THE CURSE OF JERRY ONLY: FIENDFEST TO PROJECT 1950

By Max Dropout

Since Jerry Only’s Christian Rock-cum-Malmsteen Kryst The Conquerer morphed into the equally lamentable Misfits revival, there’s been more fiasco to attract attention than there has been worthwhile music. Interest in the New’fits these days seems limited to purely morbid curiosity, as Only disparages the brand name with his desperate attempts to maintain notoriety. For those who recall, when Only initially broke the news of a new Misfits record, we were promised that Glenn’s absence, though felt, would be made up for by a performer of equally great stature — indeed, we were told that Dave Vanian of the Damned had been enlisted to write, record, and tour as the band’s new front man. However, this was dispelled almost immediately when Vanian shot back to the press that he hadn’t even been approached with the offer and was not interested in joining the band.

When the Misfits unveiled American Psycho, we were treated to a watery cliché of ineptly handled horror themes and vaguely barbershop-quartet-tinged punk, which introduced us to a certain Mr. Graves — a piss poor imitation of Glenn, who reputedly had never even heard of the Misfits until he walked into one of Only’s auditions. In the minds of most ‘Fits fans, this affair was an atrocity, but it didn’t stop there. It wasn’t until a little later that the Misfits worked out a tidy promotional run with Ted Turner’s now-defunct wrestling promotion WCW, where Doyle worked through some of the stiffest and worst matches imaginable alongside wrestling ally Vampiro, and further drove the good Misfits name into the ground. I needn’t even mention Only’s pathetic Devil lock comb over at this point.

Graves later left, and Only went on to enlist both Marky Ramone and Dez from Black Flag to form M25 — merely a humorous run in celebration of the Misfits’ twenty-five year “legacy of brutality” or some such crap, but at this point a lot of Misfits fans weren’t even paying attention. More recently though, there had been rumors circulating that Glenn Danzig was considering a full-fledged Misfits reunion, which would culminate with a national tour, headlined by the Misfits, and also feature a lineup of the darkest and most depraved rock n’ roll bands the world had ever seen, in a festival that would rival Ozzfest. These promises conjured images of Sammy Curr from Trick Or Treat setting audience members on fire with bolts of lightning, while Venom and Motorhead tore through blooddrenched sets in the background.

Those who stressed, “this sounds like a bald-faced lie,” were right to assume such skepticism after watching Only destroy the band’s reputation. It wasn’t before too long that Misfits: Project 1950 was announced, squashing the Glenn’fits reunion rumors. Instead, this Jerry Only side-project would feature Only on vocals, while retaining Dez and Ramone from the M25 lineup, and feature a crusty Ronnie Spector on backing vocals and Jimmy Destri of Blondie on keyboards, all doing supposed punk renditions of 1950s standards. This would also be the band headlining what was dubbed The Fiendfest tour, which resembled a punk rock retirement home on wheels rather than a collection of the darkest, most sinister bands on the planet. In addition to Misfits: Project 1950, the tour also featured the likes of Agnostic Front, Japanese horror punks Balzac, the Dickies, the Damned, and D.I. While I’d gladly pay money to see the Dickies or the Damned any day, the addition of so many old men on a single bill merely added to their reputation of being a washed-up act, and while Spector decided to sit the tour out, this was one veteran a few people would have felt compelled to see the lineup for.

The Project 1950 album itself, though, apparently disappoints beyond expectations, and the inclusion of a bonus DVD with the record merely provides another opportunity for the band to embarrass themselves. Reader Jack Angel reports:

“It’s live Misfits at some snowboard competition, live Misfits in New York, live Balzac in New York with Jerry Only singing, and a few Balzac videos. Jerry Only is chewing gum during the entire snowboard competition and they’re playing outside so everybody is throwing snowballs at them. Dez Cadena has his face painted now and looks like an idiot. They sound like garbage too now, and I mean really bad. Some fag comes on stage to sing backup, cuz they can’t manage it themselves. As for the New York footage, Jimmy Destri plays keyboard, and that’s all you can hear. He also falls down too, which makes for a good laugh. The Balzac stuff’s not even worth mentioning.”

The Misfits have gradually gotten so bad, and the rumors surrounding the ultimate truths so hideous, that they have become entertaining for another reason altogether. They are unintentionally humorous at this point, and while I wish Only would just go the fuck away, I am also intrigued at the same time by what he’ll to try to pull next.