Monday, October 31, 2016

Rocktober Deep Cut Artist #21: The Misfits

For the criteria for bands and artists to be considered "deep cut artists," click here.

Band or artist:  The Misfits
Where from:  USA (New Jersey)
Years active: 1977–1983, 1995–present
Number of studio albums:  7
Highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100:  N/A
Highest-charting studio album on the Billboard 200:  The Devil's Rain (#70)

There might not be a more appropriate Halloween band than The Misfits.  By combining punk rock with horror film-inspired imagery and creepy stage costumes, The Misfits created the horror punk genre and, later the hardcore horror genre, as the band's sound drifted towards hardcore punk.  There is no doubt The Misfits have inspired legions of punk and metal bands since their beginnings in the late '70s and early '80s.

Lead singer Glenn Danzig and bassist Jerry Only formed the band in 1977 in Lodi, New Jersey.  They had several guitarists in their first few years, before Only's brother, Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein, joined the band in 1980 (at age 16).  That lineup stayed together until the band broke up in 1983.

Even if you don't know a single Misfits song, you probably know their look.  Early on, the band adopted the "devilock," a hairdo invented by Only, where the sides are short and the front is basically a vampire-like widow's peak that goes down between the eyes and past the chin.  It's almost like a reverse pony tail, except more punky.

But it's the band's logo –- the "Crimson Ghost" –- that people most associate with The Misfits, and has undoubtedly helped the band (or whoever controls their IP rights) to rake in a lot of merchandising money.  Inspired by a poster for a 1940s film serial of the same name, the Crimson Ghost is just your standard creepy skeleton in a reaper robe.  It was first used by the band for their 1979 singe "Horror Business."
The band released 2 studio albums, 3 EPs, and a few unattached singles between 1978 and 1983, when they broke up.  Danzig went on to form Samhain -- appropriately enough named after the Celtic pagan holiday that morphed into Halloween -- before forming the band Danzig (of "Mother" fame).  Only and Doyle briefly had a Christian metal band, before reforming The Misfits in 1995, after a legal battle with Danzig over royalties and use of the Crimson Ghost.  

The Misfits have since put out five more studio albums (although one of them, 1997's Static Age, was actually their first album (recorded in 1978), which had never been released as a stand-alone album), most recently The Devil's Rain in 2013.  Only has remained the only constant member of the band.  The "classic" lineup of Danzig, Only, and Doyle reunited this last September to play Riot Fest here in Chicago.  I was in Europe, so I didn't get a chance to see the show, which was unfortunate.

I didn't get into The Misfits until relatively recently.  There is definitely something different and interesting about their music, compared with their contemporaries.  It's tight, fast, and eerie.  Of course, being a guy who enjoys Halloween, I tend to listen to their music more during October than the rest of the year.  Even my kids have taking a liking to some Misfits songs -- particularly "Where Eagles Dare," because they say "I ain't no goddamned son of a bitch," which they think is hilarious.  I only play that one for them when mommy's not home.  

There are many Misfits songs that would be appropriate for today -- "Death Comes Ripping," "Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?," "Bloodfeast," "Night Of The Living Dead," "Braineaters," and "Ghouls Night Out," to name a few.  However, when a band has a song named "Halloween," it's hard to pass that up.  Plus, it's a great song, with some creepy lyrics about dead cats (i.e., the best kind of cats), razor blades in apples, and bonfires.

With that, this year's Rocktober has come to an end.  Enjoy your trick-or-treating tonight, and stay tuned, as tomorrow, I'll be starting Glowvember, a daily look at history's funniest nuclear accidents.

No comments: