GGPHILIA: THE ALLIN FAMILY
In these white bread, nanny state times, with rock ‘n roll living about as dangerously as a Sylvanian Family on a mitten-buying excursion and scratching, spitting, bestiality and poop-flinging confined to the primate enclosure, it’s fun to flick back to a time when a politically-incorrect, misogynist maniac called Jesus Christ stalked the earth.
By JUKE & Ivana Markotic
Photos Thanks to Merle Allin
GG Allin’s late 30s weren’t spent shinning up the corporate ladder, or pumping his wife’s breastmilk for baby takeout. GG chose to spend his premature golden years in relative poverty, fucking, getting fucked up and fucking people up – and promising to commit suicide, live on stage on Halloween, every year. As various correctional facilities required his mandatory company several Halloweens in a row, his retirement plans were scuppered. Jesus Christ Allin [the name on his birth certificate] died of a heroin overdose in the summer of 1993, a year before Kurt – leaving behind a different, foul-smelling legacy.
While most punk bands are immortalized on t-shirts, GG Allin lives on in the form of a limited edition release of masks by latex artist SikRik, complete with dog collar, blood and poop smears – and some cute thong panties emblazoned with the catchy moniker “GG ALLIN CUNT SUCKING CANNIBAL” available on the merchandise page of his official website.
The man behind these creative ventures and proprietor of ggallin.com is his brother and current Murder Junkies band leader, Merle Allin. As we inch up to the twenty-year anniversary of GG’s death, we managed to make his middle-aged brother talk to us. We weren’t expecting crumpets, which was good, because it was no picnic. Merle likes to respond to e-mails in all caps and the feeling of being yelled at was not limited to email responses, but also our phone interview, in which he was explicit about everything, from gg’s death to the state of punk rock.
The liveliest account of GG’s final years is in the Todd Phillips-directed documentary, Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies. Long before the bromantic success of Old School and The Hangover franchise, Phillips was an NYU film student, who approached Merle to make a documentary about GG (newly released on parole in Michigan) and their latest band, the Murder Junkies. Filmed throughout the Terror in America tour to support the forthcoming release of the Brutality and Bloodshed for All record, the film was funded thanks to serial killer John Wayne Gacy (who was already pen-pals with GG) drawing the movie poster and making 1,000 copies that were sold for 15 bucks each.
In the 1997 reissue of Hated, an eerie video trails his final steps across the Lower East Side, half naked, still covered in his own particular brand of stinky organic merchandising, followed by fans and entourage as he tries to find a cab to go get high. Later his fellow partiers would pose for pictures with his unconscious body, thinking he was passed out and laughing at his excessive snoring, unaware he had overdosed and was in the final stages of respiratory failure. “It’s history. If he blew his brains out, or killed a bunch of people on stage, it would have been great and the way we would have all liked to see it go down,” says Merle.
Merle is preparing to commemorate the death of his brother with a tour. The Murder Junkies originally reunited on the 10-year anniversary of gg’s death in 2003. Along the way they jumped the alphabet from GG to PP, with PP Duvay of New York based band They Hate Us filling the vocal duties, Sonny Harlan on guitar and the return of drummer Dino Sex (who still plays naked, unless it’s an all-ages show). The resurgence of the band’s popularity and GG’s status as a pioneer of hardcore punk rock has been cemented by countless covers and double-penetrated the hipstersphere with the recent charity covers album, Rated GG, which featured reworkings by GG-disciple Pink Eyes (of Fucked Up), Ty Segall and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie.
The Murder Junkies’ most recent release was 2011’s Road Killer (During our two-hour conversation, Merle points out that on Road Killer’s back sleeve, he is the one using his sideburns to choke the girl. Being a female interviewer becomes even more interesting with this scenario in mind.
