Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein is most often identified as a celebrated member of horror punk act the Misfits, brought into the band at the tender age of 16 in 1980. Originally a roadie for the band, he was taught how to play guitar by his brother, Misfits bassist Jerry Only, and Glenn Danzig. He and his brother helped finance the band by working at their father's shop.
Four years later the Misfits disbanded, but Doyle's metal and punk rock roots only grew stronger and deeper, with his signature guitar playing style of heavy downstrokes and power chords. He helped found (with his brother) the metal band Kryst The Conqueror, and in 1995 reformed the Misfits after settling a legal battle with Danzig for the rights to the bands' name. He left the Misfits in 2001, though, to pursue other ventures, including his band Gorgeous Frankenstein; play select dates on Danzig's tour circuit; and in 2013, put out the album Abominator, that was released on June 25 to great press.
The tracks are dripping with horror imagery in the form of a twisted love story, with such track names as "Hope It's Warm in Hell" and "Cemeterysexxx." His music has the punk horror qualities of the Misfits, the dark layers of Black Sabbath, and the same punch-to-the-face as Pantera. Up On The Sun caught up with Doyle to talk about his new solo work, touring with Danzig, and how he has never owned a Misfits record.
Congrats on the 25th anniversary tour, and also your album Abominator. Thanks! We've been working hard.
Any tracks you are particularly excited for fans to hear? I usually like the last ones that we write, and the last one we wrote was "Abominator." We didn't have a name yet, and I was just driving down the street and I just blurted it out--"Abominator!" So I pulled over and text my singer and asked what he thought of that. And he said "Fuck yeah!" Oh, can I swear?
In heavy metal? Always. Okay. Laughs. So he was like, let's write a song based off that. So I like that one...and for another one...I mean, I love them all.
Why do you think the last songs are the ones that you choose as your favorites? Because they are new, you know what I mean?
In a recent interview a writer asked why you don't say much. You replied by saying it's because you're "in a conversation in your brain." Tell me the conversation you were having with it when Danzig called to ask you to join the 25th anniversary tour. It was exciting. We actually had a meeting; me and my brother went to California to meet Glen and his manager in 2002, and we were going to do a record and a tour. Then it just didn't happen for some reason.
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Two years later he called me on the phone. I got a message from Crazy Craig, his personal assistant. He said to call Glenn tomorrow, it's important. And he asked if I wanted to go on tour with him, and I said, "Yes, I do!" Then he said he was starting a label and asked if I had a demo, and I said, 'Yes I do!"
So I sent it to him, and he put out the album Gorgeous Frankenstein.
That worked out pretty well. You know, in Phoenix a lot of people remember the 2004 Danzig show where Glenn got into a scuffle with a local band singer. Why do you think it is that he generates a lot of negative press? I think it's because he doesn't kiss anybody's ass, you know? He does what he wants and that's the way it is, you know? A lot of people don't really like that personality trait.
What do you think has been one of the most positive changes about the music industry since you started out in the Misfits in 1980, when you were only 16? Positive... it's usually negative. Umm... positive things. That I don't know.
But I can tell you the most negative thing: People stealing music online. They don't understand that if they steal a band's music, one of those guys have to go get another regular job and they can't make more music for you.
So you pay for it. It's like, if you own a motorcycle company and I went and took a bike, that's a crime, you know? Right? I pay for all my music.
Have you been affected a lot by illegal downloading? Everybody has. Especially the smaller bands and artists, they suffer the most. It's not like Zeppelin and huge acts, that don't really get affected. You know, everyone got so mad when Lars [Ulrich] went to sue Napster and everyone was like "what the fuck?"
It's like, what do you mean what the fuck? He doesn't need the money, but everybody else does! It's hard man. You wouldn't believe how many huge musicians that are popular have regular jobs.
Like you said, everyone thought it was so awful when Lars sued Napster. But I often wonder what would've happened if he hadn't done that. Things would be a lot different now, probably in a negative sense. I wish he would do it again, but sue the whole Internet and fix it so nobody can. And with movies too, it's ridiculous. It costs so much money to make a record! Especially for people like me, I funded the whole record. I did it all out of pocket, bought all the gear and did it all ourselves. That's expensive on its own.
Are you lucky enough to be able to live off the money you make from music or do you have another job? [Huge sigh] I don't think I'm gonna answer that.
Well, you make a good argument, so I get curious what job a musician would choose to do besides music if that's the path they have to take. Well, you gotta do what you gotta do. You have to feed everyone, and pay everybody.
So, the Misfits will always have a dedicated following. Tell me; what band reunion would you like to see? Besides us? I'd love to see us. But let's see... anybody. Even bands I don't like; when they get back together and make money it makes me happy to see. Like, I'm not a Motley Crue fan but they get back together and play and start making money, it's like, right on. I'm going to see Black Sabbath tonight, so I'm excited about that.
I'll be seeing them over Labor Day weekend. I'm super stoked. So, what are some of your personal favorite Misfits songs? I like "Ghoul's Night Out" [from 1980's 12 Hits From Hell] a lot. Then again, I feel like there really wasn't one bad one. And in terms of favorite albums, I gotta say the album I just made [Abominator] is by far my favorite I've made in my entire life. We actually made two of them.
We were going to put 18 songs on the first one. But when we were driving to mix it we decided we shouldn't do 18. It's like your giving a half album away free here. So we just decided to do a second album, since we had written like 30, 40 songs anyways. We would just add on six more and have a second album.
Do you ever listen to the Misfits at home? I'm curious because I recently talked with Phil Anselmo, and he said he very rarely listens to Pantera's music, and that it takes a long time to separate yourself from the work. I never listen to Misfits. I don't even have any of our records. Usually you go crazy trying to make a record perfect, so as soon as it's done, you never listen to it again. At least it's that way for me.
What was your first concert? I went to see Queen, and Thin Lizzy opened for them. That was my first big concert, but I don't remember how old I was.
Lately, you've been joined on stage by a few other legends, like Rob Zombie and Randy Blythe. How did their energy compare? Those guys are great. Great musicians, great people, great friends. It's awesome to be around them, you know? The crazy thing is, a guy like Rob Zombie, he's inspired by the Misfits, and I'm inspired by him. So it's like a giant circle jerk. Pretty crazy right?
That's awesome. Just feeding off of each others' energy pretty much? Yes, exactly.
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Can you name a few acts who have really influenced you over the years? Black Sabbath... I like Pantera a lot. I also love David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin. I like good music, I don't give a shit who's singing it. If it's a good song it's a good song, you know?
Do you ever stray outside of punk or metal music, like hearing a hip hop or jazz song you like? I can't take jazz or hip hop, actually. [laughs] That stuff I just don't get it. Or country. That kind of music makes me angry, for some reason.
When usually it's the opposite, and people think heavy metal makes people angry. Aw, when I hear country music I go nuts. It makes me crazy! [laughs]
Danzig, with Doyle, is scheduled to perform Saturday, August 31 at the Marquee Theatre.