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Interview: Oderus Urungus, Gwar

Gwar live

Photo and Interview: Nicole Mago

Gwar, Cross-over Thrash Comedy Rockers from Richmond, VA, have had an illustrious musical career that has spanned multiple decades and has amassed thousands upon thousands of fans of many musical backgrounds. The band is often known for their shocking and horrific inspired costumes and tongue-in-cheek live performances that are not only relevant and topical, but well orchestrated. Photographer and writer, Nicole Mago, sat down with the man behind Oderus Urungus (a.k.a. Dave Brockie), lead vocalist for Gwar at their recent concert. More photos from the Starland Ballroom show here.

Interview with Dave Brockie (Oderus Urungus)

So how did Gwar start out? 

We were in a cosmic abortion. Uhh.. intergalactic cleaning fluid. Uhh.. I can't remember, I was so young at the time! I was a baby at the time of my birth! Do you remember how you were born? I don't think so!... The cosmic fart created us.

How did you come up with the name "Gwar"?

It was the first thing that we said after we had been dethawed after millions of years. I said "gwauuooh". My mananger said "What was that?". I said "GWAAOOH". He said "Come again?". I said "GWAAAHH". He was like "GWAAAHH's too long, can we just do GWAR?" and I was like "Cool." 

How did you come up with the concept of Gwar? Did you design the costumes yourself?

Oh certainly, we had to come up with something or we were going to have to get jobs as sheet rock installers at best, you know? Or ditch digging was another career choice that was on the horizon.. We had to come up with an idiotically, stupid, musically, artistically, awesome idea to save ourselves from a life of slavery. 

Have you ever wore your costumes out in public?

Oh well constantly, you know. We like to wear them.. there's not much point in having them if we just did them at home, I mean, unless we were like some weird fetish cult that [procreated] while we were wearing those. I understand there are people like that, these furry people.. or whatever. They rent hotels and they dress up like animals.. But uhh, yeah we do wear them in public. As a matter of fact, that's what the tour's all about.  

Gwar gone through a ton of band members in the past - how has this effected the band?

Oh well you know, you kind of get a different sound depending on who's in the band, you know.. and how drunk they are in the studio, if you can get them in the studio at all! But uhh, I don't know, it's just always been a big, loud, obnoxious, rock and roll band. Everyone has got their particular kind of vibe that they bring to the table, I just think the latest and greatest line up, which has pretty much been the same for the last ten years, is our best one yet and we're sticking with it god damnit!  

Who are some of your influences? (Both musical and non-musical)

Ooh, just anything great and mighty! I mean I suppose the very first artist I was even aware of.. that's a hard one. Probably somebody like Salvador Dali.. he's probably the first artist. And then maybe Van Gogh, and then Michelangelo. My mom was an artist, illustrator and painter so she got me going in all the great classic guys and then I went to art school and all that crap.. but you know, as I got older I realized that naughty stuff was way funner and I started getting more into the punk rock stuff, and you know, basically anything that was loud and heavy. First bands like Iron Maiden and Motorhead, and, before that even, Led Zepplin, Jimi Hendrix. And then of course, going through the whole punk rock stuff. Luckily I was alive right in the midst of all of that so I got to listen to a lot of those great bands right as they were coming out. Yeah you know, that does really make me feel old as hell now, but I still like the same bands I always did. It's impossible for me to imagine bands like the Sex Pistols, you know, that happened 30 years ago. It's just unbelievable, and even weirder to think that I was in high school then. So there's just so many people that have been an influence on my career and my taste is difficult to nail it down to any one thing, you know? Or even five or even one hundred. I like loud and I like hard. There you go.

Gwar recently released an album in November of 2010, Bloody Pit of Horror. Can you describe the sound you were going for with this album?

Really dark and heavy. We wanted it to sound a lot different than Lust in Space. Lust In Space had just come out and a lot of people were like "that was a great album". That was like, really, the classically, awesome way of Gwar writing music the kind of classic Gwar sound at it's best form, and we knew if we released another record really soon after that we wanted to have something that sounded different, so we fucking ended up going with.. uh, we tuned down to f-sharp and played a lot of that stuff with those big 8-string guitars and it makes it sound really dark and heavy and sinister. I think it sounds really cool.

What's your favorite song to perform live and why?

Usually the last one because then I can get the fuck out of there. But no, uhh just kidding. Actually, it is the last one, "Sick Of You" is always my favorite. It's like the oldest, dumbest Gwar song ever, but it's  the closest thing we ever had to a hit, and that's the one all Gwar fans will react to the strongest. And yes, by the end of the set, after an hour and a half of wearing, you know, all those pounds of bloody latex and fighting dinosaurs... yeah you're pretty happy when it's finally all over. It's the coolest thing in the world to do, but man, yeah, you're glad when the show is done.

Which celebrities or political figures are on radar for your next album to bring on tour and make fun of?

I guess whoever the front runner is. We've been killing Sarah Palin lately. A lot of people got upset about that, but it's like.. we killed Obama the minute he got in to office, you know, and people were shocked by that. They were like "What do you mean... you killed Obama?!" and we're like "We've been killing presidents ever since we got together. We were killing George Bush Sr. at one point..". And you know, we even dug up presidents to kill them again! Come on it's Gwar! It's like, we're not even necessarily condemning these creatures of these creatures or characters.. It's almost like an acknowledgment of coolness to get killed by Gwar. I mean, how many people can say they were personally murdered by Gwar on stage? It's actually quite a compliment. I don't think people should get upset at all, we're giving them to chance to meet new fan bases.. Sarah Palin will get some new voters out of all this, I'm sure. 

How do you like playing in New Jersey?

 It's always been tremendous. We started in Trenton at the city gardens a long ass time ago, and you know, played there forever. This place [Starland Ballroom] opened up a while ago and it's kind of become our New Jersey unofficial home. We always have great shows here, so.. you know, people here like to rock. We've played at a lot of messed up places in New Jersey. So we're definitely a part of the New Jersey rock scene, it goes back a long way. You know, this is one of the first places close to Richmond that really supported us when we were coming up, and the all city gardens Gwar shows were legendary, so you know, we have a very sentimental attachment. We believe in New Jersey.

What do you think of the Jersey Shore?

I guess that leads into this. I think it's hilarious. These people are freaks. It's great T.V. What I don't understand about it is like, people actually get upset about it at any level.. it's TV, you know? That's what TV is, that's what it's supposed to be. I don't think it portrays people badly, these are obviously complete extreme, mutants, you know? These are not representative of ANY cross section of society. A very TINY little sliver, thank god.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Hmm... the power to have unlimited super powers of anything I wanted at any time I wanted it. Hahaha, I could cover all bases with that one! 

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