INTERVIEW: Misfits – Jerry Only

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It’s been three long years since legendary New Jersey natives, Misfits, pioneers of all things ghoulish, fiendish and more importantly, horror-strewn punk rock, graced Australian Shores. This week, after two shows in New Zealand, founding member Jerry Only, along with Eric “Chupacabra” Arce and ex Black Flag vocalist turned guitarist Dez Cadena, are bringing back their highly energetic and charismatic stage show, following the release of their Horror Xmas limited 7” vinyl collective.

Mr. Only, known off-stage as Gerrard Caiafa; the man who single-handedly made every teenage punk rocker style their hair into a devilock to either impress a girl, his fellow comrades or to simply gawk at themselves in their bathroom mirror, talks about his impact on the growth of punk rock and the fact that, regardless of now being in his 50’s, he’s showing no sign of slowing down.

“We’re busy and we’re doing great stuff and you’ve just got to be thankful you can get up every morning and do things at the level we are doing it. We get out there and do 40-50 songs in a 90 minute set, and I’ve seen some eighteen-year-old kids have problems with that so it’s all good.”

The band that Jerry Only himself once described as having the ability to regenerate itself over the years, has also managed to successfully inspire a large variety of now heavyweight artists ranging from Metallica to My Chemical Romance and AFI, Hatebreed and NOFX. But it’s not just the music, The Misfits have become a globally recognized brand, offering collectables, clothing and an international community of fans known exclusively as the Fiend Club. Only explains his main intention is keeping Misfits alive and permanently fixated into the hearts and stereos of fans throughout generations.

“That’s what we’re looking for now, doing things that people can look at, and will still mean something to them 100 years from now. It’s nice when you see a parent come to a show and they say ‘Hey, my first show was The Misfits and this is my daughter, and this is her daughter and this is her first show’. It’s like a family tradition of sorts and they take it very personal and I feel like we do the same.” He explains.

“I like our band, I think our band is fucked up but I wouldn’t change it. The thing I like about it too is that the guys can play for 20 people like they play for 20,000 and it always stays the same.”

Keeping that stability is the very foundation of why Misfits have been a driving force behind punk rock music over the past three decades, regardless of being on hiatus or not. And it’s also the drive behind Only’s ability to continue the passion behind making music that sets the Misfits aside from others.

 “If you really look at what we’ve done, the sky is the limit. I think the only real hindrance for us would be lack of imagination. If we came to a point where we stopped caring about making new stuff, that would be the issue, but so far the choices we’ve made have been the right ones and the band continues to be an underground force and one of the most recognizable bands out there,” Only admits humbly.

“That is a feat in itself – to be cool for that amount of time without really getting worn down and being subjected to the pressures of success. We are our own success, as much as we can put out, is as much as we can kick out and I feel like that idea is still growing. We had a few setbacks with personal matters in 2013 but you can use your problems as problems, or you can use them as opportunities for greatness.”

Using the negative energy from the loss of Jerry’s father and Dez’s ex-wife in a camping accident last year, he decided to channel that darkness into a positive light and looks to 2014 as a year for perseverance, starting off in Australia.

“I feel really inspired to turn these really tragic events to come up with something great from it. I don’t want to look at it as a situation of peril, but more of a movement of growing forward in things that I think should make us proud.”

 “I think the next couple of years will be enforcing the lesson I’ve been teaching for all of these years – to hang in there and do what you think is right, and do it as hard as you can. I think we live up to that too.”

Misfits kick off the Australian leg of their tour on Thursday, the 16th on January at The Zoo in Brisbane, and will move onto Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Tickets are still available via Metropolis Touring. Keep up to date with news from the band via Misfits Records and their official website.

Lover of punk rock, and anything with a hint of angst. Aside from writing for XXIV, I also co-ordinate music festivals on-board the Rhapsody of the Seas. When I’m not abroad, you can find me gallivanting around my hometown of Adelaide, dreaming of Manhattan. My home is wherever my suitcase takes me.

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