Interview: GWAR

Oderus Urungus talks to Ally Swadling about the loss of bandmates, Grammys, and bodily fluids

Read Oderus’ interview in full here

“Every video should be like a GWAR video,” Beavis of Beavis and Butthead once mused. Gosh, if you believed the papers you’d think GWAR were just a group of D&D playing losers who in 1984, in Richmond, Virginia got a bit overexcited and conceived what I now lovingly refer to as GWAR. Popularly thought as a synonym of ‘God what an awful racket’, GWAR is actually the sound of horror Oderus Urungus made upon being banished to this mud-ball, Earth. Stuck in the GWAR fortress in Antarctica, Oderus and his scum dogs (Balsac the Jaws of Death, Beefcake the Mighty and Jizmak Da Gusha) have yielded us 12 studio albums, despite never intending to stay on earth.

“When I finally did escape a couple of albums ago, I found out that outer space sucked even more than earth did so I came back. I came back to revel in the hapless adulation you humans give me,” Oderus explains to me during the most surreal and best phone conversation I’ve ever had in my life (Sorry mum). “What can I say? I’ve grown fond of you, my mutant bastard children of my fucking of apes.” Ah yes, we must thank Oderus for not just the past 27 years of serving us a delicious array of rock n roll, hilarity, depravity, blood, and semen, but also for our very existence. Oderus is an intergalactic god after all, even with only a supercomputer for a father and a petri dish as a mother.

“All politicians must die; crucified on the planet of the politicians-who-must-be-crucified. Yes, that is a real planet.”

On stage, GWAR comprise of a blend of formidable rubber costumes, synthetic bodily fluids, and even more formidable genitals – Oderus’ ‘cuttlefish’ often finding itself lodged in the corpse of their victim who has just been killed in the juiciest and most jocular of fashions onstage. Last time I saw GWAR an unknown green body juice stained my scalp for the best part of a week. “Then we’re obviously failing, at least six weeks is acceptable. Somehow we’ll have to make it more virulent,” Oderus protests.

Having been twice nominated for a Grammy – “AND TWICE LOST!” Oderus bellows at me, recalling they’d lost to Annie Lennox in 1993 and Nine Inch Nails in 1996 (but at least not to Jethro Tull) – their musical prowess is worth recognition. “I look forward to losing a third Grammy and vomiting into my celebrity gift bag,” Oderus growls. GWAR have continued to ambush the terrified mainstream with appearances on the Joan Rivers, Jimmy Fallon and Jerry Springer shows and Fox News’ ‘Red Eye’; but apparently 2012 Europe just wasn’t ready for the cuttlefish’s full penetrative force. “There is a small fanatic and wonderful core of GWAR supporters there, but it seems like there are a lot of people who would rather work on their patch collection and try catch Lordi, instead of supporting the most brilliant band in fucking rock n roll!” Oderus exclaims, trying to justify their promoters’ decision to cancel the recent scheduled European tour. “It’s just pathetic something like that would happen to a band of our stature and majesty but there you go, you gotta blame somebody. Except us.”

Much like David Cameron, once you can get past the massive dick in front of you and strip back the synthetic skin, you’ll find there’s a man with a message underneath. Except David Brockie is worth listening to. “I’d like to wipe out all the American presidential candidates, they’re horrible. Just make Obama emperor and be done with this facade,” he declares, as we discuss the careful selection process of “waving a sword around and seeing what’s on the end of it” to choose their victims. Yet, with the likes of Hitler, George W Bush, Sarah Palin and Paris Hilton having appeared on GWAR’s stage, there is clearly a bit more thought involved. “We’ve taken on another political view point which is that all politicians must die; crucified on the planet of the politicians-who-must-be-crucified. Yes, that is a real planet.”

Some things will always be GWAR, but mutilated Republicans aside, over the past 27 years, GWAR have changed a lot. From the musical to the aesthetic; GWAR have changed their line-up, their sound, and even Oderus’ genital insignia. “I’m an omnisexual […] I can basically fuck myself. I heartily recommend it.” However, the recent loss of guitarist, Flattus Maximus, or Cory Smoot, was devastating. Commendably, GWAR continued touring after his sudden death on tour in November.

“We’ll always miss the sounds that Flattus made (we won’t miss his reeking flatulence so much) but the shows still have gone great. We’ve been trying to make the loudest noise possible, in hope that as Flattus hurtles towards his home planet in his stolen scum-ship that he will hear us playing and think twice about leaving us and turn that fucking puppy around” explains Oderus. “But so far that hasn’t worked. But, that won’t deter us from making the most loud noise possible, because we’ve always thought that the sound of heavy metal was the greatest sound ever created and we simply can’t exist without it and just because Flattus saw it fit to abandon us here doesn’t mean we’re going to stop.” Beneath Oderus’ vigour, Brockie’s sadness is palpable. Smoot, having played Flattus since 2002, was a huge influence on their more recently metal oriented albums and the band has now retired Flattus’ character out of respect for the incredible shredder. “We usually had Flattus write everything for us so I’d say we’re pretty fucked right now,” Oderus laughs.

Fortunately, GWAR intend to continue making a racket on earth. “It’s not like we can get a job at McDonalds or anything,” Oderus notes. Thank dress codes, because GWAR’s music is a constant reminder of how good metal can be without the tiresome sincerity. During their infamous appearance on The Jerry Springer Show, Oderus claimed, “we weren’t talented enough to make it unless we wore these silly costumes,” which may be true, but GWAR are now a significant influence and supporter of the metal scene. Looking back at his time with GWAR, Oderus tells me he has no regrets: “I’m satisfied. It raises my loins in urgent fury, erm yes, before I know it, I’ve splattered myself,” he admits. “Not many bands can say that can they?” Not really, no. GWAR may be silly, and a bit sick, but their music is commendable and is unforgettable, and at least they’re not Lordi.

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