TBT: Interview with Dave Brockie of GWAR!

Date: January 20, 2011
You guys just released your latest CD, Bloody Pit of Horror, how has the response been so far?

Ah, so far, it’s only been out one day, but it appears to be a general feeling of fanatical support, overwhelming acceptance; unprecedented bootlegging, ridiculous amounts of shoplifting, all the things you look for for a big release. We did a thing on Jimmy Fallon. We worked harder than we ever had for the release of a record before, and we’ll see if it works out or not, you know, depending on how many of them we sell.

No one’s selling tons of records it seems like nowadays. You can work really hard and not get the success you’d want. Plus, the economy is still fucking tanking, really hard, and it’s even catching up with the mighty GWAR. We’ll see, it’s always a crapshoot. We knew we’d have to work hard to match the success of last year’s record, and hopefully we’ll do at least that, I’m sure. The question is whether he can step up or not, we’ll see.

 

How do you think it’s going to compare to Lust in Space?

I think it’s going to be better because I think the album’s better, I think the album’s darker and more sinister and more– it’s got some old-school GWAR elements in it. It’s just a real different album than Lust in Space. You certainly can’t accuse– can’t say that they sound alike. For a band to cover so much ground musically in such a short amount of time, I think it’s really fuckin’ cool. I see it as the next step. I think we’ve got twelve records and all of them sound different, which is crazy. So, that should tell people just how much thought is going into this band, how many new ideas and how many different people’s new ideas are going into it all the time.

So, I look for it to step up, but we’ll see. GWAR’s way has always been a slow and relentless assault, rather than anything particularly meteoric, you know? The biggest thing that’s happened to us in years is getting to go to Australia this December, which is pretty cool ’cause it’s summer time down there. So, we get to go there, we get to have summer for a little while. So, we’ll see; so far, so good. The GWAR fans seem to like it and when we play the stuff live, we get a really good reaction on it, so people seem to dig it.

 

How would you describe everything that was going on in your mind as you were writing Bloody Pit of Horror?

We tried to keep it simple, I tried to keep it just real, more kind of horror, dark, death, fantasies, and we were on tour in Europe at the time, and I was writing a lot of it, and I was having a lot of laptop issues, and so it was like the first album I had hand-written in years; my laptop which became a “craptop” and died on me, and so I went back to the old way of just having a journal and just filling it up with scribblings, and then went back and took out the best, sickest parts.

I didn’t really have a big story to tell, we didn’t really have a whole– like, with Lust in Space and Beyond Hell, both were very much so based around shows we did and “various adventures” that GWAR had. GWAR on this one had more like gone back to Antarctica and was hanging out and Oderus was just like fantasizing about whatever sick shit that Oderus thinks about. You try to put yourself in the mind-set of what it would be like if Oderus was writing lyrics, you know?

Like, I try to do that when I write a GWAR album. Here I was– one morning we woke up and everyone wanted to go visit Dachau [Concentration Camp; Dachau, Germany]. As usual, I was up early, our bus was parked at the Dachau parking lot, and I was drinking some beer, it was a day off, and you know, you can’t help but visit Dachau and not have that affect your lyrics, right? So, not that it took much to ever get my lyrics to be like, obsessed with Nazis and the Holocaust and World War II, and just horrific human history in general, but when you’re right amongst it, where it actually happened, it had an impact on the way I wrote some lyrics.

So, you know, you just try to– you don’t write lyrics like you’d write them for a DBX [The Dave Brockie Experience] album, that’s for sure; it’s a completely different thing. It’s almost like you’re writing for a musical and the character of Oderus, you have to try to get inside his head and figure out what he’s– what would be interesting to him, which is pretty fucked up shit.



You said you wrote the album with horror influences, aside from the real-life horror, were there any horror movies or books that inspired any lyrics?

Well, nothing specific, but the big influence was, we’re always– I kind of got into horror through Night of the Living Dead, but you know, I’d always watch horror films when I was a little kid and the classics, you know, like Frankenstein, Dracula, Creature of the Black Lagoon was really awesome. There were so many cool, awesome horror movies like Gore Go, Reptilicus, and so many fucked up movies I watched when I was growing up. A lot of those movies are so lost nowadays, especially in this age of like, SyFy Network’s computer graphic monsters– some of them are pretty amusing though, like Sharktopus, that one was– you got to hand it to them for Sharktopus!

After that, it just went to everything, when it got to Dawn of the Dead and then a lot of the movies, modern movies, I didn’t really get into so much. The whole concept of like the crazed killer slaughtering legions of nude, wild girls– some of those movies are kind of cool, but most of them I think are pretty stupid. I like the old-school stuff better. But then when the Dawn of the Dead remake came along, I thought that was really awesome, and then stuff like Evil Dead II, especially, you know a lot of the — even though I thought Army of Darkness was really lame– I know people would have my balls for saying that, but like I just have real specific taste in horror, it’s got to be really horrible.

