NOT JUST AN EX-MISFIT
By Amy Lou
If you’ve ever heard the term “horror punk” you’ve definitely heard of its originators, The Misfits, and their front man Michale Graves. I would like to take a moment and separate the two, for I believe Michale Graves is an artist in his own right – not just an ex-Misfit as he’s most famously referred to.
Sure, The Misfits had something to do with Michale Graves coming out of the shadows, but after leaving The Misfits in 2000 to pursue his own musical career Graves would soon prove that he was more than just an “American Psycho.” He went on to form the bands Gotham Rd and his current band and namesake Michale Graves. Although Gotham Rd had some amazing tracks, it is the new band’s record, Punk Rock Is Dead that I have the pleasure of reviewing.
The first thing I noticed about track three, “Earth vs. Spider” was the desperate anticipation in its musical delivery. The opening drum-roll, crunching, fast guitars and pulsating bass licks are what lay the groundwork for lyrics and vocal work reminiscent of Jim Morrison’s “American Prayer.” The obvious: Jim Morrison is Graves’ main influence. Fear, strength, self-empowerment and survival-through-music are what the song expresses.
On the other hand, “Exit” is the proverbial shedding of skin through metamorphosis, with lyrics that advocate leaving parts of yourself that you hated behind. The vibe is angry and mischievous. The music is frantic and chaotic, yet meticulous. Graves’ inner voice screams “Be Out!” This song is about learning to feel good in your own skin, when you are your own worst enemy.
Track nine, “Radio Deadly” gave me goose bumps – a song that embodies what the mosh pit physically feels like. Though you’re being crushed to death, you stay. In this song I can actually feel all of us monsters unified in the crowd. Smiling, voices raised, falling down, picking each other up and stage diving – dying to get just a little bit closer to this explosive thing called music. “Radio Deadly” is just violently happy, a total anthem to sing along to.
The entire record felt very personal to me. All limits crossed and no holes barred: real. And just when I was in the best mood, I got to the title track “Punk Rock is Dead” and felt completely enraged. It got me thinking about how things have changed: people wearing band shirts just because it pisses mommy and daddy off. The music is very mid-seventies, pop punk, but it is the lyrics that stir up the hardcore advocate in me. To hell with TV definitions of music and “marketable worth.” To hell with preconceived notions about what you should and shouldn’t wear, borrowed ideals and this friggin’ punk rock dress code. And while we¹re at it, to hell with these rookie “punk rock politics!”
Punk rock is NOT a dress code or style, but a way of life according to Graves. I strongly agree.
For more info on Michale Graves visit www.michalegraves.net.