GWAR: Interview with Oderus Urungus
By: Devon Bertsch on September 29, 2010  |  Comments (4)  |  Share 
OderusMoving to Australia had two major drawbacks, namely the scarcity of quality Mexican food and the total absence of GWAR tours. While the Mexican situation has improved each year, there had never been any sign of GWAR coming. I whinged and whinged to anyone that would listen, but was always told whinging never got anyone anywhere. "Bah!" I say, my whinging has paid off more than any hard work ever could have. I could regale you with the reasons I'm so obsessed with GWAR, but most of my reasons can be found on the Grave Music website. My review there for Songs For the Wrong by The Dave Brockie Experience (a GWAR side-project), explains my logic, and that review is located here. So instead of repeating myself, I'll just list the key points you need to know in a handy, dandy bullet point format.

• GWAR are a fantastic band.

They put on a stage show that is sure to delight fans of kaiju eiga, grand guignol and probably a bunch of other foreign sounding words.

• GWAR are coming to Australia and New Zealand!

This interview was conducted with GWAR lead vocalist Oderus Urungus and also with Oderus' perpetual hanger on, Dave Brockie. It makes reference to a previous interview I conducted with Dave, which is also hosted by Grave Music.

Me: I've heard you kill Mr. Lordi on stage these days, presumably because Lordi are a lacklustre imitation of GWAR, but how does it make you feel knowing that Lordi are a Christian band that appear to be modelling themselves after GWAR?

Oderus Urungus: We didn't kill him onstage, we were so impatient to kill him that we did him in the alley behind the Gay Church of Homosexual Monsters where he was attending mass. Well actually he was there praying for talent. To say that he is a lacklustre imitation of GWAR is to give him far too much credit. As far as how I feel about him, well, I don't really have any feelings for him, he simply sucks. I would much rather be thinking about fun stuff, like violating the eye-socket of every "Sheila" on the continent, or having sex with a great white shark!

Me: Have Lordi made you appreciate Slipknot more?

OU: No. I always liked Slipknot, even when Corey was being a whiny bitch complaining about how his overalls were too hot. Try playing a gig on the surface of the sun, now that's hot! Slipknot has perhaps made me hate Lordi even more...

Me: So, you hate Lordi, but what about a band like Banane Metalik? They're clearly inspired by GWAR but are doing something different from you and their music doesn't suck like Lordi's does.

OU: Well honestly I have never heard of them, but, thanks to the power of the inter-web I shall!

(Oderus searches the web)

Well, well, well! Very cool, right off the bat they look like they are having a lot of fun! And I love the crude costumes and DIY attitude of the band - I think they make a highly polished effort like Lordi seem even more fake and corporate. I see now that Lordi is going "sicker", and acknowledging everybody except GWAR as inspiration - hilarious!

Me: Who has the least comfortable costume in the band?

OU: I hope I do! I am something of a masochist and enjoy things that hurt, like the insects that live in my balls. I don't really get this "costume" reference. I have been wearing the same "clothes" for 48 million dog-years, and I create my war-harness to cause maximum discomfort to both my enemies and myself. I find it keeps me on my toes to have my "costume" infested with rats.

Me: Why didn't the Global Metal documentary include the Antarctica scene?

OU: The few journalists that have braved the journey met with terrible deaths. The few countries that have research stations are sporadically attacked by the creatures that live here, and their bases are held under near-siege conditions, whether they are being assaulted by a marauding group of mutant penguins, some hideous spawn of the Old Ones, or actual members of GWAR who have stumbled out of the front-gates of the GWAR Fortress and gotten lost...this happens with Jizmak all the time!

Me: What kind of stage show can Australian and New Zealand audiences expect on the tour?

OU: Since it is our first time in your fair and soon-to-be-destroyed countries we are going to give you quite simply the most astounding event in world history - undead space aliens, of hideous and martial aspect, bristling with spikes and acne, playing savagely mutated metal music for the nice people, as they slaughter deserving victims and defend themselves from attack by a large variety of super-powered assholes, including a fucking T-Rex named Gor Gor that is planning a murderous visit - and he will be hungry! So, in a phrase, the greatest show on Earth, or anywhere else, really...certainly the smelliest!

