An Interview with GWAR’s Oderus Urungus
[In a daring feat of bravery, resident metalhead Andrew Epstein sat down with GWAR’s fearsome frontman. Instead of being eaten, disembowelled or sliced from chin to anus with some kind of space sword, he got this interview. The PTSD is bad, but he’s got drugs for that. – AC]
During a recent tour stop in Toronto I had a chance to sit down with the always quotable Dave Brockie, sometimes known as frontman Oderus Urungus of the costumed-metal band Gwar. The members of Gwar play a group of intergalactic alien warlords and produce a live stage spectacle where they vanquish their enemies and a gaggle of celebrities in front of an adoring crowd, who is rewarded by being sprayed with an excessive amount of stage blood and other faux-bodily fluids. People walking out of a Gwar show look like they’ve been reborn, and I mean that in the biological way.
The show itself is a tribute to live theatre and practical special effects. There are no pyro-cannons or lasers, just exquisite handmade costumes, props, and puppets that can change shape, move, and ultimately be destroyed onstage. Over the course of their career I’ve heard some criticize Gwar as being empty spectacle, but each tour has its own story which targets the status quo and destroys the idols of the day. From their early memorable appearance on Jerry Springer, to Oderus’ short tenure as an intergalactic correspondent for Fox News, Gwar has consistently managed to worm (or I suppose, maggot) their way into our consciousness for almost three decades. As long as the characters never age, and the world keeps pumping out politicians and celebrities for them to skewer, Gwar can always be current.
Most Gwar interviews are with Dave in character as Oderus, but I wanted to fill a few of the gaps I had in my mind about the band, as their story and their continued success makes Gwar one of the most unique performance entities in the world. Other than a few sound tweaks this is totally unedited. It’s one part music history lesson as Dave takes me through his early years in the DC punk scene, to his move to Richmond, Virginia and the formation of the band, and finally the various incarnations of Gwar that led to the unique catalogue of albums that form their 30-year career.
It’s also personal as well as Dave waxes on about his 50th year of existence and his newest flame, as well as some of his not-so-great encounters in the early years with Henry Rollins and Ian Mackaye. Plus the story of how Gwar lost a gig with Rob Zombie over a post on Twitter.