For those uninitiated into the world of GWAR, the concept behind the band sounds pretty lame. Here are a bunch of metal heads dressed as monsters from outer space, spewing fake blood and other bodily fluids into their audience and disemboweling effigies of celebrities on stage.
Joan Rivers, in a classic YouTube sensation filmed on her ‘90s talk show, felt the same way. But GWAR has a way of winning naysayers over. After all, they brought Rivers over to the dark side by the end of that segment.
When you consider that GWAR is less of a band than a pop culture phenomenon, it all begins to make sense. You want to be covered in that fake blood and muck. That is, if you can escape. GWAR fans get satisfaction from the torture and wear their fluid-soaked shirts from previous shows as badges of honor.
We were nervous when we talked to bassist Beefcake the Mighty (Jamison Land), knowing his affinity for “killing” fans at GWAR’s shows and throwing their fluids about. After all, aren’t they worried about spreading Ebola?
“We’re actively trying to spread Ebola,” Beefcake says in character. “That’s our goal.”
But if fans keep coming back to their shows, that must mean they miss a fan or two when they’re working to destroy them.
“We’ve been slacking,” Beefcake says in character. “They keep escaping from us. Balsac (guitarist Mike Derks) has been feeling sluggish. He was just over in Australia and he’s been full from eating so many Aussies.”
The band took two hard blows when faced with the deaths of longtime members, Cort Smoot (Flattus Maximus) and Dave Brockie (Oderus Urungus), both from drug overdose. After quickly picking up the pieces after Smoot’s death in 2011, the band almost instantly went on the road, knowing it would be Smoot’s wish for the band. When Brockie died in March of this year, the band decided to do the same, beginning their Eternal Tour on October 15 in their home base of Virginia.
GWAR responded with a bit of humor. The band’s longtime “manager,” Sleazy P. Martini, issued a statement as the tour began, with a bit of humor in spite of all of the darkness—just GWAR’s style.
“First of all, let’s clear something up: Oderus is not dead! Nor is GWAR,” Martini says in the release. “Now, admittedly, things will be different. For instance, with Oderus’s absence, touring expenses will be scaled back considerably as crack usage by the band will drop by over nine tons a day. To which I, the CIA and the Medellin Cartel respond with a collective: ‘Phew!’”
With two band members departing for their home planets, it was time for some replacements—and a little girl power. Co-leading the group is Vulvatron (fashion designer Kim Dylla), GWAR’s second lady in charge in their 30-year history, and Blóthar (Michael Bishop), technically a new character to the group but portrayed by the original man behind Beefcake the Mighty, re-establishing a founding member of the group back into the band.
“They’re great,” Beefcake says of the new GWAR co-leads. “One of them takes their top off, so that really brightens up my night, and Blóthar, he’s just doing a fantastic job. He’s an old, old soul, so it’s been a while since we’ve seen him, but it’s good to have him back.”
Perhaps as a way of coping, GWAR keeps no subject off limits. Beefcake was Uderus’ roommate prior to his death, but that doesn’t mean his departure isn’t ripe for jokes. With the mission to stay active as long as possible, Beefcake sees no end to GWAR’s reign.
“50 years is the blink of a GWAR eyeball. It’s a meaningless amount of time in our universe, you know. We’re immortal, and I’m sure when I blink my eye, it’ll be 50 years [later]and we’ll still be slaying countless humans,” Beefcake says. “Actually, hopefully we’ll off this slumball planet because the only good thing about this planet is crack and Taiwanese ladyboys.”
GWAR, Marquee Theatre, 730 N. Mill Avenue, Tempe, 480.829.0607, luckymanonline.com, Sunday, November 2, 6:30 p.m., $31