Ahead of Gwar's return to (and potential annihilation of) Australia for Soundwave, AU review reporter John Goodridge chat’s to lead singer Dave Brockie about the evolution of Gwar and heavy metal. Warning – bad language within... but we think you'll like it.
Hello. I’m looking for Oderus Ungerus from Antarctica.
Well you found him. You got me baby, here I am.
This is John calling from Australia.
John. Australia. Great. Awesome. I’m envisioning you standing on top of that big rock you guys have got there, just screaming "It’s John from Australia. Alright mate!"
That’s exactly right, I’m standing on top of the rock and it’s hot and sunny here. What’s it like there?
It’s fucking freezing. We like it that way. It’s like a million below. Basically your blood would freeze if you went outside.
It’s like you guys just did a tour of America and bought the freeze with you.
Oh yeah, we bring shitty weather everywhere we go. Basically we’re followed by storm clouds and piranhas and sharks and when we play shows, killers and homicidal maniacs. Criminal elements of all sorts will be there. We don’t really try to do that or anything, we just attract trouble. We’re trouble magnets. What can I say?
You’re a walking apocalypse from what I can see.
I don’t think that we’re good and I don’t think that we’re evil. We just do stuff. And when we do something, stuff breaks. How can breaking something be good or bad? Stuff has to be broken at some point. When we destroy stuff we’re just advancing evolution, right? Everything’s got to be destroyed sooner or later, so just destroy everything right now so you can just get on with it.
And then it evolves faster?
Yeah. You guys spend too much money on shit that won’t last. You should spend it all on fucking partying. We’re getting ready to bring the party down to the Soundwave Festival. We can’t wait to get down there.
You’ve been to Australia before haven’t you?
Yes we were there two or three years ago. As part of the No Sleep Festival tour and it was an amazing experience. It took us a long time to find the place. We had a dedicated fan base in Australia for many years.
In some cases they even travelled all the way to the closest shows, sometimes in America and would beg us to come to Australia. Finally we made it happen. I mean it’s on the other fucking side of the world and we’re still working with sextants. Medieval navigational devices. We don’t really like all this modern technology bullshit. Sextants and astrology. Shit like that. But we’ve made it there and we’re pretty goddam sure we’re gonna be making it back again. Play some fucking huge shows.
So many Australians are gonna get exposed to me exposing myself, In the very first song of our set I would have made thousands of mutant sex play and just in the very front area of the festival will be creatures and I say creatures because they will be bathed in the disgusting wad and immediately start to spread the disease and hopefully by the next time we come back in two or three years the entire continent will be infected.
That’s insane. I’ve looked at the videos on line and the show looks incredible. The logistics of bringing the whole thing out must be enormous
People have no fucking idea just how much fucking effort goes to making this happen. The slaves, I guess you call them artists, I call them slaves, the people that put this show on, even if Gwar is not really your cup of tea, there’s no denying there’s never been anything quite like it in the history of music or performance. It blends so many different things together, so many different elements and you create a piece of I guess you’d call it rock and roll musical theatre.
It’s never really been done before and a lot of people really aren’t doing it. I really thought that when Gwar came out you’d see a lot of bands trying to do what Gwar did. Not really many have tried and certainly none with the sense of humour that we have. Now I don’t think that we are funny – funny looking maybe – but we just do what we do and if people happen to laugh at it then I think that they’re probably fairly enlightened humans with good senses of humour. But let’s face it; metal takes itself all too seriously.
Metal can funny as fucking shit and if you don’t believe me just go and throw on fucking Spinal Tap. We’re keeping a tradition of metal alive that not a lot of other bands are doing because they’re more concerned with looking cool and getting their dick sucked than they are making truly revolutionary art.
I can’t imagine anyone would come away from a Gwar performance not changed.
Well I love the fact that you either love Gwar or you hate Gwar. There’s no middle ground, people either love it or they hate it. The ones that aren’t sure maybe they just won’t say anything. The one’s that hate it will check it out very briefly but they will still be changed by it and they will still talk about it. And that helps us.
I’ve read so much negative criticism of the band over the years and every time I read that stuff I’m like “hell yeah!” Any time you elicit a strong reaction out of people basically it’s a success. Like what they say about opinions; they’re like arseholes, everyone’s got one. The critics are the biggest arseholes of all.
You guys are literally paid to complain and a lot of the time critics are made up of failed musicians and artists, so you know, more power to you.
I’m excited to see you guys jump into the Superbowl in 2015. Just do it. Don’t worry about getting permission.
