When you interview the members of the band GWAR you completely expect their answers to be bizarre, grotesque, demented, inappropriate and hilarious. So it’s no surprise that it went down exactly that way when we sat down with frontman Dave Brockie (aka Oderus Urungus) in the green room at Wooly’s in Des Moines, Iowa, before the band’s show with Wilson and Warbeast.
Brockie typed away on his laptop computer while we spoke, and while he appeared in human form, once the interview began he morphed into character, offering answers only Urungus would. First, Brockie explained the importance of always being ready for battle, even though the question posed was actually how long does it take the band to get into costume. “We’re always ready. At any point we could be attacked. We’re just trying to play a show for the nice people here. But at any moment throughout the day, we could be attacked by a nuclear powered cyborg from outer space. Or a dinosaur. Or the cops. Or the national guard. Or just about anybody. Or quite the opposite could happen and they could decide to be really nice to us and offer up their entire town in sacrifice.”
He then proceeded to explain the arduous task of getting into costume each day, which he claims is left to their slaves. “Our slaves piece by piece place our armor on us as we’re toweled with honey and silk. I wouldn’t call them people. We call them slaves. Yes they are humans. They are culled from art schools. We steal them. Bring them back to Antarctica. And we teach them how to take care of our – you call them costumes – we call them clothes. We don’t have to pay them anything. They are allowed to loot though after the show. They make a lot of money that way sometimes.”
GWAR fans are possibly as strange as the band, and maybe even more so. Fans have been known to throw an array of things on stage including dead chickens and cats in what Brockie thinks is some weird attempt to appease GWAR. Brockie explained the strangest incident was in Norway when dog vomit was thrown at the band. In a mimicking European accent, Brockie explained what the fans said to the band after the show when they approached them to let them know they were in fact the ones who offered up the dog vomit. “Look at this. We made dog sick up into pot and I keep in yard. I throw on you GWAR because you are so great.” Brockie said about their European experiences overall, “Lot of weird things happen in Europe, pretty much the cradle of weirdness.”
Of course GWAR usually is the one being noted for their disgusting antics, and it apparently was not so well received the first time the band was nominated for a Grammy. “We were quite touched. We went to Los Angeles. Went to the show and promptly got thrown out because they said we were too disgustingly stinky. Somehow we didn’t meet the dress code apparently. You have to have a tuxedo or something, and of course my dick was hanging out (Brockie’s costume includes a large phallus attached to the front of him).”
So what experiences and feelings inspire a GWAR song? Brockie said it’s the “meaningless hatred of this reality. The never-ending slew of atrocity and horror. Yet the courageous attempts of the slug-like human race to somehow eek some kind of pleasure out of this wretched, pathetic pointless existence.” When Brockie has to write a song for GWAR, he tries to “become” Oderus Urungus. “It’s like writing for a broadway musical. You’re going into a character’s mind. And you’re trying to write from their point of view. You have to step outside of yourself. I try to look at things as a blood-crazed, undying, sadistic, merciless, completely chaotic, all-powerful, ghoul from outer space. Try to put yourself in that guy’s head. It’s kind of a fun place to be, to be quite honest. Oderus can juggle tanks, fuck for weeks. He’s kind of a fun guy to be.”
Brockie claims America has been destroyed ever since the album America Must Be Destroyed was released in 1992 and no one quite realizes it yet. He says it was pretty much destroyed before they made the album, but GWAR themselves hadn’t yet realized it. The band’s mission continues to be to keep destroying humans, even though they are failing. “We’re definitely failing. Humans are breeding faster than we can kill them. We don’t want to have to turn to nuclear weapons. It’s a coward’s way to kill. I’ve always said it. But I will do it if that’s what’s necessary to wipe out this plague of humans across this planet. Creating you guys by fucking apes was the stupidest thing we ever did.”
So once they do get humans out-of-the-way, what will GWAR conquer next? “We’ve pretty much conquered everything that we can find. The problem is we’re not so good with Google maps. We haven’t been able to find Japan yet. That’d be great. We’d love to conquer Japan. It’s easy to point to on a map. It’s quite another to get in a bat-shaped helicopter and fly across the fucking Pacific.”
Brockie offered one serious, heartfelt answer when it came to the subject of Cory Smoot (aka Flattus Maximus). When asked about Smoot’s passing and how the band has coped during the time of healing afterwards, Brockie said it’s been a, “time of great turbulence and change for GWAR. After what we felt was a respectable amount of time, we plunged back into music and began to search for our new scumdog. Pustulus (Maximus) joined us after a long, exhaustive audition process. We weren’t going to rush it at all. Cory was such an amazing guitar player and how does a band recover from something like that. We’ve done plenty of shows with Pustulus now. He’s definitely a big hit with the fans. He’s not trying to replace Flattus. And we’re not trying to replace Cory’s sound. We know that we can’t ever. He was such a talented guitar player, and such a unique guitar player. That would just be ridiculous. We’ve embraced Pustulus’s style. He’s got those lightning fast metal chops. He’s got a real kinda nasty, kinda gritty, almost southern rock feel to it. I think the band is a little trashier in the sound now. I think Flattus would be proud. And I hope the fans are happy with it. And if they’re not they can drop the fuck dead.”
GWAR is wrapping up a new album, their 13th, which will be the band’s first since Smoot’s passing. It is planned to come out later this year and it will be the debut album for Brent Purgason (aka Pustulus Maximus).
GWAR was on the final leg of their tour with Wilson and Warbeast at the time of our interview. They return home to Antarctica to prepare for the new GWAR shows which will premier this Fall. In conjunction with the new show, they’ll also be releasing a new video. On August 17, GWAR holds their 4th annual GWAR-B-Q in Richmond, VA. It’s a “outdoor music festival of flesh and fun,” featuring not only GWAR but also the bands Municipal Waste, Corrosion of Conformity and Pig Destroyer, among others. Last year the event hosted more than 2000 people, and it continues to grow each year. The tradition of the GWAR-B-Q extends back 25 years when the band was in its infancy, and every time they had a party they referred to it as a GWAR-B-Q. But it’s just within the last few years that GWAR has made it an official festival. GWAR is fully taking advantage of shamelessly marketing themselves, and offering a slew of GWAR-B-Q merch including their own GWAR-B-Q sauce and GWAR beer, which the members of GWAR were involved in the process of crafting.