Star Scene: Jerry Only


Jerry Only’s scene is a workaholic’s scene. The founding member of The Misfits explains: “I’m a workaholic, so trying to do everything at once seems to be my goal. I get up and work at my machine shop and I’ve got weights there. So, I’m working, working out, and I’m trying to write songs. You know what my dad always said, ‘There’s enough time to rest when I’m dead’”.

Forming in April 1977, The Misfits helped shape the punk movement with their unique sound. Only describes his music as: “Sizzling steaks because it’s like raw meat on fire”. “Sizzling steaks” is apt as their sound is aggressive, confrontational music, filled with violent lyrics as seen through the eyes of a monster, paired with vocal melodies reared from 1950s rock and roll. Only attributes this to his influences growing up. He states: “When I was growing up my mum used to listen to all these records so I was kind of weaned on 1950s rock ‘n’ roll. When I was in high school I started listening to Queen, Led Zepplin and then Bowie was the catalyst to making me want to play”. Adding to that was Only’s love of horror films with The Misfits immortalising Black & White B horror films through their music.

Through these influences, The Misfits introduced a ghoulish and totally distinctive persona; from their hand made musical weapons to their iconic ‘fiend skull’ to their ‘devil lock’ hairstyle. Even today they keep this persona alive, not only with the hairstyle and fiend image but also with their film choices and their handmade instruments. Only states: “I like Night of the Living Dead, the original, and of course Frankenstein is my keepsake I guess you could say. The (fiend) image is totally original and it came from working in the machine shop. We build all own material here. Still. As a matter of fact, yeah I was working on guitars the other day. We learned how to do that because that’s what we were interested in. As kids growing up, if you find something you’re interested in it’s a lot easier to apply yourself if you like something. I’m really enjoying it, like back in the day we used to work and put in money from my machine shop and now it’s kind of the other way round. The machine shop is very slow. I’ve been working there with my mum and now I drop money from the band back into the machine shop. I’m very happy with the way the band turned out and the way that we are still going. My son is playing with me now. And we’re closing in on our 40th anniversary in 2017 and I’m looking to go at least another 12 years to get to 50. And then I will get to 75 years. The band and the stuff we did on the first album is still relative. The songs are great. I’ve listened to it and I don’t get tired and that’s what I like about the band. Time has no effect on it. [pullquote]That’s really what I strive for; to make great music that will live way beyond my days and if you look at it that way and you look at it as an artist, then it seems to be very rewarding. [/pullquote]We’re not going anywhere, so if you get into the misfits, then you can get your kids into The Misfits”.

Only continues: “I would say to inspire little Misfits, they should listen to the Ramones, The Clash, The Jam and, obviously, The Misfits. And they should watch some horror films because that would give them subject matter and I would say they should grow up playing outside and doing sports. I mean that’s what we did when we were growing up, we played all sports at school and we worked out, stayed in shape, and that helped us out with the band. Because once you start with the band, it helps to be healthy and to be in shape. I played all sports: I played baseball, basketball, football. I did quite a bit”.

Though working out may seem like unusual advice from a punk band, it has helped them immensely, especially whilst touring. Only states: “I do still like touring. I enjoy it. We’re very good at it. We’re very efficient. We sleep on planes, we eat really well, we try to get as much rest as we can, we work out every day, and we just keep the momentum and try to hold onto it. When it all gets really long, and people start to get sick, that’s when it starts to get a little annoying because essentially you just wanna go home and then you’ve got another week or so of the tour to go but we avoid that”.

Only continues: “It’s usually a grind. Australia is a pretty tough tour because you’re travelling every day; you get off the stage late at night and you’re soaking wet, we’ve got all these leather jackets and stuff that we’ve got to air out and dry. The time we get to bed it’s usually 3 o’clock in the morning and at seven where heading for an airport. There’s not much downtime in Australia. You know my son works with me, he’s in the band, our drummer, and my nephew is with us, he does a drum set. And everyone works out. Normally when we’re on the road, especially in the States, we have weights right outside the band room. It’s good clean fun”.

Only states there were no notorious tour anecdotes: “Um, no there’s nothing there. I mean once in awhile we get to beat the shit out of someone. That happens every day. That happens in every day life. We don’t take any shit so that’s pretty much it. We are respectful of those who deserve it and disrespectful to those who deserve that”.

In fact, respect, compassion and friendship are key principles that The Misfits model for their fans. Only states: “We are very good influence on a lot of kids. Many times people come up to me and say, ‘I wouldn’t have got through a hard time in my life growing up if it wasn’t for you guys’, that that’s really where the payout is. All the rest is kind of bullshit. You get people who really lock into the effort that you put behind it. [pullquote]Kids today come up to me and go, ‘Oh man thank you for all the music’. And I say, ‘Look, we’re nowhere near done. You’re thanking me a little early. We’re gonna go home and make you some new stuff’.[/pullquote] I think the important thing is that if you really love something you do it as long as you can. And based on that I’m hoping to get those other 13 years out and and if I can go longer I will. I think it’s really based on the love of the art. I really enjoy the industry and the art work that comes through with it and I love that some of the artwork was done by fans and we’re very user-friendly as far as fans are concerned and I think that’s important, to not segregate yourself from the people; that you really let them be a part of it and I think we’ve done that. I think we’ve inspired a lot of people”.

[pullquote]”If you look at the rock and rollers out there today, everybody has a root that kind of comes down to our part of the woods”.[/pullquote]

Though touring can sometimes be a grind, Only discusses the driving force of music. He states: “Well, the music really drives you. If you listen to classical music, you can feel the energy in the music and it kind of pushes you on. And in our case, we’ll get out there and we’ll try to try to do about 40 to 50 songs in the night and what really drives us would be the power of the crowd. It’s like waves in the ocean; it inspires you and pushes you forward. You know when we get crowds like that it’s very inspiring. In some countries they just stand around and watch you and Japan was like that when we first went there and we weren’t ready for that. They’re the kind of people that just watched because they’ve never seen something before but now when we go to Japan it’s crazy”. [pullquote]”The Australian crowds are always really good to us. The Japanese are very structured in the way they conduct themselves. They’re not crazy like you guys”.[/pullquote]

Being the workaholic he is, Only states that audiences should expect “Sizzling steaks” on the December tour. As if planning the tour wasn’t enough to keep Only occupied, he is also writing new material whilst working at his machine shop. He states: “Actually I’ve got a bunch of new stuff that I really like. I’m still working on refining. I think I’ve got the title track of our new album. Well, I can’t tell you that. And now I’m looking for a hit. I’m going to try and write a few hits. I’ve also got the She Demons, I’ve been working on that for the last year. It’s been going really well; it’s The Ronnettes meeting the Ramones. We can’t bring them down yet because of the logistics as they’re relatively a new band but I’m hoping they’re going to go right to the top and I’m going to wind up opening for them at some point. That was the whole point of doing it”.  Until then, it’s sizzling steaks, The Misfits’ style.

The Misfits December 2015 Australian/New Zealand Tour:

Thursday 3rd December  – Allen St Rock Club, Christchurch, NZ
Friday 4th December – Bodega, Wellington, NZ
Saturday 5th December – The Studio, Auckland, NZ
Wednesday 9th December – The Triffid, Brisbane, AU
Thursday 10th December – The Gov, Adelaide, AU
Friday 11th December – Max Watts, Melbourne, AU
Saturday 12th December – Manning Bar, Sydney, AU
Sunday 13th December – Rosemount Hotel, Perth, AU

For more tickets, VIP packages and more information:

About Mary Boukouvalas 1612 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos,,,, She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.