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vol 7 - issue 04 (dec 2004) :: interviews
GWAR'S ODERUS URUNGUS (A.K.A. DAVE BROCKIE)
Interview by Night Watchman
Photographs by Justin Shady

SINCE ESCAPING THEIR IMPRISONMENT IN ANTARCTICA, GWAR HAS BEEN SPEWING EVERY BODILY FLUID KNOW TO MAN ON AUDIENCES FOR THE PAST 20 YEARS. THE END OF 2004 FINDS THEM REFOCUSED WITH A NEW CD-- WAR PARTY-- SURE TO COMPLETE THEIR SCHEME FOR WORLD DOMINATION. NIGHT WATCHMAN GOT A CHANCE TO SIT DOWN WITH DAVE BROCKIE (A.K.A. ODERUS URUNGUS) BEFORE A SHOW AND GOT HIM TO SPILL HIS GUTS ABOUT WHAT IT TAKES TO KEEP GWAR GOING AFTER ALL THIS TIME.

Night Watchman: I know you guys always like to tour around this time of year--

Dave Brockie: Why? Oh, Halloween. Sure.

NW: (laughs) Is it hard to find places that will let you spew fluids all over the walls?

DB: No. Thatís why they pay us; they expect it. Theyíre like, "Are you bringing at least 8,000 gallons in here?" And weíre like, "We were just going to bring in 6,000 gallons." And theyíre like, "We donít want the show then! Fuck off, GWAR!" Then weíre like, "All right, weíll do 8,000 gallons! Jesus Christ!" And then theyíre like, "Okay. I guess weíll pay you $10,000." No, itís not really a problem.

NW: So thatís what it takes?

DB: Money. Lots of it. Huge hunks of heaping cash! Nights on crack boulders and midget paraplegics!

NW: To mount a tour like this--

DB: To mount a midget like that!

NW: To mount a midget like that, how much lube are we talking?

DB: Oh, gallons of petrol jelly.

NW: What does it take to prep a show like this?

DB: Basically, you get a whole bunch of people all together and make them work really hard, and then give them nothing in return. We lash them with whips all day, we pour hot oil on them, and we basically threaten them with the one thing they have, which is their life. You threaten their life, and they'll pretty much do whatever you tell them to do. So, we pretty much yell, hit, scream, beg, sometimes grovel, and, yes, maybe theyíre sometimes rewarded with little tasty bowls of toenails and scabs.

NW: Nice. There has to be a lot of people to help run this show to get everything ready, like costumes and keeping all that stuff together. How much preparation are we talking about?

DB: I see, youíre not going to let me give joke answers every time! Okay, weíll talk seriously.

NW: (laughs) We can bounce back and forth.

DB: Weíll bounce! Yeah, it takes a lot of work. For this tour, if we built everything from scratch it probably would have taken a full year of work. As it was, a lot of the costume pieces we had from old tours, and the set was from the last tour. We probably could have done it in about half a year of straight building. With the new stuff for this tour we spent at least three months preparing, and then, of course, thereís also the new record. We worked on that for about a year straight, because youíve got to have new product come out. Itís an insane amount of labor for our little group of artists and musicians to accomplish, especially considering we are only paid in toenails and scabs. And prepping the show, if thatís what you were talking about, pretty much takes all day. We get here at noon. Thatís typical though, because we can throw this show together pretty quickly. We could probably set it up in an hour or two if we had to; we might only have 80 blood bags for that show, but weíd still have the sickest show in rock 'n' roll.

NW: Do you ever get into a place that just doesnít work for what youíre trying to do?

DB: Yeah, but that doesnít stop us. Weíll get in there anyway. We play everything from horrible hideous dumps all the way up to enormo-domes, but no matter what kind of place youíre playing it really just comes down to the spirit of the performance and the energy you put into it. In doing so, weíve had some of our greatest shows in the weirdest dumps in the world. For instance, after the Berlin Wall went down we started playing in East Germany, and they were definitely behind the rest of Germany as far as basic services go, like telephones and infrastructures. But we played at an old slaughterhouse. Apparently, something really horrible had happened there, because it was totally abandoned, and we kept finding these photographs of dead cows and guys with radioactive suits pushing them onto big platforms, burning them all. We called that place "Cowschwitz"; it went down in GWAR history.

All: (laugh)

DB: But we had a great show. We all have these huge lesions growing all over us now, but....

NW: So is that a definite venue every time you go back over there?

DB: No. We never went back.