I have to ask because you are the original Murder Junkie and the closest person to GG, after his passing, was there ever a time where you considered taking the role of the singer for the band? FUCK NO! FUCK NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT! I didn’t want to be like my brother. I loved my brother. I loved what he was doing. I loved being in his band, but, no thank you! [laughs] I didn’t want to be – you know—especially back in the early days of GG’s passing, we didn’t have any idea about keeping the band together. The band basically split up – Ok, GG’s dead: that’s the end of that. But we recorded the Brutality and Bloodshed for All record (we recorded that in April of1993). Then, we did the Terror in America Tour in May and June of 1993 and GG died at the end of June. The record didn’t come out until like September of 1993. And you know, everybody was like “Oh my god, this record is so great. You guys should all stay together, blah blah” But back in those days, people still wanted GG: they still wanted what GG was doing. They thought we were coming out with a GG clone, which was the last thing we wanted to do. It was tough in the early days, because people would get confrontational and they still wanted the violence and when we didn’t deliver that, some of the diehards GG fans went away and the ones that understood stayed.
When you listen to GG’s back catalogue, his voice gets so much deeper and angrier over time. You can hear the progress from years of singing. From the singing and all the alcohol abuse and being in prison, for sure! I mean when he came out of prison, he was more angry than ever. Before he went to prison he was more into self-mutilation and stuff like that; when he got out of prison he was more into, “I wanna fuck you up!” Like: I want to fuck myself up… but I want to fuck you up, too. And onstage or off, if you caught him at the wrong minute, or he didn’t like how you looked, he would kick your ass.
There are rumours that the first shitting on the stage incident was a dare. Do you remember the first time it occurred? Well, I wasn’t there, but I believe it was with Bloody Mess, who was a punk kid from Illinois. That was like the first time GG dumped on stage and it was in ’86. I don’t know anything about a dare: GG didn’t need a dare to do nothing.
Lots of lyrics have been labelled misogynist. Road Killer features the song Once a Whore and there was GG’s I Wanna Rape You. Why do females want to see you live? Because they’re hoping we’ll do that to them! [laughs] No I don’t think so, most of the chicks have boyfriends and stuff. It’s true though, you know, I think that women, a lot of women like to be on the wild side. As long as nothing really happens to them, they want to see GG.
There is an essay out by Jim Goad “The Underground is a Lie” and the author argues that punk music is an exaggerated expression of current events. What are your thoughts on that statement?I just think that there was more to be angry about back in the day. I mean there should be more to be angry about now. People listen to the radio, watch MTV: there is no punk rock to listen to anymore, except, I guess, on the fucking computer. But everybody is a fucking nerd now. Punk rock is dead. And you can’t tell me it’s not, because I’m out there across the country, every fucking year listening to bands: and it’s metal, it’s hardcore, its fifties fucking rock and its hip-hop – that’s all it is. The only punk bands that are left are the Misfits, ANTiSEEN—bands that have been around that are still around that were punk rock in the fucking day.
There are many videos, articles and interviews from the months leading up to GG’s death. Do you think there is anything left to write books about? Oh, of course. Good lord. People don’t know shit. There’s not that many people that really knew GG. They all think they knew him, they all think they would be his best friend. “Oh GG would love me”, “Me and GG would be hanging out, we’d be best friends”.” Let me tell you something, motherfucker: if GG was still alive, none of you fucking people… you wouldn’t be calling me first of all… half these fucking assholes that loved GG Allin would still fucking hate him. Nobody liked GG when he was alive. He’d either be back in prison, dead again, or everybody would still hate him.
In the 90s, TV talk shows fed the negative mainstream response to GG. Why did GG decide to embrace the media and go on shows like Jerry Springer and Jane Whitney? Back in those days, GG was a big self-promoter of himself and his downfall was that he burned so many bridges and pissed people off and he didn’t care. I mean, somebody could help him one minute – and the next minute he’d be like “fuck you”. People just hated him because of the things he would do, I mean he would try to promote himself, but people just didn’t want him. They didn’t fucking want to have GG Allin in their magazines. I mean, nowadays, people call me all the time to do a GG interview, buy pictures; back when he was alive, none of that was happening.
