Jeremy Rottgen Sneaks Backstage with the Misfits
By Jeremy M. Rottgen
We used to cruise around in my friend’s car before and after school, listening to the Misfits before and after school. Yelling at the top of our lungs to every song was a cleansing experience after a long, institutionalized day.
In 1998, the Misfits consisted of founding bass player Jerry Only and his chord-pounding brother, Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein. Singer Michael Graves and drummer Dr. Chud were new additions to the band, and maybe only a year or two older than we were.
The Misfits came to the Eagles Ballroom that year with none other than Megadeth, a band I still emulate in my own music. My friends and I were pumped. A female friend of ours showed up to the show in a Marilyn Monroe Goth-type dress. The Misfits’ bus driver spotted her and invited her on to the bus. She emerged a minute later in tears of joy.
When the show started, all seemed calm until the howl of Doyle’s guitar ripped through the air. It was pure, hellish joy. I remember a girl with a fork bent around her wrist, scraping and poking people in the pit. Ouch.
After the Misfits left the stage, I went to buy sodas. Maneuvering through the crowd, I looked up to see my friends pointing to stairs leading down to some mysterious location. Having no clue, I followed them, double-fisting two root beers.
We entered the room at the bottom of the steps, and it blew our minds. As we rounded the corner we up on two of the very large men who’d just kicked everybody’s asses on stage. There they sat quietly, sweat pouring off them.
Holy shit. It was Jerry and Doyle.
When you think about “backstage” at a rock show, you think of champagne spraying, groupies floundering and things smashing. Or at least my friends and I did at the time. But this was not one of those dressing rooms. We stood there, trying to get our heads around our favorite horror punk band sitting around like a family in a living room.
It was humbling to hear Jerry talk about his daughter and wanting to know what we younger folks were into these days. What else could we say? The Misfits and PlayStation basically ruled our lives.
Jerry was very cordial, offering us any drinks or food we wanted from their table. After all, they weren’t eating most of it: these guys worked out … a ton. They didn’t fuel themselves with Twinkies and Cheeto’s. Jerry, tearing the tab from a gallon of milk with his teeth, offered protein shakes.
“Dave’s got us on this Met-RX shake” he offered. To which I responded, “Oh yeah, he kick boxes.”
My knowledge of Megadeth trivia still astounds me. I’m such a dork.
Chud searched around for some ‘real food.’ “Here” said Doyle. “Have a roast beef sammich … I had to kiss ass for this shit.” Like dorky teenagers, we all chuckled.
Then the stupid questions ensued:
Question #1 from annoying friend: “Where do you get your wristbands?”
Answer: “We make them.”
Question # 2: “Where do you get coffins for your guitars?”
Answer to me: “We make them.”
After removing the last of the black electrical tape and other hardware from their bodies, Jerry and Doyle got up to hit the showers. By this time, Megadeth was already onstage, so I went back out to catch the last song.
We hovered around their tour bus afterwards. It was really strange to see them in their everyday clothes. You would hardly notice them. I realized that wearing costumes on stage is not a bad idea if you value your privacy. It was something I never expected about my heroes. I also never figured they’d have to plant their lips for a sandwich, either.
It’s sad, though. Megadeth called it quits about a year ago. I saw the Misfits again in the fall of 2000. Ironically enough, I personally witnessed the demise of the newly resurrected band. They didn’t even finish the show, and Jerry ended up going into the crowd and giving everybody autographs.
Michael Graves has his own band now. I don’t know about Chud. Jerry continues the Misfits with Marky Ramone along with Dez and Robo from Black Flag. The original band will probably never be again. But for five years of my youth, they were really damn cool to me.