With a playing style virtually unmatched in its raw, pounding and ferocious approach, guitarist Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein has been stomping stages and shredding strings around the world for more than 30 years now.
Born Paul Caiafa, the axe slinger first learned how to play guitar while acting as a roadie for a band his older brother Jerry and his friends played in back in their home state of New Jersey.
That band, of course, were the legendary horror punk pioneers The Misfits, and after the group grew dissatisfied with one of their early guitar players, Caiafa was asked to join when he was still in high school. He was given his Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein moniker, befitting his tall frame and stature, made even more imposing when wearing boots and his now-signature make up and “devilock” hair style.
Doyle—whose new solo album, Abominator, came out on CD and vinyl this week—comes to terrorize the stage at the Warfield on Oct. 31, appearing as a special guest with Danzig at his Halloween show, where they will celebrate the most macabre of holidays by ripping through a set of Misfits classics together.
“It’s fun, man, when we do the songs and see the people that are really happy about it,” says Doyle over the phone during a tour stop on the East Coast.
In line with his stage persona of a mute monster, Doyle doesn’t say much in interviews either, keeping his answers short and to the point, seeming to prefer to let his music speak for itself. There are some issues, however, that he feels strongly enough about that he opens up, and makes strong statements more in tune with his intense playing.
One such issue is illegal downloading of music over the Internet—although the Misfits are today known around the world, they are still a cult band compared to the mainstream pop music stars of today; therefore, Doyle is still very much a working musician.
“I hate that; I think that’s the worst thing about the internet, I think it should be policed. It’s like if I owned a motorcycle shop, or if I made motorcycles in a factory and somebody came in and took one, that’s a crime, right?,” he says. “If people keep stealing music, that puts people out of job, and nobody is going to write more music. Songs don’t grow on a tree in my yard.”
He applauds musicians that have taken the fight to court and tried to bring the issue to the attention of music fans around the world, such as when Lars Ulrich and Metallica sued Napster for copyright infringement.
“Lars was awesome for doing that because he didn’t need the money,” Doyle says. “He did it for all the chumps like us, and he’s right, it’s a fucking crime.”
Doyle approaches his craft in the same do-it-yourself way he did thirty-plus years ago—he financed his new record on his own, and released it on his own label, Monsterman Records.
“We recorded it ourselves—bought all the gear, and just learned how to do it,” he says succinctly.
The DIY aesthetic applies to Doyle’s instruments as well, as he continues to build all of his own guitars—nicknamed “Annihilators”—built up to his own standards, designed to withstand his aggressive guitar playing, a style that he can’t pinpoint exactly where it came from.
“That’s just the way I do it, man,” he says.
Guitar players wanting to wield an “Annihilator” of their own can now order a replica produced by Oktober Guitars, and fans will have a chance to meet the iconic guitarist at a meet and greet on Thursday evening before the Danzig show at Guitar Center in San Francisco.
The musical madman even has his own hot sauce out on the market—“Doyle’s Made In Hell,” a tasty treat made for him by the Halloween Hot Sauce company, based on his input and recommendations.
Fans of Doyle’s signature sound will want to pick up Abominator at Thursday’s show—it’s a collection of 11 blood-curdling tunes featuring his searing guitars and monster movie imagery in the same vein of horror punk and metal that flowed through The Misfits and gave them everlasting life.
Loyal fiends can also take note that Doyle is not opposed to a future Misfits reunion; apparently that decision is laying at other members’ crypt doors.
“I’m ready to do it today, man—it’s not me,” he says.
Doyle peforms with Danizg tonight at the Warfield. More info.