Gwar

GWAR is a theatrical thrash metal band, formed in a former milk bottling plant by a group of art students in Richmond, Virginia in 1985. They’ve been nominated for two Grammys, seen multiple line-up changes, been shot at, arrested, sponsored by golf companies and charged at by skinheads, all the while spewing chunky fake blood, semen and vomit over adoring fans at their live shows for the past 25 years. And that is basically why they are nearly a household name. It is hard to find someone my age who is unfamiliar with the legacy of GWAR. Strangely, at the same time it is difficult to find someone who is familiar with their music. 2009 is the year that GWAR might finally be breaking out. Their latest album Lust In Space (Metal Blade) debuted at #96 on the Billboard top 200 in August, there are talks of a GWAR reality show and video games, and lead GWAR character Oderus Urungus has been appearing regularly on Fox News in full costume as a correspondent for the late night news show Red Eye.

Oderus (AKA Dave Brockie) is the only remaining original member and founder of the band. He’s originally from Canada, where his father was an engineer on the famed almost-a-major-success-butproject-sunk-in-a-lake fighter jet, the AVRO Arrow. The termination of the Arrow project sent Oderus’ family to the U.S.A., where the aerospace industry was, to say the least, booming. It looked at times that GWAR might have also gone the way of the Arrow, especially in the Nineties when they were experimenting with country and jazz. Fortunately GWAR forged ahead and returned to their thrash metal roots.

Oderus stated in his Richmond News column “GWAR, Me, and the Onrushing Grip of Death” that “being in GWAR is like masturbating for 25 years and not getting off.” Now, after 25 years, it seems that 2009 is the year the band will finally see the level of success and recognition they have desired for so long. I certainly hope so. They deserve it.

I caught up with Oderus over the phone and stiffly asked him some questions about Fox News, jail, Ted Nugent, Tommy Lee, professional golf, Jello Biafra, midget gangs, Glenn Beck, guns and everything else. This is how it went.

It’s the 25th anniversary of GWAR’s reign on planet Earth, you’ve finally been invited to Comic-Con, you have become the regular interplanetary correspondent on Red Eye on Fox News and your new album Lust In Space has debuted at 96 on Billboard top 200, which is the highest charting album of GWAR’s career! Has GWAR finally made it, or are you waiting til you’ve reached the coveted 95th spot on the Billboard top 200 to announce your success?
I’m not really quite sure, but everything seems to be lining up for just a huge year for GWAR. There’s been mad press going on all summer. We went to Wacken, put on an amazing show there in front of 80,000 crazy Germans, we played The Gathering of the Juggalos, we did Comic-Con and you know I got this Red Eye gig and all the other stuff you mentioned. There are just a lot of things happening for GWAR that have never really happened before. This isn’t going to be just like, “Oh, GWAR puts out another record that their fans love and they do a great tour and then the whole cycle starts over.” No, there’s much more at stake this time. It definitely does seem like there’s new places to go for GWAR. A lot of people that maybe have not supported us, or been on the fence about GWAR are taking a second look at the old beast and are deciding that it IS good. And maybe some of these doors that have been closed for GWAR all these years are going to be opened. It’s no surprise to us that we are the greatest fucking thing since cream cheese, but the world still has to figure that out. So this year we’re looking for GWAR to take a huge step up and maybe achieve some of those things that we haven’t got to. Things like a GWAR movie, GWAR video games, GWAR television shows, all these things GWAR has never gotten it seems might be right around the corner. And it wouldn’t be successful just for GWAR—it would be just as big a thing for all the fans that have supported us all these years.

Has there been talk of a GWAR video game in the past, or is that something on the table right now?
We’ve talked to many different video game companies. These people got in touch with us, take us out to lunch, you know. Talked a bunch of shit and it’s never gotten anywhere. Those things cost a lot of money to make. And you know they’re concerned they wanna have products they can sell in Wal-Mart. They’re worried that GWAR is gonna have their dick hanging out and be fuckin’ the pope or whatever. And basically GWAR’s not gonna compromise to make these things happen. What we’re gonna do is continue to beat the shit outta society until it’s in the correct configuration that these things can all happen.

Oderus is now a regular correspondent on Fox News’ Red Eye program; how has it been?
It’s great! They treat me really well. Oderus was all up in Fox News last night and everyone was just completely freaking out about it. You know, it’s big time TV and Greg Gutfeld that hosts the show has been a huge GWAR fan his whole life. He had me on the show and it went really well and so every time we’ve done it we’ve kind of tried to do a little bit more with it, to the point where Oderus did the entire episode last night and he did really, really well. Greg did definitely kind of coach me into it—it’s kind of funny when Oderus is a little more thoughtful. There is something very disturbing about Oderus saying something that actually makes sense. So we’re definitely getting into some virgin territory with this, but I think it’s very powerful and I think it’s going to end up right where it needed to be. We’re going to have a much bigger presence of GWAR on major television and, who knows, maybe The GWAR Show is a reality that’s not too far away.

