songs. The main riff is COC's Clean my wounds, and there is a singing part in the middle which melody and notes are exactly the same as Metallica's Sanitarium emotional break, the one that goes "Mirror stares back hard..." (Robert)
I really enjoyed that interview! You asked just the right questions for him to open up. It's cool becuase I usually don't get anything out of Jerry Only interviews, all the questions people ask are so generalized.

Check out sometime, it's a videozine out of Texas.
After reading your interviews with Ginn re the Black Flag reunion, and then this interview with Jerry Only, it reminds me that the June 1983 Santa Monica Civic show he talks about *was* a previous Black Flag reunion.

This was called the "Everything Went Black" show, as it happened about the time that that comp came put (with all references to Black Flag blotched out in the original release due to the as yet unsettled MCA/Unicorn lawsuit). Black Flag rarely played L.A. after about 1981. This was because cop hassles prevented clubs or DYI shows from having them. When they did play it was once or twice a year at some big venue like the Stardust Ballroom or Perkin's Palace.

This show was opened by the original Stevo line-up Vandals, who threw cases of Budweiser into the crowd. ("That's all we got - we're just the opening band.") The Misfits followed (Danzig / Jerry / Doyle / Robo). I remember one of them (Jerry I think) breaking off the skull head from his guitar and throwing it to the crowd. A Misfits bouncer then came out, craked the guy who caught it across the head, and took it back.

The Flag show opened with Chavo singing with Greg, Chuck and Billy Stevenson, mostly doing the Jealous Again EP. Dez then came out and did some of his favorites including Police Story and Louie Louie. This was in the period when Flag had been touring heavily outside of L.A., but hadn't put out a record for 2 years due to legal hassels. Their current thing was the songs which would come out on My War and Slip It In (as on the "1982 Demos" recordings), but most of the locals hadn't heard any of this. Rollins sang a long set with songs like "Black Coffee" and "Can't Decide". The relatively sludgish beat of these new songs drove the crowd into the first occurence of the circular slam pit, which soon became "the thing" over haphazard slam dancing. The finale had Robo taking over on drums and all three singers on stage doing a few songs, which included "Nervous Breakdown". Keith Morris was invited but decided not to show up.

I've been trying to find a decent recording of this for years. (Jaqui)
Hey there. Just e-mailing to say I enjoyed the interview with Jerry. I've met him a couple times (I know him through Angry Artie of Punk Legends 101.) and he's an awesome person to talk to. It's a little hard to get a word in sometimes, but hey- it's better than that "I'm a star and too cool for you" kind of attitude that a certain someone has given me a few times. (That certain someone being Michale Graves.) Keep up the awesome work, hunni!
I haven't personally met the Misfits, but everything that I've read, seen, heard, or even listened to makes me like Jerry Only more and more.He just seems like a really nice guy who doesn't have that same"I'm-a-big-star-I'm-too-cool-for-you" attitude.I definetly like him better.

I really enjoyed this interview, because I totally saw where Jerry was coming from with everything. Plus everything he said makes me feel the same way about Danzig.It busts my balls listing to "Mother" on the radio without the original group together.
loved that interview!!! Jerry Only embodies what punk is all about, I ve seen the misfits twice, fiend fest and another independent show and as a aspiring vocalists/songwriter I love to here diffrent perpectives and this interview goes in depth to the mind of a working class hero who takes care of family and friends but keeps his heart and soul in his band and music something too many artists are losing these days bringing themselves up to a almost untouchable level saying they're "real people" while buying mansions and cars and alienating themselves in sake of popularity. God bless the misfits and thank god for people like Jerry, I tribute them in life and on my body wearing the Crimson Ghost on my forearm like a badge of honor; rock on!
I just saw the Misfits and got to shake Jerry Only's hand afterwards. I guess he seems nice, but he didn't look me in the face or anything. And my hand still hurts like hell. Damn he's got a grip! Dez Cadena signing my walkman was a bit nicer. Either way, it was a great show. But i'm hoping I can look forward to seeing the Dead Kennedys!

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