GG and the Murder Junkies in the past talked openly about not making money from music. Considering the present state of music, with records not selling, do you find yourself being more profitable being on the road? Yeah. GG died with no money at all. By the time we paid his funeral expenses from what he had in the bank – and he had just signed with the Brutality and Bloodshed for All record; that’s the only reason he had money in the bank. And I ended up paying money out of my own pocket for his headstone and for his burial expenses. He had no money; he didn’t give a fuck. He got ripped off by every fucking lame-o that came along. And it’s almost like GG just didn’t care. He was a smart guy, he just didn’t have any business sense when it came to that part of it. It was just like, “I guess it doesn’t really matter, because I can just whip up another song or whip up another record in five minutes.”
The fascination with murder is obviously referenced in your band name and the lyrics – and you’ve always maintained friendships with murderers. Why are serial killers one of your biggest inspirations? We just write and sing songs about what’s going on in the real world: rape and torture, serial killers and murderers. It’s on the news every day. It’s fine when the news people talk about it, but when a band sings about it, it’s like, “Oh my god.” I’m fascinated and I’ve been writing to serial killers for twenty years. I’ve got a whole living room full of serial killer art. I’m talking about people like Gacy, Richard Ramirez, Henry Lee Lucas, Danny Rolling – the serial killers from back in the day. They’re all dead, except for Richard. They have all been executed or all died in prison, or whatever. I was doing it before it was like such a… now it’s like the stuff I got for practically nothing is worth hundreds and thousands of dollars. I did it as a hobby and now I sell pieces to pay my bills sometimes.
Are you a fan of the [Phillips directed] The Hangover movies?I never saw any of them. I’ve never seen any of Todd’s movies. I just don’t have the attention span to sit for two hours and watch a movie.
What would your dream movie role be? I would like to play a serial killer, or just some sleazy bar owner.
Which GG Allin songs do the Murder Junkies still play? The ones that people yell at every show for us to play: those are the ones that we will never ever play again… ever! Bite It You Scum- we will never ever play that song live ever again. It’s like GG’s anthem; it’s a four chord song – four chords over, and over, and over. The whole song is four chords. But it’s probably the most popular GG song ever. We’re like, fuck you, poseur ass! We call it The Poseur Song because anybody who heard about GG a week ago would know it.
If GG was alive today, do you think he would be revered, accepted or still shunned by society? I’m sure he would be shunned by everybody still, because he would still be doing things that just…. People are like, what if he was alive today? He wouldn’t be alive today, that’s the whole thing; he’d be dead. He would have died three or four more times by now.
GG ALLIN: FUN FACTS
Bands who’ve covered GG include Beck, the Lemonheads, No Age, and Faith No More.
If you can’t find a girlfriend for love nor money, sleep easy tonight. There was a Mrs Allin, aka Sandra Farrow for about five years. Ever the free spirit, GG had got his teenage girlfriend pregnant before the ink on the divorce was dry – and his daughter, Nico, was born a year later.
He was named Jesus Christ Allin at birth, then renamed Kevin Michael Allin by his mother after his parents’ divorce. The ‘GG’ came because Merle couldn’t pronounce ‘Jesus’ properly and called him ‘JeJe’ instead. It stuck.
In 1976, GG was accepted to Florida’s prestigious Ringling Brothers Clown College – yes, we mean he went to clown school. He underwent circus training for one year, before dropping out.
If you haven’t seen the extra feature on Hated, you’ll probably still have a mental picture of GG’s grossout burial. In an open casket with a bottle of Jim Beam, neither washed, nor made up by the coroner, at Merle’s request, he wore his leather jacket and trademark jockstrap. Friends posed with his corpse, performed sexual acts and poured drugs and whiskey into his mouth. Merle put a pair of headphones on Allin and played him The Suicide Sessions. The headstone Merle forked out for has since been removed, at his mother’s request, because of regular fan defacement