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‘GWAR is not for winners’: An insight into the minds of the ‘world’s sickest band’

22 July 2022 | 3:32 pm | Jessica Lynch

This Is GWAR delves into the history of metal’s most fascinating collective.

Credit: Jeremy Saffer

Credit: Jeremy Saffer

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Ever since their conception in 1985, GWAR has remained an enigma wrapped in an outrageous and meticulously designed costume. But beneath their larger-than-life stage presence that often includes blood and bile being sprayed onto adoring fans lies an utterly unique collection of artists, musicians, and performers that continue to push the envelope and rebel against the societal norm. Not only have GWAR managed to endure various line-up changes over the years, but they’ve also become one of the most beloved bands in metal, providing a consistently visceral experience that blends satire, chaos, sex and violence into an orgy of art and music.

At a time when bands have become bland, GWAR stands out for their performances and the intimate connection with their fans. Once the lights dim and the curtain rises, fans know what they’re in for: a night of theatrics, storytelling and humour that’s propelled the group into becoming cultural icons. Their iconic, signature barbaric interplanetary warriors costumes may be what the wider world knows them for, but it’s their shows that continue to resonate with their devoted following. 

Now, fans will be given a chance to meet the performers behind the latex in This Is GWAR, their new documentary directed by Scott Barber, which tells the story of metal’s most fascinating band in full gory detail for the first time, along with giving us an insight into the meticulous planning that goes into the band’s over-the-top theatrical performances.

Speaking of the creative process that goes into creating an unforgettable show, frontman Mike Bishop - aka Blothar - revealed that there’s far more to their performances than simply throwing on a grotesque monster costume.

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“Generally what we do is we sit around and brainstorm a narrative and come up with a very loose script,” he explained. “We leave a lot of room for improvisation. It's just kind of an outline. It’s very process-oriented; we have choreography and we work out exactly what's gonna happen on stage and get the characters together. The people in the band - the sculptors and painters - they sit there and create all of the props and costumes that we're gonna use and it just becomes a travelling rock Broadway show.”

Asked if inspired by theatrical music icons like Alice Cooper and David Bowie, Bishop said they’re just some of the sources the band draw on for inspiration.

“We were inspired by things like comic books and horror movies because we just wanted to do something that reflected all of the stuff we liked,” he said. “Bowie is definitely an inspiration, as well as KISS, although, with KISS, those attitudes are sometimes what we were making fun,” he continues, adding, “GWAR is not for winners - GWAR is a bunch of comic book nerds.”

This is GWAR explores much of these inspirations, along with providing never-before-seen footage of the group - along with their late founder David Brockie aka Oderus Urungus - while showcasing the band members’ tireless dedication to the all-consuming project that is GWAR.

“It requires a lot of sacrifice,” Bishop explained of being a part of the legendary metal group. “I think the film does a good job of showing that GWAR is a difficult band to be in - there's almost no explanation for why we’ve been able to stay together, except for that we're like family. And it's like all families - it's not all happiness. It's struggle and conflict but there's a baseline, of love and commitment that makes it last and work, and that's really what GWAR is about. I like how the film really captures that.”

Featuring additional interviews with names like Bam Margera, Weird Al Yankovic, Thomas Lennon and Alex Winter, This is GWAR is an unmissable journey into the minds of the unmistakable metal legends.

Even if you’re not a fan, you’ll no doubt be left intrigued, shocked, entertained, and impressed by the groups' unwavering dedication to “the world’s sickest band”.

THIS IS GWAR is screening exclusively on Shudder now.