NW: Itís weird how that works out. You know, The Rave-- where youíre playing tonight-- is just a few blocks from where Jeffrey Dahmerís apartment used to be.

DB: Oh, yeah. The Ambassador Hotel-- right across the street here-- he cut up his first Milwaukee victim in there. I wonder what room it is? I would want that room.

NW: I think you can just go in and say, "Iíd like the Dahmer room."

DB: "Can I have the Dahmer suite, please? And make sure thereís a kitchen."

All: (laugh)

NW: Now, the whole staff of tastes like chicken came from an art college. And we were just talking about this the other day, that there is always this rumor at every art school that the guys from GWAR came from there.

DB: Every art school says that?

NW: Every art school has some student who will tell you that.

DB: I thought it would be every art schoolís shame. "The guys from GWAR?!? No! They didnít come from here!" They say that at the only place we really did come from: Virginia Commonwealth University. Yeah, even theyíre proud of us now. We keep doing alumni functions and stuff.

NW: Itís funny how people like you when they think you can make them money.

DB: We have been lecturing and teaching workshops at some pretty prestigious schools, which has been really cool. Plus, you get the opportunity to fuck co-eds afterward.

NW: (laughs)

DB: I always wondered how the professors always got so much pussy. "Why you wanna fuck that guy? Heís so old-- fuck me!" But they wouldnít; theyíd fuck him. Now Iím him, and theyíre fucking me! Itís great!

NW: It comes full circle.

DB: Right on. One of the best things about getting older is that you actually get laid more. I havenít quite figured it out.

NW: I hope thatís true.

DB: Well, some of us....

All: (laugh)

DB: Present company excluded. (laughs) I guess that it does help that Iím an Antarctic rock star with a seven-foot-long horned protuberance.

NW: There you go. And you just let it all hang out on stage.

DB: Actually, this year, Oderus-- because heís concerned that his penis is getting in the way of killing-- has hidden his penis behind a vagina. He does, however, whip it out late in the set. Itís like having the best paintbrush ever. Itís like, "Gwaaa!" Great sweeping strokes, and the human race is your canvas.

All: (laugh)

NW: Thatís got to be great at the end of the night. You can look out and see the destruction youíve put on the audience. You get to see them covered in everything.

DB: Oh, itís beautiful. After the show, when you see these kids and theyíve got yellow and blue frothing shit all over them, itís beautiful. Itís like weíve broken down all of societyís barriers, and made us all one color... or one mottled tie-dye of humanity.

All: (laugh)

NW: Did you think when you started this that it would keep on growing like this?

DB: No. Actually, we hoped it wouldnít, but it did anyway, so.... We were like, "I hope no one comes to the show tonight. This sucks. Awww... damnit! There's a thousand people here! Fuck! We gotta do it again!"

NW: (laughs)

DB: "You're going to give me money and beer?!? Drugs?!? Oh, no!" No, we were totally blown away by the success and the amazing fans we have. Yet, I donít think itís been a big surprise to us, in a way, because I think we all knew somehow, and thatís why weíve been willing to put up with so much to be in GWAR. We all knew that GWAR was such an important idea and so much fun, and we still really feel-- or at least I do, and Iím sure a lot of the other guys feel the same way-- that our biggest projects are yet to come. You know, since we've made it this far, weíre an institution now. It doesnít matter whatís cool, it doesnít matter whatís trendy or hip. GWAR has got its own place. Now, we could very easily stay on that little level forever and keep going until we finally gave out from sheer exhaustion. We consider it more a relentless assault strategy; you just keep clawing and biting and chewing and kicking, and sooner or later something-- whether itís a GWAR movie, a GWAR record, a GWAR tour, a GWAR video game, or GWAR goes to Japan-- something is just going to crack it open, and GWAR is suddenly going to be in everybodyís face. And then people are going to go, "Wow. These guys have been around so long. I guess we probably wouldnít have South Park or Slipknot or even Beavis and Butt-Head if it wasnít for GWAR." Because we kind of took humor and took it to this new obnoxious level. It was kind of waddling around there in the mid-Eighties, but no one really knew what the fuck was up. We kind of made disgusting humor fun again. And Iím not saying we did it singlehandedly or anything, but.... We also kept the whole theatrical shock metal thing going on when no one was doing it. I mean, KISS didnít have their makeup on, but after a few years of GWAR they put it back on. Now everyone is fucking dressing up like crazy killer clowns, and GWARís still there kicking ass. Weíve seen the best shows that these other bands can offer with all the money theyíve got behind them, and they still donít hold a candle to what we do with "bone knives and bearskins", as we say.

