Since being thawed out of their Antarctic ice prisons nearly three decades ago, the ensemble of alien monsters that make up Gwar have been wreaking havoc upon Earth with their brand of heavy metal. Headed back to Australian shores for Soundwave 2014, Killyourstereo.com chat with frontman Oderus Urungus about the Superbowl, returning to Australian stages and new album ‘Battle Maximus’, their first since the passing of longtime guitarist Flattus Maximus.
Hey there Oderus, how are you today?
How am I? I’m fucking great – I’m Oderus.
There’s a petition circulating for you guys to play the Superbowl half-time show in 2015. Why do you guys want to play that?
Well, first of all, I don’t give a shit about American football. Second of all, everybody in the fucking world could sign that petition and the NFL would still not let Gwar anywhere near the fucking Superbowl. And third of all – if I wanted to play the Superbowl, I would.
In fact, I’d turn up with Gwar, and we wouldn’t just play the fucking half-time show. We would play the whole fucking game! We would take those shitty teams and stomp them into bloody pulp; and we’d still have all the bullshit pop stars there. We would still have Jay-Z and Beyonce and Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber and all those other fucking ass-fucks. But instead of singing and dancing, I would have them begging for their miserable fucking lives as we fed them to our giant meat grinder. Bieber would be the last to go, and we would grind him extra slow, as I skull-fuck the shit out of him. Then we would turn on the crowd, the referees, the coaches, the staff, and anyone else who was watching. This is how Gwar would win the Superbowl. Game over.
Whoa. Turning to your recorded work, last month Gwar put out their 13th album, ‘Battle Maximus’. You’ve said it’s something of a tribute to Flattus. What was recording like, and what themes did you have going into the writing process?
There was a few things we had in mind. First off, we wanted to make it a great tribute to Flattus. Flattus was kind of the writing centrepiece of Gwar. He’d kind of led the charge, starting with 2001’s ‘Violence Has Arrived’, as far as getting Gwar back into being purely a metal band again. We were making all kinds of music for a while there, some very experimental stuff, we felt like had to try all kinds of things to get caught up with what the human race had been doing because we’d been frozen solid for fifty billion years. Flattus was finally the one that said "Okay, enough of this bullshit, let’s start making fucking metal again" and from right around 2001, every Gwar album keeps getting heavier and heavier and heavier. So when he passed through the stars, we were like, "We’ve got to do what we’ve been doing with Flattus, but we’ve got to do it without him" so it was quite a daunting task.
It was quite a daunting task, it was do-or-die. Either we were going to put out the best record we had ever put out or we were going to be done – there was no fucking way I was going to let that happen, and there was no way any of the dudes in this band would let that happen. We worked our asses off on this record and I think we’ve come up with an album that honours Flattus, it introduces Pustulus, it tells the story of Gwar’s struggle through this hard time, and it tells the story of our struggle against the new super powered asshole, Mr. Perfect. So we’re all over the place, and I think we’ve really delivered a seismic shock with this one. Most bands start out with a couple good records then get progressively shittier – I think Gwar is the exact opposite. We started out, we were frozen solid. It was very hard to move our fingers.. we didn’t even know what guitars were! Now it’s at the point where we have our own studio and we do our own shit, and we fucking rule at it. So I would expect the next record to be even better than this one, and I certainly hope that Flattus is proud of us. The fans seem to dig, the critics seem to dig it. It’s kind of weird to read reviews of an album by Gwar that are good – they usually aren’t.
You mentioned your new guitarist Pustulus, how has he been fitting into the fold?
Oh, he’s great. He’s an amazing guitar player. He’s every bit as technically skilled as Flattus was, but where Flattus had a kind of smoother metal style, Pustulus is a little more jagged and ripped up. Physically, he’s a lot more active on stage. Often, when I’m about to get into it with a giant monster, it’ll be Pustulus that runs across the stage and starts kicking the shit out of him. I’ve never had a guitar player before that actively participated in hand-to-hand combat during a Gwar show, and Pustulus does this very fucking well. He’s metal as fuck, he’s full of piss and vinegar, and he’s covered in acne. I love the shit out of that motherfucker.
You guys are headed to Australia next year for Soundwave, the last time Gwar were here was in 2010. How do you feel about Australia?
We love Australia. We had the greatest fucking time there. The people were so cool, it was almost sad when we killed them. This time will be even better, because this tour we’ve got some good friends coming with us. Phil and Down, they’re our bros, we go way back. We just played Phil’s Housecore Horror film festival in Austin a few days ago, it was great. Testament’s gonna be there as well, and we go way the fuck back with Chuck and Alex. I know it’s weird to think that Gwar have human friends but we do. We kind of know what to expect with this festival, it’s a lot bigger, so we’re going to be playing in front of a lot more people. Another really cool thing is I think we’re playing a few club shows as well, and I’m really looking forward to that. It’s just a new experience for us, I love wandering around through Melbourne – described as a human being, of course. It’s just going to be fucking incredible. In fact, Gor Gor, our pet tyrannosaurus rex, he loves Australia so much that he actually stayed down there after the last tour. So we’re looking forward to hooking up with him again.
We’ve got a show that we put together that’s got some cultural references to what you guys are doing down there. I think it’s going to have a lot more impact than the first time around. The first time, it was like getting to know Gwar. Now that we’ve been invited again, we’re gonna take it to the next level, and the next level is much more intense.
For fans that may not have had the chance to experience Gwar live just yet, what sort of thing can they expect?
Well, I mean, it’s Gwar. It’s the craziest thing in rock and roll history. It’s a collision of fucking music, theatre, metal, giant monsters, the crucifixion of public officials – it’s got it all. It’s fucking Gwar. There’s never been anything like it. Even listening to a Gwar album really won’t do it justice, you’ve got to see the show. You’ve got to see the fucking band to understand what we’re all about. Even then – and you’re talking to the guy who’s been in Gwar the whole fucking time – I’m not so sure what it’s all about. One thing I do know is that it’s a fuck of a lot of fun. It’s something you have to do in your life. You have to have sex. You have to have a hit of crack. You have to ride a roller coaster. And you have to see Gwar.
GWAR will be touring Australia throughout February/March 2014 as part of the Soundwave festival lineup. ‘Battle Maximus’ is out now.