KING OF AN EMPIRE TO THE SHOES OF A MISFIT
(The Memoirs Of Myke Hideous)
1st Books Library
ISBN 1 - 4033 - 8024 - 4
~review by Mick Mercer
First-hand accounts of life in music tend to portray the artist in the best possible light, which makes this book all the more unusual. Myke, the man behind The Empire Hideous, admits certain chapters are ‘cold-hearted’, preparing you for a rough ride, and an absorbing account of the kind of life you’ll be glad you’re not living.
At 380 pages, including 30 photos and 13 illustrations, this is an intensely personal account of Myke’s struggles with music, with his own band and collaborative projects, The Bronx Casket Company and Spy Society 1999, while the largest section covers his recent tours with The Misfits, which clearly motivated him to get everything down on paper. (Much of this is reprinted from journals he kept at the time.)
We skip the childhood, and begin several years after he’s left high school, itching to form a band. He’s been an American hardcore fan (Minor Threat, Suicidal Tendencies) and worships The Misfits. As fate would have it he bumps into Jerry Only, formerly of The Misfits, which is a weird foretaste of how his life will pan out. We follow him as he forms The Empire Hideous and begins entering the Goth world, with what he believes are friends sharing at least musical motivation, if not similar vision, but from 1988 it’s one long snake dance, where the band sheds it skin every few months with one member leaving, or vanishing, time and time again. Whenever they try something it seems to go horribly wrong, apart from the one situation Myke can control, when they get onstage. There he is King, and there he excels.
From his spell as a serious vampire obsessive to his battle with spinal cancer, or his ineptitude with relationships, Myke reveals all. The jobs he takes to keep the band going, the people he meets, the disasters he survives, the rumours he fights, and it follows this gloomy course, until page 185 when Myke makes the mistake of attending a Horror convention in 1998 and meets Jerry Only again. Soon Myke finds himself invited to join their South American tour as replacement vocalist, and from there up until page 342, in 1999, we get a detailed account of how foul he found his time with the band.
While the title makes clear how important this section is to him I found it overly repetitive and wish there had been some outside editorial input because huge potential areas of American Goth-related history haven’t been covered during his time with The Empire Hideous. I’d grasped that this wasn’t a perfect situation, that The Misfits were a band with a ‘business’ mentality at direct cross-purposes with his artistic endeavours, but it does go on and on. To fans of the band however this could be seriously enthralling, so it does balance out, and Myke didn’t lose his central belief. “Screw your expectations, “ he declares at the end, “and live only for the love of your art/music, or whatever it is that makes you who you are. I was made for this. And this I shall remain.”
It is a brilliant book, in terms of showing how unpredictable being in a band can be, especially in uncovering the minutiae of the band lifestyle, in all its forms. If you haven’t got the heart for the struggle this book could help stop you wasting several years of your life!
Once divorced from The Misfits, and back in action with Bronx/Spy and with The Empire Hideous rising sleepily from the flames once more, Myke is pulling his life together as the book draws to a close, and since then he has got an album deal with Middle Pillar, is a regular DJ and club promoter, and can hopefully revel in the fact that the only way is up. It has to be, as you certainly couldn’t go any further down.
The Empire Hideous website: http://www.empirehideous.com