The year was 2011. I left my crappy job in New York City and took an editor-in-chief position in the sticks of Morris County, NJ. To keep myself entertained, I started interviewing bands for my defunct fanzine Life In A Bungalo. One of the bands I longed to capture on film was GWAR, a group of intergalactic space aliens that I worshiped during my high school days.
I was lucky enough to interview GWAR 15 year earlier, but at the time I didn’t have the equipment to properly photograph them. For those that don’t know, GWAR hurls about a million gallons of colored fluid onto the crowd and the photo pit during their set. There was no way I was going to ruin an expensive camera in 1996, but in 2011, I had camera insurance and a goal of photographing GWAR in all their glory. The interview with Oderus Urungus was a bonus.
I arrived at the Starland Ballroom just before sound check and easily worked my way back stage and found their PR guy who introduced me to Oderus. Well, not really Oderus. I was face-to-face with Dave Brockie, the mad genius behind GWAR and the man beneath the Oderus mask. He proceeded to spend a half hour answering my stupid questions, switching in and out of character, all while eating a hamburger.
What struck me about this interview was how much the music actually meant to him. There’s a point towards the end where he seems legitimately annoyed when I suggested that they stop making albums and just tour. It made me realize just how much more to GWAR there is than the make-up, masks and gore.
Sadly, Brockie died of a heroin overdose in March 2014. The interview sat on my desk, collecting dust, as I phased out of rock and roll photography and started shooting weddings full time. This week, I stumbled on the tape and figured it was about time the interview saw the light of day, as it truly shows just how smart Brockie was. While it might be tough to read his comments about crack today, it does lend a sense of realism to a man that spent so much of his life behind a mask.
I think the last time I interviewed you was after the Stone Pony show in 1996 where you tried to fight this biker gang and won.
Oderus Urungus: That was a crazy show. Nobody in GWAR got seriously injured and we fucked some people up. They were these hip-hop gangster types. Kind of Polish/Mexican/metal/gangster punks — it was so weird. They were so lucky that no one got killed that night. That could have been really fucking ugly.
That stage at the Stone Pony is so wide that I didn’t even know what was happening and I was completely clueless afterwards. I was fucking this Jersey girl in the parking lot and the cops show up and say that they are going to arrest those dudes and I totally had my dick in her butt.
Crack isn’t the cheapest fuel in the galaxy. Have you considered any alternative fuels or more environmentally friendly fuel sources for your space ship?
Oderus Urungus: No, nothing is as good as crack. I mean you’ll always have alcohol. You’ll always have marijuana, speed, ecstasy, acid, blow, shit deodorant, anthrax, AIDS drugs — that shit Magic Johnson is on… but nothing is as good as crack. It just hits you so hard. We were very disappointed when we went to outer space and had to come back to Earth, because there is no crack in outer space. Cardinal Syn fucked it all up.
We are actually talking about creating a crackinization plant. A lot of people want to do salinization plants where they take the Sahara Desert and turn it into a great garden. But we are doing crackinization plants where we turn Antarctica into a giant crack rock. Everyone can come down there and get high all the time.
Who would win in a fight, GWAR or the District 9 aliens?
Oderus Urungus: They are pretty bad ass. I mean, it depends. Obviously, I would win one-on-one, but if they had their guns it would be a pretty close fight. They have some pretty badass weapons, but individually, they really aren’t that strong. Though the little one was pretty gnarly. I think I would do well against the adults, but I might have a tough time with the kids.
Do you fancy yourself hood rich after all these years?
Oderus Urungus: Well, I fancy myself any way in any shape or form — hood rich and beyond. But I do admit that I have given those crack dealers a lot of money over the years. So they have actually gotten more hood rich off of me. I’m culturally rich, spiritually endowed, as it were, and hung like several horses. More like hung like a whale. Then again, you wouldn’t think of a whale as hung since they have a floating penis. Next question.
Did you shed a tear for Saddam Hussein when he was hung?
Oderus Urungus: Oh yeah. He went out with class. He went out with no fear. He was like, “fuck you to the end.” For a head of state, that was pretty bad. There are supposed to be some rules about heads of state, even if they are pieces of shit.
For instance, when Claus von Stauffenberg and his crew tried to kill Hitler and were found guilty. Some of them were shot down immediately because their friends owed them favors and they didn’t want to be tortured to death. But all the other ones that the Germans put on trial and executed, they were all tried in civilian clothes, even though most of them were in the military.
