LarryMac once again got the chance to sit down with Dave Brockie and discuss the latest happenings in the world of Gwar. Find out what Dave had to say about Gwar, rock and roll, the music industry, video games, movies and pretty much anything else that popped up.
|Photos Courtesy of Eris|
LarryMac: We’ll skip rehashing all the background stuff and pick up right where we left off the last time you guys came through. How’s the second year of the 25th anniversary been?
Dave Brockie: It’s actually been, despite all considerations to the contrary, more crazy than the first one. I mean, it was quite a responsibility to fill up two years with a ton of shit but actually this year has every indication of being even bigger than last year. This tour is huge. We’re going to Australia and New Zealand. The new album, I think, is going to be huge for Gwar and we’re gonna be on Jimmy Fallon next month. I’ve kept the Red Eye thing going the whole time. The whole Gwar juggernaut is just gaining steam. I’m really pleased to see that like in Blabbermouth, people still get offended by the shit that I say. I mean, we live to make fun of metal gods, we live to poke fun at metal, you know? Metal really lost its sense of humor a long time ago. Gwar’s been one of the only bands that’s kept it in there. Metal and humor go together like Spinal Tap and too-small sandwich bread. Ya know? It’s like, you’ve gotta have it. And there’s still nimrods out there that get genuinely upset when I talk shit about Rob Zombie or Lordi or some other innocuous boob. That people even take Oderus seriously or not seriously or get offended, that just delights me to no end. So, I would say things are going really good for Gwar right now.
LM: I was looking over the interview we did last year, basically because I’m old and half-senile and don’t want to ask all of the same questions I asked last time.
DB: Oh, I’m sure I’m older and seniler, I would have forgotten it anyway so it doesn’t matter.
LM: You said then that you wanted to have another album out by Halloween and said that was completely ridiculous. Well, you missed that by like a week, but nice job.
DB: I know, I can’t believe it. It was really an amazing thing to accomplish. The craziest thing about it is it was really easy. We just said “hey, that’s what we’re gonna do” and we did it and it came out great. We’re really stoked about it, we didn’t feel rushed, we didn’t feel hurried. We knew we had X amount of time and we just did what we had to do and it kicked ass. We wanted to go the extra nine yards for the fans this year and also just to prove it to ourselves, ya know? We are…say what you will about Gwar, but we are the hardest working band in show business. Who else puts out two records, much less two good ones, in two years anymore? Back in the old days, in the punk rock school, which is pretty much what we came out of, an album a year was normal. There would be a new Ramones album every year, there would be a new Clash album every year. When the hardcore thing started, there would be albums coming out even…Husker Du would have an album every six months, ya know?! So that’s really not all that weird for us to do that. Nowadays, three or four years will go by easily. And a lot of the old timers, they’ve pretty much given up on putting out new material. You’ll get an album out of them every five or six years. I think that’s a crime. I think that’s a way of just laying down and dying. If you have enough balls to want to play heavy metal for a living, be fuckin’ real about it and go all the way and challenge yourself; write music constantly, don’t let these young punks come in off the street and take over! I honestly think you get better at making music as you get older. Now, sooner or later, I’ll just get to the point where my brain turns to jelly and I’m like “aahhhhh…I ain’t doin’ it anymore” but right now, we’re still swinging! Brett Favre is throwing bullets…well, actually, he’s not throwing really bullets this year…but he’s at least throwing and that dude’s 41 years old. What, we can’t do Gwar until the very fucking last dying breath?! And to all the detractors of Gwar, I hope that pisses them off to no end: as their idols crumble and betray them, Gwar will remain just this unremovable herpe on the face of the most idiotic, ignorant, self-serving, plagiaristic, uninspired industry that has ever been created: the music industry. All it does is feed on people’s talent, chew them up and spit them out. They promise you this big lie and you don’t get shit. Two guys at the top get all the money, everyone else gets fucked, the band is always the last ones to get paid and on the very rare occasion that a band actually does make it, they turn into a bunch of dicks. And you’re never gonna get any of that shit from us!
