Read SPIN’s 1990 Profile of GWAR, ‘Guerilla GWARfare’
In a genre where the line between parody and reality is constantly blurred, only metal rockers GWAR know which side they stand on. A Spinal Tap for the '90s.
This article originally appeared in the June 1990 issue of SPIN. In light of the tragic death of GWAR frontman Oderus Urungus, a.k.a. Dave Brockie, we’ve pulled this piece from the SPIN archives.
Before Oderus Urungus, leader of GWAR, answers any questions, he reminds me that I, a mere human, am “an insignificant speck of diarrheic phlegm.” When I reveal for whom I am writing this article, he replies, “SPIN… Ah yes, I think I wiped my buttocks with it once.” Such is the wisdom of the gods.
Well, not exactly gods. GWAR is actually a posse of Antartic warrior demigods. GWAR is also the sickest heavy metal parody band in the galaxy. But it would be best to let Oderus tell the story: “GWAR was created by the master of creation, an ambiguous being named Larry, as the ultimate doomsday device. GWAR was at one time in the legion of Scumdogs of the Universe, but they were banished to the earth. GWAR’s ultimate goal is to leave Earth, after destroying it, and rejoin the Scumdogs.”
Musically, GWAR is a hardcore quintet that spews a delicious viscous goo, blending Black Sabbath, the Meatmen and the Dickies. Live, they expand to 14 performers (non-musicians are called slaves, as are their fans), each dressed in outrageous Dungeons-and-Dragons-on-cough-medicine costumes.
The characters in GWAR (and they are always in character) are warriors who have taken to our earth’s strange indulgences. For instance, they all love crack cocaine. Flattus Maximus attributes his explosive guitar style to “a strict diet of vegetarians.” Balsac the Jaws of Death “writes songs by scratching his scrotum with his guitar.”
The GWAR live show is like Kiss in Sensurround, an aural and visual melee, accompanied by elements of performance art, professional wrestling, bad drugs, the Holocaust, good drugs, and a healthy dose of bathroom humor. In concert, one can expect to see: Oderus’ brain explode; GWAR women twirl fiery batons; Sexecutioner suck feces out of a goat’s ass, and various liquids (blood of slaves, semen, brain, puke, etc.) spewed into the crowd. If you didn’t get splattered by something grotesque at a GWAR show, you weren’t there — no stain, no gain.
Now GWAR is in the studio, completing work on their second album, Scumdogs of the Universe (on Master Records, a British label). Their first album, Hell-O, was produced by Kramer on his Shimmy Disc label. Their thoughts on working with Kramer: “We were very impressed with the human Kramer,” noted Oderus. “However, Kramer is what we in GWAR call an art-fag.” Enter Ron Goudie, noted for his production work with heavy metal fundamentalists Stryper. Oderus on Goudie: “He’s a good producer. It is a pity that he has to be killed after this project.”
The new album boasts a cleaner sound and more impressive musicianship, thanks to Goudie’s talents. One tune, “The Salaminizer,” is a hilarious line-for-line send-up of N.W.A’s “Gangsta, Gangsta,” in which the “we-bad-n-ggaisms” have been replaced by “we-bad-Antarctic-death-machinisms.” “Ice Cube, Eazy-E and MC Ren are great role models,” admits Oderus. “Oderus wants all humans to murder each other — thus, he needs war, famine, pestilence, and he needs Eazy-E.”