Band: The Murder Junkies, Before I Hang
Date: Wednesday, June 22, at 10 p.m.
Venue: The Blind Mule, 57 N. Claiborne St., www.theblindmule.net
Tickets: $10 (21+)/$15 (under 21); call 251-694-6853 for more information
In the days before punk rock was corrupted, The Murder Junkies reigned over the New York scene with an unbridled sound and a stage presence to match. In those days, late front man GG Allin took punk rock into a new dimension with a raging, unpredictable live show that would sometimes climax with bloodletting and feces. After Allin’s death from a heroin overdose in 1993, his brother Merle marched the band forward into an unknown future.
Even without the band’s controversial front man, The Murder Junkies continued to tour extensively and record new material. Today they have embarked on the “Farewell Tour,” but Lagniappe’s conversation with Merle Allin reveals this is not a total departure from the world of underground rock.
Stephen Centanni: The Murder Junkies are currently on what’s being billed as the “Farewell Tour.” How would you compare touring now to its early days?
Merle Allin: Wow, there’s really no comparison. Now we actually have shows we can play night after night after night. Back in the old days, we could only play, you know, once every two or three nights, and we were lucky to get shows at all. Now we’ve established ourselves in our own right, and people actually come out to hear what we’re doing and what we’re playing, and they don’t have to worry about getting sh*t thrown at them, you know.
Centanni: You’ve been teasing the departure of The Murder Junkies for quite some time. What finally made it happen?
Allin: It’s not really farewell. We’re just not going to do big tours anymore. Next year, we want to go to Europe and do a farewell tour. We’re gonna record a new album next year. 2018 is my brother’s 25th anniversary, so I’m sure we’ll be doing shows for that. It’s just that we’re tired of touring this country over and over and over. That’s it pretty much it, I guess, more than anything.
We’re not going to not play anymore. We’re just not going to do big tours around the whole country. We’ll probably still do East Coast shows and Midwest shows and go to different countries and play and stuff like that. We’re definitely going to record a new album next year.
Centanni: What do you think of the current state of punk?
Allin: There’s no punk. It’s a joke. Punk’s a joke. The only punk bands that are still existing are the ones that have been around, like us, for 25 years like The Mentors and Anti-Seen and bands like that. There’s no punk. People ask me, “What are you listening to? What new bands are you listening to?” I listen to a lot of sh*tty ones, that’s for sure, because we play with a lot of them every night. It’s not punk. It’s not anything. It’s hardcore and metal.
I hate all that crap, but we play with a lot of bands like that. Bands that think they’re punk are generic. There’s no catchy songs. You know what, nobody has individuality anymore. It’s all, “Let’s sound like everybody else does.” The beginning of punk was like everybody was different. You had Talking Heads and Television, and you had The Ramones. All those bands sounded different. Now, everybody just sounds the same. It’s a bunch of garbage.
Centanni: You have to have some youngsters at your shows. What kind of reaction do you get from the new schoolers?
Allin: They’re actually pretty good, because most of them weren’t alive when GG was doing his thing. So, they don’t know what to expect. Nobody expects us to do what we did back then anyway. That was in the early days after GG died. In the ‘90s, we had a hard time. We’ve had the same band now for eight years with our guitar player and nine years with our singer. We have three new albums out and a new single. We have new songs that we play. We hardly play any GG songs anymore. People who come out to our shows now are singing our songs.
We still play some GG songs in the set to honor him and stuff like that. Most of our set is our brand new stuff that people are coming out to hear. They’re buying our CDs and singing our songs at shows. That’s what we’re doing. We’re not a GG cover band. I know that we had to do that in the ‘90s, because we didn’t have much going on. We didn’t know if we would continue playing after he died.
It took a while for us to get our own identity, and it took a while before we found the right members. Like I said, we’ve had the same band for eight or nine years. We all have the same kind of ideas, and we write good together. We’ve been successful with recording for the past five years.
Centanni: In addition to music, another passion that you have is collecting serial-killer artwork. How did you get into that?
Allin: I started writing to [John Wayne] Gacy in the last ‘80s after I’d seen an exhibit of his artwork at a gallery. I was like, “Oh, this stuff is pretty cool.” I started writing to him and getting a piece of artwork here and there.
After he was executed in ‘94, I started writing to all kinds of different serial killers. This was before you get an instant collection by getting online and buying stuff on websites. This was back when you had to write to the serial killers to get their artwork. That was the thrill of it.
You’d be like, “Wow, I got a letter from Richard Ramirez.” It went from that to collecting artwork. Once you get one from one, you want more from another one. It turned into a big hobby for me totally for kicks and for excitement. Today, it’s all fashionable. Who knew?
Centanni: For those who have never experienced The Murder Junkies live, what can they expect?
Allin: They can expect to see a kick-ass, energetic f*ckin’ rock ’n’ roll with old-school punk rock music and just gettin’ in the pit and having a good time and getting your energies out and frustrations out anyway you want, with beer splattered all over the place and everybody doing their own thing and having fun. That’s what we’re all about.