Are you familiar with Glenn Beck who hosts the hour before Red Eye? Do you think he’s actually serious, or is he like Fox News’ version of Stephen Colbert?
Yeah, that’s exactly what I think it is. Everyone’s like, “Oh, Fox News, they’re so conservative. How come they’re doing GWAR?” What I think is the biggest reason that Fox News is so conservative is because we’ve had a Republican in the White House for the past eight years and the climate of the country was conservative so therefore Fox News was conservative because they’re trying to get ratings. When I think of Fox, I think of things like The Simpsons and Married… With Children and then the fact that Oderus is on Red Eye certainly isn’t doing a lot to shore up the conservative imagery. So sure, these guys are all conservative pundits, but before that they are television personalities.

In 1990 you managed to get arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina over something that happened at a show?
That was the very famous Cuttlefish Incident, but it ended up inspiring the GWAR movie Phallus in Wonderland. That’s when I was arrested for what they call “the dissemination of obscenity” and basically that’s what they charge people who do child pornography with. It’s a serious charge. It’s a felony. Basically what happened was I was defiling a rubber pope or something like that and after the show the cops came into the dressing room, arrested me and confiscated the Cuttlefish. It was a little bit scary there for a while because I am actually a Canadian citizen and they were talking about deporting me and so we were really worried about what was going to go down, but in the end we plea bargained down to a lesser charge and they ended up suspending the sentence. It didn’t really do anything to hurt GWAR cause we sure got a lot of free publicity over it and here it is 19 years later and people are still talking about it.

I read somewhere that the judge in that case had an unusual name…
[laughs] Oh yeah, his name was Richard Boner. Dick – E – Boner. Yeah, that was actually his real fucking name, I kid you not. And to make it even more surreal, and this is absolutely true—no one’s gonna believe it, but this is absolutely true—next on the court docket after me that day was a gang of criminal circus midgets.

Oh my God!
And I’m totally fucking serious. They were obnoxious as hell. When you’re a midget you just don’t have much to lose. You might as well just go for it.

That’s unbelievable that Dick Boner tried GWAR…
Dick Boner tried GWAR and then he went on to persecute a bunch of criminal midgets.

Apparently Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys was upset over the outcome of this case?
No, no, no. Jello and I have always had a great relationship. He’s awesome. He’s a die-hard GWAR fan and he always comes out to see us when we are in San Francisco. One thing about Jello is he’ll come on the bus and he’ll always bring a big coat with him. And I swear to God by the time he leaves at the end of the night, every single one of the pockets of his coat is filled with beer… and pieces of our pizza. He’s awesome. We love Jello.

Is there actually a TV company that is trying to get GWAR a reality TV show?

There are rumours, yes. We are working with a production company that has to remain nameless right now and the idea is out there to get GWAR a reality show. I think it will happen, but I think it will just take a little more time. We are seeing the beginnings here of a major breakthrough for GWAR. I think it’s going to take the length of this tour and over the next six months we are going to see some really serious things happen for GWAR in a good way and the TV reality show could be part of that.

What would be the ideal GWAR reality show?
Well, personally, I figure you really don’t need to try too hard to do a GWAR reality show. You just take GWAR and throw them into human society and there you have it. My perfect show would be an Oderus variety show kind of in the style of Carol Burnett or something. Oderus basically hosts a sketch comedy show and GWAR is the house band and we do these ridiculous skits where GWAR dresses up like humans or whatever and there you go. Basically you put GWAR in any context of humanity and it’s going to be funny. You could have Oderus trying out for Broadway musicals, you can have Balzac going down to the hot dog stand, trying to teach a music class to elementary school students, basically wherever you put GWAR the yuks are going to be present.

I’ve been reading your column in the Richmond News online and you keep promising to get to this but I am wondering why is Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat/Fugazi) such an asshole?
[laughs] Well, I grew up in the DC area and graduated highschool in 1981 so I’m an old timer. I was there for the birth of hardcore and for me punk was always about being yourself and self-expression and going out and having fun. So I ran afoul of all the straight-edge dudes right off the bat. They hated me. There were lots of instances of them being complete dicks to me and people like me and then when I moved down to Richmond things got a lot better because that community was so much more open. But then bands from DC would come down and be like, “There’s that dude,” and I’d get my ass kicked again. I’m not gonna spoil it for ya, but Ian MacKaye is a dick and the next column is going to be all about it.

