The Misfats pay tribute to The Misfits with their corpulent covers
One of the biggest atrocities a music enthusiast can make (and many music enthusiasts do commit) is to disregard novelty acts. During their early days, Devo was just too goofy to find support from the more highbrow crowd. People also weren’t sure how to take KISS during their early shows. Now one is hard pressed to find a band that couldn’t, somewhere along the line, list KISS or Devo as an influence.
And granted, when it comes to The Misfats, a Portland band that plays Misfits songs with the lyrics changed to be about food and eating, one’s first thought likely isn’t, “This could be the next Devo!” But after having a chat with guitarist Foil Von Franksnbeans (whose bandmates include vocalist Glen Hamzinger, bassist Jerry Baloney and drummer Dr. Choade), it becomes apparent that The Misfats aren’t to be taken lightly.
The Misfats are swinging by Chico this month. How often does the band play out of town?
Not too often. This is totally just a hobby for us and we’re not making any money. We did an East Coast tour last year, and we played at the last South by Southwest, but usually we only hit places that we can get to in a day’s drive.
How did you guys get the gig at South by Southwest?
One of the South by Southwest guys contacted us and said that he was planning a big ‘South by Southwest Closing Night” gig at Emo’s the last night of the festival comprised entirely of tribute bands, and he wanted us to headline. There was a Jesus Lizard tribute, an AC/DC tribute and a guy that did Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars in its entirety, in character. It was a great time.
Have you made friends or comrades with folks from other novelty acts?
Oh yeah. Lots. People in tribute/novelty acts are like carnie folk. Nobody really understands us except each other. There’s a great sense of kinship between us. We’ve bonded with the guys from Beatallica [which combines Beatles and Metallica songs], the gals from the Iron Maidens, the guys from The Sex Pistols Experience, Jewdriver [Skrewdriver lyrics are changed to be about being Jewish], Blondage, We Got the Meat [an all-male Go-Go’s tribute band], Mini Kiss, the mighty Stay Tuned, and a ton of others that I can’t recall right now.
Stay Tuned is playing with you at the Chico show. What are they like?
In a word: brilliant. Stay Tuned is comprised of a drummer, bass player and a keytarist. Their entire set is TV theme songs set to rock tempos or mashed with rock tunes. They do a mash-up of Gilligan’s Island and Iron Maiden’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” that needs to be seen to be believed. They’re based in Seattle, and we play with them quite often. We thought it would be fun to take the show on the road, and thus the “Livin’ Large” tour. Of course, since we’re old and have families and day jobs and such, the “tour” is one Friday and Saturday night. That’s how we roll.
Have audiences in Portland and elsewhere been too highbrow for The Misfats?
Nah. For the most part, people see the humor in a bunch of fat guys in devil-lock wigs singing about food to the tune of Misfits songs. They can see that we’re basically stand-up comedy with distortion. That’s not to say that we haven’t gotten some funny looks or seen a couple people head for the doors, but the vast majority of people we’ve played for have been awesome. We played at a barbecue in the Bronx, and a dude was crowd surfing during our set. How cool is that?
Do you think The Misfats have covered any ground in critically examining obesity issues in our society?
No. [Laughs] It’s all just for fun.