We often get the opportunity to interview multiple personalities in a rock band. Rarely, though, do those multiple personalities come from the same person. Intergalactic metal act Gwar has been lead by Dave Brockie, a.k.a. Oderus Urungus, since the band’s inception as a goofy opening act for Brockie’s 1980s punk band, Death Piggy. Prefix sat down with not just Brockie but the hulking Oderus as well, in order to get both sides of the Gwar experience: the coherent and the crack-addled.
What does Gwar like to dress up as for Halloween?
Oderus: Humans, actually. I favor famous TV quiz show game hosts. Alex Trebek is my favorite. Of course, after he shaved the mustache. Looks queer as hell. Scares kids, too. After one day, I’m completely over it. It’s like, humans? This is what being a human is like? It sucks! Completely sucks! You’re not indestructible, you can’t break busses in half, it’s just bullshit.
Tell us about the decision to add Cannibal Corpse guitarist Brent Purgason to the lineup as Pustulus Maximus.
Dave: He was a good friend of Cory’s [Smoot], the guy who played Flattus, and he’s a Richmond local, and he’s a complete fucking phenomenal shredder. And what’s even better about him is he’s really animated. He jumps around the stage all the time. The band is moving around the stage, and that shit never used to happen. Everyone we’ve ever had play Flattus were always really low-key personalities. They never injected a lot of physicality to the role. Brent is just a maniac, I’m constantly getting run into from behind by him.
Oderus: Pustulus? Well, he’s got acne. Really bad acne. Acne that’s so bad and hurts him so much, that he constantly seeks relief. The only way he can get it is by jacking off an elephant right into his face. He’s a fucking shredding guitar player, he’s a member of the Maximus clan, he was a close personal friend of Flattus, and he’s kind of like Flattus’ obnoxious cousin, if you will.
You have a lot of peers in rock music that adopt theatricality into their shows – Alice Cooper, KISS, Marilyn Manson and Slipknot, for example. Who, in your opinion, does it the best and who falls short?
Dave: I give massive props to Alice Cooper. I give props to Slipknot. I like their music. I don’t think their imagery is particularly original. The scary clown, the guy with nails sticking out of his head, pentagrams. Okay, you don’t scare me. I don’t think what you’re doing is really disturbing. But I like their music, so I’m down with that. Marilyn Manson is a little hard to peg. He’s like a mish-mash of different styles, but inside I know there’s a true artist there. Now he’s kind of become a drunk, surly caricature of himself in a weird way, which I think is kind of cool. And then we get all the way down to the end of the spectrum with bands like Lordi and Rob Zombie that I think have absolutely no credibility. G-rated. Fine, cool – if that’s what you want to do? You want to be a Wal-Mart rocker? You want to inspire legions of teenagers to go “yeah!” and be stupid? Fine. You want to make bad movies just to indulge your “I’m a director” hard-on? Fine. Do that. But don’t fucking pretend like it’s rebel rock. And that’s what rock and roll is supposed to be – it’s supposed to be revolution music. Now, more than ever, we need it. We don’t need G-rated mish-mashes of other people’s styles that are completely uninspiring and toothless.
One of the talks of Austin a few years ago when you played SXSW was that you guys were hanging out downtown in your costumes. Give me some adjectives to describe Austin from the point of view of Gwar.
Oderus: Overrated, cliquey, snobby, stupid, vial, violent, backstabbing, murderous, well-armed. But a great town!
As well-known as Gwar’s characters and story are, you seem to be very comfortable with the idea of being out of character and just naturally being yourself in public. With some bands in your position, there may be the temptation to not allow a window into your real life so as to not break that mystique.
Dave: In the beginning, we were more fanatical about it. We insisted that people not photograph us out of costume and shit like that. Then we realized that was just stupid and impossible. We gave up on that immediately, so the rule became, you’re either all the way in or you’re all the way out. It’s not gonna be any of me just standing around with my giant cock on. We’re not really into rules so much. That’s like the only one we can handle.
Please tell me, with all the touring you do, how does Gwar get through airport security with all the props and costumes?
