Lodi, a small borough of Bergen County, New Jersey, is just over two square miles. There’s not much to suggest the small village would be the birthplace of a world famous, blood-soaked form of music known as horror punk. Legendary acts The Misfits, Samhain and Danzig have origins in Lodi, and something monstrous indeed lurks there. Enter Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein!
Doyle’s first band, the infamous Glenn Danzig-fronted Misfits, helped create the genre of speed/thrash metal with their last album, 1983’s “Earth AD/Wolf’s Blood.” The poster child and originator of the genre spent the past few years unleashing an evil noise on an unsuspecting world: Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein’s first release, “Abominator,” and its follow-up, “As We Die,” by his eponymous band, Doyle. Released on Doyle’s label, Monsterman Records, “Abominator” and “DOYLE II: As We Die” are sonically thick and lyrically evil slabs of metal that find Doyle expanding in a logical progression upon the genre of music he helped create. These albums are not some punk guitarist gone metal – it’s the roaring return of one of extreme metal’s original architects to his blood-splattered drawing board.
Coming from a legendary band of almost mythological proportions, and having first worked with one of the most talented and respected vocalists of the century, Doyle’s new project needed a singer with brass balls, cast-iron pipes, a suitably twisted mind, and his own vocal delivery style. Enter Alabama’s Alex Story of Cancerslug, a Southern fiend who’s sand-blasted scream opens the record. The evil doesn’t relent until the ending growl of “Hope Hell Is Warm,” the album’s defiant closer. The man can scream and sing, and employs both styles to great effect, switching seamlessly from raw-throated roars to rough-edged, yet melodic, clean vocals. Alex’s live performances are unforgettable, disturbing and strangely addictive – a perfect complement to the already mammoth stage presence of Doyle. The unmistakable sound of Doyle’s signature Annihilator guitar cuts through every tune like a sonic fingerprint. The Annihilator’s tone is sharp as a butcher’s knife in the wrong hands and just as nasty – fans of the Misfits will recognize it right away. These albums serve as an unrelenting ride into the darkest corners of your mind. Take heed! These mad men with a sinister sound are on the loose, roaming the streets and headed to a town near you!
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with legendary Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein as he crisscrosses the nation on his As We Die World Abomination Tour 2018. In the interview, Doyle offers an inside look at his life on and off-stage, the challenges he faced along the way and what lies in store for him in 2019.
The music you’ve been a part of creating played a big role in many people’s lives. How did music first come into your life?
My mom was a ‘50s kid. She had all the 45s like Dion and The Belmonts, Elvis, The Ronettes, ‘50s and ‘60s Motown, rock ‘n’ roll and all that shit. When we were kids, we listened to it. Then we started buying our own stuff like David Bowie, Alice Cooper, KISS, Aerosmith, Queen and all kinds of crazy shit. I just got deeper into it from there and have always been listening to music.
Eventually you went from music fan to musician. What made you pick up the guitar?
My brother bought me a guitar for my eighth grade graduation. Glenn Danzig showed me two bar chords and Jerry showed me the two notes on the low strings. That’s pretty much all I still know!
You mentioned your brother, Jerry Only. Was it always brotherly love or more of a sibling rivalry?
Back then it was more of a brotherly love thing, but now it’s not. Now there’s issues for some reason.
You started playing professional at 16 years old. When did you come into your own as a performer?
I don’t know, man. I guess pretty much from the beginning.
Fair enough. I know you don’t want to focus too much on your past with The Misfits. However, I want to ask about the staying power of the band’s music. What is it about the band’s music that continues to resonate generation to generation?
Great songs, great singer, great imagery and great performances. That’s what a band is. It’s not about arpeggios, G-clefs and sweeps or sitting in your room being a technical guitar nerd. It’s about great songs! That’s what I tell everybody who asks me if I have any advice for bands starting out — “Yeah, learn how to write and arrange great songs. Get a great fuckin’ singer, a great look, perform great and have a great fuckin’ name!”
They call it the music business for a reason. What are some lessons you learned early on that impacted your career?
Trust no one!
So true, man! So true! You launched your own label, Monsterman Records, a few years back. What inspired that move?
I record the albums myself with all of the equipment I had bought and now I’m sponsored by those companies because I told them I used them and now they give me the stuff for free. Tascam, for example, is pretty awesome. I record them at home instead of paying the money, which is like $1,000 per hour, for a studio. Doing it this way, it’s only like $50 electric each month at your house! [laughs] Ya know, what are ya going to do? We figured if we put it out ourselves, we could keep all the money. We might take this third one to a label, maybe Nuclear Blast or Century Media. We’ll see who wants it!
A lot of times people end up with an album in their hands and don’t put much thought or value on how it got there. What does it take a project like yours to stay on the rails and move forward in this day and age?
