The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
INTERVIEW THE MISFITS JERRY ONLY DECEMBER 2013

HARD ROCK INTERVIEWS 2013 - THE MISFITS JERRY ONLY

 

THE MISFITS ARE A BAND THAT NEEDS NO INTRODUCTION AND JERRY ONLY IS THE MAN FLYING THE FLAG FOR FANS OF HORROR-FUELLED GARAGE ROCK ACROSS THE GLOBE. THE MISFITS ARE ALSO A BAND THAT SEEMINGLY NEVER STANDS STILL AND THEY ARE HEADING BACK DOWNUNDER IN JANUARY JUST TO REMIND US OF WHAT WE'VE BBEN MISSING SINCE THE LAST TIME. MOST IMPORTANTLY THEY ARE HERE TO REMIND US OF ALL WHAT MAKES ROCK AND ROLL SUCH FUN... JERRY IS ALSO A GUY I'D ALWAYS WANTED TO TALK TO AND IN REAL LIFE HE'S ALL YOU IMAGINE HIM TO BE: ARTICULATE, DRIVEN AND FUNNY AS HELL...

 

Mark: Hi, Jerry, how are you?

 


Jerry: Hey, I’m very well my friend, how are ya??

 


Mark: I’m great thanks Jerry, thank you for taking the time to talk to us at The Rockpit. There can’t be many people in Australia who haven’t heard of you, or seen you! After all these years do you prefer to be known as a legend or an institution!??

 


Jerry: Wow!! That’s like the toughest question anyone ever asked!! Put it this way, I work on the legendary part every day, and I think when I’m done I’m going to be an institution!! I’d like to make the transformation at some point, it’s a work in progress every day, but I really enjoy it, it’s a fun time.

 


Mark: I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that you took your name from a Marilyn Monroe film, do they make good movies these days, or are all the best ones behind us?

 


Jerry: I tell you what, we have a whole line finally, of Marilyn Monroe Misfits shirts coming out, we have Marilyn wearing a Misfits shirt with the devil on and all kinds of stuff, so it’s been 38 years in the making, but we finally got to team up with her! I’m really excited about that, to me it’s a dream come true, I mean, she’s always been something special.

 


Mark: That’s so cool, I’ve seen them on the website, and they look great. The big news for us here is that you are coming down to do a string of dates in January. The last time you were here, was a couple of years ago, promoting the last album, “The Devil’s Rain”. Do you have a favourite memory from Australia?

 


Jerry: I really enjoyed Australia quite a bit. I’ll be honest with you brother, all the shows start to blend in to one another, it’s getting hard to decipher them! But, we have quite a few good friends there, I try and approach every show the same, whether it’s to several hundred people, or a couple of hundred thousand, it doesn’t matter. I try and follow the same routine, and treat it with the same respect, and put on the best performance I can, as I always have that feeling, you never know which show is going to be your last show! So, you really can’t judge, you can’t say there are hundreds of people here tonight, I’ll work extra hard, or there’s been a blizzard and only fifty people show up, I’ll take it easy! I don’t look at it that way; I look at it like every day you get up, you get an opportunity to go up there and play really hard, and if you take advantage of that, then you did everything you can do! I think that’s what gives you gratification, knowing you’ve achieved the best you can possibly be.

 


 

 

Mark: Is it different for you, these days now that you are singing as well, do you feel a different kind of pressure in that role?

 


Jerry: Yeah, in the beginning I did, I’ve been doing it for 13 years now, so to me it’s funny, because when I first started singing it was kind of awkward playing and singing, and now it’s awkward either just playing or just singing! So, I actually feel more comfortable actually playing and singing at the moment. As far as being nervous, I’ve learnt heaps of things over the years that showed me, you take advantage of the situation as best you can, and you have to live with what you are able to do, whether it’s a production issue, or a physical issue, where your voice is a little bit shot, you go out there with the best intention, and you do the best job you can. We don’t really party on the road, we don’t drink or smoke, or anything like that, we give it the ultimate respect.

 


Mark: You’ve finally got a Christmas single out, bringing a bit of horror to Christmas; I think it’s called “Horror Xmas” is that something you’ve always wanted to do?

 


Jerry: Oh, yes! Have you heard it?

 


Mark: I’ve just heard it this morning!

