The iconic “crimson ghost” logo has been spotted on t-shirts and tattoos at state fairs all over the world, but did you know that the famous smiling skull is actually the logo for a punk band from New Jersey called The Misfits? It’s true! Since forming in 1977, they've successfully blended their love of punk rock and horror movies to create one of the most distinct identities in rock history. But if, for whatever reason, their music has eluded you, this handy guide will provide you with everything you need to know about being inducted into the Fiend Club.
Here’s the first step towards becoming a real Misfits fan: Purchase their entire discography. All told, it’s not that much for 40 years’ worth of material—seven studio albums, a few live records, some collections, and a handful of stray EPs. Once you’ve acquired all of that, comb through the records and set aside the ones recorded after 1984. Group them together in a separate pile. Now, once you’ve done that, hold said pile over the nearest trash receptacle and emphatically drop it in.
“Couldn’t I have saved myself some money by not buying those albums in the first place?” you might be asking. Yes, but that would be missing the point. You see, a large part of being a Misfits fan is coping with the maddening frustration derived from perpetually being duped by anything with the crimson ghost logo slapped on it. This is a lesson you must learn if you want to count yourself among the Misfits faithful. You must know the sting of paying full retail price for 1997’s American Psycho and 1999’s Famous Monsters and, upon pressing play, muttering to yourself, “...the fuck is this?” You must go against your better judgment and give them yet another chance by purchasing 2011’s The Devil’s Rain and then asking, “Are you fucking serious?” And you must further take your copy of 2013’s DeA.D. Alive! home before realizing it’s just a live set of material from the aforementioned three albums. This is a tough lesson but it will engrain in you a hard-earned appreciation for the band’s classic material.
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Now that we’ve gotten that unpleasantness out of the way, we can move on to the fun stuff. The next step in becoming A True Misfits Fan™ is developing a halfway decent Glenn Danzig impression. (Danzig was the band’s original singer, and the group went to shit after he left to pursue his dream of purchasing kitty litter full-time.) Danzig’s voice resembles that of an evil Elvis, so mimicking it requires some lip-curling, some crooning, and a whole lot of pelvic thrusting. This impression comes from deep down in the depths of the genitals—this cannot be stressed enough. This impression also requires practice, and the ideal song on which to work out the kinks is “Mother,” which is actually not a Misfits song, but the most (only) famous song from Danzig’s solo career. Feel the vibrato as it rumbles deeply around spookily in your diaphragm.
Now that you’ve got a solid Danzig voice going, it’s time to put it to good use. You must next learn the fine art of Misfits Mumbling. Singing along to a Misfits song does not require hitting every lyric with fine-tuned accuracy and metered precision. Misfits lyrics are malleable and subject to interpretation. Much like life itself, Misfits lyrics are what you make of them. For example, on one of the Misfits’ most iconic songs, “Where Eagles Dare,” there is a clear-cut chorus meant to be shouted in unison along with your stupidest of friends:
“I ain’t no goddamn son of a bitch! You better think about it, baby!”
Simple. Fun. Nonsensical. Everything else in the song is just a vague, rambling prelude to those two lines. Literally not a single living soul knows the lyrics to the verse, though the lyric sheet lists the following:
“An omelet of disease awaits your noontime meal,
Her mouth of germicide seducing all your glands”
When tasked with singing this part, you’ve got options: You can mumble your way through it, slurring the words under your breath until you’re back to the chorus. Or, for the more adventurous logophile, you can make up your own lyrics on the fly. For example, when the one-man band Atom & His Package covered this song, the lyric changed to this on-the-spot knock-off:
“The omelet of disease awaits my frying pan,
Yesterday I was walking around and then I decided that I ran”
Is Atom’s version any less “correct” than the original? No, and neither is yours. There is no universal truth in the Misfits catalog. Their songs are but a blank canvas on which to project your id. Singing a Misfits song right is singing a Misfits song wrong. So don’t waste your time studying the "lyrics." Their words are like quicksand—the more you struggle to understand them, the deeper you’ll sink into confusion.
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The next step in becoming a Misfits fan is joining a gym and beefing up. For you see, physical fitness is integral to being a member of The Misfits, hence it is integral to being a fan of The Misfits. You’ll need to start hitting the iron, whether you’re looking to model your body after guitarist Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein and his terrifyingly ripped vegan bodybuilder physique or that of frontman Glenn Danzig, whose shape says to the world: “I can’t do cardio due to an old football injury so I’ll stick exclusively to bicep curls.” Planet Fitness and Crunch will not suffice. Go out and join a local mom-and-pop gym with the least amount of frills possible. In fact, if you can find a guy in your neighborhood who has a bunch of weights in his garage and lets his friends lift with him, that’s your best bet. His name is usually Reggie. Reggie rules. You’ll want to get yourself on a regular workout routine that looks like this:
Sunday: Chest day
Monday: Chest day
Tuesday: Chest day
Wednesday: Chest day
Thursday: Chest day
Saturday: Wash your Camaro shirtless
Also, cut the sleeves off your t-shirts. Wear fingerless black leather gloves. Carry around a protein shaker. Start calling people “chief.”
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All right. By now, you’re a weightlifting, Graves era-hating, mumble-mouth Misfits machine. It’s time to move onto the most costly phase of Misfits fandom: You must buy a bunch of unnecessary, tacky crap.
The Misfits are possibly the world’s least discriminating artists when it comes to merchandise licensing. They’re like KISS if the band was managed by their uncle Frank who works at a used car lot. They’ve lent their name and logo to every imaginable product from UGG boots to bikinis. And while you may think you’ll be able to resist the allure of spending perfectly good money on this useless merch, you never know when you will find yourself killing time in a Spencer Gifts and stumble upon a Misfits incense holder and think, “I guess I could use one of these.” And just like that, you’ve opened the floodgates. You’ll need it all—Misfits yoga mats, Misfits home pregnancy tests, Misfits legal forms. It’s honestly best to just embrace it.
Congratulations, you’re now up to speed on Misfits fandom. Now get out there and go where eagles dare! Embrace rampant consumerism! Sue your friends! Dig up her bones! Copyright everything! Hack the heads off little girls! Invest in black mesh shirts! Think about it, baby!
Dan Ozzi is on Twitter in case you have any further questions.