Michale Graves doesn’t know how lucky he is. The lead singer for the reincarnated horror-punk band the Misfits from 1995-2000, Graves essentially went from a virtual unknown to being the leader of one of the most successful and influential franchises in punk history.
Michale Graves doesn’t know how lucky he is.
The lead singer for the reincarnated horror-punk band the Misfits from 1995-2000, Graves essentially went from a virtual unknown to being the leader of one of the most successful and influential franchises in punk history.
Broken up for nearly a decade, there were numerous ways that reforming the Misfits could have ended up a complete disaster-and in many ways it was a disaster. But Graves was still able to pull off the nearly impossible and convince the world that he could hang with the best of them. He surprised critics by putting out three solid albums with the Misfits that were way better than anyone expected. Michale Graves proved himself to be an independently talented force.
Playing a solo show at the Hawthorne Theater this Friday night, Graves is looking to confirm that he is much more than a junior Danzig. Having retained much of what was successful about his stint in the Misfits (the corpse paint, the devil’s lock, the horror-genre lyrics), Graves has capitalized on much of what is endearing about the characters Danzig and Co. have created, but is using them to promote an entirely different agenda than any of his contemporaries.
With Glenn Danzig still living in some goofy-ass Satanic fantasyland and the rest of the Misfits acting more like a marketing machine than a band these days, Graves is the closest you’re going to get to the legacy of the band without being disillusioned by any of the drama that has plagued it throughout their existence.
Replacing the lead singer of a popular band is a notoriously sketchy thing to do. It is slightly tasteless, especially when the former one left under bad circumstances.
American Psycho, the first album that Graves put out with the Misfits, was surprisingly well received by critics and fans alike, and if you ask me, is as classic a record as anything in their catalog. Later records, though excellent, did not have the same success, and until recently the majority of people had forgotten about Graves altogether.
Graves’ tenure with the band ended almost as inconspicuously as it began. In a way, almost anyone could have ended up the singer for the Misfits. Graves’ brief stint at the top of the horror-punk food chain was brought about by an ascent so unremarkable that it could happen to anybody.
According to legend, in 1995, a 19-year-old Graves had never heard of the Misfits before seeing a poster in his hometown advertising that they were holding auditions for a new vocalist. Working as a gardener in New Jersey at the time, he promptly purchased their entire discography and began practicing singing at full volume while mowing lawns until he was good enough to try out. The entire audition process seemed so casual to him that it was infuriating-apparently he didn’t even like the band at first.
Graves has more traditional singing voice compared to Danzig who is famous for his Satan-meets-Elvis style that is famous for. Unrefined musicians when the band formed in 1977, part of the reason Danzig quit in the first place was because the band was either unable or unwilling to evolve out of three-chord punk into a more focused sound. Grave’s work, both alone and with other bands, does have a complex sound. His solo efforts do not miss the presence of his former bandmates.
You’re going to hate me for saying this, but the Misfits’ success is due to about 25-percent honest musical ability and 75-percent gimmick. This is not to say that the majority of their songs aren’t original, well-written compositions-they are-but you could argue that they have gone to considerable effort in creating an atmosphere around themselves that transcends music. Their iconic logo, the infamous “Crimson Ghost” skull has turned the Misfits into a household brand, and merchandising for them has always been a high priority. The music of the Misfits will always be great, but the band will never be the same, and with this not changing in the foreseeable future, Graves was to jump ship when he did.
In 2008, with artistic integrity intact, experience under his belt and a new record coming out, there is every indication that Michale Graves is poised to take the world by storm, and every compelling reason that he will do exactly that.
Michale Graves Friday, May 16Hawthorne Theatre, Second Floor8 p.m., $10, 21-plus