GWAR – Madness At The Core Of Time
“I’m all ready for you there, human. Have at. Do as you will, and all that crap. I’m at your disposal. You can ask me anything you want, but rest assured, if I think your questions are stupid, I will reach through the phone and rip out your throat.”
And so Oderus Urungus (Dave Brockie) warns yours truly penning this respective feature, Oderus Urungus being the founding member of Richmond, Virginia-based heavy metal outfit Gwar. Urungus occupied guitar from 1984 until 1986, but since 1986 has stepped behind the microphone. September 2013 effort Battle Maximus marks Gwar’s 13th studio record overall.
“It details the struggles of a typical rock ’n’ roll band, typical in the sense of course that we are from outer space,” Oderus explains, in character. “We battle giant monsters during our sets, and are known for uncorking feuds, loads of delightfully delicious jizmo galloping all over people, and impregnating females so they shoot carnivorous worms out of their eye-sockets – just another day in the life of Gwar. The new album goes deeper than that, though. It tells the insidious story of Mr. Perfect, who has come through time to steal Gwar’s power and immortality.
“Also, it is a tribute and a homage to our dear, departed scumdog brother Flattus Maximus, who returned to the galaxy and the cosmos in order to fulfil his glorious destiny – leaving us stuck on this shithole planet, which fortunately, is the only planet in the entire galaxy that has crack cocaine. I kind of like it here, actually, because I really like that shit. So yeah, we’re fighting more monsters, we’re introducing a new guitar player in Pustulus Maximus, and we’re doing that lucky 13th album. Battle Maximus is out now, and it’s up to the gods themselves to decide the worth of our efforts.”
The Gwar frontman harbours ill feelings towards Mr. Perfect. “Well, he’s a real fucking asshole, I’ll tell you that,” he lambasts. “He seems to think that if he enslaves the human race by building a metallic cocoon around the entire planet which harnesses the power of the sun, he can create a time-travelling machine where he can come back and chop off my balls. Now apparently, my balls are packed with jizmo-globin, which is basically the stuff of life. It’s basically what makes a corpse get up, and walk around. He can lick them, he can fondle them, he can suck on them, and he can squeeze them. He can do anything he wants with my balls and I won’t even charge him any money, but he cannot chop them off. I need my fucking balls, and I’m not about to let him have them. I will keep at him. He can suck my balls, but he can’t chop them off. That’s the bottom line.”
Why Oderus doesn’t wish to be financially compensated for Mr. Perfect licking, fondling, sucking, and squeezing his balls is a curious question. “Fuck, because he’s a celebrity,” Oderus defends. “We have to look out for each other. Apparently, he’s pretty famous in the future. Actually, good one. Why am I letting him have it for free? There’s absolutely no reason. In fact, I’m charging him double now. I figured the fact that he pays by me ripping his fucking head off at the end of the show. That might have something to do with it, besides the fact that money is basically worthless to me. I use money to wipe my ass, but then again, I don’t really wipe my ass. My turds are so immaculate and so perfectly formed that my butthole basically wipes itself. I don’t know if that meandering babble of adjectives and syllables actually meant anything, but hopefully, it answered your question.”
Perhaps the Gwar mainman could be compensated in crack cocaine. “Perhaps he could do that,” he considers. “I don’t know if they have crack in the future. If they don’t, then it’s a sad place to be. I could only ensure and hope for the betterment of the human race that your slavish addiction to crack cocaine continues, but I’m sure that in the future you’ve probably moved on to other drugs. I can’t even really keep up with the latest things you guys are doing, like Molly and bath salts. I’m still stuck. I’m still on crack; I still enjoy crack, and that is so 80s.”
Oderus favours the classics. “I like classic rock, classic chicks, and classic crack,” he agrees. “Are you writing this down or something?”
A dictaphone is recording the conversation. “A dictaphone?,” the singer questions. “Is this a phone that is somehow a dick at the same time? That’s your end of the deal. I’ll trust the fact that you’re a professional journalist, so you just do your thing and I’ll do mine, which I believe is you ask me questions and I provide you with idiotic answers. Sometimes they actually have something to do with the question you asked, but more often than not, it’s just me babbling incoherently.”