The Thing is probably my favorite all time horror movie, John Carpenter’s remake, not the original, and that’s rare because I usually think remakes suck. I really liked 30 Days of Night recently, my old buddy Steven Niles, who I went to high school with way back in the day actually wrote the screen play to that and I thought that movie was completely sick and awesome. So yeah, we wanted the GWAR album [Bloody Pit of Horror] to have a flavor like that and hopefully the lyrics reflect that and we did the zombie video kind of thing, but we can’t help but have a certain amount of humor that’s always injected into any kind of GWAR thing. Even no matter how– even if you try to keep it all serious, sooner or later, it’s going to end up being kind of retarded.

 

GWAR have been all over the media lately with, as you said earlier, Jimmy Fallon and also Red Eye on Fox News, among many other things. It seems like you’re doing more media appearances than you’ve ever done. How does it make you feel?

Overworked! (laughs) Overworked, but certainly appreciated because there’s just a lot of opportunities coming up for GWAR and Oderus has quite a mouth on him, and I’m happy that we are able to kind of cut our way into a few areas that we haven’t been before, and especially delighted about this Red Eye thing; that shit’s hilarious. And the Jimmy Fallon thing, we’ll see if that’s just a one-off or something that maybe turns into something else.

I keep thinking GWAR’s got to end up with their own TV show or at least like a recurring spot on some kind of television show. It’s just– GWAR’s just too good looking to keep off TV! A lot of people are kind of afraid of GWAR, you know, we’re a victim of our own success, in a way. The very thing that’s made us kind of the “darlings” of so many people out there. It’s hard to imagine GWAR being considered “darlings” of anything.

The very things that have endeared us to people are giant schlongs, and blood cum, and pus squirting everywhere, are the very things that keep us out of a lot of venues and have gotten us in a lot of trouble in the past, and to this day ruined what would have been otherwise perfectly nice venues. You can still look at them and see the damage we do to them, it’s like “ughhh!” Half the dirt in these places came from us. You look up at the ceiling and see these stained ceilings and shit everywhere, like “Oh, we were here! We played here once the last ten years in a row and boy, you can tell!” It’s like, sooner or later these clubs are going to collapse, “Yep, 20 GWAR shows will do it!” (laughs)

 

Do you think GWAR is one step closer to world-domination?

We’re always another stumbling lurch close– not really a step, more of a groping fall forward that’s caught at the last second by a forward thrust of a foot. I wouldn’t call it a step so much. And the question is, “how many of those steps or lurches are left until global domination is achieved?” You know, 28 or 34 million? We’re not really sure, but all we know is that every year, the carrot at the end of the stick seems to be a little bit closer, or we’re that much more desperate. We can’t tell. (laughs) I’m not going to bullshit you! (laughs) But, it’s a struggle worth fighting, you know? It’s our lives, it’s our bane, it’s our reason to exist, it’s like all things bad and good, mostly good though. And the alternative is having a life that didn’t involve being able to do stuff like this, which would be unthinkable at this point. After doing it for so long, for any of these guys that have to go and deal with the real world again, forget it! (laughs) Hey, it could happen! They probably could mimic it for a little while; sooner or later, banks are going to get robbed, people are going to die. (laughs)

That answers the big question about GWAR – will it ever get the success it really deserves. There’s never been a band that’s been around so long and has worked so hard and has been loved by so many people, that was still definitely like the underdogs of the industry, like we are, so we’ll see.

 

You guys did a Halloween pay-per-view concert–

Yeah, that was really cool, an indication of things to come. We didn’t find out until after that they’d been doing free web casts of the same thing. I was just like, “Oh. Great.” ‘Cause I notice the next week, cKy is playing, right? They’re doing the same webcast that we did, except their’s is free. I’m like, “What’s up with that?” So, then I find out, “Oh no, like 5 or 6 bands before you guys did it as well, also free from the same place.” I’m like, “Oh. Great.” So basically, they’re like, “Oh, we can get away with charging because it’s GWAR and we can put some money in our pockets for what we haven’t been charging for the rest of the time.” I was like, “Yay! Wow. That’s great.”

Sometimes you find out shit like that after the fact they make the deals seem a little– cause we were kind of wondering why a ton of people didn’t sign up for it, we’re like, “Ok. Now we understand. People have been getting this thing for free for the last few months and now they want us to make them start paying for it.” It was like, “Great.” I thought it was a misrepresentation on how we would’ve done it. But you can’t control all the way the business shakes out, there’s just so many deals going on at so many levels. You try to have a quality and standards department, but it’s tough. Especially when you’re GWAR, it’s hard to think of us having quality or standards! Like, “Yeah, somebody called from GWAR.” “Yeah, ok, put that on hold!” We don’t need to hear that.