NW: Do you think itís about being hungry? I mean, especially with this new disc, War Party, it really seems like you guys are revitalized, more aggressive, and really focused again.

DB: I think that when we got to America Must Be Destroyed, through the whole This Toilet Earth and We Kill Everything cycle-- which, that was a good eight years of our career-- I think we were really kind of... we werenít so hungry then. We had the contract with Metal Blade. We knew they were going to give us $100,000 every year to make a new album. We knew we were going to go out on tour and make a lot of money. And that was really fun. I think we lost sight of what GWAR should really be. We thought our ideas were more important than GWAR, so we went all over the place musically and stylistically. We crafted these really grandiose shows that no one understood except us, and I think we finally realized that after a lot of people complained. (laughs) And so, we were like, "Well, fuck it. They're still giving us the opportunity to make music and entertain the good people, so letís get back to the roots. Letís get back to just simple, trimmed-down, kick-ass music." Back at the beginning, we just got up there and played one chord. We'd just go, (imitating a guitar) "Bwaaa!" You know? It was horrible, but we knew we could make great records. You donít have a band that goes on for 20 years that doesnít know how to make records. We refound GWARís true vicious character, and a lot of that was just prompted by the miserable headlines we were forced to read every morning. Societyís really not changing; itís kind of getting worse, isnít it? We really need to make a stand here, and we need to make GWAR more vicious, more aggressive, more brutal, and see how that works. Weíve done the Frank Zappa-esque GWAR comedy thing into the ground, and it almost killed us. Let's fucking get back to just cleaving skulls, raping midgets, and playing heavy metal-- and itís been working out great. Itís not actually raping midgets, because any midgets raped during the show signed consent forms. So itís not rape if itís a consenting midget.

NW: They like to play the rape role.

DB: They do. They enjoy that. It gives them something else to complain about, and midgets love to bitch.

All: (laugh)

NW: When youíre writing new GWAR material, do you think about the performance of those songs at all during the writing process, or are you just concentrating on the music? Like, "Oh, we need 12 bars in here so that I can decapitate a monster."

DB: We write the songs first without any consideration given whatsoever to the live show. But when I start to arrange the lyrics in the context of the song, then we start to actually think about stuff that might happen. And before we tour weíll even add little extra parts to songs to give them a little more meat. Weíll vamp a certain area to give some things a little more space, but... uh... what was the question?

All: (laugh)

DB: Just that. Go on to the next one.

NW: (laughs) I know that you have a pretty steady lineup for the band now, but for a while there some people were coming and going.

DB: Yeah. That was another reflection of that era of errorism. We had a lot of people coming and going out of the band, and it made it really hard to get a nucleus of musicians together that really wanted to be there, and all really wanted to make the same kind of music. But weíve solved that problem now. We have Todd Evans on bass and Corey Smoot on guitar, and theyíve just brought a new and real energy, a new life to their characters: Beefcake the Mighty and Flattus Maximus, respectively. Corey in particular, on the new album, just really blew us away with his technical abilities as a guitar player, and his writing ability, as well. And Todd-- at 320 pounds at 6'7"-- brings a lot of meat to the table, and heís absolutely the most active. He used to be a football player; heís a very active stomp-all-over-the-stage Beefcake. Heís just big as shit! Heís absolutely horrifying in that costume. Hopefully, this is the last lineup changes weíll have to make until we finally destroy the world once and for all.

NW: I always wondered what the audition process would be like to be in GWAR. Do you put a cardboard box over their head and just pummel them with shit while theyíre trying to play?

DB: Actually, we did stuff like that back in the day. We had a drummer that auditioned for us, and we didnít really know that he was a borderline schizophrenic and on all this medication. We didnít know. We got him in the band and did this horrible hazing ritual where we threw him in a canvas bag and drove him all over town. We kept the bag on his head and brought him out on the street. They were holding him by his hands, and I just ran all the way down the block straight at him, stopped right in from of him, and just screamed, "Blauuuggghhh!!!" It was fucking horrible; the guy had a nervous breakdown. We took him out on tour, and after one show we found him huddled backstage, and this was after our big, fat manager had molested him. We thought Pete was a little weird-- I should say this isnít Pete Lee [ex-guitarist]. This was another Pete who shall remain nameless, but his name was Pete. Anyway, we thought he was a little weird after the hazing ritual because he just sat in the hotel room staring off into space for hours at a time. We were like, "Well, okay. Thatís fine." But we get back into our hotel room one night and our big, fat manager-- this chick we used to have-- had obviously been molesting him. (laughs) His clothes were all fucked-up, and he was just staring. We were like, "Oh, no." The next night after the show we found him huddled backstage in this quivering ball. We were like, "Whatís the matter, man?" And he was like, "I just think that if I donít get home, Iím gonna die."