Late axeman Cory Smoot, better known under the moniker Flattus Maximus, was an integral part of songwriting sessions in later years. November 2010 outing Bloody Pit Of Horror was the last Gwar record to include his involvement, his passing occurring almost a year later on November 3rd, 2011 as the result of coronary artery thrombosis. His passing affected the songwriting process. “It certainly did,” Oderus emphasises. “It had a huge impact on our songwriting process. Flattus was, in many ways, the gentle giant that he was. He still wrote a large part of the music, especially with the last several Gwar albums. For a certain point there in the middle of our great musical catalogue, we were meandering around all over the place. After being frozen in Antarctica for so many millions of years, we really wanted to experience everything that the human race had been up to all those years. That led us to play all different styles of music, and want to fully embrace and catch up with our creation. After all, we did create the human race by having sex with apes. We needed to get caught up with everything that you’d been up to, but now we realise it was a painful process at times.
“Indeed though, the best thing for Gwar is to fucking play metal. We look metal, we sound metal and we smell metal, so we might as well play fucking heavy metal music. It’s been a wonderful thing. However, when we lost Flattus – who returned to the stars to fulfil his cosmic destiny, whatever the fuck that is – it left us with a great void, a gaping hole in the middle of our creative process. It slowed us down I guess for about five minutes or so, until we realised that all of the other members of the Maximus clan play guitar as well. We held the great Battle Maximus, in which all of the Maximus’ came together and fought in mortal combat for the right to fill the great clawed footsteps of the mighty Flattus.
“The Battle Maximus is the name of the actual conflict that occurred as all of the Maximus tribes members from all over the world came together in Antarctica, after Flattus had left us and returned back to the cosmos. The sonic slaughter that followed was named the Battle Maximus, because it was a battle between all of the Maximus’ to see who would get the job with Gwar playing guitar. We just basically hung a microphone out of the window, and recorded the sounds of the battle. When the dust had cleared, when the fires were out, there came a great, booming knock on the door of the Gwar keep. There stood, guitar in hand, the mighty Pustulus Maximus.
“He fucking sounded so good that we actually included it as a track on the record, and then we were like ‘Hell, that’s good enough to be a goddamn title for the fucking album.’ It was a battle, and then it was a song, and then it was a fucking album title. Who knows what it’ll be next? Maybe a theme park or a rollercoaster, or a video game. I don’t know. It just sounds kind of cool. That’s the thing about fucking album titles; they’ve gotta be kinda simple, and they’ve gotta be cool sounding. They don’t necessarily have to have any meaning whatsoever, and I think we’ve achieved this brilliantly.
“Behind his considerable guitar skills, we assayed the writing of our new album. I’m happy to say that we have continued in the same direction, so it isn’t a Gwar album with Flattus. We didn’t try to make it sound like Flattus. Nobody could sound like Flattus; he was an amazingly unique guitar player, and to try to copy, ape, or emulate that style would’ve been stupid. We just decided to let Pustulus do his own thing, follow in his bloody wake, and just see what happened. Thank the gods themselves that it didn’t turn out to be a country and western album. Pustulus loves heavy metal. We wrote another metal record; it’s loud, it’s heavy, it’s fast, and it’s certainly Gwar. Hopefully wherever he is, Flattus looks down upon us and smiles, and is proud of our efforts continuing on, even after such a devastating loss.
The country genre isn’t the lyricist’s favourite. “I’m not saying that I’m not a fan of it,” he clarifies. “I enjoy many things that the human race does, and that might be unexpected – you are our children, after all. Even though I’m not a huge fan of country music, I like certain artists like Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. I’m personally a big fan of bluegrass music. It’s pretty amazing shit, but I just don’t really see Gwar playing it. Quite frankly, I don’t think anyone wants us to. Let’s face it; I’d look pretty fucking stupid with a cowboy hat on.”
