Misfits’ Jerry Only and Doyle are reclining on couches in a curtained-off section of Denver’s cavernous National Western Complex. It’s just after midnight on Monday, a few hours after they played their first reunion show with the band’s original frontman Glenn Danzig, and they are still in full stage gear: leather, spikes, makeup, “devilock” hairdos. “We’ll have to dress you up if you want to be in the band,” Only says with a laugh when Rolling Stone walks in.
Doyle is quiet and keeps a solemn face, upset because his equipment didn’t work the way he wanted it to, even though it wasn’t noticeable in the audience. Only is all smiles, elated that the concert was a rousing success. It’s been more than three decades since they last played with Danzig, and the years in between have been filled with lawsuits and insults, but they managed not only to make the reunion work but to deliver a spectacle worthy of their nearly 40-year legacy right out of the gate.
“A lot of bands, when they do big reunions, they’ll book some small club gigs as warmup shows,” Only says. “I thought that this was the perfect warmup show for what we do. I thought us coming back to Denver out of all the places on the planet Earth was … why not? It’s like Area 51. Let’s go. But not only that it was a situation where we were able to back it with a Chicago gig, which is cool and that leaves L.A. and New York wanting it.” The bassist hopes they’ll ultimately be able to bring the reunion to the European festival market.
But before that can happen, Only and Doyle – brothers who haven’t played together since 2004 after Doyle left Misfits to tour with Danzig – took a few minutes to reflect on what the reunion means.
How did the show feel?
Jerry Only: Didn’t it seem retro? It seemed really old-school. It’s like a time warp. We’re reliving stuff we wrote when we were kids, traveling around when money didn’t matter and it was all just about the music. It was really good. Obviously, it’s a new experience because we’re all working together on a bigger level for the first time, but of all the things that could have possibly gone wrong I thought everything looked pretty good and I thought that everybody was excited. Everybody that I saw had a smile on their face.
How about you, Doyle?
Doyle: I had a lot of technical difficulties so I had a rough run.
I didn’t notice.
Only: Yeah, I didn’t notice either. And I heard it sounded good in the house.
What did you make of the audience?
Only: I didn’t focus on that to be honest with you. I was focusing on being as accurate as possible. We had to deal with the altitude, because you have thin air up here so it’s hard to breathe. Once we found the groove, I thought it flowed right into the crowd. Everybody was watching. A lot of times you have those big mosh pits and chaos and destruction and all that but I thought that was really respectful for the band, that everybody was as involved and at the same time didn’t want to miss anything.
Doyle: It felt weird to me because people were just standing there.
They weren’t just standing there. Look at what happened to my shoes from people stepping on my feet.
Doyle: That looks like Bozo’s foot [Only laughs]. I can’t see past the first people anyway.
Only: I think the audience was like a sponge. Sometimes you get an audience that’s looking to just explode. I think that us bringing this back is like a Halley’s Comet; it’s not something you see very often.
Jerry, you’ve become the band’s singer in the recent years prior to this. How did it feel to get a break?
Only: Physically, this was one of the easiest shows for me because I wasn’t stuck in one spot where you feel like you’re under the microscope. I just have to make sure I don’t bump into anybody.
Doyle: See those spikes? You’d get your head stabbed.
Only: You want to move without sending somebody to the hospital.
“I think we’re over arguing with each other. I think we’re old enough now.” –Jerry Only
What about the fact that Glenn was singing?
Only: Glenn is Glenn. We dealt with Glenn in the beginning and it’s the same dealing with Glenn now. It doesn’t change. It’s just a different perspective. If we let Glenn be Glenn and do what we’re supposed to do, it’s gonna work. You don’t argue with each other. I think we’re over that. I think we’re old enough now.
You’ve kept the band going for the past 20 years. Did it feel more complete with Glenn?
Only: There was always that hole. When Glenn split, there was always that feeling we were missing a component of what makes us what we are. And I’m sure the same goes on for him. In the other bands he was in, he’s changed people left and right. When we play together, it’s just us.
Doyle, did it feel different to be doing Misfits songs with Glenn again after all the Danzig Legacy shows you did?
Doyle: It was normal to me. I don’t see no big deal about any of this [Laughs].
You don’t think this was special?
