An Interview with Michale Graves of the Misfits

Known for introducing the music sub-genre, horror-punk, The Misfits were a legendary punk-rock band of the 80s. Leading the band’s revival in the 90s was the self-titled “music man,” Michale Graves. Donning the Misfits’ staple, skull make-up, Graves carried the band of punk rockers up to the new millennium and expanded their reach to the next generation. Though it has been over a decade since the last Misfits’ record, Graves has continued to pursue a solo career as a singer-songwriter. Substituting face makeup for face paint, this husband and father of two is far from the former hard rock archetype he portrayed for many years. Promoting the release of his brand new album, Vagabond, Michale Graves shared with Grooveshark that an artist evolves just as much as the music they were put on this earth to create.

Michale Graves as frontman for the Misfits.

You were one of the biggest punk bands of all time in the 80’s and I am a bit curious on what that experience was like for you?

As early as I can remember, I have always felt the attraction to making music and being in a successful band. So when I got the opportunity with the Misfits, one: I was ready for it, and two: it was literally a dream come true.

It was a great amount of pressure because of how legendary the band was and the effect they had on the music industry and other big name bands. After Danzig, I became the main songwriter, who had the responsibility of bringing this group, which was larger than life, into the next generation.  

So what’s it like now when you see these younger kids rocking the Misfits Ts.

To be honest, because of the premature demise of the band and the circumstances that brought our separation it is a bit bittersweet.  I still know and believe in all of the potential of the four of us and what we could have achieved; perhaps what we should have achieved. But, I am also incredibly proud because I see the skull all over the world and its amazing to see the kids that know who I am and my songs. So again, it is incredibly humbling but also bittersweet.

You mentioned you have kids?

Yeah, I have two children. I have a 1-year old and a 3-year old.

So are your kids aware of daddy’s job or work history?

My 3-year old, Olivia, any skull that she sees she thinks that its me. She is aware of what I do, she is a huge fan of the new record and she knows that her daddy is a music man.

I can’t wait to see what happens when your kids turn into teens and they really understand how much of a music man their daddy was.

I have nieces and nephews that just hit their teens and it’s sinking in more and more who I am. Especially when they go to school and their friends and even some of their teachers are fans.

How long has your solo artistry been in the works?

Towards the end of the Misfits I looked around at the situation I was in and knew the restraints that were present from a creative standpoint. But I always looked to the future. I was always excited and confident that whenever this part of my career ends, I would be able to pursue and create the music and the art I knew was in me. Soon after I got out of the Misfits and I put myself back together, I started making solo music. It has been going on 12 years now.

Within the past few years, music as drastically changed. With you being an active musician for like the better part of 2 decades, I am curious as to how your music has changed in the past decade and how has your new album changed from the previous music you have pushed out?

When I was with the Misfits, the fans and the people that paid attention to me were used to this character, this Skel-Crow character with a skull face singing about horror movies and diabolical things. So coming out of the Misfits, I held onto that because it was safe. Even just taking my makeup off and walking out on stage was difficult.

One of the things that I have always done were writing very abstract lyrics, which is not the case with the new Vagabond album. Before, the lyrics were unfocused in what I was trying to say or what I was trying to get across by design. On the new album, you read the lyrics and you are going to know exactly what I am talking about,  so that’s certainly one of the biggest changes that you’ll notice.

What about the sound?
With Vagabond there is a lot of tone. It is a much more musical album than my past stuff or the punk stuff and my monster records. I really wanted to capture the musical side of things and the acoustic part of my career was really a reset button and I knew that if I could go back to the beginning, and get rid of all the amplifiers and get away from all the make-up and just go back to where American punk and American rock-and-roll, where that music truly came from. That’s why I spent as much time as I could in the south and playing with guys that were schooled in the blues. Sometimes just hanging with old crusty dudes in the Ozark Mountains and jamming with them.  This is how I truly got a grip and understanding of American music and of rock-and-roll music.

A part of me wonders whether you becoming a father and a husband has had influence on the type of music you are striving to create now.

Absolutely! I see the world differently. Especially going away on tour and being away from, especially my eldest, who has an understanding of when I am going away. Its a very different experience than the, ‘Hey we are just going to go out on the road and have a good time and play music.’ I have become even more spiritual. I have become closer to the god that I believe in and indeed the music and the things that I create and the things that I put out in the world all come through that lens of my children are paying attention and will inherit whatever I put out there.

What are you excited to put forth and what can audiences look forward to in this new album, Vagabond.
This record truly is an outpouring of the last 4 to 5 years. It is an outpouring of emotion it is an outpouring of what’s in my heart and what’s in my soul. In my personal life, my relationship with my wife, my relationship with my children, my relationship with God and my relationship with this life that I lead as a music man and so they truly can expect the intimacy of my acoustic performances in a full band form.

Listen to Michale Graves new album, Vagabond on Grooveshark now!


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