‘Certainly Gwar’ would be an apt description for Battle Maximus. “Flattus, being such an amazing guitar player, had set a very high standard for our music,” Oderus reckons. “We checked out all kinds of styles once we were reborn, but it always seemed most natural for us to play heavy metal. Not being a particular fan of labelling music in any way, shape or form, but the sound of heavy metal is the sound closest to the sound that the Scumdog warfleet makes when disgorging a thousand plasma cannons on a world full of unsuspecting innocent victims. Heavy metal is the sound of war, and war is what Gwar loves more than anything else. Flattus typified this moreso than perhaps any other Scumdog, and it was he that drove us in this musical direction. We were very mindful of this as we went into the new album.
“We didn’t try to copy Flattus’ style; we just basically trusted the new guitar player Pustulus, and just kind of let the cookie crumble. We let the cards fall, and the dice roll – we just kind of trusted it to fate itself. It turned out that Pustulus is one hell of a guitar player. If he wasn’t, he never could have won the Battle Maximus, and continued Gwar on the course of metallic opulence that we’ve so firmly grasped with these last few albums. If any Gwar fans out there were worried after Flattus left us that we would possibly, I don’t know, start playing country and western music, then they don’t have to worry about that at all. We’re still a metal band, and we will continue to be so.”
What one considers to be heavy metal is subjective, the vocalist naturally harbouring feelings of his own on the topic. “I don’t know,” he muses. “I’ve always loved bands like Motörhead – one of my favourite bands forever. In fact, I really suspect that maybe Lemmy has got some Scumdog blood in him. He certainly seems to be super-human – he doesn’t appear to be getting any older. I love bands like Slayer, I love bands like Carcass. I love bands that are loud and fast and obnoxious sounding, and that’s always been my favourite kind of music. I don’t really know what heavy metal is, other than the fact that it’s heavy and it’s fucking metal. That’s the kind of music they say that we play and that’s all fine with me, but it’s all rock ’n’ roll, hard rock, hard rock ’n’ roll. If you wanna call it heavy metal, if you wanna call it punk rock, if you wanna call it thrash metal, or whatever the fuck, it fucking kicks ass and we love playing it. Let’s face it; Gwar just wouldn’t be Gwar if we were up there playing tubas. That would be very strange. I’m not saying that it would be bad. It might be kind’ve cool to do a number on tubas, but for now, we’re sticking with the bitch that we rode in on and that bitch is named metal.”
Oderus’ knowledge of 2013’s heavy metal scene is limited. “We’re kind of cut off down here in Antarctica,” he figures. “We don’t get a lot of bands coming through, so pretty much we’re limited to bands that we tour with. A lot of the time, they’re the only times that we see bands besides ourselves, but I love Lamb Of God, I love Municipal Waste, I love Pig Destroyer. I’m not quite sure how new or old these bands are. As far as stuff that’s come out in the last year or so, I’m completely clueless. It takes me a little while to catch up, but we are getting ready to return to the world of man. At that point, we shall see what’s been going on out there. I’ll catch up with all of the latest acts.
“Just trying to read about it in some metal magazine? Countless new bands are coming out, so it’s pretty much impossible to keep up with that shit. All I can say is that I’m sure glad that I’m not a fucking heavy metal journalist, because there’s a lot to keep up with. I like Watain. There’s one band that has kind of stood out, not only for their excellent music but for the fact that they smell so bad. In fact, I heard that maybe they smell even worse than Gwar, which is a hell of an accomplishment. I’m also a big fan of Behemoth. Nergal is one hell of a dude, and has done an amazing job battling back from cancer, or whatever it is that he got. I guess Satan stepped in and helped him out with that one.