The industry has changed as to how everyone has a computer in their hand and they want instant gratification. These people have grown up illegally downloading music and it’s totally destroying the whole business for the musicians. Ya know, it takes a lot to write a song. These people want more songs, but they are not paying for them, so how do we pay for them? I had one guy complain to me because I wouldn’t take a picture with him outside in the middle of winter after I had just got off stage from a show. I had no shirt on and was trying to get to the bus. Somehow, I’m a scumbag because he paid $20 for my record. I said, “Do you know how much my copy of that record cost me? I still haven’t made any money on it. Go fuck yourself!” I mean, I’m supposed to get sick, so I can’t perform for the next group of people? If I take a picture, 10 more people will walk up and want a fucking picture. Use your fucking head, ya know. That’s why we do meet-and-greets because everyone is illegally downloading music. Then they complain about the meet-and-greet. People these days want everything for fucking free. They don’t understand the cost to the artist. It’s like Spotify jerkin’ us off for fractions of a penny per play! Go fuck yourself, man! If you can’t give us a dollar per fucking song, then you shouldn’t have it. They should police the internet so that if you illegally download a song, it’s a $10,000 fine. I mean, if you had a motorcycle factory and I came in and took one, what would that be? It would be a crime. This is our fucking product. I had someone say the other day, “Why don’t you pay back the fans a little bit and post pictures of the band? The fans are what made you.” I’m like, “No. Wrong. My art and what I did is what made the fans.”
With that said, what is the best way for us as fans to support you and keep this project moving forward?
Stop illegally downloading everybody’s music. Pay for it. I pay for everything. All of my friends’ records, I buy. You don’t think I can get a pile of Arch Enemy records for free? [laughs] I go to the store and I buy it! I mean fuck! If you want more, pay for it!
How do the meet-and-greets factor in?
The meet-and-greets feed us on the road. It gives us enough money to feed everybody on the bus. Everybody who comes to the show, especially in The States, and they film it … people just sit in their house because they are too lazy to come out and they would rather just look at it on their phone, so nobody comes to the show. That’s why when we did those Misfits shows, there were no phones allowed. It was great because if everybody was filming it, nobody would go to those shows. Know what I mean?
You are currently out on the road on the As We Die World Abomination Tour. Having seen you play live in the past, I know you guys bring it every night. Alex Story is a tremendous front man. How did the two of you initially cross paths?
I just put ads out. My friend Blasko did the same for me. He didn’t tell me he was doing it, he just did it. He sent me the CD that he thought was the best, which was Alex. It’s funny because the one that I thought was the best was Alex’s too! [laughs] Then I called him up. His CD was the only one where I sat there and listened to the whole thing. Usually, I would listen to it until the singer starts and then throw it in the garbage. There were a few famous people who sent shit and their shit went right in the garbage. It’s not that they sucked, it just wasn’t what I was looking for. I listened to the whole thing and every song was great. His voice is just great, and I could listen to it all day! He is a master writer. I just write musical compositions, arrange them and send them to him. I’ll write gyp sheet like, “This is the intro, don’t sing. This is the riff, don’t sing. This is the verse … This, that, whatever.” At the end I write, “Just do whatever you want!” If he wants to sing on the riff, he can sing on the riff. From there, he comes up with all the words and melodies. It comes back to me and I’m like, “Wow! This is fuckin’ great!”
What were the biggest challenges bringing your last two albums to the masses?
Promotion. I would say maybe 5% of Misfits fans even know I have a band. I don’t have the money to advertise as much as a major label would but even the major labels don’t do that much anymore. They make product and distribute it. If you are lucky, they will give you money for a tour but that really doesn’t happen anymore.
You have two albums out now that are pretty fresh. Are you currently working on new material?
Any time I’m not doing a show, I’m playing guitar and trying to write something. What’s the sense of me playing the songs off the other records? Nothing, ya know what I mean? We’ve got at least 10 solid musical compositions and three songs that are finished. We might start doing singles. Maybe do a single a month until we get about 10 and then drop two or three more and then have a whole album and put it out. Maybe make vinyl 7″ inchers with artwork and different colors. Shit like that, ya know?
Yeah, that sounds great. It’s refreshing to see someone who’s been at it as long as you have keeping things fresh. Once you get into your loop on social media, you keep things really entertaining. Kudos to you on that.
Oh cool, thanks! I try to make it funny, ya know. I want to laugh. I also like pissing people off by posting vegan things without saying anything and watching them go fucking mental! [laughs]
Tell us about you becoming vegan and the impact it’s had on you.