Me: Okay, good! So it's going to be the full stage show? I was a bit worried that you might've decided it was too much hassle to bring everything, and things like Gor Gor might get left behind because he's, you know, big.

OU: Gor Gor is at this moment swimming towards you, and we fully expect him to arrive before we do, much to your countries' discomfort!

(Oderus leaves)

Me: You've said that both of your parents' lives were ravaged by war, which helped lead to your obsession with war. This has been expressed mainly in a very pro-war character; why is that?

Dave Brockie: I think we use GWAR to point out things about society that we think are fucked-up. When I created Oderus (the character I play that is also answering most of the questions in this interview) I wanted to have a really complex character that was really all over the place, representing things that were contradictory, so I would always enjoy playing the character and also so he would be a microcosm of what I felt the archetype of the rock and roll lead singer was - which is pretty much anything. There have been so many amazing personalities in the history of the front man, I'd like for Oderus to have a little bit of all of them in himself, whether we are talking about Bon Scott or Perry Farrell! But at the same time we have to remember that first and foremost Oderus is a warrior - my personal experience (the first hand experience of how war had effected my family) made me want to create a strong statement against it. So all that makes a big witches brew and out comes GWAR, which I think at the end of the day is a big "fuck you" to the idea of war and the madness it creates, and an invitation to the world to change itself in a fun and creative way.

Me: What's the most inappropriate thing a fan has ever done to you or another member of the band?

DB: It's pretty hard to be offended when you are a member of one of the most disgusting bands in rock and roll history, but some people forget that this is a big act and the blood and guts are as fake as Santa Claus.

Me: That's exactly why I was asking. I couldn't imagine where people think your boundaries are.

DB: I guess the most disturbing thing was a thankfully short-lived trend for GWAR fans to throw real dead animals on stage. We had pig heads, dead cats, and once a fairly large shark all vomited out of the crowd onto the stage, where they would get stomped or torn up, spewing rotten guts about the place. The absolute worst was when we played this squat in Holland where the locals threw a pitcher of vomit on me. Please, I hope I am not giving anybody any ideas, if you are going to throw something please make sure it is either drugs or money!


Me: When I last interviewed you, you said of the Dead Kennedys reunion, "I thought it was fucking pathetic, though, when The Dead Kennedys went out without Jello as their singer." What I meant to say instead of whatever monosyllabic witticism I spouted is: What's the difference between DK and the reformed Misfits, who GWAR toured with?

DB: I think there is a big difference, but don't expect the original product in either. I like Jerry and I would rather have him out touring and having fun than have him working in his machine shop. You can't blame him for wanting to cash in on how great The Misfits were, and enjoy himself in the process, plus give all of his pals jobs in his crew, and show his kids the time of their lives! So in that aspect, I think Jerry and what's left of The Misfits is cool, as long as you don't go in there expecting to see Glenn Danzig! I feel Jerry has earned the right to do whatever the fuck he wants through 30+ years of dedication to this music. Jerry never lets up, he is always gigging. Whereas the Dead Kennedys thing was just a one-shot money grab. They knew they could get away with it, do a year or two, cash in, and bail...and also, The Misfits actually got away with replacing their singer, with Mike Graves, and did a couple of great records! That was when we toured with them, and that was great! American Psycho is a great fucking album!

Me: I agree completely, and honestly believe that's why I didn't think of that connection straight away. The DKs and Misfits situations seemed completely different to me and when I thought about it I decided the difference was that The Misfits weren't just resting on their laurels but were making new music. Plus, Jerry Only is awesome. The Misfits were very upfront about the situation, too. The American Psycho back cover made it clear there was a new front man so no fans were fooled.

DB: Whereas Jello was always the undisputed front man and force behind DK. There was a huge rift between Jello and the other guys...I mean, Jello didn't want the music used in a jeans commercial, and rightly so! I have always been a big fan and friend of Jello, and I was never into the fake DK crap.

Me: You've also been his collaborator. You worked with him on Tumor Circus.

