This Is Just A Tribute

Glen Danzig, Doyle and Jerry Only don’t need to get back together.  If they ever do, I know five million people who will drive, fuck and/or kill for tickets for that Misfits reunion but at this point, those three (plus Robo) don’t need to get together.

What brought this up? I found youtube videos of not one but TWO (!) GWAR tribute bands – Wharghouls and The Heat Seeking Moisture Missiles. How much brass do you have to have to attempt making a GWAR tribute band, knowing that you need some resources to ever come close to the fantastic spectacle of the original act? I tip my hat to those two bands for coming together for a mutual love of GWAR and the music. These two bands have brass by the ton.

Tribute bands are a strange animal. When living in a tri-city area, there was a club that seemed to spend three nights a week hosting a tribute band.

BANDNAME: A TRIBUTE TO ORIGINAL BAND was always in the listing. BADFISH: A TRIBUTE TO SUBLIME. EARTH: A TRIBUTE TO BLACK SABBATH. DARK STAR ORCHESTRA: A TRIBUTE TO THE GRATEFUL DEAD. And fuck, how many KISS tributes are out there? If there’s any band other than GWAR that seemed un-tribute-able, I would have to say Motorhead. That’s just a bit too close to heresy for me but who knows?

I know Badfish has been around for years and there are some Beatle Tribute acts that rake in the dough. If you can put on a decent replicate of something that is no longer available (such as Badfish and the Beatles) then it makes sense that it would be lucrative.

And it also seems to make sense. Tribute bands are different than cover bands. Cover bands are just that – bands that play covers whereas tribute bands pay tribute to one specific act. They look like the act, act, play the music; it’s a close imitation, a tribute to the band. In doing that, it makes the music and the band in question (the one receiving tribute, not the actual tribute band) seem larger than life; the original members were needed to facilitate the music’s creation but after that, it was meant for the fans. This is a little artsty-fartsy thinking that borderlines on hippie shit (or, internet piracy.) There’s money involved, licensing and permissions. Ask any Frank Zappa tribute act about whether the Zappa Family Trust thinks the music is owned by the fans and they’ll wave their Cease And Desist orders in your face.

But it’s nice to think about it, on the fuckedupthinking level. Which brings me back to the Misfits – the Misfits don’t ever have to get back together because the spooky music scene is to me, in essence, one giant Misfits cover band.

Hell, if you play death rock, pyschobilly or spooky surf, aren’t you required to play a Misfits cover? If you see Black Pyramid, ask Gein to show you his tattoos of Glen Danzig. There’s the Crimson Ghosts, who play surf renditions of Misfits songs. Last Halloween, a band called TV Casualty played in Philly, featuring Ted Leo, Adam Goren members of Paint It Black/Franklin. There’s MisFats and MsFits. Misfits shit is sold en masse in HotTopics across the world. Misfits bands live from Japan to Europe and everywhere in between.

If I were to hear Glen sing ‘Horror Business’ again, it would be a pleasurable novelty but it’s 2010. ‘Cough/Cool’ is thirty-three years old and ‘Walk Among Us’ is turns twenty-eight this year. Seeing some horror band bust out a cover, no matter how twisted or bizarre it might be, will be more important to me. I wasn’t around for the original Misfits. There are people involved in spooky music who spent school lives and summers with the Misfits, who saw the original incarnations in person and boycotted the fake renditions that have come out since 1997. To them, the actual Misfits are important but to the countless others who came after 1984, it’s more the music than the musicians.

If Jerry and Glen were to settle the stupid shit between them and work out a tour in 2012, marking the 35th(!) anniversary of the Misfits, I hope that all those who saw those four boys from Jersey get a chance to see them play one more time. For those who weren’t there, the music has been around and will be around for those who come after us, played by bands paying tribute to the sounds that make their heads shake and bones rattle.

Or not. We all might be dead. Fuck it. Have a drink and be happy either way, ghouls.

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