I’ve always said that it doesn’t matter if Gwar gets permission to play the Superbowl or not. If we wanted to we would play at half time, in fact we would play the game. We would play against every other team out there until the field was a bloody fucking ruin, then we would turn on the cheerleaders and the referees and we would still have the half time show except we would kill every useless celebrity from Kayne West to god damn Justin Beiber, whatever. They would beg for their lives as the go feet first into the meat grinder and then for the second half of the game we attack the crowd and we kill the fans until nothing’s left but a flaming ruin. I’m starting to rock some Battle Maximus here you know. Believe it or not killing is second to rock and roll.
So who is your favorite to kill on stage?
Ah well I always love killing God. Killing God is great. Showing people that God is a pussy, you know he can’t take it but he’s not bad with that right. That right is pretty long. He’s got big long arms and strong motherfucker but you can take a couple of those shots, get inside, bring up that uppercut BOOM you can fucking take that out with one punch. God has got a glass jaw.
Conversely Satan is a motherfucker, as you would expect Satan to be. He was no pushover. Defeating Satan as we outline on our album Beyond Hell he goes by the name Jewcifer. I’m not trying to be racist or anything, I’m just saying that Satan is Jewish. There’s been a lot of Satans, not all of them have been Jews, he just happens to be one.
So do you ever have God and the devil on stage together?
Oh sure, we have them basically having sex with each other. We’re forcing them to have sex with each other and then they enjoyed it so much that we didn’t have to force them and then we had to force them to stop having sex with each other. We were like “Stop, you’ve been having sex all along.” Satan’s just like “Oh I’ve just gotta cum” and we’re like “get it over with” and God is like “Give me that dick Jewcifer” - it was fucking horrible. I mean even Gwar was a little shook up by that. Like stop it!
Haha that’s just crazy man.
Then there are always the celebrities that are so fun to kill. The Justin Beibers and the Kanye Wests just the way they beg for their lives, they’ll do anything, turn anyone in, say anything, fuck anything, be fucked by anything, any kind of animal and then we just kill them anyway and all the pleading all the things that you did to yourself basically is like your career don’t mean a thing and you don’t get nothing for it so die. It’s a beautiful moment.
I was having a look on-line and you’ve done some pretty crazy interviews with like Joan Rivers and Jerry Springer. Which would be your favorite interview?
Haha, I was a rookie back then. It’s hard to beat those early Gwar interviews when nobody knew who the fuck Gwar was. We were just waking up from Antarctica, Kiss hadn’t worn their makeup in ten years and except for Alice Cooper there weren’t a lot of bands doing that horror rock shtick kind of thing. All of a sudden Gwar came out of nowhere and starting blowing it up and I remember one of the first big interviews we did was Joan Rivers and soon after that we did Jerry Springer and if you notice the development of trash American tabloid television and indeed the effect that it had worldwide on the television community, pretty much it starts with Gwar on the Jerry Springer show.
It’s a bunch of white trash actors and actresses because these people are not really who they say they are. It’s all set up and pre-planned. They get out there and talk a bunch of shit and there’s a kid saying “I love you Gwar” and the mom’s going “You ruined my kid’s life” was all complete bullshit and Jerry knew it and he was just laughing about it and we had a great fucking time. Then it was all downhill from there. American television, what used to be news talk shows or at least like commentary shows just became white trash bullshit. Just excuses for people to jump up and throw chairs at each other. So I’d like to take a lot of credit for Gwar ruining daytime television.
Your new album Battle Maximus is getting good reviews.
Yeah it really is you know. That’s pretty cool. And honestly reviews for Gwar albums are not always kind. You either love it or you hate it and it seems like a lot of people love it. I know a lot of people just respect it because we love making music and not many bands last that long and you know what we’re immortal barbarians from outer space and we’re just getting started.
I’m amazed at the length of time you guys have been around – thirty years is a long time in modern rock and roll history.
Well it’s not quite there yet. Everyone is really anxious to get us to the thirty years. Everyone is always reminding me. I’m like “okay but remember it doesn’t actually start until April, 2015.The first Gwar show, after we were dethawed in Antarctica in 1985, was April 24.” So we got to get through 2014 and several months of 2015, but yeah it’s almost there, right around the corner. Thirty years. For us it’s been an eye blink. For you humans it’s half a lifetime. We got grandmas bringing their kids who are bringing their kids to the show to get all covered in blood. It’s fucking insane. In the early days of rock and roll when it was very dangerous and especially with metal to look that way and live that way you were taking a chance. Not only were you abolishing yourself from society, but also you were taking a chance with being physically attacked. Whereas now it’s completely different.
