The question I most often hear from people when they learn that I have had the experience of meeting and interviewing Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein multiple times is typical, “Is he really that huge?” The answer is more complicated than yes or no. “Is he a mass of super tight muscle?” You bet and he works hard at maintaining that physique at 53 years young and maintaining a vegan diet. “Is he really that tall?” He is tall, some list him at 6’3″, but honestly it is hard to tell with those massive boots. “Is he intimidating?” Sure, he is a big dude with crazy makeup, but if you do your research and avoid the same old questions, he is downright awesome and very approachable. In fact, when asked what I take away most from hanging with Doyle, it’s his humility.
Doyle will be the first to tell you that he ‘only plays 3 chords’ or that he can only play the ‘songs that he created (or is associated with)’, but if you study his work well enough, that is not exactly true. There is a reason that his guitar playing with the legendary Misfits is one of the most widely influential from the punk era, just ask Metallica. Doyle tends to downplay his abilities when it comes to writing songs, creating riffs, surviving in a cutthroat business, and in essence re-inventing his career to make it his own. Since he partnered up with Cancerslug vocalist Alex Wolfman Story, he has produced some extremely hard-hitting thrash punk that borders more on the extreme metal side than the heyday of the devil lock.
Now with two full albums in the can under the Doyle moniker, the guitarist is taking the heavy music world by storm, one town at a time if he has too. The band’s set is no longer beefed up with Misfits tunes, but Doyle’s own. Opening with the brutal “Abominator”, Doyle, Alex, and company took no prisoners as they pounded the audience with songs like “Beast Like Me” and “Run For Your Life” and “Valley Of Shadows” in a relatively short, but killer set. Alex kept with the running sarcastic joke of, “this is sort of a love song that you can dance to if you want’ as an intro to every song. It did not take long for the crowd to become an entangled sweaty mess of humanity and was an amazing, if not overpowering, opening for Ghoul and GWAR. The newest album, Doyle 2: As We Die picks up where Abominator left off, most of the guitar written and recorded actually at the same time as Abominator. But, Doyle is a perfectionist, and definitely took his time until he was satisfied with the mix. It paid off and is once again an awe-inspiring piece of savage songwriting. His partnership with Alex and his giving over of lyrical/story content to him shows how much trust he has in him. When asked how they hooked up, he talked about ads he placed on the East and West Coast and that Alex’s work, “was the only stuff where I listened to every song, the other stuff went immediately into the garbage”. The pair play perfectly off of one another, Story having just enough Danzig in him to fit, but being a man completely of his own as well to create something entirely unique.
Doyle is a lot deeper than people give him credit for and personally, I think it has a lot to do with his humility and often times standoffish personality he uses as a deflection of attention, he certainly is more at home on stage than in front of a camera. On his tour bus after his set while opening for GWAR in Pittsburgh, we started talking about the recent “concert shootings”, namely Las Vegas and the Eagles of Death Metal show in Paris, he is downright introspective, “Actually, I’m surprised it did not happen earlier, I mean look at what happened to Dimebag. It’s taken a long time and tragedy to finally get metal detectors (wands as a normal procedure). Glenn (Danzig) will not and has not performed anywhere in a long time without it for safety reasons.” He also added, “we are vulnerable on stage as well and people don’t know if it’s part of the show or real when it happens”.
Our conversation took a darker turn when we discussed all the musical legends lost in the past year, “David Bowie probably personally affected me the most…Chris Cornell really impacted my girlfriend (Alyssa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy). Delving deeper into the subject matter, Doyle brought up Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and how serious the problem of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation can be and how it needs to be discussed openly. But, we did not stay mired in the very heady and weighty topics the whole time. We also got into an unexpected influence, that of Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, “if you are not a musician you don’t notice the underlayer that is going on there. His use of feedback specifically.” Not expecting a primarily blues-based player like Perry to be on his list of major influences, it just makes one think that there is a lot more to the man than the surface value, you just have to dig a little.
Being a private man, one does not want to go too deep into Doyle’s private life, but he will talk about Alyssa a bit, with enthusiasm. Unfortunately, their touring schedules do not jive often. In fact, before each of them headed back from just completed tours and headed off to new tours, they only had about three days together (listen to Alyssa and Michael of Arch Enemy guest on “Kiss Me As We Die”). Their vegan lifestyle has been much chronicled and discussed as well as their respect and love for animals. Doyle does not have any pets of his own but Alyssa has a ‘big orange cat’ that he thinks is cool and his mother has ‘like 20 cats’. When he can he would like to get a Chinese Crested dog, “the ones without any hair except on the top of their head.” It’s not hard to search his Instagram and find Doyle with a dog in his massive arms with that big grin of his. One is not nearly as intimidating with a chihuahua in their lap, and Doyle could give two shits if it is a dichotomy to his “image”. But the page is also filled with fan art he receives playing off of that beloved image. He gets a ton of stuff given to him and finds it hard to store it all. Thus when we got into his love of “horror-themed art” (i.e. Basil Gogos) he spoke enthusiastically about his love for it, but his inability to collect anything, “I just don’t have anywhere to put it!”
And that image is not easy to maintain. It can take as much as three hours for him to put his makeup on and style his hair, a whole hour for just the white face base. Add to that the weight training, (he actually has a sponsorship with an adjustable dumbell company that ships them to Europe just for his use), his dieting, interviews, soundchecks, etc…it is a pretty hectic schedule. He definitely has knowledge when it comes to training and even follows The Pittsburgh Steelers own James “DEEBO!” Harrison on Instagram, to see what outlandish weights he throws around like toys. It is hard for me to believe that no fitness magazine has not tapped Doyle for an in-depth article about what he personally does to stay in shape (and if any mags want to commission me for this I’m pretty sure Doyle and I could talk training all day!). By the way, don’t bother asking him about his upcoming role in the “Death Warrant 3” movie, though he is fairly certain they will be respectful to his look, he really does not know much about it. Doyle has been in some movie productions before and he is always amazed, “how some actors just become different people when the camera comes on, it’s incredible.”
Since The Misfit stuff is so often talked about, out of respect we did not get into it too much, but let’s just say the sold-out reunion shows coming up in LA and Vegas are going to be beyond special and he is pretty pumped. “They just call me and tell me where to show up,” just another example of Doyle’s deflection away from himself and his legend, making the man that much more endearing.
All photos AWELDINGPHOTO © 2017