LM: Tell me about Bloody Pit of Horror. What is Gwar up to these days and what do we get musically from the album?
DB: After the events of Lust in Space, Gwar was saddened and shocked to learn that Earth was the only planet in the universe that had crack and even though we would take tons of crack with us when we went back to outer space in our new scumship, the SS CrippleKiller, we would always come back and have to get more. Crack doesn’t grow in outer space for some reason. So we came back to Earth and we were just sitting there thinking “what are we gonna do this time around?”. The Master has been driven back into the void, Cardinal Syn’s had his ass kicked, Gor Gor’s been on a three year bender, Techno Destructo’s vanished, we’ve got this Sawborg motherfucker flying around but he’s not really…doesn’t scare us that much, we can’t figure out if he wants to be our friend or kill us. So what we decided to do was slaughter the human race, as usual, but this time zombify them, turn them into an elite zombie shock army, fill the hold of the SS Cripple Killer with this mutated zombie army and invade the galaxy. That’s the plan. And that’s the theme of the first four songs, anyway, of the new record. Then it just gets into a bunch of random hateful shit. It’s not as much of a theme album as Lust in Space or Beyond Hell, but it’s got a little bit of that, and it’s kind of a Gwar/zombies thing going on. We figured the zombies thing is getting pretty popular and it was about time that Gwar did a take on zombies. So yeah, we’re encouraging our fans to zombify themselves.
LM: Any update on the rumors of a video for the album?
DB: We’re right in the midst of finishing up the edit for the first video, “Zombies March”, which is being shot by Fangoria magazine so it should be pretty fucking good. We shot a whole bunch of it before we left and then we left it in the able hands of our director, Dave McKendry, back in Richmond, Virginia and he’s finished up shooting . It’s a really cool video. Basically, Gwar’s practicing in a theater, getting ready for the tour and they’re making a video – it’s kind of a video within a video. There’s these people shooting them and nothing’s going right, nothing’s working out so the director’s like “try it again” and they’re playing the song and the music awakens all the dead within hearing distance of the music and they all come up out of the ground and the place where Gwar is playing gets attacked by zombies but instead of attacking Gwar, they attack the camera crew and end up making Gwar’s new video for them. That will be out, hopefully, in another couple weeks or so. As far as any longform stuff, no plans just yet. We’re still waiting for the day that Rob Zombie comes down from Heaven with a $10 million budget for our new movie, but after all the shit I’ve talked about him lately, I really doubt that’s gonna happen.
LM: We also discussed your Fox News correspondent work and you predicted GWAR shoving their way through the door to television once Oderus was established. Here we are, like two weeks away from you guys appearing on Jimmy Fallon! So…you know your shit, you know the business, you know something!
DB: WOW! It all came by accident and if you asked me what I thought we were going to be doing next year, I wouldn’t really be able to give you a good take on it. I could see doing another album, I could see – and I was keeping my fingers crossed when I said that – I could see Red Eye leading to something else, but honestly right now I don’t know what the fuck’s gonna happen as far as next year. Really, the only thing left that could happen is for Gwar to finally just explode in the mainstream media and finally get real major status where we’re playing arenas, where we can have a Gwar video game, where we can have a Gwar movie, where we can have a haunted casino in Vegas where Gwar’s the house band, we can have the Gwar bar – in Richmond, Virginia, there’s like a dive bar where punk rock bands play but it’s also a museum for all the old Gwar props and costumes, we’ll have the Gwar cemetery – we’re going to buy a hill somewhere in the middle of nowhere and on the promise that Gwar will someday be buried there if they ever die, we’re gonna sell plots to our fans, so all the Gwarriors can be buried as one…of course, it will just be a mass grave, it’s nothing fancy.
LM: While we’re on the topic of the stuff we talked about last time, I’m going to guess that you’ve done a good 1000 or so interviews over the years. What’s one question you’re just tired of?
DB: “What is the grossest thing that’s ever happened on stage?” No hesitation on that one. Or, not even that, “what’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened on tour?”. I draw a blank, ya know? My life is just this pastiche of atrocities that I’ve seen over the years and nothing stands forth as the craziest thing ever. I guess the craziest thing ever is that people would still ask that stupid question!
