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Prophets of Blood: How Does Gwar Carry on in Such a Crazy World?



Your time has come, Earthling scum.

Look around. Your world is crumbling. Politics is a sham. Technology is enslaving your mind. Archaic fundamentalist religions and hate groups are rising. Severe weather related to climate change is destroying your habitat.

Time to listen to your makers, the intergalactic mutants of Gwar, who gave birth to your human species by mating with apes, only to watch you fashion a history of stupid and selfish decisions while rising against them.

With its blistering new album, “The Blood of Gods,” the first since the untimely passing of founder Oderus Urungus (Dave Brockie), Gwar reminds us: Humans are a “parasitical disease that must be eradicated before it sucks the planet dry,” according to a news release. And the band has just the ugly mutants to do it.

Style spoke with lead singer Blöthar (Michael Bishop) from one of Richmond’s longest running and most famous cultural exports — the art collective known as Gwar — about what’s next on the slaughter agenda.

Style Weekly: Well, the masses are being gunned down at concerts. What does Gwar do to feel special now?

Blöthar: That’s a theme on this record. How can Gwar keep up with a world that clearly has just tilted off the edge? Humans are more destructive and less interested in survival then ever before. All the things Gwar has done have become commonplace. Used to be a big deal if you cut off someone’s head. Now you can find it anywhere.

Historians can just watch “Idiocracy” and listen to Gwar albums for the true prophets of our age, I guess.

It’s true [laughs]. Yeah rock concerts being someplace where you might die. Trump is the perfect Gwar candidate. Listen to our new song, “El Presidente,” it’s anti-Trump but at the same time it really takes to task Americans and their willingness to elect someone like this guy. Everyone is making decisions based out of fear, or hatred in some cases, and pure frustration. Trump is the Gwar candidate. What would happen if Gwar became president? We would behave in a similar way: We’d be out golfing, snorting coke, grabbing [women] right and left. And bored.

I was at Donnie “Dirtwoman” Corker’s memorial and saw a bouquet of flowers from Gwar. What did he mean to the band?

Wouldn’t Richmond be a better place with a monument to Donnie Corker? Put him where Lee is right now. Donnie was central to Gwar. If nothing else, just the spirit of chaos he represented in Richmond. This idea of just being who and what the fuck you wanted to be. He was a sweet person and hilarious. He had such a good sense of humor, he went with everything we asked, including getting in jello and pork and beans. Donnie was an inspiration to the weirdness and absurdity that is one of the driving aspects of Gwar I’ve always loved.

Who takes the place of Dirtwoman? There are no street celebs anymore because people are on their phones. Now we have an “inexhaustible garbage fire” of Twitter personalities.

I agree. They’re not out there anymore. In Richmond, especially in punk-rock circles, Dirtwoman was one of a constellation of weirdos that informed our sensibility. Richmond is filled with adult homes for the mentally disabled. Those folks were always out on the streets talking to us in the ’80s.

How’s tour bus life now for the band?

The bus life is the same except the lines are longer for the bathroom. Bunch of old dudes with worn-out prostates waking up at 5 a.m. and shuffling towards the bathroom at the same time. It’s not quite the coke-fueled frenzy that it used to be. But it’s a pleasure to be around the intergalactic space aliens you grew up with.

It feels like Gwar is on an upswing. The Warped Tour was really good for the band. We got to expose ourselves to a whole new audience, mostly children. That was good. You got to play in front of people who hadn’t seen the band ever before. It felt like the early days of Gwar, rolling around the country in front of people who were dumbfounded.

You’ve got a fantastic cover of the AC/DC song “If You Want Blood (You Got It)” on this album. How did that come about?

Oderus wanted to do “Blood” when we were on the Onion AV Club as the perfect Gwar cover. I always loved Bon Scott as a singer. It was the hardest song to sing that I’ve ever done, by far. Because of his range, he sounds like he’s screaming but he’s not. It’s a weird in-between place. It sounds wrong if you scream or jump into a falsetto. He was right in the middle of his range with a raspy voice. So to get there is difficult, mostly in the choruses. But it was fun to do, people like it.

We’re superhappy with the record because it sounds like a Gwar record without this major part of Gwar. That’s the real achievement to me. The central question the album asks and answers: Is it wrong to try to go on [without Oderus]? Yes, we keep going, but the memory of Oderus and Dave Brockie is always an animating force.

Where is everything with Brockie’s physical legacies?

The big thing I’d like for people to know: There is a monument that is coming. A lot has been purchased in Hollywood Cemetery. We have designs that are almost finished and those will need approval from the Hollywood board. What’s behind the delay is we were litigating so long [with Brockie’s father]. So the litigation is over.

Is GwarBQ coming back next summer?

We’re still thinking about it. It probably will but it will be altered, maybe a little greedier than it has been. Our fantasy lineup includes the Butthole Surfers, who are playing again. They’d actually do it probably. S

Gwar holds “The Blood of Gods” album release show with Ghoul, Doyle and U.S. Bastards at the National on Friday, Oct. 20, at 8 p.m. $20-$23. There will be a listening party for the new album at 5:30 p.m. at the National.


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