“It’s a little hard to keep up with all of the new stuff. It’s good to see that heavy metal is still going on long and strong. It’s the longest lasting genre of any type of rock ’n’ roll; fads will come and bands will come and go, but for some reason heavy metal continues to stay the course, and keep kicking fucking ass. We’re proud to be a member of this elite pantheon of bands that can put on an amazing metal musical performance, but at the same time, stage the most outrageous visual disaster that you’re ever likely to see. Gwar is the perfect combination of music, murder, and mayhem, and we’ve inspired and appalled and shocked and horrified people all over this planet, and many others for millions of years, and there’s no doubt that this will continue. Our reign of chaos will continue to grow until we reach our desire, until our fate is sealed, and until destiny itself is written. Unfortunately, I have no idea when that will happen. I don’t even know what it’s supposed to be when it does, so I guess I’ll just keep doing what I do best, which is yelling at people with my dick hanging out.”
Gwar are often categorised as shock rock, but legitimately shocking audiences is arguably a thing of the past. “I must admit that it’s harder than ever,” the frontman laments. “When you have the World Trade Center collapsing into a gigantic pile of rubble and then people say that the government itself was responsible for it, it’s harder than ever to shock people. It’s never really been the goal to shock people. We’re just getting up there and trying to play some fucking music, and have a good time. The next thing you know, we’re being attacked by super-powered mutants from outer space. Where I come from in outer space, it’s perfectly acceptable to walk around with your dick hanging out. In fact, if you don’t walk around with your dick hanging out, you’ll get thrown in jail. There are laws for that kind of thing.”
Battle Maximus was cut at Gwar’s own Slave Pit Studios, meanwhile. “We designed it along with Flattus Maximus, and it was supposed to be the first time that we had worked with Flattus in our own studio,” Oderus shares. “Unfortunately, he was called back to the stars to fulfil his cosmic destiny, and left us here to carry on without him. Luckily, we have done so quite well with Pustulus, but it is the first time that we have had the luxury of recording everything in our own studio, and it really had an amazingly positive effect on us. You can basically work any time you fucking feel like it. If I’m laying in the coffin in the middle of the night or the day, or whenever the fuck it is… I don’t really sleep anyway. I just kind of lay there, masturbating and smoking crack, but if I get an idea for a song any time, I can just stumble down to the recording studio, hit a few buttons, and then ‘Boom.’ You’ve got a new track on the new album, whereas before, we might’ve had to have flown to LA or New York, or go here, or go there, or fly somebody in, or fly somebody out. All of a sudden, the toilet is fucking clogged up. You can’t fucking flush the thing; it just overflows, and turds go everywhere.
“No, this is Gwar’s studio. This is where Gwar makes Gwar music, and it will continue to be so. Of course, we’re inviting other bands to come in here and record if they so desire. But yes, without a doubt, having our own studio definitely made the production of Battle Maximus all the better. That 24/7 access, you just can’t beat it all, and I encourage all bands to do so. The whole business of recording records has completely changed – it’s not like the old days with reel-to-reel magnetic tapes. Everything is done with computers and recorded to hard drives, so it’s made it easier than ever to make good sounding records. The one thing that has stayed the same is the fact that if you can’t play your instrument and you can’t write a fucking song, you’re not gonna be able to make a good album. Just because your band has a Facebook page and you recorded your new album in the basement, that doesn’t mean a fucking thing unless you’ve got the fucking skills to pay the bills. Gwar has that in abundance, even though we have no use for money other than wiping our asses. Except for Jizmak (Da Gusha, drums), who uses it to line the layer where he takes urination breaks.”
Some musicians arguably possess the skills to pay the bills so to speak, though illegal downloading has curtailed their prospects. “That’s just an inevitable and an unfortunate development in the music industry,” the mainman regrets. “Bands used to actually sell records, and now it just seems like everyone just steals it. What the internet takes from us though, it gives back to us in other ways. Never before has there been a tool that bands can use to communicate with their fans, other bands, and people in the industry in such a manner where everything is free. You can be talking to someone on the other side of the world in a mere couple of clicks, so it’s definitely changed the entire ball game. We’re still trying to figure out exactly how it’s changed, and how we can somehow use it to our advantage. Whatever the internet has done as far as reducing sales figures, it’s given back to us with all kinds of other opportunities that we still don’t even fully understand. We’re not getting evicted any time soon, and we really can reach out and touch and talk to our fans so much more easily than ever before. I would have to say that you’ve just got to roll with the punches. If you’re not selling so many records, chances are your band sucks anyway. Whatever the internet has given to us, I’m sure it has taken from us in some other way.”