All: (laugh)

DB: Itís fucked-up!

NW: Thatís the way everyone should think about a GWAR show: "If I donít get home, Iím gonna die."

DB: Yeah, definitely. Thatís the state you should be in after you experience GWAR.

NW: Is it hard to keep upping the ante each time you go out on tour?

DB: We donít worry about that so much. Itís like, this is our formula, so we donít have to reinvent the wheel every time we go out. We just plug in the latest celebrities that we feel deserve death. You know, itís definitely a challenge to come up with stuff that stands up to what weíve done in the past. But do you know where weíve really been improving the most? I think we can do costumes and giant monsters, blood and gore-- and weíre really good at that-- but where weíve really improved over the last couple of records was just the way weíve presented our music. And then live, the way weíve presented the music in that context with traditional production things that we would usually ignore: PA systems, lights, and all that stuff. Things that other bands are all about, and we were just like, "All that shit will be there when we get there. Donít worry about it." Now weíre a lot more cognizant about the light show, how the band sounds, and how we present our music. Itís really given a lot of oomph to the old idea, which was just kill everything that moves. So youíve got both of those hemispheres now clocking with each other. Itís definitely the most potent, aggressive, hateful, and-- I think-- most effective GWAR ever. Thereís no doubt about it. We get out there, and people who have seen GWAR a hundred times are still in awe.

NW: Whatís next?

DB: Weíre going to reconquer Europe, first of all. This is our first international release in a few years. We really lost a large part of our overseas audience with our musical ditherings. And a lot of people are like, "We like songs like 'Fuckin' An Animal'." I think we needed to go through all that to get to where weíre at right now. I donít regret anything. But we do want to go back to Europe, and weíve never been to Japan and Asia, and we really want to go to South America. We really want to get all the way across the whole fucking planet with this release. We think itís good enough that it warrants that. So weíre headed to Europe in March, and then hopefully Asia after that. And weíre hoping that someone might be cool enough to get us on Ozzfest or one of those big tours, but that will probably never happen. The rock 'n' roll elite are still very iffy about GWAR, and they always will be. And I think thatís to our credit, really.

Justin Shady: Why do you think it is that you couldn't land Ozzfest?

DB: Because weíre so fucking messy. Because we always cause trouble, and weíre a bunch of mutants from Richmond, Virginia, you know? We donít act "cool", and they never know when they might become a target. They donít want to be ridiculed, and they certainly donít want to be covered in spew from head to toe. Sharon Osbourne doesnít want to see GWAR show up on Ozzfest with a drooling Ozzy dummy, and proceed to have him pecked to death by a giant pigeon.

All: (laugh)

DB: Though I think that would be hilarious. That would be great. (imitating Ozzy) "Oh, GWAR. Whatís up, man? Iím taking these new drugs to keep me off drugs." And then this giant pigeon comes in: "Oh, look out! Itís a giant penguin!" And it starts pecking him: "Ahhh! Ahhh!"

All: (laugh)

Johnny Chainsaw: The bird should bite Ozzyís head off.

DB: Yeah! It bites Ozzyís head off! That's a little comment from Johnny Chainsaw over there, affiliate to GWAR.

NW: Hey, thatís alright. Do you guys ever have problems with customs, trying to go overseas with huge swords and severed heads?

DB: Nah. That shit can all be worked out. I mean, if al-Qaeda can ship fuckin' nuclear weapons around the world, we can get some bloody swords across the pond.

NW: (laughs) Well, I guess that about wraps it up.

DB: Yeah, youíll be amazed how much spewage, how much verbiage I just vomited out in the last two and a half minutes. "Damn, this thing is already eight pages. I wish we hadnít talked to him for so long."

All: (laugh)

NW: We do have one last question that we always like to ask: do dogs have lips?

DB: Oh, yeah. Dogs have lips! Sure. Theyíre not lips like we know them, but they are weird, wormy black things. Yeah, theyíre lips. I mean, it doesnít go straight from fur to gum!

All: (laugh)

DB: Of course they have lips! That would look fucked-up! If you donít think that dogs have lips, then try to imagine what your dog would look like without that weird, wormy black thing around its mouth. It would be straight fucking hair growing out of its gums! That would be fucked-up! Dogs have lips!

All: (laugh)

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