Only: [Laughs] Nah, he’s telling you the truth.
Doyle: To me, just being on the stage was normal. But getting everybody back together has been fun. I like it. I had a real horror show onstage so … I hope Chicago will be better.
How has it been working with Dave Lombardo on drums?
Only: Obviously there’s a little transitional period for Dave coming from a thrash-metal background with Slayer or even Suicidal Tendencies. Dave is molding into this Fifties atomic-punk band. He needs to learn the fine elements of our songs. When he gets that, we’ll be good. Doyle was happy with him today.
Doyle: Yeah, so there you go [stares off].
Only: [Laughs] That’s his happy face.
Doyle: You have to be great to get Doyle’s seal of approval.
Only: Yeah, because Doyle was like, “Dave really doesn’t know our material but he wasn’t a fanboy.” That was one of the things I liked about him. So if we move forward as a unit and start writing new albums with somebody like Dave, we’ve got a drummer who’s from a different place; we might add a different element into our mixture. You feel him build the energy level. I like playing with him. And he’s a nice guy.
How was the vibe at the rehearsals with Glenn?
Only: It’s really fun. I’m always pushing to do the set five times and Glenn would say let’s do the song once. We come from L.A. to do rehearsal and he wants to do a song once. It feels like, we didn’t really work that out – let’s work that out together – but at the same time if you let him go, you’ve got to pay attention. It kind of makes you sharper on your game.
Does this feel like something that can continue?
Only:I want it to continue. I know Doyle wants it to continue. I know Glenn wants it to continue. We just have to be big enough people to make it continue. And that’s where we’re at. Whatever it takes. We’re going into our 40th anniversary so the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Eventually, Doyle’s got to write a new album; I’ve got to write a new album; Glenn’s got to write a new album. Why don’t we work together and make the greatest album ever? Now we’ve got different elements. We’ve got Doyle playing more of a metal kind of thing. We’ve got Dave who we’re trying to figure out what the fuck he’s doing. And Glenn’s got his own thing. And Acey [Slade, second guitar] fills in good too. And I’ve got the band where it is today. So it’s a matter of remolding and using all the different elements that I’ve got.
Have you had a conversation with Glenn about making a new album?
Only: I think it’s got to evolve naturally. The thing is we’ve tried to plan things and then we stand there and wait and as it comes we’ll just do it. When we go back – I don’t know about Glenn – but I canceled our touring and everything for this so I’m going to go home and write and lift.
You told me earlier this year that Glenn picked the set list. Did any of his selections surprise you?
Only: No. Actually, we were in total agreement on the songs. We discussed them. The only thing that got kicked out was “Devil’s Whorehouse,” which for me is a real riffy kind of a thing so I have to look at my guitar and I don’t like looking at my guitar; I like knowing where I’m going and being able to look at the crowd so he tossed that. I was like, “OK, cool.” Then he brought “Bullet” back in, which is Dave’s favorite song. And then the only thing we didn’t get in was “Attitude.” We weren’t gonna do “Attitude” because Guns N’ Roses did it on their tour and we figured why do that.
Doyle, Glenn picked some songs you haven’t done on the Legacy shows. What did you think of those?
Only: He don’t know [laughs].
“I think the music world and the fans are happy to have this.” –Only
How does it feel for you two to be playing together again? It’s been a while.
Doyle: He sounds good.
Only: It’s great. We jam at the [family] machine shop. We’ve got a rehearsal place. It’s really fun so we keep laughing and shit. That’s when you know it’s good. That was the hardest part for me to keep from having this big Cheshire Cat smile on my face. I just had to suck it in and give the audience what they expect.
You guys and Glenn all looked happy up there.
Only: That’s why Glenn and I decided to do it. At first, when we threw the idea out we didn’t know if he’d be into it. And then when he was like, “Yeah, we should do this,” that nailed it for me. I said, “Wow. Design the stage!” We brought all the speaker cabinets and he put the trim on it, the pumpkins and the coffins, and it worked. It’s all going together. It’s like pieces of a puzzle. But I think the music world and the fans are happy to have this. So we’re running with it with all we’ve got.
The reunited Misfits have confirmed that former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo will join them for their upcoming Riot Fest appearances. Watch here.