Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Spooktober Series” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!
Astro Zombies By The Misfits, Album: Walk Among Us (1982)
The zombie, often portrayed as an undead, flesh-eating, decaying corpse, has enjoyed a popularity surge in recent years. Whether they’re devouring their prey in The Walking Dead or getting their groove on in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video, zombies dominate pop culture. But are zombies real? Unlike many other monsters—which are mostly a product of superstition, religion and fear— zombies have a basis in fact, and several verified cases of zombies have been reported from Haitian voodoo culture.
A zombie, according to pop culture and folklore, is usually either a reawakened corpse with a ravenous appetite or someone bitten by another zombie infected with a “zombie virus.”
Zombies are usually portrayed as strong but robotic beings with rotting flesh. Their only mission is to feed. They typically don’t have conversations (although some may grunt a little).
The Ancient Greeks may have been the first civilization terrorized by a fear of the undead. Archaeologists have unearthed many ancient graves which contained skeletons pinned down by rocks and other heavy objects, assumedly to prevent the dead bodies from reanimating.
Zombie folklore has been around for centuries in Haiti, possibly originating in the 17th century when West African slaves were brought in to work on Haiti’s sugar cane plantations. Brutal conditions left the slaves longing for freedom. According to some reports, the life—or rather afterlife—of a zombie represented the horrific plight of slavery.
Voodoo is a religion based in West Africa and practiced throughout Haiti and the Caribbean, Brazil, the American South and other places with an African heritage.
Many people who follow the voodoo religion today believe zombies are myths, but some believe zombies are people revived by a voodoo practitioner known as a bokor.
Bokors have a tradition of using herbs, shells, fish, animal parts, bones and other objects to create concoctions including “zombie powders,” which contain tetrodotoxin, a deadly neurotoxin found in pufferfish and some other marine species.
Used carefully at sub-lethal doses, the tetrodotoxin combination may cause zombie-like symptoms such as difficulty walking, mental confusion and respiratory problems.
High doses of tetrodotoxin can lead to paralysis and coma. This could cause someone to appear dead and be buried alive – then later revived.
Though it’s rare, there are several credible reports in medical journals of people using these compounds to induce paralysis in people, then revive them from the grave.
A 1997 article in the British medical journal The Lancet described three verifiable accounts of zombies. In one case, a Haitian woman who appeared to be dead was buried in a family tomb, only to reappear three years later. An investigation revealed that her tomb was filled with stones, and her parents agreed to admit her to a local hospital.
In another well-documented case, a Haitian man named Clairvius Narcisse entered a local hospital with severe respiratory problems in 1962. After he slipped into a coma, Narcisse was declared dead was buried shortly thereafter.
But 18 years later, a man walked up to Angelina Narcisse in a village marketplace, insisting she was his sister. Doctors, townspeople and family members all identified him as Clairvius Narcisse, who claimed he had been buried alive, then dug up and put to work on a distant sugar plantation.
The astro zombies are coming to destroy us in this punk anthem. This song was inspired by a 1968 science fiction horror film called The Astro-Zombies.
Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, Punk Rock Edition, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!
The Misfits are an American punk rockband often recognized as the progenitors of the horror punk subgenre, blending punk and other musical influences with horror film themes and imagery. The group was founded in 1977 in Lodi, New Jersey, by vocalist, songwriter and keyboardist Glenn Danzig, and drummer Manny Martínez. Jerry Only joined on bass guitar shortly after. Over the next six years, membership would change frequently with Danzig and Only the only consistent members. During this time period, they released several EPs and singles, and with Only’s brother Doyle as guitarist, the albums Walk Among Us(1982) and Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood(1983), both considered touchstones of the early-1980s hardcore punk movement. The band has gone through many lineup changes over the years, with bassist Jerry Only being the only constant member in the group.
The Misfits got their name from the final film Marilyn Monroe made before her death in 1962. They later wrote a tribute to her, ‘Who Killed Marilyn?’ which has some choice theories about the starlet’s untimely death.
Every guy in the “classic” Misfits lineup, which for us includes Glenn Danzig (lead vox, random violence), Jerry Only (bass, “1-2-3-4” count-offs), Doyle (lead guitar) and Robo (drums), was going by an assumed name. Proof is in the details: Glenn Danzig’s real name is Glenn Allen Anzalone, the name his MOTHER gave him. Jerry Only and Doyle are actually blood brothers and share the same last name: Caiafa. Doyle is also a stage name; his real first name is the much-less-interesting Paul. We’re glad Robo went with a stage name. The Colombian-American drummer’s real name is a mouthful: Julio Roberto Valverde Valencia.