 

You guys are known for your live shows, when you’re recording can you translate the raw presence you have from the stage into the studio?

I don’t know that we really do. I don’t think it’s possible to play anything like the way we play live in a studio.

 

What about the energy?

The energy– I don’t even know how you’d do that either because you don’t record in any format that’s anything like the way that you perform with these guys. You don’t set up the band to record it, you don’t record it live, everyone record their tracks separately and then you hear them coming through headphones. Really hard to– most of the times actually, almost all the time, the stuff you’re playing hasn’t ever been played live.

So, you have no idea what kind of energy the song is going to inspire in people, sometimes it’s a lot different than the way you think it’s going to be, and the songs you really don’t think are going to be standouts, turn out to be the standouts, or the ones that people react to the most. So, it’s really weird, you just have to give an energetic performance as you can, and you have a lot of other things working for you; you need to be in a very comfortable environment, you don’t have to wear all of this shit, and if you have a good enough imagination, you can close your eyes and be in that mindset, and everything sounds really good.

You just got to work with the strengths of that and make a really cool sound. It’s really not that difficult, it’s really not. I mean, if you’re halfway decent at playing music, it would be very easy for you to go in the studio and record you doing it. You get the same thrill out of playing good music. I mean, sure you get more of a thrill when you’re playing live because you get that whole energy from the crowd, but you still get a buzz on just playing good music when you’re rehearsing or working on an album.

Messing with music at any level, I guess what I’m saying, is a joy. So you just try to take that joy and put it into your performance and give you the energy and kind of make up for how furious it is live. And that’s why live performances, when you hear live recordings of studio songs, songs you’ve gotten familiar with, but by listening to the studio recordings of them, and then you hear a live recording of them, and you’re like, “Oh my God!! It’s so much more ballsy, so much more crazy sounding!!” And they end up actually being like you’re favorite version of the songs sometimes. Like, I know when I was a kid, I loved live albums a lot because I just felt the bands played a lot more raw-fashioned; I really dug that a lot. So, I just kind of go for it.

 

You were involved in professional wrestling in 2009…

Hah!! I wouldn’t say I was involved in pro wrestling!

 

Well, I know you had that match…

I wouldn’t even say it was a match!! (laughs) I went up there, they gave me some money, I fuckin’ went out there in the ring, he [Tracy Smothers] came out, grappled with me, then fell over, and said I won. I think he was completely freaked out by me. I mean, I was supposed to wrestle this real wrestler, he looked like fuckin’ Mickey Roarke. He tried to teach me a few things… I just stood there, I got this huge costume on, I’m like, “Dude, I can’t do anything! I can’t wrestle you!” He’s like, “Alright…”

He came out there and was like, “Mismatch! ARGGG!” He quit and I was like, “Ok, great!” He’s like, “Ok.” He taught me one move to do, I did it, he’s like “OHHHHH!!!!!!! You cheated!!!” and quit. I thought it was brilliant, it was the perfect way for him to get out of having to actually wrestle me. He was like, “You cheated!” and stormed off. It was great. I saw him after the show and was like, “What’s up, dude?” He was crazy looking, he really looked like Mickey Roarke, he really did. He was a very scary person. Scary physically, very nice man.

I really don’t want to do that anymore, it’s pretty horrible. I had to drive like 5 hours up into the hills of West Virginia. I really don’t want to do that again. (laughs)

 

I heard from a wrestler before that GWAR wanted to create a set for a wrestling show, what’s going on with that?

Yeah, we’ve talked about doing stuff with them before, but nothing’s ever panned out. Personally, I’m not a big fan of wrestling, it’s like stock car racing to me. (laughs) It’s like something rednecks get into. (laughs) I like Mexican wrestling a lot better, I like that lucha kind of stuff, it’s really cool. And I like some of the American wrestling stuff.

You can’t help but to appreciate the athleticism of these guys, they’re pretty fucking amazing with the shit they do. I do appreciate that end of it, but you know a lot of the– I guess maybe it’s the fans that I don’t like. (laughs) Some of them just seem so moronic! I just can’t– I’m not about to begrudge anyone else’s fun. I even have a respect for fuckin’ stock car racing; it’s not stock car racing anymore, NASCAR, whatever. I mean, it is insane and cool and people blow up and die, but once again, it’s the fan base that sometimes I have a problem with. They can be a little bit much sometimes. That’s all I’m saying. To each their own, I’m certainly not a proponent of that.

 

How would you describe the legacy that GWAR has left in metal with each new record that you release?

Umm… I think– Umm… (pauses) We’re definitely embraced as a metal band, I think maybe before Violence has Arrived came out, I’m not sure people really thought that anymore. They weren’t sure what kind of band GWAR was, but the last five records have all been solid metal records. So, we’ve been firmly re-embraced by the metal community and been on nothing but tours with metal bands.

