It’s been almost exactly a year since we found out that the classic lineup of the Misfits, featuring Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only, and Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein, would be reuniting to perform at the Riot Fests in Denver and Chicago. Here in Southern California, those festivals seemed a long way away, and 12 months later, it feels like the chances of further classic Misfits shows are slim. But, we have the next best thing.
The Danzig-organized Blackest of the Black Festival takes place at Oak Canyon Park in Silverado on May 26 and 27. Hardcore veterans Suicidal Tendencies headline the Friday, with Danzig (the band) naturally closing out the festival on Saturday. Across the weekend, bands as prestigious as Corrosion of Conformity, Discharge, Ministry, Devildriver, and Venom Inc. will perform, highlighting a lineup that covers the darker side of metal and punk.
Danzig first conceived of the idea for the event in 2003, after performing with his band at gargantuan European metal festivals for years and wondering why something like that couldn’t work in the States.
“At the time, I think the only (metal) festival we had here was OzzFest, and it was all corporate,” he says. “Buy-ons and whatever. It was nothing like what we do and what they do in Europe. There are so many great festivals in Europe. You get to see so many incredible bands. So I just went about putting together what I felt was an alternative, where you get to see not-so corporate and put them all on the same bill. This year, we get to up the ante and do it as a two-day, big, big festival and a carnival.”
To retain the authentically underground vibe that Danzig has nurtured since starting Blackest of the Black, he has a hand in many elements of putting the festival together. He draws up a short list of bands that he wants to perform, before his team finds out how many of them are available. Any other bands that are put forward to appear have to pass under Danzig’s eyes before getting a green-light. In the case of Suicidal Tendencies and Corrosion of Conformity, it was an easy decision as Danzig is old friends with those guys.
COC guitarist Woody Weatherman concurs, saying that touring with Danzig is always a good time, and this show will be no exception, with his band aiming to squeeze as many songs as they can into their allotted hour.
“Seems like the first time we did some shows with Glenn it was around 1990 and Soundgarden was on the bill right after us on that tour,” Weatherman says. “Since then we’ve had the pleasure of traveling several times together on the road.”
Similarly, Discharge guitarist Anthony “Bones” Roberts remembers playing with the Misfits around 1982, recalling that, “The band came to our hotel room and gave us a big bag of qualudes as a welcoming present.”
The decision to hold the event right here in OC was at least partly on Danzig, who felt that the venue offered him and his team the opportunity to do everything they wanted to do. That includes Castle Danzig, the non-musical entertainment at the festival and a sort of twisted, horror-themed funhouse. Attendees can be (we kid you not) strapped up and locked in a padded cell, get locked in stocks, or be guided to a bathtub filled with blood by Danzig creation (and very Countess Bathory-like) Countess Drukija.
“That’s gonna be crazy,” Danzig says. “I keep getting pictures sent over to approve. This will be my version of a funhouse. You have to be over 17 to go in. I can say that Drukija is gonna be in the castle in a blood tub. If you’re brave enough, you’ll probably be able to get a picture with her in the blood tub.
The festival pretty much coincides with the release of the new Danzig album, Black Laden Crown. He’s excited for the fans to hear it, especially after getting a positive response from the press over the past month or so. It’s certainly a solid slab of work — dark and groove-based metal that will delight long-time fans of the band. Typically, the subject matter covers everything from horror-fiction to the very real political climate which is genuinely scaring many people right now.
“So much in the world frustrates me and makes me angry,” Danzig says. “The world just gets crazier, and people lose more and more of their freedoms. It’s the greatest stuff to write about, because I get so angry.”
It’s been 30 years since Danzig formed the band Danzig after the dissolution of his deathrock group Samhain and, while there have been some constants since that time, particularly tonally, the band hasn’t sat still.
“I think from the inception of Danzig, I didn’t like that sterile sound on the first couple of records,” Danzig says. “Starting with Danzig III: How the Gods Kill when I became the producer, I wanted it more representative of what the band sounded like live. That’s what I was trying for, and just to not do the same record over and over again. Make it interesting, to keep people interested.”
Speaking of that beloved third album, this year the band will also be celebrating the 25th anniversary of that record and that will be reflected in the set.
“We’ll do five or six tracks from that somewhere in the set, in a row,” Danzig says. “I still have all the old stage props from How the Gods Kill, so I’ll put them out on stage, which is pretty wild. We have a couple of old Griffin gargoyles. I think I still have the backdrop too, so I’l string that up. That’ll be cool”
Hey, it might not be a Misfits reunion but we’ll take it.
Blackest of the Black takes place on Friday, May 26 and Saturday, May 27 at Oak Canyon Park, Silverado. For more info: blackestfest.com.