There may be no bigger fan of punk band the Misfits in Orlando than Jeff Ilgenfritz. The creative force behind celebrated local pop band Mumpsy, he released an entire album of Misfits covers last year (Sings Those Golden Hits From the Misfits), managing to find the hidden pop gems within the Misfits' driving brutality and chisel them into sparkling indie currency. Now that the only remaining original Misfits member, Jerry Only, is bringing his retooled lineup to Orlando for the first time in nearly a decade, we thought the two of them should talk. — Justin Strout
Jeff Ilgenfritz: I'd like to ask you a little about your wrestling career …
Jerry Only: Oh, man. You know, wrestling is the most cutthroat business there is. People think the music industry is the most cutthroat, but they're wrong. But, yeah, man, `the WCW` were complete jokes. They didn't even have health insurance for these guys. They had me going on between Sting and Goldberg, and, you know, I didn't know what the hell I was doing. But Goldberg, he's making eight million dollars a year and they didn't even have an X-ray machine or anything. I was in a steel cage match in Dallas fighting Dr. Death and I didn't have my contacts in or anything so I couldn't see the door. Death throws me into the cage and my head goes right between the ropes and I see the door, but I smack my head pretty hard against the metal. I was backstage, looking like Carrie, all covered in blood, and I ask one of the guys, "All right, where's the guy so he can sew me up?" And they just look and me and say, "There is no guy."
I was looking online and couldn't really find anything out about your wrestling career.
I was writing a book about it and everything, but everybody's got a book nowadays. I said, "I don't want one now."
As a drummer myself, the relationship between bass and drums is pretty important to how a band sounds.
You're absolutely right, Jeff.
Who was your favorite drummer to play with out of the six (Manny Martínez, Mr. Jim, Joey Image, Arthur Googy, Brian Damage, Robo) the Misfits have had?
Googy and Robo. Definitely. Googy had that basic, driving four beat which was exactly what we needed at the time of Walk Among Us, and when we got Robo, he played in threes. It was different, but it was everything we needed. Joey Image played with us for a little bit but then left us right before we went on our England tour 'cause he was all fucked up on drugs. He'd rather be scoring heroin than rehearsing. That's why I don't ever wanna be in another band with a junkie, man. So we held an audition in New York City and Googy showed up. I actually taught him how to play drums, because he was like, "Jerry, if you show me how to play drums, I'll do it, man. I can do this!" It got to the point where Glenn `Danzig, original singer and co-founder of the Misfits with Jerry Only` just didn't want to play with him anymore, and `it` came down to him saying, "I'd rather quit the band than play with Googy." Which ultimately happened. People ask me all the time when Glenn's coming back. I always tell 'em, "He doesn't care about you. Get used to it! He's never coming back." I just don't think he's in it for the right reasons anymore. He just doesn't care about what people think of him.of him.
Can you remember the first time you heard the song "Mother" `Danzig's solo 1993 hit` on the radio?
Dude, sitting on my couch about to watch the Super Bowl. I was all cuddled up with my wife and doggie, about to watch the game, when "Mother" came on. I couldn't believe it! But, you know, it's like my lawyer said: "Jerry, you and Glenn formed the band. If Glenn is successful, it's only gonna help you out!"
Speaking of Glenn, what were your thoughts when you saw that now-infamous video of Danzig getting knocked out?
Oh, man. That's unfortunate. You know, that's really rough. Apparently, it was a festival and apparently Glenn snubbed the first two bands and `didn't let them play`. So `a member of one of the opening bands` thought that maybe Glenn should have heard him out. And, I mean, Glenn should have taken a moment or two to see what that guy had to tell him. We had a tour bus driver on our first European tour who had no front teeth. One day, at a pub, I asked him how he lost those teeth, and he said, "I was talking when I should have been listening." I think about that saying a lot. In all of Glenn's career, I think that was probably the worst.
The last time you were here (in 2000 at House of Blues), Michael Graves and Dr. Chud had a falling-out with you.
Yeah! You remember that?
Dude, everyone still talks about that night. So you ended alone and played "We Are 138" just by yourself on the bass.
Yeah, and I did a fucking moon-sault into the crowd that night, too. Our roadie for that tour was just constantly looking for drugs and women. It was bad. I thought by getting Michael, he would be the youthful side of Misfits and could bring the younger crowd while I would be the reason and logic behind it. But ultimately, I had to be both of those things. (laughs) Yeah, I had to tell Michael, "You're not in it for the Misfits. You're in it for the other things." So they left, and I sang the song and played it on the bass all alone. It taught me a lot of things. I realized that I didn't have to depend on other people. I could just do this thing by myself and I don't have to rely on others.
You came to that realization onstage in Orlando?
Yeah. Playing that song on bass. And the backflip.