“Hey kid I can’t wait to play you this Minor Threat album”. Like fathers are bringing up their kids listening to heavy metal music so by the time these kids are eight or nine years old they already know every Motorhead album, they already know about Gwar, worship Slayer, so the demographic changes. I believe of all the genres of rock and roll that metal is the most enduring. And has the most credibility of all of them. Metal truly is the voice of rock and roll. Rock and roll didn’t end up sounding like Bill Haley so much; it didn’t end up like The Beatles so much. Some Beatles songs, “Helter Skelter“ maybe, but for me rock and roll is like a loud angry guitar and that’s why it’s my favorite sound. I enjoy the sound of heavy, heavy rock and if you want to call that heavy metal it’s my favorite sound.
When Flattus left us that was a big change in direction and a sad moment for the band.
It was yeah. Absolutely of all our ordeals we’ve been through as a rock and roll band and being in a rock and roll band, like Bon Scott said “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll” and we’re just guys who love music so much they just pour their lives into it but you don’t expect to lose people that young and right in the middle of doing what they love best. We were in the middle of a tour as well and right there was the biggest fucking challenge of our lives.
Not only did we have to honour and take care of our comrade, but we had to take care of the fans who were equally devastated, and after all of those people we had to make sure that the families touched were taken care of and finally after all of that we had to take care of ourselves. And that was absolutely the last thing that we did and we decided we only missed a couple of shows and kept some people home to pay some respects and we kept touring because we knew that Flattus would want it to be that way. Then we got into the very serious business of what happens now. If you’re a Gwar aficionado then you know that Flattus was the one that got Gwar back on the metal track. We started out really heavy, really hard, playing heavy metal.
Toward the mid section of our career – a lot of people think that we really hate these records or something - I don’t hate these records at all, but we did get a bit experimental and it was all over the place. It was more like a Frank Zappa kind of thing. We would everything from funny punk songs like “Fish Fuck” to long drawn out industrial shit like “Space Cake”. It was just all over the place. Then Flattus was like “There are so many metal bands out there that are kick-ass and mind-blowing, we gotta catch up and we gotta be as good as any other metal band out there. ‘Oh they’re just guys in rubber suits’ – We gotta shut those guys up. “ So we listened to Flattus and we followed Flattus and it did really re-establish us. And the last five albums have become progressively more and more metal. So when we lost Flattus everyone was like “holy fuck, what’s gonna happen and how do we keep going in this awesome direction that the band is going musically and not just keep the standard that Flattus was but how do we keep getting better?”
It was nothing less than the end of the band as far as I was concerned unless you can make something that’s the best that you can do. A lot of it was Pustulus, our new guitar player who came in here and started blowing the fucking walls down. The very first song we wrote was “Madness at the Core of Time” and it was the first song we played when we hit the stage at Soundwave and it’s indicative of the way the band sounds now and I think we actually did it, I think we pulled it off. I think Battle Maximus takes that next step and I think somehow despite everything that happened somehow we got stronger and I think some of that was a way of honouring Flattus but also it was a way to inspire people especially people that lose people that they love.
An experience like that can actually make you a stronger person. We were very much aware of all of these things through the creative process and what made it even more crazy is that it was the first album that we recorded in our own studios which Flattus aka Cory Smoot had a hell of a lot of input designing. It was kind of his brainchild so he was with us every day. We took our time. It took us about a year and a half to do this thing and it took a while to start to get the vibe back but you know what it’s got very well reviewed and the fans love it and now the focus is getting out there and supporting the new record and playing live shows that just melt people’s fucking minds.
That was a long fucking answer dude.
It was a great answer. I think Flattus would be looking down and smiling on the whole thing. So do you have any last words for the fans in Australia?
Well what can I say, people in Australia got Gwar. We started getting messages, weird letters written in blood, I think it was human blood, it’s hard to tell, just begging us to come there. It took us twenty-two years to find the place but now we’re coming back again, coming back even bigger so it’s better than ever. It’s the wildest show yet and we can’t wait to get down there and shake our moneymakers for you. We got the craziest, most outrageous motherfucking show in rock and roll history.
I’m looking forward to seeing it – I reckon it’s gonna be awesome.
Good, I hope you enjoy it my friend.
Don't miss GWAR when they tour Australia as part of Soundwave 2014!
SOUNDWAVE FESTIVAL DATES & VENUES – FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
SATURDAY 22 FEBRUARY - BRISBANE, RNA SHOWGROUNDS
SUNDAY 23 FEBRUARY - SYDNEY, OLYMPIC PARK
FRIDAY 28 FEBRUARY - MELBOURNE, FLEMINGTON RACECOURSE
SATURDAY 1 MARCH - ADELAIDE, BONYTHON PARK
MONDAY 3 MARCH - PERTH, CLAREMONT SHOWGROUNDS
TICKETS ON SALE NOW: http://soundwavefestival.com/