Alissa White-Gluz. I was dating her, and it was early in our relationship when we were in New York City scrambling around to get her back to a plane. She had to go somewhere, it was freezing out and we were starving. She said to me, “If we can’t find me something to eat, we can at least find you something to eat.” I said, “Fuck that! I will never eat something in front of you that wigs you out.” I never did! Every time we went to a restaurant, it was always a vegan restaurant and I didn’t know what anything was! I would read it and be like, “I don’t even know what the fuck I’m reading!” She would order something and every time I would take a bite, I would slowly look up at her and go, “Holy shit! This is so good!” So, I got hooked on it with the food. Then she explained to me the agricultural debacle we are dealing with and how it impacts the environment, the cancer and all the other shit that eating meat is doing to this world. We are using all the food to feed these things and they are shitting all over the place … It’s a total fuck show, man! She showed me some films on how the animals are treated. To me, being vegan is a no-brainer. If you are enlightened on what the fuck is actually happening, it makes so much sense. It’s always the guilty people who feel guilty and say, “Oh, don’t tell me what to do.” You don’t even put a caption on the picture and they say, “Don’t tell me what to do … ” or they are so brilliant and they write, “Bacon, mmmmm.” I love blocking people, man. I think my last post like that lost me 500 followers. [laughs] I have to sit there and block them but at least they’re gone! [laughs]
You put out a vegan hot sauce called Made In Hell. Knowing I would be talking with you, I picked up a bottle. This stuff is killer. We incorporated it into our entry for our annual Chili Cook Off. We won!
How good is that fuckin’ sauce, man? That’s great! [laughs] I had wanted to do that for a long time. I wanted to do it with this one guy, but he would never send the recipe to the guy who wanted to fund it. Months went by and months went by and, finally, the guy was like, “I found another person.” I said, “Alright, I’m sick of people in my life not doing what they say they’re going to do and waiting for them.” So, I went with this guy. He came down and had a couple samples for me. I said, “OK, I want to add this, this and this into this. Send me that and let’s try it.” That’s what we’re using right now!
That’s cool. This sauce is what put us over the edge. It’s got great heat and flavor.
Yeah, I love it, man. I give cases of it to my girlfriend’s mom because she cooks like crazy and she loves it. It’s a win-win! [laughs]
Your Abominator guitar became iconic over the years. Tell us about the original design and are there plans to bring replicas to the market?
You know when your mom covers your school books in a paper bag when you are a kid? Well, I had one of those and I drew this guitar on there. I was leaving high school and I remember looking at it and thinking, “I’m going to save this. This is fuckin’ cool.” So, I saved it and eventually I started fuckin’ around making guitars with one of my friends at my machine shop. I was playing a Paul Stanley Iceman at the time. I laid the Paul Stanley on the ground and held the picture up to eyeball it and it was to scale. It was perfect! I was like, “Holy shit! I drew this thing freehand at about 4″ long and it’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.” I made it and everything about it is great. It looks like you can’t sit down and play it but, in reality, it’s the most comfortable guitar you will ever sit down and play with. It just fits perfect. I have a company making one right now — a pretty big, major company. I’m going to text them on Monday after the holiday to see where the fuck we are with that prototype!
You are driven when it comes to your endeavors. Was that attribute something you developed over the years or something instilled in you at an early age?
Well, growing up, I started working at my dad’s shop when I was about 6 years old. He was a working machine! He makes me look like a fuckin’ pussy! [laughs] Work, work, work, work, work all the time. It’s all about hard work and that’s where I learned that from.
What lesson can we take from your journey as an artist?
God, I don’t know. I guess … Just dare to be great, man. I’m a perfectionist, ya know. When I’m doing something, I have to make it perfect. For example, when I’m mixing a record, I will mix it for a year! [laughs] That’s what happened with the last one. I just kept mixing and thinking, “This is not it. This is not it.” I think it comes down to giving it all you’ve got, all the time. Right now, we just landed at the next venue. I’m going to do my sit-ups. I’m going to go in there and work out. Then I’m going to do soundcheck, put the clown suit on and fuck these people up! I mean, my day is planned out to the second. It’s go, go, go, go! You can’t just sit around and do nothing and expect something great to happen.
What can we expect to see from Doyle in 2019?
We’re working on festivals from Europe, some of the bigger ones. Hopefully, we get some of those. We’re also looking into Japan and South America. Hopefully, with Japan, that would include Australia and all of those areas. We would love to do that, plus Latin America and Mexico. We’re also trying to get our singer pardoned so he can go to Canada because those shows are off the hook as well. I think we are done with the United States for a while. This tour was almost too many venues and we’ve cut a lot of them out as we go because we don’t even fit on the fucking stage. We want to play better venues or open for somebody huge, ya know what I mean. We will probably start on DOYLE III as well. We will probably start on that and I’m thinking we will drop a couple of singles. I don’t know, we will see!
That’s great to hear! Thanks for your time today, Doyle. I’m looking forward to everything you have coming our way and we will be out here spreading the word!
Thank you, man. Bye-bye.
For all the latest news, tour dates and merch, visit Doyle’s official website at www.officialdoyle.com. Follow the continuing adventures of Doyle on social media via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.