Oderus: We have our own, private, flying thing. The batshit helicopter. You noticed it in the parking lot, of course. We disguise it as a normal human tour bus during the daytime to confuse the authorities, but after the show it sprouts wings, grows hair, big tail, we all climb into its belly, and fup-fup-fup-fup-fup, it clumsily beats its way into the air, and then a little helicopter part comes out of the top – bleep-lubbalubbalubbalubba [proceeds to make honking noises]. It pretty much doesn’t help at all, it’s all wing propelled.
Where’s the strangest, most inappropriate place you’ve ever worn your costumes?
Dave: That’s easy. Universal City in Hollywood. It’s this giant shopping mall, complex of rides and theaters and stores. There’s a Hard Rock there and they wanted to – god knows why – induct the fucking Cuttlefish of Cthulhu [Oderus’ codpiece] to their collection. So I walk in there, and I have this huge fucking phallus hanging out, and my ass is just hanging out – there’s nothing but a g-string just rammed up my ass – and I walk around the corner, and there’s Universal City, and there’s nothing but kids and their families. And I’m just like, “oh, fuck.” I had to explain why I felt it was necessary to donate the Cuttlefish to the fucking Hard Rock. And 9/11 had just happened, and I gave this whole speech about how the Cuttlefish [was] on the plane where the passengers had revolted. And I did this whole thing and said, “ah, I got away with that!” And I walked out, and there’s the fucking LAPD just waiting for me. And not just the LAPD – the guy who owns Universal City is there, and he’s like, “you pervert! How dare you come here!” All pissed. And I listen to this guy rant and rave for a while and [the police] finally turn to me and say, “what’s your story?” And I’m like, “If you give me five seconds, you will never see me again!”
Seeing as Gwar is from another planet, what are the band’s thoughts on the big news this summer of the Mars Curiousity rover landing?
Oderus: What? What is that? News to you, maybe. They’re gonna find a dead world, because we killed everything there. Mars is bullshit. You wanna fuckin’ talk about something crazy, talk about the Sun. Fucking thing’s blowing up all the time! It’s like, you’re right next to it, it’s right there, and it’s exploding. If you are a human, I would be concerned about that. Exploding things are not good, like pipe bombs and car bombs and nuclear bombs and gas tanks…and the Sun! All those other things are terrible, but we’re supposed to believe the Sun is cool. Fuck that! The Sun isn’t cool! Haha! Get it!? That was all built up! Badump, pow!
Well, what if they find crack cocaine on Mars?
Oderus: Whoa. I’d be all over it then, I’ll tell ya. Because Earth is the only planet in the universe that produces crack. I don’t know why that is, but it’s a good thing we ended up here, I’ll tell you that. That’s the reason we stay here, because we’ve had access to spaceships now for several years, and we still stay on this planet. It’s because I suck a glass dick.
What kinds of non-metal or non-punk bands are you a fan of?
Dave: I’m a huge U2 fan. I love pop music. I love Fergie. I don’t know why [laughs]. I love R. Kelly. I think people are silly if they limit themselves to listening to one type of music. A lot of European metalheads are like that. That’s kind of one of the reasons I think Gwar has never been super popular in Europe, is that they’re so serious about their metal. There’s no room for humor in it at all. And that, to me, is awful, because metal is funny! Metal’s got a great tradition of humor. Look at Spinal Tap and Cheech and Chong, “Earache My Eye”. There hasn’t been a ton of it – humor metal. There hasn’t even been enough that it’s gotten its own little label yet, you know? Like The Mentors. They’re a fucking hilarious band, but they never got any credit for it.
Do you think that may be because metal is a traditionally masculine genre, and some musicians are too macho to have fun with it?
Dave: Yes! Completely. And also, they aren’t intellectual enough. A lot of these guys aren’t very smart. You don’t go to college to study metal. You don’t write doctorate papers on it. I just think that these guys don’t have the brainpower to really wrap their heads around Gwar. They think that we’re in costume, but they’re wearing a costume too! Everybody goes up on stage – from your carefully-chosen bullet belt, to the fucking, “I’m gonna wear my Gorgoroth shirt in this photo shoot,” you know? They’re thinking about how they look and what they’re wearing just as much as I’m thinking about what my new Oderus costume is going to look like. The difference is, I get to take my persona off and throw it in a box, and I get to be Dave again. And Dave don’t give a fuck.