 


Jerry: What did you think?? The first listen is always important!

 


Mark: It’s great! It’s just what you expect, it’s typical Misfits, and it brings a huge smile to your face!

 


Jerry: I’ll tell you a funny story, but first I’ll tell you why we did it. When I was a kid, my favourite Christmas shows were always The Grinch’s shows, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr Seuss, with Boris Karloff narrating the voice of the Grinch. For me, it always had that horror feel to it, with Boris Karloff’s voice- he is the voice of horror! So after that we had to do a song, it took us about two months to put the song together, and it took me that long to figure out how to play it, it wasn’t what the lyrics were, what the notes were, but how are we going to take the Grinch, and make it our own! But, make it so cool that it’ll go over big, and people are going to like it, and people aren’t going to really criticise us for doing something like a Christmas record with the Grinch! And that came out very, very well. Then we did “Blue Christmas” and Michael Tripaldi, is a good friend of mine, I went to go and sing with them in New Jersey, when they came up here for the summer, and I played him the record, and I said Michael, I know you’re a big Elvis fan, you gotta hear it, I played Blue Christmas, and I saw him roll his eyes and go, “Oh, my god, what are these guys doing?!!” Then when the song finished this big smile came across his face, and he really liked it. We weren’t trying to be Elvis; we were trying to make out the Elvis vibe via The Misfits! It was a different way of thinking, and a total respectful thing. And the last song on there is “The Island of Misfit Toys”, and it’s funny, because I actually penned this song back in 1999 when we were doing “Famous Monsters”, but the band was falling apart and things were all screwy, so I threw it away. But, later I was looking through stuff, and we were doing “Devil’s Rain”, and I saw the “Monkey’s Paw” which we did, I said look, this is a great song we should do this, I’m really sorry we didn’t put it on “Famous Monsters”, let me do it now. So, we did the “Monkey’s Paw” for “The Devil’s Rain”, and we grabbed the lyrics out of the book, and I sat down and I finished the song. “The Island of Misfits Toys” turned in to a long song, based on “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, and the toys that are all broken, and no kids want them, so they are all banished to the island of Misfits toys, so I wrote a song about that, for my little girl. And also to come up with an original Misfits track, I think when we put together a Christmas album, and we put some original songs in there, it really makes it good! I’m very proud of the whole thing.

 


Mark: It’s a great song, and just to get in the Christmas spirit, I see you’ve got a whole host of T shirts and ornaments on sale as well!

 


Jerry: Yeah, we are working really, really hard, trying to do really quality stuff, and we’re trying to stay in the public eye. We are trying to change the mentality of the music business, instead of releasing one big record and then releasing a whole bunch of singles spinning off to promote that record, we’re doing a whole lotta stuff, and then build it in to an album! We are working in reverse, and we are making all the merchandising and all the new art form into icons, and make it a key factor in what we put out as far as albums go.

 

 

 

Mark: So, we are looking at a new album sometime soon?

 


Jerry: Oh, Yeah, but I’m going to tell you, it’s a couple of EP’s away; we are going to do a couple of small projects. One, we are going to go back in the studio, and do a couple of Elvis songs, and secondly we’re going to do some 1950’s songs, and we have some new songs that we did last year that are going out on the re-release of the 50’s record being reprinted and re-released. Every year we add three or four songs to the 50’s record, so the next time we go to print it, it’ll be a two album set, instead of one, we just keep adding to it, it’s an ongoing project of the reflection of the past, of the music we grew up on. Then we did a Halloween single, which had a big piano, a Phantom of the Opera part, and Descending angel, which I wrote for my dad, God rest his soul, and we did Science Fiction/ Double Feature, which was something we always wanted to do, when me and Glenn used to hang out In New York, and go to the Rocky Horror Picture Show at noon, and then go out to the clubs in New York, as they didn’t open while 2 in the morning! We used to hang out and be obnoxious, so, doing “Science Fiction/Double Feature” was something I always wanted to do, and that we did with the girl background vocals instead, there’s some really interesting parts in there. You know, with The Misfits, you have to kind of keep it raw, but we are now, in today’s business you do a little side project here and there, it gives you so much more freedom to try what we want to try.

 


Mark: Yeah, it was great to hear that live on the “Dead Alive” album, so it’s great to get a studio version of that song. Going back to “The Devil’s Rain” album, named after the William Shatner horror movie, are you big fans of that film?

