Hard to believe it’s been seven years since I interviewed Merle Allin, brother of the late infamous shock rocker G.G. Allin. It was a fascinating interview, and one of the few that earned me a letter to the editor. (The writer, if I remember correctly, was horrified that I would write about a band he considered to be a worthless purveyor of trash.)
Merle’s band, The Murder Junkies, are coming back to East Tennessee tonight — to the Longbranch Saloon on the fabled Cumberland Avenue “Strip” in Knoxville. They’ll be playing with Wampus Cat, La Basura del Diablo and The Lucky Bastards, and it’s the final stop on the band’s spring “Road Killer” tour, which is incidentally the name of the group’s most recent album. Showtime is around 8 p.m.; no word on the cover, but based on past Murder Junkies shows, I’m guessing it’s roughly $10.
In memory of G.G. and as a nod to Merle, here’s that interview from December 2004 …
Murder Junkies carry on depraved legacy of G.G. Allin
Published: December 3, 2004
ON THE WEB: www.murderjunkies.com, www.ggallin.com
By Steve Wildsmith
of The Daily Times Staff
To his diehard fans, G.G. Allin was a god. To his detractors — which, prior to his death of a drug overdose in 1993, numbered much larger — he was on a par with the Antichrist.
Perhaps no other person in popular culture has generated as much controversy as Allin, who took rock ‘n’ roll depravity to levels unheard of before and not matched since. From his shocking songs — “Young Little Meat” and “Expose Yourself to Kids” were some of the tamer titles in his repertoire — to his on-stage antics that often ended in bloodshed, riots, death threats and arrests, he forced society to re-think what it meant to defend freedom of speech.
Chances are good he’ll never be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and that his legacy will always focus on his theatrics rather than his music, but his old band, The Murder Junkies, are still going strong. And bandleader and guitarist Merle Allin remembers G.G. as more than just a cyclonic freakshow of a man that he turned into on stage. For Merle, he was his kid brother.
“G.G. was just like you hear me talking to you now,” Allin said in a recent phone interview with The Daily Times. “He loved to talk about music, about politics, about whatever. He was basically as normal as anybody else when he was just hanging out. But he had a need to push buttons.
“People pushed his buttons when he was around people who tried to impress him. There are so many ignorant a–hole people out there in general, it’s enough to irritate me every day, and when you’re like my brother and you have a short fuse, it doesn’t take much to send you over the edge.
“Most of us can tolerate the idiots around us more than some people,” Merle Allin added. “He happened to be one of those who couldn’t tolerate other people’s [crap]. And when people were afraid of him, he sensed that, and he used it.”
One thing’s for certain — G.G. Allin wasn’t a phony. He lived the lifestyle he espoused, blowing any meager earnings from performances and recordings on drugs, hookers, booze and pornography. He started playing rock ‘n’ roll in the late 1970s, and over time, his act grew more and more dangerous and sadistic. He rarely performed for more than 10 to 20 minutes before clubs shut him down, starting off in a jockstrap and winding up in the buff. He beat himself bloody with broken bottles, torn cans and the microphone (which he occasionally used to sodomize himself).
He attacked his audience physically and with his own body fluids, including his excrement, which he would either eat or sling at the crowd. He once attempted to have sex with a dead cat an audience member tossed onto the stage, he corresponded with imprisoned serial killer John Wayne Gacy and he promised to commit suicide on stage during a Halloween show. (The drug overdose took his life before he could take his own.) While he was still alive, Allin appeared on numerous television talk shows, including Gerald Rivera and Jerry Springer, and was the subject of a critically acclaimed documentary, “Hated,” directed by Todd Phillips (the same guy who would go on to direct “Old School,” “Road Trip” and “Starsky and Hutch”).
Despite his vile tendencies, he continues to hold sway over a throng of loyal fans — those on society’s outer fringes who applauded his absolute freedom of expression or couldn’t turn away from what basically amounted to a human train wreck, a force of primal fury that satisfied every degenerate craving of his out-of-control id.
“He was a genius, and a great songwriter,”Merle Allin said. “He wrote great lyrics, and he got more … records out than most artists. I can see people thinking it’s garbage, but anybody that can be that productive and put out that much product with a market for it has something going on.
“And the Murder Junkies were a part of it, you know? I think we were a big part of it toward the end. We did more shows with him, and I think we’re probably known to be one of his better bands, too. We spent 1991 to 1993 touring with him, and we’re not ashamed of our past. It’s part of who we are, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
“We don’t do the same type of things G.G. did when he was alive, but the music is the same and the attitude is the same,” he added. “Our singer does his own thing, but we do play some of the old classics as well as some new stuff and some of the stuff we wrote with G.G. We’re basically just old-school punk, and that’s just our style. Nobody else sounds like us, and 99 percent of the bands we play with suck.”
Merle Allin was along for the ride with G.G., during their troubled childhood and during his final years. (Their father was a rigid fundamentalist conservative who didn’t allow conversation or any sort of light when night fell and allegedly dug the family’s graves in the basement of a two-bedroom log cabin where G.G. and Merle grew up.) He admits that at times it was downright frightening — like certain dates in Texas, when howling protesters chased the band out of town or when mobs would trap the members in their dressing rooms.
“I don’t know how we ended up getting out alive,” Merle Allin said. “He was too far ahead of his time for everybody, and now that he’s dead, it’s cool to be into him. It’s more safe now, especially since he’s become a legend since his death. And I admit, we kind of benefit from that, too. Obviously, we played with him and we enjoyed touring with him, the antics he did and the danger involved.
“It was the most exciting time any of us will ever experience in rock ‘n’ roll. If you went to one of our shows back then, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we got to enjoy it together. There won’t be anything like it again.”