DB: Yes, Jello has worked with us in other guises as well - -early on in our career he got slaughtered in the Meat Grinder doing his best Bill Graham imitation. He also appeared as "Boss Glom" the evil leader of the mega-corporation, Glomco, in our feature film, Skulhedface. He is a great friend and a real inspiration to old people everywhere.  

Me: That must be why my mother-in-law likes him so much. How influential were the band Fear on your music?

DB: Huge! They were one of the first hardcore bands that really sounded good, had really good production, plus they had a great sense of humour while at the same time seeming very dangerous - it was really funny, at the time the US hardcore scene was made up of all these different factions, like gangs, really...and the dudes with FEAR on their jackets were usually the most insane and violent people at the show. Plus Lee Ving had such an amazing voice, and I tried to sing like anybody could. But we had similar voices, big, bassy, baritone voices, and listening to him made me try new things with my voice, made me feel that even though I didn't have a great range or a trained voice, that if you play to your strengths you can succeed. He was probably the one punk singer I identified most with, as far as just the way the voice sounded.

Me: You've certainly done Ving's legacy proud. He also must've influenced you in terms of being deliberately offensive in the name of comedy.

DB: Oh yeah, Fear straddled the line between funny and offensive like none other - then you threw the gay element in and you had a band that sometimes pissed-off the supposedly open-minded punk rockers...I always wanted GWAR to do that and feel we have succeeded, perhaps in a more enduring manner...that's one of the great things about GWAR, you don't have to stop playing just because you get fat and old!

Me: Carnival of Chaos has the song "Sex Cow."  The next album, We Kill Everything has "Fucking an Animal."  Did you feel you'd been too subtle before and had to rectify the situation?

DB: Not sure. I was in an animal-fucking frenzy back then...I seem to have worked it out and tend to concentrate more on breaking shit.

Me: Speaking of WKE, GWAR seem dissatisfied with it but DBX used to play a few songs from it live.  Was the album just too out of character?  I like it, but it's very like a DBX album in a lot of ways (the songs not specifically relating to the album's story, that is).

DB: Yeah, I thought so. We were going through a lot of personnel changes and the band was just all over the place as far as writing. It wasn't til Violence Has Arrived that I felt we were going in the right direction. It must have been a good decision as our growing cult is testimony to!


Me: It seemed that the Dave Brockie Experience side project acted as a filter for the goofy punk elements that would pop up in GWAR, allowing GWAR to become more focused on metal. What's happening to all that goofy stuff now that DBX aren't recording?

DB: Just like before, it's building up all the time...there were a few songs that didn't make Songs For the Wrong and I kept coming up with more now I have enough to do another record, and this time I think I want to do a "Spoken Turd" album, a one-man show-thing, where I do these insane story songs like "Calling Dr Fong" off the first DBX album.

Me: I saw you do "I Saw Three Forms" live once as a bit of a one man performance piece. Would you be doing shows like that?

DB: Whoa! You saw that?

Me: Yeah, it was really cool.

DB: Yes, I would love to try more stuff like that, one-man psycho-theatre with cheesy gore and obnoxious noises. Anyway, I don't ever try to write music...I will just be walking along or watching TV or whatever and I will have an idea for a song, and that happens a bunch, so these songs just build up...and you are right, DBX was an outlet for that so GWAR could get metal again, but now everything has back-logged up again and I actually have to get these songs out of me or I will explode. But it is going to be a 100% GWAR experience for at least the next year, so maybe I can get to some other projects in 2012!

Me: I eagerly await the other projects, because I actually prefer DBX to GWAR. I used to be in the pit at GWAR shows hoping "Great News" would turn up in the set.

DB: Yeah, some people do prefer it. To me both projects do different things for me. I think it's better this way.

Me: Well, the last four GWAR albums have been absolutely fantastic metal albums, so it's hard to argue against the change when you've been producing such great music of late. Even though I missed hearing "Great News" live.

DB: "Great News" is a cool DBX song, but really doesn't work as a GWAR song.

Me: I didn't ever think "Great News" WOULD turn up in a GWAR set because it didn't fit in the GWAR universe, I just wanted to hear it played live again. In your GWAR, Me, and the Onrushing Grip of Death series you stated that you couldn't go gay because you "didn't like the taste of human sperm." This implies that there are other types of sperm you like the taste of. What are they and what do they taste like?