According to Misfits Central, after getting into a fight in London outside of a Jam show, lead singer Glenn Danzig and early guitarist Bobby Steele were thrown in jail. During his stay there, Danzig wrote ‘London Dungeon,’ one of the spookiest production jobs on a song ever, in our humble opinion.
Although it’s been rumored to be about George Lucas’ pre-’Star Wars’ sci-fi flick, ‘THX 1138’ — which stars Robert Duvall (pictured) and Donald Pleasance of ‘Halloween’ fame — Glenn Danzig was quoted on website TWEC.com in 2000 as saying, “[The other Misfits] didn’t write it, and they don’t know what the f— it’s about. It’s about violence.” We’ll take his word for it.
The song ‘Mephisto Waltz’ on Collection II is actually not a Misfits
Much has been said and written about the addition of this song on the ‘90s Caroline Records follow-up to the popular first collection of Misfits songs that came out in the ‘80s. This song was actually never recorded by the band and was only a rehearsal number. Hence, this version is believed to include Danzig on vocals, newly anointed bassist Eerie Von (who would play in post-Misfits bands Samhain and Danzig) doing the “woahs!” and an uncredited drummer.
Longtime Misfits worshippers Metallica covered the band’s ‘Die, Die My Darling’ on their 1998 covers album ‘Garage, Inc.’ (Recently, Danzig fronted Metallica for a few choice Misfits cuts at the 2013 Revolver Golden Gods Awards.) Guns N’ Roses also covered the Misfits’ ‘Attitude’ on 1993’s horrifically sub-par covers album ‘The Spaghetti Incident?’ We’d suggest listening to this on low in the background, whilst making spaghetti. It’s not worth cranking up in the least.
Misfits shows were nothing short of uncontrollable melees
Picture the last live show you went to. All in all, it was a pretty tame affair. We’d imagine that even some of the toughest bands these days — Metallica, Slipknot, Slayer — probably keep their crazy fans more than several feet away, even in the front row. So when you see some of the grainy footage of the Misfits ’80s shows, it shows you how nuts they used to be: guys jumping on stage, slam-dancing in the audience, Danzig going absolutely nuts. Note: If you listen to the ‘Evilive’ version of ‘Horror Business,’ you can hear Danzig threatening a fan … in the middle of the song. “One more f—ing time you a—hole, and you die!” he warns. One of our favorite moments in recorded music history.
Misfits records are major collectors items — which command huge price tags at auction
Something that the Misfits understood from the get-go was how to treat their fans — and how to grow their fan base. One of the things they did was start a fan club, aptly called the “Fiend Club,” which sent out stickers, buttons and occasionally music. These records — along with the band’s “official” releases — are incredibly valuable. Just go on eBay and do a search. You’ll be astounded. (We’re talking hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for these things.)
The ‘Legacy of Brutality’ album is a sore point for the band
The reason for the bad blood is basically that Glenn Danzig went back and re-dubbed a lot of Jerry Only’s bass parts, as well as quite a bit of the guitars. But if you’ve listened to the album a billion times like we have, you really can’t hear any noticeable differences. It captures the greatness that is the Misfits and should be honored as such.
The band has never fully reunited since it broke up in 1983
It’s not as though the band hasn’t tried. Glenn Danzig has been performing anniversary shows for the past few years with Doyle. Jerry Only and Doyle put together a ‘new’ Misfits lineup in the mid-’90s, which eventually dissolved. But the ‘classic’ lineup has yet to let bygones be bygones (they were in court for many years fighting about a host of issues), strap on the leather, paint on the eyeshadow and kill it once again.
“Candy apples and razor blades, little dead are soon in graves / I remember Halloween / This day anything goes, burning bodies hanging from poles / I remember Halloween!”
Thus cried Glenn Danzig in the classic Misfits song named for today’s hellacious, hallowed holiday, recasting Halloween as a day of purest evil instead of the plastic-pumpkin candy-grab it really is. The song itself is a gory little gem — a great song from a collection of accidentally brilliant songs — but it’s not good enough to make this list. Fuck it — Halloween is here! What better way to celebrate than a collection of the absolute best graveyard classics from the masters of unintentional comedy and gore-spattered punk ‘n’ roll? You know the Misfits, and you love the Misfits because they’re the fucking Misfits. You can’t hate them without hating fun itself.
For the uninitiated (for shame!), the Misfits crawled out of New Jersey way back in 1977 with a new take on punk rock: They took boring, comparatively straitlaced New York punk for a hell-ride, fashioning themselves after undead greasers with corpsepaint and trademark devilocks. The songs were sped-up ’50s rock played terribly with an evil-Elvis impersonation on top that almost masked the genius of the vocal hooks Danzig was able to pull from god knows where. For a band that could barely play their instruments, these guys could crank out the hits like no other. Lyrics fell between horror-fueled fantasies of violence and nonsensically sexualized celebrity obsessions, but they came off like alternate-dimension radio classics — Danzig’s croon easily sold lines about killing babies, inseminating little girls, and being, uh, 138.