 


Jerry: Oh, very, very, very much! I think that the scene at the end where Ernest Borgnine comes out with the horns is one of the coolest things! I really like the concept that it’s a three hundred year quest for this guy to collect the souls that were sold to the Devil! I’m not big into any of that satanic stuff, but I am definitely big into the horror film, “The Devil’s Rain” is to me, one of the coolest films!

 


Mark: Thinking back to your earliest memories of music, what made you decide that you wanted to be in a Rock n Roll band?

 


Jerry: My mum was 19 when she had me, and she was in high school, she had all the Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Elvis, all the at the hop, stuff like that, so I used to listen to that when I was a kid. But, in the seventies when I started hanging out with friends, I saw The Allman Brothers, Edgar Winter, but what made me play was David Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs” show, I was working on some photography, and I saw his show, and I knew immediately, that’s what I want to do!! I could get up on stage and put on a performance like that, something that spellbinds you, wouldn’t that be the coolest thing in the world! Then I realised it’s based on really good music and imagery and preparation, hard work, and original concepts, and that’s when I put together this band with Glenn. I didn’t want to learn anybody else’s music; I didn’t want to do cover songs, I wanted us to have our own image. I’m happy that our image really fits me, from being an athlete and being aggressive, I have that competitive edge, and being into the horror films and the makeup, and building the equipment, wearing leather jackets, coming out with the whole look, it’s a timeless look! We’ve been working at this for almost forty years, and the stuff that we did on day 1, is still vibrant and alive, as it was back then. To me, it’s the best band in the world, and I wouldn’t trade to be in any other band, regardless of how rich or famous they were! Today, I think this band is a piece of my soul, and it really personifies me, it gives me an identity of something that I never dreamed in my wildest dreams, that I would be this person. Sometimes when I’m working, it’s like I’m not working on myself, I’m working on some super hero from Marvel, it’s interesting, but, I try and segregate the hype from the reality, we work on a blue collar level, we are just a really abrupt kind of garage band that just happens to be one of the biggest bands in the world, as far as imagery and inspiration goes anyway. I hope we made a change in the world for the best, I hope people see The Misfits as an inspiration, and not pull anything negative out of it, the last thing I want to do is make anybody do anything negative, or not achieve their goal, based on the fact that they listen to what I do, I want them to be stronger, because of The Misfits.

 

 

 

Mark; I think you’ve made a lot of people very happy over the years, and long may you continue to do so. I am conscious of our time, so here are a couple of our regular questions to finish with. If you could have been a fly on the wall for the recording of any album, at any point in time, what would it have been for you and why?

 


Jerry: Wow! I would say, oh my God, how could you do that to me?!!! Let me just think for a minute, I can’t tell you, I would imagine, “Queen II”, I would have liked to have seen them do that, I think the songs are astounding! You know I’ll hang up the phone and I’ll say, “Oh, I should have said this!!” I should say “Ziggy Stardust” but, I can see him playing the piano, and I can see him doing the parts, but with “Queen II” with all the vocals, I would say that would be something that would really intrigue me.

 


Mark: I don’t think you’ll kick yourself for that answer! Finally, what is the meaning of life??

 


Jerry: The meaning of life is a constant pursuit of greatness, in the sense of the giving of yourself to better humanity as a whole. I mean this is a bit absurd, but a million years ago, there were no men on this planet, as we know today, and within the next 20 or30 thousand years there may never be people again, or there may be volcanic eruptions everywhere, and the planet may always be changing, but I think the small amount of time that you are here, your impact should be something that brings other people a little bit closer to heaven, and that would be a sense of wellbeing, and a sense of security, and a sense of having actually existed. I really wish people would give more of themselves, and be less greedy, this place is what we make it, and for me, I try and spend as much time as I can with the kids, sometimes I feel as though I should be at home taking care of my little girl, but when I’m out on the road, I belong to the kids. And to me the meaning of life is being free enough to care and understand.

 


Mark: That’s great! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us this morning, Happy Holidays to you and the guys.

 


Jerry: Happy Holidays to you too, I can’t wait to see you brother!! Merry Christmas, and keep the faith!

 

 

 

Jerry spoke to Mark Diggins December 2013

 

 

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