DB: If Oderus was in here, he would tell you Yak sperm. It's black and tastes like Butterscotch.

Me: GWAR were on Metal Blade for many years, then left, and are now back on Metal Blade. What happened there?

DB: Oh, you know...we had done great business with Metal Blade for years. Whether we are currently doing a record for them or not doesn't matter, we have done so much stuff with them over the years that we will always be working with we got an offer from DRT to do a couple of records, and there were some interesting things about the deal that made us want to do it. Metal Blade was totally cool with it. We did the deal, rocked the house, and when it all came back around to the bargaining table again, we went back to Metal Blade. When you put out as many albums as we have over the years, you can do all kinds of different things and considering how much the business is changing you really have to if you want to survive. But Metal Blade has stayed consistent all of these years and it truly is the home of GWAR and indeed all of our crazy side projects as well. I really can't say enough nice things about Slagel and crew, they are the fucking tits!

Me: It's just that Live From Mt Fuji seemed like a contract filler kind of release, or was I missing something there? I just assumed because it wasn't really live you were putting out a record to fulfil contractual obligations so you could get back to Metal Blade quicker.

DB: No, not at all! We had an awesome live recording and we wanted to use it...that was it! A lot of fans thought we actually even travelled into the future to play in Japan - and we did! But any half-assed qualities of that record are completely due to our own ineptitude, though I am actually pretty happy about the way it turned out! 

Me: Sorry, I wasn't trying to suggest the album's material was half-assed, it was just because it said it was recorded in the future I thought it was something similar to Type O Negative's Origin of the Faeces, and not actually live at all. There's been a vinyl resurgence, so are there any plans for reissues of the early GWAR albums on vinyl?

DB: That's a great idea but I don't know of any right now. We did a limited -edition 7" single last year for X-Mas..."Summer X-Mas Metal Stripper" or something like that (it's called "Stripper Christmas Summer Weekend" and is currently available at the GWAR shop - Devon). And of course that red-vinyl edition of 'Hell-o" is probably the most coveted of GWAR relics. It's really funny to think that when we started this thing up, CD's had not even been invented yet. Wow, we are old! Good thing I always get younger people to do all the work.

Me: It is a great idea! I have the Scumdogs LP and it's missing "Death Pod." That's one of GWAR's best songs! How did it get left off the vinyl release?

DB: I have no fucking idea, sounds like a huge cock-up to me. Heads will roll.

Me: It's the UK release and it's only got like 10 songs on it, "Death Pod" just seemed like an odd one to leave off if something had to go. I wanted to ask this last time but refrained myself because the answer is almost certainly a simple "no," but since you're coming to Australia it's almost relevant: Have you ever heard of T.I.S.M.?

DB: I have no clue...I spent most of the day checking out your country on Google Earth, so I guess I have a little more research to do...unless of course you think I would enjoy being surprised!

Me: T.I.S.M. were a band from Australia. Sonically they were VERY different from GWAR, but in some ways I think they were very like GWAR: They'd wear disguises and people would often write them off as a joke band despite them having some very pointed messages. They were also very different from GWAR in one other notable way: Their name stood for something (This Is Serious, Mum). A lot of Australians and New Zealanders are tragically unaware of GWAR. What album would you recommend as a starting point for those soon to be slaves?

DB: They are all great but you can't go wrong with our new album, Bloody Pit of Horror, which is coming out in Australia and New Zealand very soon!

Me: I have friends and acquaintances that are planning on catching GWAR at sideshows instead of on the No Sleep Til tour. Will there be any sideshows or is No Sleep the only chance Australian and New Zealand fans will have to see GWAR?

DB: No there is not, and that's a shame...if you want to see GWAR, you will have to endure Megadeth!

Thanks to Oderus and Dave for taking the time to appear at Digital Retribution. Megadeth are worth putting up for to see GWAR, so get your No Sleep tickets now! Look for the new GWAR album, Bloody Pit of Horror, in November.


GWAR Images © Hooper (Munich)/Slave Pit

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