I think with every album, we underscore that a little bit more and build on our legacy a little more. And, unlike a lot of other bands, I think our albums are actually getting better. Not only with age; the older albums, I go back and listen to them, I think they age well, and our new shit is up to par better than anything we’ve ever done. So, I think the band’s still progressing. Metal’s still inventing itself. Bands will go on, and go on, and go on for years, and years, and years, and years. For God’s sakes, look at King’s X; somebody told me that dude was in his 60’s. WOW!

 

Yeah, and there’s always Black Sabbath/Ozzy…

Yeah, there will always be incarnations and Ozzy’s going to go til he’s fucking– I was about to say til he’s a fucking twaddling old man, but then you realize he’s been that for about the last twenty years. I heard his new album was so (pauses) “studio’d” that you couldn’t even really tell if it was him singing or not and I just think it really sucked because I’ll never let GWAR get so lame. And, that’s one of the good things about kind of staying at the level of obscurity that we’re at; it does tend to keep you honest. It’s like, you can’t fall prey to the traps of rock ‘n roll success if you don’t ever get it. (laughs)

 

Over the last 26 years, how would you say that GWAR has grown with metal?

Wow. I mean, we’ve stayed alive, you know? It’s like, metal’s one of the most enduring forms of rock ‘n roll and we’ve been with it now for 25 years; the majority of it’s existence really. We’ll go down in history as metal pioneers because I know that metal will be around forever. And, just like symphony music is being played, was being played in the 1400’s, until electricity became music. Now that it has, we will have it forever.

People will always look back at the beginning bands in metal history; bands like, [Black] Sabbath, and Slayer, GWAR, Metallica, and etcetera, etcetera, the heavyweights. And, they say those are the guys that invented metal; and we’ll probably go down in history as the guys who, you know– along with KISS and Alice Cooper, we’ll see who history remembers more, obviously those guys are way more famous than GWAR is. For some reason I think we’re still– I think we’ll be remembered just for the audacity of what we did. And, we’ll be one of those bands that was there at the birth of metal. That will be something to be really proud of for a long time, definitely.

 

What is something you would like to see change in not just metal, but music in general, whether it be the internet, the media, CDs, etc?

Umm… I’d just like to see musicians make lots more money for no particular reason, they just get money. I think– honestly, my whole view point of the thing, the way we deal with arts and music in this country [United States] should be a lot more like the way they deal with it in Europe. Unfortunately, this country has just this aversion to socialism because they think because of the propaganda machine, they seem to think they put socialism with communism, and they equate taxes with death, taxes with tyranny; so we’ll never be able to have the benefits of a socialistic society. A socialistic society where artists and musicians are supported and education is a lot bigger part of society. Sure, taxes are more, and you get things like better schools, better educated people, better social programs, less people in prison, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… But, for some reason our country won’t ever become that.

That’s what I’d like to see, a whole fucking backing off of this– unfortunately, our government is proven to be so corrupt and unreliable, that it’s hard to get behind a socialism movement in this country because politicians suck so bad, you know? So, that’s what I’d like to see, and more of a support system. You know, it’s ridiculous that we’ve been working as long as we have and we don’t have any kind of retirement fund, or health insurance, or even a health plan. Anything like that for our guys who just pay it right out of pocket anytime anyone is sick or hurt, and our good health has managed to keep us in the fight. But if anything really bad ever happened to this band, we’d be pretty fucked, pretty quick. There’s no safety net and there should be. There definitely should be.

 

I have one more question… And actually Hank III wanted me to ask you this–

AWWWWW!! Hanker!!! Our buddy! He’s like my best friend that I’ve never met. He is like– I’m always getting messages from him and stuff, and he’s just such a big GWAR fan and GWAR supporter and anyway, so what’s up?!

 

He wanted me to tell you that… He’s in battle mode and awaiting orders… Should he attack now or wait til night?

Now. Attack now! Attack now! I want to do a Hank III/GWAR tour so bad. Yes, we must join forces and do something this next year! So, get him to call us or send us an e-mail or something like that. Yeah, attack now though! Don’t wait for orders, just attack!! Attack, attack, attack!!! Yeah, we’d love to fucking– I’d love to work with that dude. He’s such a maniac and I think he’s just got the right spirit, you know? So, yeah, that would be great. Attack immediately!

Would you like to say anything else?

Ummmm… Nothing much, except… Yeah, you hit on it, I’m very impressed. We were so busy doing our two year long 25th anniversary, we didn’t notice it had become our 26th anniversary!!! (laughs) Oh my God!!! So, fuckin’ after it’s over, after the 25th anniversary is officially over, I’m not mentioning anniversaries AGAIN, until 30, at least!

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