There was once a time when punk rock was actually all-inclusive and welcoming to any and all walks of life – a haven of sorts for outcasts living on the fringes of society. Now, it’s nothing more than a beacon for close-minded conformity, casting out anyone who dare goes against what’s considered “right” in their shared, group-think mentalities. It has become a parody in and of itself, denouncing the same “fascism” it so feverishly claims to be against while simultaneously creating it’s own ignorant fraction of it (much like Johnny Rotten warned against so many years ago during it’s first wave).
Case in point; Michale Graves. The former frontman for horror punk legends the Misfits (and son of a retired police officer), has never been shy to admit his conservative views. Yet with cancel (or perhaps more appropriately, “cancer”) culture hell-bent on shutting down anyone and everyone refusing to adhere to it’s ridiculous belief system, Graves has been ridiculed and ostracized by fans, promoters, and even musicians (including former band mates) and seemingly cast out of his own scene for his involvement with such programs as InfoWars. I was recently able to speak to Graves regarding the fallout he’s been experiencing, and where he’s at right now musically.
Regarding his now-former solo band members, Graves tells me; “My bass player Howie and drummer Adam basically decided they could’t associate themselves with me anymore. And (Former Misfits drummer) Dr. Chud actually reached out to me about re-releasing the (Graves album) Web of Dharma, which we all agreed would be a good thing since it’s such a great record. We were making steps towards making that happen, and then since Chud is apparently this entrenched leftist activist and had seen what I had been saying online lately – which is really nothing different than what I have in the past – he absolutely refuses to talk to any of us now, and told my manager not to reach out to him ever again. I actually reached out to him last year as well before the South American tour and asked him to come play drums because I thought it’d be tremendous for everyone (especially the fans) to see half of that ’90s lineup of the Misfits again, but he basically told me to go take a hike.”
I asked Graves if this shutting down of anyone who doesn’t follow the strict liberal narrative these days was the same across the board everywhere in the music world, and he tells me; “That’s absolutely how it is, yes. The same thing happened to me with Gotham Road. We had European and U.S. dates get cancelled, and no magazines would talk to me, nobody wanted anything to do with me, all because of my outspokenness on certain issues. There was even an instance once years ago when I did an appearance on the show Much Music, and when they got to me, I commented my opinion the way I always do, and was told afterwards that they would live up to their contract as far as payment goes, but wouldn’t allow me to come back on their show again. So it’s nothing new to me, it’s all happened before, it’s just more prevalent now, more ferocious. But the horror punk scene that I’m such a cornerstone in, such a big part of, they hated me way back when, and now they hate me even more. You look out across rock music, and you might be able to name a couple bands with conservative beliefs, but as far as in my world right now…I’m all alone. In the past week, between the band quitting on me and promoters refusing to work with me, it’s really just making my point.”
Of course I had to talk to Michale about his time with the Misfits, and, being someone who was actually on hand to witness when the Graves-era of the band disintegrated on stage at the House of Blues in Orlando (on October 25, 2000), I had to ask if he knew his time would soon be up prior to that show. He tells me; “I knew the end was coming. I just wanted to be in a band and make music with my friends, and those guys didn’t care about me, and they still don’t. I wasn’t very business savoy back then at all. Any advice I was ever given by any of the ‘inside’ people surrounding me at the time – whether it be Jerry, his brother Kenny, or one of the most manipulative people I have ever met, (Misfits manager) John Cafiero – never had my best interest in mind. I knew they were just taking advantage of me, and If I ever brought up that I was unhappy or anything, I was told there was a long line of people that would love to be in my place.”
He goes on; “I always tell this story of when Jerry (Only, Misfits bassist) and I were doing this ‘big’ interview once, and the person asked us where the song content comes from, for example, for “American Psycho.” I’m thinking in my head, ‘I wrote this song. I read the book, I’m tapped into this…here we go.’ And Jerry, just filibusters as he usually does, and ultimately just says that ‘the songs just write themselves once we get going,’ and then on to the next question. Try to find interviews of me from back then, and they’re few and far between because I wasn’t allowed to say anything against the narrative and image that Jerry wanted to put out. And they still don’t know what those songs are even about! (laughs). We were a great band, but we were constantly derailed by the decision making process really of Jerry and Kenny. I’ll give you another example; Rob Zombie wanted to make our first videos off American Psycho. He was just starting to make that charge towards getting into film, and somewhere along the way, everybody decided that John (Cafiero) would be better suited to make our videos than Rob Zombie. It’s just ridiculous.”
When asked if he still spoke with any of his of his other former Misfits bandmates though, he says; “I keep up with (Misfits guitarist) Doyle as best as I can. We communicate back and forth every now and then and check in on each other. Out of everyone, Doyle was like my big brother, and really took me under his wing. But to be honest, I wouldn’t even pursue working with him again right now cause I wouldn’t wanna bring any sort of difficulties to him (laughs). Jerry is a big star now and still treats me like I’m still a 20-year-old kid, so any communication between us has been few and far between. Seeing this as the perfect segue to my next question, I inquired his honest opinions on when Jerry took over the lead vocal position after his departure from the band; “Absolutely horrible. People like Jerry surround themselves with ‘yes men.’ I don’t remember coming across any honest appraisal of the music he tried to make. That Misfits album is just awful.”
Of course I had to ask Michale what his thoughts were when the band re-united with original singer Glen Danzig recently as well. “Well I was really happy for the fans that after all of these years of private and public feuding, Jerry and Glen were able to finally get to that point. As far as the music is concerned, I personally feel like it’s hard to translate songs like “Bullet” and “Halloween” in these big giant spaces. They’re not stadium songs. So I probably would’ve advocated to have those shows performed in more smaller venues, where I think the music would’ve sounded better sonically.”
Before we ended our conversation, I asked Michale to share a more positive memory from his time with the Misfits as well; “I remember just being in the vocal booth and recording – we recorded both American Psycho and Famous Monsters in this old church that was converted into a studio, not far from Woodstock, NY – and seeing everyone’s faces during the takes, how everyone was working together and being so creative. One of my most favorite memories that my mind always goes back to that makes me both very happy, and really sad, was working on “Fiend Without a Fiend.” That song – which I had composed and for the first time played acoustic guitar on – was so out in left field and different from anything else we had done before. It was really exciting at that point, because it had opened up all new doors for us, gave us all confidence both individually and collectively that we could now do songs like that. We knew we had evolved as a band, and soon after, everything fell apart.”
Although he wouldn’t go into too much detail, Michale assures me there is new music in the works. And if you want to catch Graves live, he has some shows lined up towards the end of the summer, which, when asked how concrete they are, he informs me; “Everything that I have up on the website as of right now is still on. There’s a handful of acoustic dates that are still supposed to pick up starting July 31, and some European shows next year. But there’s promoters and things being canceled behind the scenes, so while everything on there is still confirmed as of right now, you never know if it may change.”