Sadly, the Misfits came to an unfortunate end in 1983, due to the usual shitty reasons that cause young punk bands to break up. Glenn Danzig immediately moved on to heavier, less-punk sounds with his next band, Samhain, which would eventually morph into Danzig (the band). The remaining members, led by bassist Jerry Only, eventually (and unfortunately) won the rights to use the Misfits name and hired one Michale Graves to replace their irreplaceable singer. Several tours happened, countless T-shirts were sold, and a few terrible records were released before Graves split to leave the frustratingly persistent Jerry Only to front the band. No late-period Misfits will appear in this list, rest assured.
Which leads me to the task at hand: I will do the impossible here by attempting to select a measly 10 Misfits tracks to help us celebrate this most haunted holiday and most excellent band. One production note: The Misfits’ catalog gets messy as all hell — songs were re-released and re-recorded, repurposed from live recordings, and sometimes unceremoniously overdubbed by an angry Danzig (see: all of Legacy Of Brutality) — so we’re not including original release dates this time around. Suffice to say, all these songs (and many more great ones!) can be found in varying shapes on The Misfits (also called “Collection I”), Collection II, Walk Among Us, Static Age, and Legacy Of Brutality, as well as the four-disc box set that collects all relevant Misfits goodness from the Danzig era. With a catalog full of classics, it’s inevitable many favorites will be overlooked. Trust me, I love them all — I just love these more. Feel free to unleash the hounds in the comments section and tell me exactly why “Rat Fink” should be on here.
10. “Mommy Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight?”
For all the talk of hooks and ’50s crooning, the Misfits also made for a hell of a hardcore band. They’d dive deeper into hardcore with the Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood album, but they’d never outdo the filth and fury of “Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?” Released smack dab in the middle of studio album Walk Among Us, “Mommy” is a live track that kicks ass by simply kicking ass. Your typical deranged Danzig rant leads into one of the best Misfits moments ever when the song lurches to a sudden stop. Everything hangs for a second before Danzig screams the title — “Mommy? Can I go out and … kill tonight?” — and we bash our way through the song in double-time. For a song about a bullied kid murdering the world, they nail the tone. As a teenager, this was the soundtrack for head-banging and trashing my room.
9. “Horror Business”
The Misfits’ third single, released in 1978, “Horror Business” is a perfect case of the absurd legends that arise from vague, violent lyrics. With lines like “You don’t go in the bathroom with me” and “I’m warning you, I’ll put a knife right in you”, folks have long theorized it was about Sid and Nancy (she was stabbed to death in a bathroom, quite possibly by Sid), or that it’s a warning to gay fans not to follow Glenn into the shitter. In reality, it’s a clear reference to the movie Psycho, with the line “Psycho ’78” meant to transpose the timeframe of the original story to the year they recorded the song. As we all know, Norman Bates, the titular pyscho, stabbed Janet Leigh in the bathroom in Hitchcock’s classic. Misfits lyrics are rarely deep, just awesome. Also of historical note: the “Horror Business” single marked the first appearance of the impossibly cool Misfits mascot, the Crimson Ghost.
8. “Astro Zombies”
One of Danzig’s best tricks is his ability to sing a line about the extinction of the human race like he’s belting it out to his girlfriend, Betty Sue, as she drives off into the distance, leaving sad Glenn to weep mascara into his devilock. He imbues so much charisma and heart into every single line, you’d be forgiven for thinking he’s singing about something real — and that’s what makes it so magical. All that feeling paired with this melody, and you’ve got a classic Misfits banger fit for the end of the world.
“Like a dry desert soaking up rain, soaking up sun.” It sounds like a nice enough line out of context. In this case, Danzig is singing about Jackie O licking up … semen. Barf as you see fit. “Bullet” retells the story of the assassination of JFK by fixating on nauseating details: the president’s bullet-ridden body in the street, his shattered head hitting concrete, and most curiously, the mental state of his wife. After shouting about JFK for half the song, Danzig shifts gears and suddenly belts “You gotta suck, suck, Jackie suck.” The rest of the song becomes a singular, morbid vision of Jackie O masturbating the dead president for his vital fluids with which to (presumably) sustain her gold-digging lifestyle. Naturally.
