"What the Misfits Mean to Me"
by Interviews

As you know by now, it's Misfits week at Punknews. Not only did the band create an entire genre and aesthetic, but they've influenced thousands of bands in their wake. So, we reached out to some cool bands and asked them how they've been influenced by the gang of ghouls. You can read their contributions below.

Jesse Michaels

Jesse Michaels

Operation Ivy, Common Rider, Classics of Love, Filmmaker

No disrespect to latter era Misfits but this commentary refers to the Danzig era. The Misfits are one of the very best bands of any rock / punk genre. Nobody has ever written songs as hauntingly great as those. The only person who even comes close in terms of otherworldly spookiness / melodic brilliance is Rocky Erickson. Obviously the whole shtick is over-the-top campy and the lyrics make absolutely no sense but that only adds to the charm (as does the lo-fi attack). They have some flawed stuff and the tuning issues on Earth AD can challenge even a die-hard garage ghoul, but songs like "skulls," "Where Eagles Dare" and so on are unforgettable total classics. People like to ironically make fun of Glen Danzig but if all he ever did was write say, "Hatebreeders", he still would have contributed more to the world than every sarcastic internet nerd put together. Long live The Misfits. At their best, they were one of the best rock & roll bands to ever strike a note.

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Andy Lefton

War//Plague, Tau Cross

The Misfits broke up in 1983 and left an impact on me that would forever change the trajectory of my life.

It was around 1988 and if memory serves me right, I was in the 7th grade. After getting off the bus from school one day, a friend approached me saying “my Mom won’t let me have this, you want it?” and proceeded to hand over a cassette tape. It was odd, with lots of purple, black and green colors and said the MISFITS “Walk among us”. Never heard of them but without hesitation I took it and threw it in my bag, hopped on my GT and rode home.

Throughout the 80’s I did a bit of breakdancing and had a mild interest in hair metal. So, my flavors varied from Nucleus, Run DMC to Def Leppard and Van Halen. I was fanatical about music, but had limited means as I was stuck in a very small town in Colorado called Mead. Upon arriving at my family’s trailer, I immediately ran to my room to throw in this MISFITS tape and can honestly say that moment change everything. I was completely floored.

The tape stayed in my boombox until the ribbon stretched. I remember obsessively looking over the album art and what every nuance it had to offer. The imagery, lyrics and emotion captivated me and forged a path to be a lifelong fan. I’d always carry extra batteries with me everywhere I went incase my Walkman died. I remember studying the layers of guitars and feedback listening to Earth A.D., and the epic “Whoas” of Astro Zombies. That primal analog production mixed with melodies that can never be imitated. I’m happy to be a part of something that was a “one-time thing”. It’ll never be replicated and will remain infinitely relevant.

As we got older, friends got their drivers license and I was able to escape my small town and make it to the mall where Disc Jockey had a very small area of punk and hardcore. This is where I would obsessively scan the tapes for anything MISFITS. I was able to find Earth A.D., Legacy of Brutality, etc and my love for this band grew evermore. By the time I was 18, I was hitting up Wax Trax Records in Boulder finding 7”s and anything on vinyl related to the MISFITS. I still have these records and bring them out every Halloween.

Personally, it’s a bit difficult to put into words the impact this music had on me, but it was incredibly powerful. A sort of metamorphosis, as I didn’t quite know where I was going and never really followed a specific crowd. This experience gave me a tribe to run with and can honestly say it brought me to where I am today.

I’d like to thank my friend for the tape, but can’t even remember his name. It’s crazy that something as miniscule as handing over a cassette tape can completely change you as a person. It could’ve been any band really, but this was meant to be.

This path ultimately brought me deeper into the world of music. I now play guitar in War//Plague and Tau Cross. I also work as a 3D animator/film maker and the last few years I’ve been finding time to do a Misfits/Samhain tribute animation every year. The imagery of the band still gets me fired up for Halloween and love to bring that stuff to life!

Halloween Pumpkin from Andy Lefton on Vimeo.

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Javier Van Huss

Eighteen Visions, Poison the Well

It’s a strange thing to hear a 15 year old say “I raped your mother today”, but that’s what happened to me. I have three children, and I do not adjust my music in the car to cater to their needs. This has resulted in them being exposed to all sorts of scary things, including Danzig’s lyrics.

I remember my love of the Misfits starting at the age of 15 myself, as a result of being super into skateboarding and specifically Thrasher magazine. Collection 1 on cassette was the first of Danzig’s musical endeavors that I purchased with my own money. My first garage band in 1992 covered “skulls”. I attended the concert recorded live on Thrall: Demonsweat at Irvine Meadows. Danzig was a part of my experience growing up, so it’s not surprising that it’s been a part of my childrens’.