We all thought that it was horrible that the Germans took every bit of dignity away from them and wouldn’t even execute them in their uniforms, yet that’s exactly what we did at the Nuremberg trials. When all those guys were hung, they weren’t tried in their German uniforms and then they were hung really badly. They were dropped like a foot so — it was a really slow death. It was so horrible that they actually had to go and grab their legs and pull them down, because it was such a hideous spectacle and they couldn’t stand to watch it anymore.
So GWAR follows German and Nazi politics from World War 2?
Oderus Urungus: Oh, don’t try to get all like that about it. You’re really clever. I follow all that shit.
Do you ever wish you could re-master “Hell-O“?
Oderus Urungus: A lot of people think that would be a great idea, but I think that would spoil the tinniness of “Hell-O.” So no, there will be no “Hell-O Again.” I’m just not having it. Let it exist in all its glory for what it is, which is fucking perfect.
Oderus Urungus: We learned a lot in that year between “Hell-O” and “Scumdogs” and we’ve learned a hell of a lot since then. Hell, of all the albums I’d like to rerecord I think “Scumdogs” needs it the most. I have to disagree.
I think “Scumdogs” is perfect. I mean, it’s a little muffled…
Oderus Urungus: Why go back and mess with it? It’s like taking away something from the people that supported it back then.
Look, I’m talking about re-mastering, not some George Lucas-like editing or when Ozzy Osbourne re-recorded his albums with new band members.
Oderus Urungus: I don’t want to have anything to do with that. I say leave it as it was. No need for prequels.
Do you think you’ll ever be awarded a post-mortem tribute Grammy like the Ramones?
Oderus Urungus: I certainly hope not, though we have been nominated for best live act by the Golden Gods awards and we are very excited about that.
Didn’t “Phallus in Wonderland” get nominated for something?
Oderus Urungus: That got a Grammy nomination, as did that track we did for the movie “So Fucking What.” We have a few Grammy nominations under our belt. Much like Lamb of God, we’ve lost every time.
What do you think of Lady Gaga?
Oderus Urungus: I balance between her being a derivative untalented hack to her being a soulless media construction. I’m not quite sure which one.
Couldn’t she be a member of GWAR with the meat dress on?
Oderus Urungus: I mean she could definitely be a victim of GWAR and we’ll have that tonight. She is making an appearance at the show and we will kick the living shit out of her. As far as her being the saving grace of pop music, boy that shows you just how shitty pop music has become.
I love watching the footage of you on Red Eye. Have you gotten any shit from liberal fans for being on Fox News?
Oderus Urungus: No, not really. GWAR being on Fox makes about as much sense as GWAR being anywhere. I have made 14 appearances and going strong so I’m not quite sure what to make of it. I’m sure any day now they will wise up to the fact that I’m a baby rapist and cut me off. So, we are just enjoying hanging out with Bill O’Reilly while we can. And it’s all showbiz. I mean c’mon, Fox gave us The Simpsons and Married with Children.
You guys continue to make albums year after year. You could just go into cruise control and do shows and never make an album again.
Oderus Urungus: You might think we can just do shows year after year after year, but you have to counterbalance new tours with studio time — you have to have new ideas for songs. Even if your glory years with GWAR were musically “Scumdogs” and “America Must be Destroyed,” believe it or not there’s a whole new generation of GWAR fans that have never listened to those albums. And that’s kind of sad.
Kids today are really grasping onto our new music. We are like a whole new band now. We really enjoy making music. We really enjoy honing our craft. That’s what we are good at — making fucking metal songs, doing lyrical arrangements, exploring lyrical ideas in a way that present very complicated political, social and religious subject matter in a funny way that reaches new people. If we stop making original music, I guarantee that GWAR would be over in a year or two.
I hope I didn’t offend you. I didn’t mean that in a negative way.
Oderus Urungus: No, no. It’s all good. A lot of people think that our glory days, musically, are arguably behind us, but I don’t believe that for a second. I know that the music we are making now is reaching new people every single day and I know that the band is better than it’s ever been.
After 25 years on Earth, don’t you think it’s time to go home?
Oderus Urungus: Fuck no. Maybe it’s time for you to go home.