6. “Hybrid Moments”
“If you’re gonna scream, scream with me / moments like this never last.” That’s the opening line to “Hybrid Moments,” a song about creatures raping faces and crying girls and other nonsense, but Danzig might as well be singing about the song itself. Misfits songs are short — painfully short. Brief little bursts of gore and joy that rock so hard you bang your fist and scream along straight through till the end, which usually hits after 90 seconds of ecstatic bliss. “Hybrid Moments” roars in like a banshee and tears out of there before you know what hit you — it’s a roller coaster of melody that stops short and leaves you hanging, hungry for more.
5. “Where Eagles Dare”
How can a perfect song be such a lyrical mess? Only Danzig knows. With a rumbling bass from hell holding down the bottom, we get batshit lines like, “An omelet of disease awaits your noontime meal / her mouth of germicide seducing all your glands” before the chorus drops the classic hook: “I ain’t no goddamn son of a bitch!” Reading through the theories at songmeanings.net reveals that (A) this has nothing to do with the classic World War II movie of the same name and (B) most folks think it’s a song about prostitutes. In which case “an omelet of disease” is suddenly twice as gross. But there’s no question the song is gold, to the point where the phrase “goddamn son of a bitch” has become indelibly linked with the band. When metal/hardcore/whatever band Trap Them snuck the line into a song last year, there was no question from whence it came.
4. “London Dungeon”
For a band mostly known for whoa-oh vocals and huge choruses, it’s refreshing to hear a song with such a delicious riff. The band as a whole finally deliver at the same level as Danzig, which is a rare occurrence in the Misfits canon. The stuttering snare, the ominous bass, and that infectious, near-metal, goth-baiting guitar — every piece setting the stage for the perfect chorus. Despite their origins and the roughshod execution of most of the songs, the Misfits were capable of serious songcraft, as proven here. For once the song’s lyrics are no mystery: Upon visiting the UK for an ill-fated tour with the Damned, Danzig and then-guitarist Bobby Steele attempted to do battle with skinheads and wound up in jail for a few nights. Danzig, sassy bitch that he is, turned a feather-ruffling experience into one of the best punk songs ever written.
Ask me my favorite Misfits song, go ahead. It’s “Skulls”! It’s hard to quantify exactly how and why “Skulls” rips so fucking hard, but I suppose we’d better try. The song itself is simple four-chord punk, nothing fancy. Lyrics? Practically retarded. But when the chorus hits, all I want are skulls. It’s all in the delivery: When Danzig sings that he wants your skull, it’s like he’s never wanted anything so badly. Yet there’s something tugging at the back of his heart, something in the way he holds back during the verse: He almost feels bad about it. Not so bad as to NOT sever your head and mount your skull on the wall, leaving your body to seep out its precious blood like devil’s rain (his words), but still: Danzig feels some modicum of sorrow for his insatiable need. It’s essentially a wistful, yearning love song for your severed head. Complex shit. This is my favorite Misfits tune without question, though it’s hard to call it their “best” when the next two are pretty much untouchable ….
2. “Last Caress”
It’s the big one — the one everyone knows. The one with the nastiest lyrics ever set to an anthem meant for fist-pumping sing-alongs. Metallica covered it and made it legitimately famous without even touching on the quality of the original. AFI covered it and we’re better off forgetting they tried. By this point, “Last Caress” is practically played out, but the song still stands as one of the best the Misfits would ever produce. Heck, it’s one of the best songs ever produced by the punk genre. “Sweet lovely death, I’m waiting for your breath ….” Danzig’s final, “One … last … caress!” is as timeless and classic as anything to come out of the ’50s, just as melodic, and a million times deadlier. Which is why it’s almost the best thing they’d ever do
1. “Die, Die My Darling”
This — the sixth and final Misfits single ever released before the painful-to-watch, even-worse-to-hear Michale Graves/Jerry Only period — is about as good as it gets. The band had broken up by the time it came out in 1984, though “Die, Die My Darling” was actually recorded in 1981 for the Walk Among Ussessions, and — somehow, amazingly — left off that album. By Misfits standards, the 3:11 running time is an eternity — but that’s part of the magic. Never once does the energy flag. The stomp that launches the song out the gate carries through the entire running time, building up to stomp even harder before crumbling to chaos at the end. An insistent single-note guitar lead ratchets the tension as high as it can go while Danzig howls his way through a song about killing his unnamed darling. It’s single-minded and nasty, pissed as fuck and perfect. “I’ll be seeing you in hell.” Released when it was, it’s easy to picture Danzig aiming the sentiment at his former bandmates, or even the band itself. Then again, Misfits lyrics are rarely deep. Either way, it was the perfect sendoff for one of the best punk bands of all time.
All Hell’s Gonna Break Loose! The Original Misfits Triumphantly Return to Chicago for One Night Only! Sat. April 27, 2019 at Allstate Arena Ticket info & Details at Misfits.com #Misfits #OriginalMisfits #TheMisfits