For those who don’t know, Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein is the iconic former lead guitarist for the legendary horror punk band The Misfits, whose work on both Walk Among Us and Earth A.D. are considered milestones in the hardcore punk genre. As a huge Misfits fan myself, I am ecstatic to speak with Doyle about his storied career, his early influences and his current solo act.
BLANKMANinc: Growing up, what kind of music were you interested in?
Doyle: Well, my mom was a 50’s child so she had all the 45’s from the 50’s artists, when we were kids we would play those and that kind of got us started in music. From there it went on to like 70’s rock, David Bowie, Queen, Zeppelin, Deep Purple, ya know? That kind of shit. Then we got into punk rock and went out of our minds for a little while. I like punk, I like metal, those two are my favorite but I do listen to all kinds of shit ya know? I like good music, I like good songs, I don’t give a fuck who’s singing em. Doesn’t matter to me.
BMi: You mentioned David Bowie, not many people would expect you to like David Bowie…
Doyle: Well, look at Marilyn Manson, who is he? He’s David Bowie and Alice Cooper mixed in a blender.I’m a huge Marilyn Manson fan and I look the way I look because of Alice Cooper and the theatrics of looking like that and putting on a show is pretty much David Bowie and Alice Cooper right?
BMi: Do you have a favorite David Bowie album?
Doyle: Maybe Aladdin Sane, I like Diamond Dogs. I like the older shit, I think once he hit Young Americans it was like “oh boy, what is this?”
BMi: At what point did you start playing guitar?
Doyle: 8th grade graduation my brother bought me a guitar from one of Glenn’s (Danzig) friends, that was like a 1955 Les Paul Jr kind of thing, Glenn showed me the bar chord and Jerry (Only) showed me two notes on the big string and the next biggest string and I just kept practicing and practicing. I used to practice with the guys when Bobby Steele wouldn’t come from New York to New Jersey to rehearse, I would just sit in with them. They were recording what became Walk Among us but it was actually the 3 Hits from Hell session, he didn’t show up and I had all my stuff there… Glenn just turned to me and said “You play it” and I said “Fuck yeah, I’m gonna play it!” and I played it and that was it.
BMi: You have a distinct way of beating the crap out of your guitar as you play, how did that start?
Doyle: I never noticed it. Well, ya know, I have a saying and it’s “I’m no virtuoso, oh no so” so I gotta give you a show, I gotta give you something to “holy crap” you out of there. Ya know? I’ve got to entertain you.
BMi: Well, it works!
Doyle: It works for me. (Laughs)
BMi: When did you start building your own guitars, what led to that?
Doyle: I was working at a machine shop and a friend of mine that used to work there came in with a guy and they were working on this guitar. They were hogging out some of the wood because they were making the necks at an angle so once you put the neck in the body, a piece of the neck sticks out and they were hogging it out with a router, just jamming it in there. I went “what the fuck is all this? It looks like Swiss cheese”. I said “Fuck that, give me that thing” and put it on one of my machines and I made it perfect in like five minutes. I had drawn my guitar on a book in high school, ya know, when your mom would cover your books in brown paper bags? I used to draw on them all day because I wouldn’t pay attention in school like a fool. I saved that picture and said “I want to make this guitar” and I held up the picture to the Paul Stanley I was playing at the time and it was pretty simple.
BMi: You guys put out some amazing songs during your time with The Misfits, do you personally have a favorite song from that era?
Doyle: Yeah, the last one every night.
BMi: That’s a great answer, perfect answer. Now I read that Glenn announced to the band that you guys were breaking up during a show, was that true?
BMi: Obviously, you have a good relationship with Glenn today, I saw you guys in 05 and it was great, is it easy working with Glenn?
Doyle: Yeah! We have a good time man. He kind of gives me a little bit more carte blanche than the rest of his guys because he know I’m just going to play that shit the way I’m going to play it and that’s that way it’s going to be but we have a great fucking time.
BMi: Has Glenn ever asked you to work on one of his solo Danzig records?