Founding Misfits vocalist Glenn Danzig and bassist Jerry Only will get onstage together for the first time in more than 30 years at Riot Fest this fall, but despite decades of bitter, public legal drama, the latter says a reunion is not as far-fetched as it sounds. “We were never not friends,” he tells Rolling Stone. “We were just adversaries. Larry Bird might not have liked Michael Jordan on the court, but when they go out to a bar they’re cool.”
The reunion, which includes longtime guitarist and Only’s brother Doyle, stemmed from a legal meeting that Danzig had with Only and Misfits management in January. The pair have had a long history of lawsuits, over the rights to the band’s name and merchandising, and they wanted to get on the same page before more litigation. “We went in there wanting to cut each other’s throats,” Only says. “It was turning into another court battle and it turned into a reunion. We walked out the door knowing we were going to play together. It’s a very cool thing.”
Only remains vague about the exact details of the meeting – who reached out to whom first (“Who gives a shit,” he says) – but he says that everyone agreed that if a reunion were to happen, it should be when all of the members are “in their prime.” Moreover, he says that all of his past arguments with Danzig have made him a better musician – they led to him becoming de facto frontman of the group in 2001. Because his skills are greater, he’s excited for the singer to return.
“The man has vision,” Only says of Danzig. “Where we go from here, let’s make sure we get along first. ‘Cause we’re doing well both on our own. If we do it and it don’t work, fuck it – we did it, man. But that’s not the case. … I think we’re going to get out there and back it up. And we’re going to be the best band ever. That’s my guess. It’s going to be fun.”
One thing that’s for sure is that Only is carefully considering Danzig’s side of the reunion. “I wouldn’t have done it unless I thought Glenn was really about it,” the bassist says. “I said, ‘Look, I know every song, so you pick the songs and you pick the set. That way you got the best shot of giving your best show.’ And we sat down and that happened pretty quick. We went through all the songs. We got ‘Halloween,’ ‘Die Die My Darling,’ no doubt, ‘Last Caress,’ boom boom boom. We picked out the songs and we came up with about 30 songs. We’re still messing around with the order.”
A drummer for the reunion has yet to be announced, though Only says they have one in mind who seems like a solid bet. “We’re throwing names up on the board, and I just said this name out of the blue,” he says. “And Glenn said that’s my favorite drummer.” The few hints the bassist will offer are that the drummer is a “family guy” who has lost positions in bands due to his commitment to his family. The bassist has a meeting scheduled with the drummer in June to begin rehearsing.
Next year will mark Misfits’ 40th anniversary, but for now Only has his sights on the Riot Fest shows, the first of which will take place Labor Day weekend in Denver. The second – and only other date scheduled – will take place two weeks later in Chicago. “If we make it to the second show, I’m a happy fucking guy,” Only says. “I’ll guarantee you I’m keeping to myself, I’m going to do my job, I’m going to work out every day, I’m going to play. Glenn likes my manager, John [Cafiero], so if I keep John right there in the middle and make sure that me and Glenn both get what we want, then there’s absolutely no problem. When you put two tigers in the cage, it’s an issue. It took me 39 years to realize that.” (Cafiero, on the line, later repeats that Only and Danzig enjoy each other’s company.)
“When you put two tigers in the cage, it’s an issue. It took me 39 years to realize that.”
Although the future of the reunion has yet to be seen, Only remains committed to Misfits regardless. After reaching an agreement with Danzig to tour and record under the moniker in the mid-Nineties, the bassist has become the group’s leader, singing and fronting various lineups of the group on tour. They’ve put out four full-lengths, two live albums, a comp and an EP since 1997. He’s releasing another Misfits EP, Friday the 13th, today, which he fast-tracked to come out around the reunion announcement and titular bad-luck day. It features the most recent lineup of the group, which included his son, Jerry Caiafa Jr., on guitar. But despite all the acrimony with his former partner, he says his continuation of Misfits has been in deference to Danzig.
“He was like a big brother to me,” Only says. “He showed me what the scene was about. I took it and ran.”