The internet allows musicians to converse with additional groupies, as well. “Oh yeah,” Oderus seconds. “Of course, yeah. You can just fucking go through the Facebook columns, find the hottest ones, and then ‘Boom’. There, you’ve got the meat grinder victims all ready to go.”
A music video was filmed for the track ‘Madness At The Core Of Time’. “It’s just kind of a live thing, but probably we’ll do another one – probably for the song ‘Bloodbath’,” the singer divulges. “I’m not quite sure when we’re going to start on this fucking thing. I would think that at some point during the next few months we will do a more fully realised, fully produced music video based around the song ‘Bloodbath’, so hang on for that one. The album’s out now, and the next thing will be the video. We shall be proceeding forward with that here in the next few weeks.”
Mutants will likely cross paths with Gwar through future material. “Well, I know that this Mr. Perfect jerk-off is going to be travelling through time trying to chop off my balls, and of course we’ll be murdering the usual procession of half-assed celebrities, politicians, and religious figures,” Oderus reveals. “I do believe that you guys have a new pope – Pope Francis. What kind of name is Francis, anyway? That’s a fucking girl’s name, so I’m pretty much sure that on the next Gwar tour, the pope must die.”
Gwar’s studio catalogue is seemingly destined to grow. “A lot of people are like ‘This is Gwar’s 13th album,’” the wordsmith observes. “Well, they don’t realise that we released several hundred thousand more before then. We are immortal, and we’ve been recording records in outer space for many, many millions of years, so music is just something that we do. We fight, we smoke crack, we fuck hot chicks, and we play fucking heavy metal – that’s just what we do. Luckily, we’re so good at it that we don’t have to get jobs at McDonalds to support our lifestyle. I don’t see any end to the juggernaut that is Gwar. Every year, there are more Gwar fans out there. Every year, our reputation as international cultural icons of bad taste grows, and every year, our fucking Gwar-B-Q – our huge metal festival that we have in Richmond, Virginia once a summer – gets bigger and bigger. There doesn’t seem to be any stopping Gwar any time soon, much to the chagrin of those who wish that we would just fuck off and die.”
Oderus has generally been in quite a complimentary mood during this interview. “Have I been, really?,” he wonders. “Have I been saying nice things (laughs)? Well, all I can say is that the human race fills me with nothing but contempt and hatred. Even though it seems like I’m having a good time, I’m actually torn apart from within by a bevy of conflicting emotions. I mean, I created the human race by fucking apes, so in a sense, you are my children, and I feel a little bit responsible for everything. The only way I can possibly alleviate myself of this suffering is by wiping out the human race once and for all, and starting over with some kind of new creature, some kind of new creation. This creature shall be determined by whatever animal it is that I have sex with.
“That’s why I spend so much of my time trawling the bottom of the ocean looking for living blue whales, because not only is a blue whale’s pussy the only pussy on the planet big enough to handle my cuttlefish, but let’s face it: blue whales are fucking drop dead sexy. A cross between Oderus and a blue whale, now that would be a hell of a fucking creature, and that would easily lead to me breeding an army of Gwar blue whale hybrid mutant crossover, crossdressing, transsexual, battle-starved, fucking freaks, and using them. Maybe, I’ll finally be able to erase the mistake that is the human race.”
The size of a blue whale penis is approximately eight to ten feet, which would come in handy (laughs). “That would definitely come in handy,” the vocalist concurs. “That’s even bigger than my dick. If you take a ten foot dick, imagine how deep that pussy’s gotta be.”
Battle Maximus was released on September 17th, 2013 in North America and subsequently on November 8th in Europe, all via Metal Blade Records.
Interview published in November 2013.
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