Ted Nugent is supposedly an asshole, too. Have you ever met him?

Yeah, Ted’s a complete asshole. I was a really big Ted Nugent fan when I was a kid. As I grew up and started getting into punk rock, I kinda went away from Nugent. Many years later we were playing in Minneapolis at First Avenue and across the street at the Target Center Ted was playing. So we went to go see Ted play before our show and after it I was waiting in this line trying to get an autograph. He was sitting at this table up ahead of me and I heard “So Ted are you gonna go see GWAR today?” And he just started going off “Oh, fuck GWAR they’re a bunch of fuckin’ freaks, blah, blah, blah.” It always sucks when you realize one of your heroes is a complete asshole. Then I saw him open up for KISS one time and he referred to Jesse Jackson as a “shit skin.”

Oooh.
Yeah, he’s just a racist, homophobic, gun-toting NRA asshole and I’ve officially withdrawn all support for that prick.

So I guess you didn’t go shooting with Ted.
No. I gotta give him his props for certainly being a rugged individualist, but he’s just another right wing asshole.

On the topic of guns, have you ever been shot at?
Yeah, actually it was when I was a little kid. They bulldozed our woods and made a shopping centre and we used to go up there and vandalize the construction equipment all the time in a vain attempt to stop it… even though we ended up loving the shopping mall when they did build it. One time the security guard caught us there and brought us back to his weird security camper and starting showing us all this gay porn. We were like eight years old and I think we were probably pretty close to getting molested when we decided to just run for our lives. As we were running, when we were jumping over this fence, he pulled his .38 out and shot like four or five times over our heads. I don’t think he was really trying to hit us, but it scared the fuck out of us.

Now you apparently played golf with Tommy Lee once. How was that?

It was terrible. He had his own golf balls and everything and they were all over the place. Tommy Lee is a terrible golfer.

He had “Tommy Lee” golf balls?
Yeah, I got some. He’s a terrible golfer but he’s actually a pretty cool guy. But he was completely lying to me. He was saying “Oh yeah, I seen GWAR” and I was like, “Well where, Tommy? Where did you see GWAR?” And he was like (makes mumbo jumbo sounds). He didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about.

Do you remember what you shot that day?
I think I played pretty goddamned bad. I shot like 108 or something. It’s a really hard course. It’s Malibu Country Club and it’s a very fucking difficult course. And the fact they had drink carts at every hole and were, like, pouring shots of tequila down your throat every time you’re trying to hit the ball didn’t really help my game that much. That’s what I like about golf though, the blatant drinking during the round.

Yeah, it’s the only sport where you can get hosed and smoke during play.
Yeah, very civilized. I spent a lot of time playing golf but finally gave it up cause it’s just too fucking hard and it’s too fucking expensive and I don’t want to pay all that money just to suck at something.

I guess you’ll have to get the GWAR golf sponsorship
Yeah, I was on the Mars Golf team for a few years—that was pretty cool—but then the owner of the company realized it was pretty stupid to keep paying for us to play all these tournaments and just completely fuck up the place.

Wait. You actually were sponsored for golfing?

Yeah, there was a company called Mars Golf and they were kind of trying to be the punk rock golf company. We actually had a golf team with me, one of the dudes from Smash Mouth and Tommy Lee. They gave me free clubs, would fly me around. I somehow sold myself to them as being a decent golfer. Then they saw me actually play and they were like “Oooh… oh yeah…” I was actually starting to get pretty decent at it—my best round was an 84. Then I broke my pinky and I could never get my swing back.

Since this is the Halloween issue, what would Oderus dress as for Halloween?
Oh! He likes to dress up as famous TV quizmasters. I think I will be going as Alex Trebek, host of Jeopardy. Either that or Lindsay Lohan’s diseased twat… just the twat part. That wouldn’t be too hard. That’s actually kinda what Oderus looks like anyway.

As an omnipotent god, what are your predictions for December 21st, 2012?
Oh yeah, well the Mayans are right. The whole fucking world’s gonna explode and the aliens are coming back. So we’ve only got like three years left to party before everything is over. So let’s get together with GWAR, especially the people of Vancouver and Canada who have always been loyal GWAR fans this whole fuckin’ time. We’ve only got three years left for GWAR to be able to run the planet. So get down to the record store, get your copy of Lust In Space and get ready for GWAR to come Vancouver because we are motherfucking taking over.

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