Cool things: Gwar

Through the space, through the stone
Where the Master grows his clones
Where legions wage eternal war
We were born in this place
Slaughtering race after race
We were part of the Scumdogs of the Universe!
–Gwar, “Death Pod” (Scumdogs of the Universe)

L-R: lead guitarist Flattus Maximus (RIP), bassist Beefcake the Mighty, drummer Jizmak da Gusha, lead vocalist Oderus Urungus (RIP) and rhythm guitarist Balsac the Jaws of Death

Yeah, c’mon, you didn’t really think I was serious on April Fool’s Day when I said I’d faked being into this band just to be “ironic”, did you?  After I did that touching tribute to the late Dave Brockie, a.k.a. Oderus Urungus?  I’m frequently too lazy to post in this blog, yet could I really have managed to weave such a web of deceit over the past year just to sneer at a band that’s not even famous outside the USA?

Okay, maybe part of their allure is the fact that virtually no-one in Britain has heard of them (and most of those who have, heard of them from me) — but perhaps I got into them the same way I got into the Bee Gees: they were bigged up on a beloved comedy show.  With the Brothers Gibb it was that Kenny Everett sketch; with the Scumdogs, however, it was Beavis and Butt-head.  An “air guitar” section in their book, This Book Sucks!, inspired me to listen to some tracks from their second album (and first decent one), Scumdogs of the Universe, and I ended up listening to the whole thing, and eventually buying it on CD!  (So there, all you anti-piracy people — they actually got a sale because I tried before I, er, buyed!)  Before this, I’d seen them review two of their music videos, “Jack the World” and “Saddam a Go-Go” (which I also watched on YouTube in their original form), but I recognised the band at the time because even before that, in 1996, they’d featured on The Big Breakfast one morning, performing “Meat Sandwich”…

(It’s not on YouTube any more thanks to damn inconsiderate copyright vultures, but the Internet equivalent of a white line around a corpse indicates that the exact date was 22nd February 1996, which was a… let me check… Thursday!)

(Oh, and even more creepy: searching Google for “big breakfast 1996 gwar” leads right back to this blog… I’m on Google!!!)

What do I like about them?  Well, I could go on about the hideous costumes, the offensive lyrics, the disgusting stage antics and the bizarre backstory (they’re evil alien barbarian demigods with a base in Antarctica, yet they have a mailing address in Richmond, VA?), but really, it’s the music that I love — the rip-roaring guitars, bass and drumming that make me go “yyyes!” whenever they come on in my general music rotation, and sit there bobbing my head and tapping my feet while I’m typing some drek or other into my computer at work.  Eminem may help me with my emotions, and inspire me to carry on when things are at their worst, but Gwar just basically rock out, and cheer me up when I’m down.


Flattus and Balsac in the movie “Skulhed Face”; note the older versions of their costumes (and that Flattus was played by a different person back then)

I’ve already spoken at length about how I listen to them in a cycle with my other music, so there’s no need to go over that ground again, but suffice to say, when I was waiting in the cold for my mother to finish her Nuts Challenge mud run, I had them on rotation as a way of staying (in)sane.  I also had them on rotation when I was in America last year (even though I only had four albums at the time), and found they helped me get to sleep when my fellow trekkers were staying up late.  Hey, I found myself drifting off during “The Obliteration of Flab Quarv 7”, a song in which Oderus sings so loudly and incoherently that Balsac the Jaws of Death has to translate, so there you go — I’m not saying they’re boring, I’m saying they’re soothing!

(Yes, there’s a couple of songs whose lyrics have caused me a little ethical dilemma, being of such a nature that Ian Watkins of Lostprophets would doubtless consider “mega lolz” — put it this way: the “B” in “B.D.F.” stands for “baby”, and the “D” and the “F” also stand for four-letter words… I wouldn’t play them in the car for my mother, but hey, they’re just songs sung by fictional aliens, get a sense of perspective!)

Of course, Dave Brockie dying means I’ll never be able to see him in concert as Oderus Urungus, but I’m too much of a wuss to go to concerts anyway (and being sprayed by the Biledriver, or worse, the Cuttlefish of Cthulhu, sounds like more of a spectator sport to me — blood is, ironically, the least disgusting fluid they dispense).  However, after I’ve bought their last few albums there’s still the prospect of tracking down their live albums and concert DVDs (such as You’re All Worthless and Weak)… and who knows, perhaps the band will find a replacement for Oderus, as they did for Flattus?  A band this awesome can’t be allowed to die, merely to mutate…


Oh, you want me to post an actual video?  You are never satisfied, are you?  All right, here’s one of my favourites — it’s from their early days, and features early versions of their costumes (and indeed, two different versions of Flattus Maximus!), as well as some characters who left later, Sexecutioner (the one who looks like an orc in bondage gear) and Slymenstra Hymen (the girl in a metal bikini).  This is a song Dave Brockie used to like on stage because it meant the show was over and he could finally rest, and it’s also a song my mother enjoys…

6 thoughts on “Cool things: Gwar

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