LM: You’ve also got a pretty large catalog to play but there are certain standards, like “Gor Gor” and “Sick of You” that everybody always wants. Are there any songs you just get sick of playing all the time?
DB: A lot of the guys get sick of playing “Sick of You”. We go through phases where we don’t want to play that song but I always insist we play it because it is the closest thing we’ve ever had to a real hit and it’s just kind of the signature Gwar tune, even though it doesn’t really sound that much like what Gwar sounds like anymore, it will still always get a huge crowd reaction and as an artist, as a performer, you feed off that. That gives you energy. If you’re having a shitty show then the crowd suddenly goes berserk, you’re going to get energy off of that. And I always love that because you really need a shot of that energy when you get down towards the end of the set, I’ll tell you!
LM: You’ve got the album catalog and the videos. You’ve showed up on TV, you’ve now got plans for the casino, the cemetery and everything else. You’ve built this thing into a multimedia monster. What’s the trick? Is it just a question of having crazy costumes and a cool storyline?
DB: Well that’s a huge part of it. Crazy costumes, anyone can come up with crazy costumes. But ours, really, the guys who’ve designed them over the years are just a bunch of sick motherfuckers who came up with some great looks and we’ve inspired…you know, the “Gwar look”, you’ll find it everywhere now. Every orc and monster band out there is DIRECTLY inspired by Gwar, just like we were directly inspired by Kiss. We pushed the scale down the road a little bit and other people have picked it up, but I don’t think anyone has really outdone us. Especially when you consider we haven’t had the millions of dollars of support that these other guys have had. The reason that Gwar’s different than everybody is because it is a really cool idea and we’re able to present it in a way that’s always interesting. I don’t know how we’ve managed to do that. I think a lot of it is I’ve got the gift of gab, I always have, that’s why I still do these interviews. And I don’t get sick of doing them either! I love to talk about how cool Gwar is. And I’ll never get sick of telling people how lucky and happy I am to work with such an amazing group of artists. It’s really unbelievable that all these guys are still around after 25 years. I’ve still got the same core artists and musicians that I had on Scumdogs of the Universe and in some cases even Hell-O and no one is here because we’re making money off of it, you know? We survive, but nobody’s getting rich, there’s no insurance plan, no retirement plan, ya know? And money never a valid…never a motivational factor for me. I’m proud of my punk rock roots, I’m not about to lose them, I’m not ever gonna sell them out. Of course, if we DID make millions of dollars, that would be great.
LM: If you could reform, reshape, reorganize Gwar any way you wanted, are you still handling the vocals or are you back on bass? Or even guitar, even though you claim you suck?
DB: I would keep it just the way it is. I tried so hard to NOT be the lead singer of this band, so I know that I MUST be the lead singer of this band because it just was fate. Destiny itself pretty much chose it. Even after I had the job, I got somebody else to come back in, I got Joey Slutman to take over then he ended up leaving so I just said “fuck it, I’m just gonna do this; I know it’s gonna be a hard job and I’m not sure if I’m up to the task” but I’ve never looked back.
LM: Obviously, there’s also a Lovecraft vibe that runs through the Gwar universe. What’s your favorite story and why do you think that movies always wind up sucking?
DB: My favorite story is “At the Mountains of Madness”. I heard they’re making a movie of that right now with the same guy that did Pan’s Labyrinth, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. The reason the movies suck is because they never really make a movie that’s based on the story. They just take the title and maybe a couple elements from the story and then run with it. So even though there have been several Lovecraft movies, none of them really have anything to do with H.P. Lovecraft. Hopefully this time they’ll get it right because that is one of the scariest, most fucked up stories you’ll ever read. And obviously, you see there’s a huge Lovecraft/Gwar thing. I mean “Mountains of Madness”, Antarctica, come on! I just plagiarize more obscure stuff, ya know? Oderus got his sword from Elric. There’s a fine line between plagiarism and…paying homage.
LM: Are you as into horror movies as we all think?
