Well, what’s the manifesto on this subject? Perhaps to keep it short would be best. Overanalyzing rock ‘n roll never quite works for me, but sometimes it makes a bit of sense when read as a ‘process of discovery’, or perhaps as a rant.
This brief discussion is about The Misfits and for those of you who don’t know, the Misfits are a greatly celebrated punk band from the late ‘70s, mid ‘80s that defined a subgenre of rock known as Horror punk. Shit, I might need the Wikipedia article at hand to fill in some of the details. The quality of the Misfits that warrants their continued perseverance of legacy throughout the ages is not only their downright earworm sing-along perfection of pop, but also the strange and, I would argue, sincere substance that underlies every song ever published under their name. Singer and main visionary, Glenn Danzig’s obsession with the dark subject matter he writes about is downright honest.
Danzig went on to diversify his music after the aforementioned biblical incarnation of the Misfits, becoming more artful and maybe credibly musical in his later projects Samhain, and Danzig. That’s all fine and good; it’s not fair to expect anyone to be a one trick pony for all eternity. HOWEVER, in 1997 the rest of the Misfits decided to reform without him, and this time with a lucrative record deal (I’m guessing). Regardless of what I’ve ever felt about this, the threat of a new Misfits without Danzig inspired *an idea*. I would describe this idea as silly and maybe academic in the same way that writing about the Misfits in this particular way is both silly and maybe academic.
Contemplating these songs for a near lifetime, I have decided that there’s an unspoken formula to what the Misfits did back then. The cannon of Misfits songs have a simplicity about them and a mystery about the personnel that performed them. The unique stage appearance of the band and the subject matter of their songs were both very contained in a singular organized vision. The bizarre marriage of seriously dark imagery and quick and simple pop took itself very seriously but had an unmistakable sense of humor.
When Geffen announced the reformation of one of my all time beloved groups without the main visionary that originally fueled them, my heart sank. I envisioned the new group would likely have to consider the same discussion about formula that I just mentioned. A consideration of this discussion of formula is my reason for writing about the Misfits.
For one thing, the reformed Misfits did not share the original vision of the band. They clearly do not embrace the subject matter as did the original architect, whatever ineffable quality made the Misfits songs so heart-felt.
An apt comparison of this heresy (in the language of Reagan-era punk rock) would be the reconfiguration of another classic American group, the Dead Kennedys without iconic spazmo Jello Biafra. Jello is a passionate thinker of politics, and you know, sort of a shaman of political realities and he brought a unique passion to the Dead Kennedy’s songs. Without him, the grouped lacked something timeless.
So, I was thinking back at the time that I could just sit a spell and write a Misfits record of my own for my own amusement. I mean, it’s hilarious to say out loud, but it’s that formula I referred to earlier that makes the Misfits an interesting exercise in song writing. Not many bands can be contained in this way. I’m saying, it makes sense to me that someone could sit down and say, “I want to write a Misfits song,” and that would make perfect sense. You can’t sit down and write a Beatles song because those guys were not only all over the map, but across the universe as well! So, here I am… it’s 2009, twelve years after I thought of this idea to write my own Misfits songs and I feel I’m hitting a personal stride in how I do things. Interesting song-writing challenges are what I’m all about at this precise second.
Our group, thebrotheregg, has recorded all sorts of reinterpretations of songs based on similar logic. Sometimes I’ll record a basic guideline of a song and have the band flesh it out without them having even the benefit of hearing the original! If you search, you can find our interpretations of Magnetic Fields, the Bevis Frond, and the Art of Flying. We also have done tribute events in which we have performed live sets by bands that are not us, Galaxie 500 and Guided by Voices most notably.
So without blathering about this forever, I must conclude. I want to get in touch with my own inner well of anger, my own brutality and write some satisfying pop in the theme of the Misfits. It’s for fun and so if it doesn’t work, oh well. I mean, how do you top “Die Die My Darling” or “Angel Fuck”? You don’t. But if you read the account of Danzig’s replacement by Michael Graves, a 19 year old kid that never had even heard the Misfits before auditioning for the band, my proposal makes perfect sense. What difference does it make?
So, pretty soon you can laugh as we bulk up on our evil and do the task of recreating the Misfits for our own amusement. You may observe, as those who have heard preliminary demos, that I am still lacking in anger and evil as a singer. Not to worry, this will all be taken care of later as the songs flesh out. I will post a very preliminary demo just to put it out there right at the bottom of this post. Very rough first attempt of writing a Misfits song. Maybe we can get a group to actually hit these songs and make them a bit more cohesive, who knows? This one is called “Feast” and I’m playing guitar and singing, Jairus is playing bass and drums (not at the same time mind you.)
If the demo process is going well, I know it because I usually start laughing uncontrollably during the recording process. A few “Whoah-ooo’s” and aggressive “Hey’s” to support lyrics about dismemberment and blood orgasms make me giggle if all goes well. On one interview I saw with Danzig on Youtube he talks about his hatred of humanity or something in that ballpark and I suspect that perhaps this misanthropic sentiment “keeps it real” for him and offers constant renewal. Maybe he doesn’t laugh upon the discovery of a particularly awesome shout chorus, or the articulation of some especially brutal images, but I do! I can tell already that this project will be the therapy I so desperately need for my anger and God knows what else.
Please let us know if you have any clever song titles or graphic imageries that we can maybe incorporate. It’s totally fun to sit around and come up with titles like,”Blood Flood” for example. Watch this space for more later….
Feast (shitty demo)