I totally understand the broad appeal. The Misfits are not quite punk, not quite rock and roll, but obviously weird different enough to be accepted by people who are into those things. The Crimson Ghost logo is a tribal marking and a sure fire conversation starter in public. It’s considered a guarded and coveted subculture within the underground. The lyrics are somehow cryptic yet accessible and catchy, so singing along is easy even if you don’t know what they mean or what they actually are… which brings us back to children singing along. Songs about remembering Halloween, not being a son of a bitch, and having that fucking attitude, have become a part of our own personal cultural landscape. I cant imagine what long term effect this has on us, but we will find out.

We are 138 (whatever the fuck that means).

Crazy and the Brains

Christoph Jesus

Crazy and the Brains

Coming from New Jersey, you are guaranteed to love two things: Chicken Parm and the Misfits. Misfits came out of North Jersey, a place that is inherently creepy. Ugly factories, polluted air, and a Post Industrial sense of gloom haunt this part of the state. Out of this came some creepy, devilock-rocking Italian dudes. They left an indelible mark on NJ Punk, Punk Rock in general, and they also pioneered Horror Punk. They are revered where I come from. They were a perfect bridge between the 1960's music of my parents' era and the "fuck you" aggression of punk/hardcore. They only could have come out of exactly where they were from; the time and place were perfect. They have fans of every type of background. The Misfits Skull has had a huge impact on pop culture as well; you see that thing all over the fucking globe! I would say that they are easily among the Top 5, or at least Top 10, favorite band list of most punk rockers. Alright, I think I've made my point. So slap on your Earth A.D. record, order up a large chicken parm sandwich from Joe's Pizza, crack open an Olde English, and enjoy a brutally New Jersey night.

P.S. I am strictly speaking about Danzig era Misfits (1977-1983). As far as I am concerned, they did not make any more records after Glenn left the band. I believe at that point, Jerry Only moved to Costa Rica and gave boat tours under the name Juan Pablo. Danzig kept making music and doing push-ups though. See ya.

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Travis Yablon

Fat Heaven

I’d imagine my Misfits discovery was the opposite for me compared to most people as I was introduced to Danzig first. I was still in diapers when my dad would play “Mother” around the house and It wasn’t until years later that I’d heard “Hybrid Moments” for the first time and immediately recognized the voice. From there I was absolutely hooked on The Misfits. I went back and listened to everything I could find. They just completely 100% appealed to everything I liked or wanted in music: horror, humor, fast, catchy. I mean Jerry and Doyle even wrestled in WCW at one point, they ticked all boxes. Not only are they one of the most influential punk bands and pioneered horror punk, but they also were so versatile within the genre. Each song was remarkably different while sounding unmistakably like The Misfits, from rockabilly to hardcore and all in between. They just have what id consider perfect song after perfect song for the entire era Danzig was around. I was asked at work a few days ago, “if you were to get a tattoo of a band which band would it be?” The answer was easy because I already have a misfits tattoo.

Aspiga

Ray Finkle

Aspiga, Insignificant Others, Mitchell

They say that the sense of smell is very powerful in evoking memories of a time and place that heavily resonates with you. I feel like the same can be said about the sense of sound. I threw on Misfits: Collection I to refresh my memory of when I was first exposed to the Misfits and faint, distant images of my teenage bedroom came to mind. My favorite way to find out about music has always been through word of mouth and conversing with a friend. In a time before the internet was in full swing, this is how I stumbled onto the Misfits – a fellow teenage high school chum driving us around in their parents’ car. But let’s rewind to an even earlier time of music consumption.

In my formative years my parents raised me on the radio, specifically the local oldies station. Again, this is the stark contrast of the pre-internet days to now, when musical thirst drove us to the only free option at hand - the radio. The local oldies station played the top 40 of the 1950’s and ‘60’s; non-stop doo-wop, motown, and early rock’n’roll. A wonderful musical introduction course for the genres that would come into play later on in my life.

Now, let us now take a brief pause to discuss how large the horror genre fan base is. Members of the horror community can be found in the fandoms of any genre of music; from rock, punk, and metal, to every sub-genre beneath. Regardless of musical taste, it seems like one can have a conversation with anyone at any show about horror movies. My first job was at a Blockbuster Video store (if you remember those) so I binged on all of the movies they had – along with renting videos from smaller stores that carried horror films not quite family enough for the chain video rental store.

Well, short story long, if you throw all of those ingredients together the outcome might just be the Misfits: the horror-punk pioneers whose songs nod to the sounds of the '50s and '60s with a twist of gothic lyrical imagery, a dark sense of humor, all the while steadily riding the wave into the '80s hardcore punk movement. They have the long-reaching and lasting influence of the Ramones for those of darker punk and rock genres.

From my rare bootleg DVDs, to my folk-punk acoustic project with accordion, to the countless fiendskulls and fiendskull parody art I own, to the 7” flexi-disc bootleg of their songs played on a poorly recorded church organ that I found at random in Canada, to the Nutley Brass Band lounge renditions, to the tattoo on my arm, and to finally seeing them together on stage for the first time in over 30 years - the Misfits have meant a great deal to me through the duration of my life and still do. Thank you for reading this.