DB: No, I’m not. I love horror movies, I’m just really not a movie person because I don’t have the time. I don’t have time to sit around and watch movies. I have a really short attention span and a movie’s really got to grab me to watch it. I am a movie lover and a student of film, but if I had a “buff” area, I’m more of a war film buff. I love war movies and especially World War II movies, I’m a total freak for that stuff.
LM: Give me a good one.
DB: Cross of Iron by Sam Peckinpah is a very overlooked movie. It’s about German soldiers on the Russian front when the front’s collapsing. It’s just a great movie. It was put out at the height of the withdrawal from Vietnam, so the last thing people wanted to go see was a war movie. Especially about Germans being portrayed as just normal people. It’s completely authentic; they shot it in Yugoslavia and used like Yugoslavian National Guard T34 tanks and everything was perfect and Sam Peckinpah is just like my favorite director anyway. And the cast is just unbelievable: James Mason, David Warner, James Coburn. It’s just a fucking great movie.
LM: Last time we spoke you commented on the big, black fucking holes of time that you need to kill on the road. What games are you playing or what are you reading these days?
DB: Well, it sucks. The bus we have, nobody brought their 360 along, so I won’t be playing Nazi Zombies on this tour, which is probably good because I spent HALF of the last tour sitting here playing Nazi Zombies, so I’ll get other, more creative stuff done. So we’ve been playing just laptop games and stuff and I’ve been playing this game called “Hearts of Iron III”, which is a World War II strategy game where you have the whole world and you can pick Germany or Canada or America or whatever and it is the most complicated, ridiculous, fucked up game you’ll ever see. I challenge anyone to go out there and download the demo and play it for five minutes. You’ll just be going (wide eyed) “What? How can anyone take pleasure in this?”. It’s like doing trigonometry in Russian. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s not like any game that I’ve ever seen and you know what, I love it. So, that’s what I’ve been playing.
LM: Rapid fire: three bands that everybody should listen to and three bands that people should stop listening to.
DB: Everyone should listen to Motorhead, the Sex Pistols and Foreigner. Nobody should listen to Lordi…ummm, Lordi (laughs). I can’t even say that. You know, I don’t have anything against Lordi, I just think their music’s shit. It’s crap, it’s like kiddie rock. So yeah, stay away from that stuff, it has no balls, don’t listen to Lordi. Don’t listen to Rob Zombie’s latest re-issue of his latest re-issue. Lordi, Rob Zombie and…ahhh…the new Misfits (laughs), with Jerry Only, only. No, I’m not gonna bag on him either. God, I’m so bad about…I don’t really hate anybody. Yeah, I fucked that one all up. Just say “he kinda meandered off and wouldn’t say anything about anybody”.
LM: The stage is yours. Any parting words?
DB: I hope the Browns get better. It must suck, year after year, just to deal with that. We know all about it. It’s great to be here in Cleveland, we’re gonna have a great show tonight and I want everyone out there to buy the new album, Bloody Pit of Horror, continue to support Gwar – the band that has taken 25 years to get this far and for some fucked up reason is STILL getting bigger. I mean, I used to think the Scumdogs/America Must Be Destroyed era was like the biggest era of Gwar, like we would never really reach that level again, but now I’m starting to think we’re past that and more people probably and are backing us than at any other point of our career. Now Gwar’s like a family tradition! Dad will bring the kids down to see Gwar, bring the wife along. Sometimes, Granny will come along as well! Sometimes, Granny’s only like 55 years old or so – 25 years ago, she was a kid, banging her head! Rock n roll, especially heavy metal, has turned into the biggest, longest genre. Back when I was a kid, the mere thought of listening to the same kind of music my parents did was just like “What?! Impossible!” but now it’s a family affair. So get out there and breed and create some more Gwar fans.
LM: So, you’re telling me next time you guys come through, I should just go ahead and bring my daughters?
DB: Bring your daughters. How old?
LM: Twelve and ten.
DB: They’re fine! Even if they don’t dig it too much, they’ll have something to talk to their friends about. “This is what MY dad’s into!”