Music Feature: GWAR faces the reality of death when its fantasy of immortality is how its known

Music Feature: GWAR faces the reality of death when its fantasy of immortality is how its known

MusicOctober 28, 2014

The abstract mythos behind the iconic metal act GWAR thrived for more than 30 years in an industry that cares more about the immediacy of trend manipulations and genre floppings than it does brand loyalty. It’s a steadfast band that uses the vulgarity of its characters to amass devout followings unparalleled to any other group in history. To this day, GWAR carries on the fanciful story of celestial war with earth-dwellers without detachment from each of the members’ individual roles.

This past March, however, it suffered a devastating blow when lead singer Dave Brockie (Oderus Urungus) overdosed on heroin. His death sent a shockwave through the music community and generated questions about whether or not the act would continue on without its central figure.

Separating fantasy from reality has been difficult, says drummer Brad Roberts (Jizmak Da Gusha) and guitarist Mike Derks (Balsac the Jaws of Death), but is something they’re adamantly moving forward with to keep the story of GWAR alive. They’re now joined on stage with two new vocalists, Berserker Blóthar and the strangely alluring Vulvatron, to carry on the unending torch that Oderus left behind.

How have things changed in the act with new vocalists?

Balsac: The great thing about Blóthar  is that Jizmak and I worked with him in our first days of the band. He was really part of the formation of the personality of what GWAR became. He’s interested in the process again, which we’ve taken for granted because we’ve been doing it for 30 years. It’s forcing us to really think about what it is that we do.

Is it true, then, that GWAR can stand the test of time?

We’ve been having those discussions since the early days. We used to consider ourselves the metal Menudo because it would change so much. I think GWAR could continue to evolve to the beyond. If culture forgets about metal, I could foresee GWAR in 20 years being some weird form of music that doesn’t even exist yet.

When do you find time to write new songs?

Jizmak: Could we talk about scarier things than music?

We can, but can we get this question answered first?

Balsac: I guess, well, as far as the writing process, because of touring, it’s such a production. Unfortunately, it’s hard to write on tour. We arrive early and begin setting up; it takes all day to get a GWAR show ready to go.

Do any fans of yours follow the convoy from city to city?

Jizmak: There’s just one guy in our beloved Bohab nation, there’s one. No, actually there are some that do that, and we call them Bohabs. They’re our true, hardcore fans. And they just won’t go away! We try to kill them night after night, but they just won’t stop coming. We love them as much as we hate them!

How about protestors or pushback from anyone before your shows?

Jizmak: Who would want to do that? We’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. No, I don’t think since the early ’90s and the Tipper Gore era that anyone is too afraid of GWAR’s message, or its art or its music or anything. So we’ve been trying for decades to fix that; to put fear back into the hearts of American children and mothers everywhere.

Balsac: It’s harder and harder to offend America when you see what’s on television for 24 hours a day. Shows like “The Kardashians” didn’t exist when GWAR started. There’s so many things that are far more offensive, so we have to keep pushing the envelope.

Jizmak: Yeah, what about that show “Naked and Afraid”? That’s just gross!

Thirty years ago when you started, metal and gangster rap used to be the crème de la crème of offensiveness. What do you see now as being the shocking genre of today?

Balsac: Miley Cyrus is definitely the leading edge of offensive music to parents now. We can’t compete with that kind of offensive message. She makes GWAR look like Girl Scouts.

Jizmak: I think the offensive stuff is actually the good things. Twerking is an excellent reference. Twerking and censorship of records in the ’90s, they’re the same. It just tells people what to buy and what to enjoy.

What’s the ultimate goal of GWAR with each show? Is it just to entertain?

Jizmak: Humans are our entertainment when we slaughter you at our cannibalistic death orgies in every town. In this particular instance, this particular fall, we’re on the search for Oderus Urungus in every corner of this mud-ball planet to figure out where he went. Because I think he still owes me money.

We know what the media thinks about what happened to Oderus. What do you think happened?

Jizmak: We don’t know! That’s why we’re coming to Denver!

Is there anyone in particular you’re going to mutilate while you’re here?

Balsac: There will be tons of death, but we never know exactly who it’s going to be until we get on the road. There’s a new danger lurking every night. One thing that’s for sure, there will be tons of blood.

If the eradication of humans is what GWAR is after, are things like Ebola, global warming and violence all products of you guys?

Jizmak: Absolutely. GWAR is at the hands of all destruction and death to the human race. We’d like to take credit for it, but probably we have no idea.

What do you say to detractors that say GWAR is just a gimmick band?

Balsac: Oh, yeah, most gimmicks usually last through three decades; it’s the serious bands that only put out one album. If that’s what it takes to be taken seriously, is to break up after a year, then screw it.

Jizmak: GWAR is immortal, and that means we’re gonna be making music forever. So if you’re not used to it by now, dig in.

Are there any treats in store for the Denver show?

Balsac: We want fans to come out and show how exactly Oderus touched them. We’ll have a doll at the merch booth so they can show on the doll where Oderus touched them.