"If at first you don't succeed, take sleeping pills."
Beefcake the Mighty's philosophy (of Gwar)
AN INTERVIEW WITH GWAR
by Richard Karsmakers
I still remember the day. I think it was around the time when
Stefan and me had to finish ST NEWS Volume 5 Issue 1. He put on
"Horrors of Yig", a song on the then current Gwar album "Scumdogs
of the Universe". I liked it. I saw the cover with Gwar on it,
and I liked it even more.
I have never really been into Gwar the way I was into some other
bands, but I have consistently bought their albums and went to
some length to get their debut "Hell-O" (an OK album but not as
good as the rest). I even bought their videos, which were all
very entertaining to say the least.
But I had never seen them live, something that was to change on
Wâldrock, July 9th 1994. And while I was there with a backstage
pass arranged by Avalanche magazine (an ambitious pseudo-
underground magazine) I thought, "What the heck, let's try to
interview these guys."
So that's what I did.
Of course I first had to do a bit of finding out and talking. I
had spotted their separate dressing room tent on the far side of
the backstage area, but I had been told the actual members of
Gwar weren't there yet. As it would later turn out, they had been
around all the time - a confusion easily made, as one tends not
to recognize people who are performing with masks and other
'bits' of outfit.
I had a talk with their road manager, Matt Miles, asking of
perhaps one of the guys - or several - would be willing to talk
with me. For a moment he disappeared into the tent, after which
he came outside again to lead me in.
On the outside the tent had been a bit like "M*A*S*H". On the
inside it could have been, too, hadn't it been for the guitar
cases that were lying around, a large white fridge filled with
Heineken cans and a fairly large chest fille with various
Gwarapharnalia, most prominent of which was Slymenstra Hymen's
On the far side two people were sitting, playing a board game
unknown to me and involving six-cornered tiles on the board and a
lot of small cardboard bits. To my left sat a stringy guy wearing
an RKL T-shirt and army boots with red-stained socks in them,
red-stained hands and short hair combed back. He turned out to be
Gwar's 'manager', Sleazy P. Martini, generally represented on
stage as a dude with tight purple or black polyester clothes,
platform shoes, a Presleyesquely exaggerated hairdo and a
ridiculously big dollar sign collarred to his neck. Two other
guys walked in, interested in seeing what was going on, who
turned out to be Sexecutioner (co-vocalist) and Jizmak da Gusha
(drummer). They sat down on the opposite side of a Jackson guitar
case on which I put down the walkman as I started the interview.
I still felt uncomfortable. Previously I had been nervous,
thinking perhaps these guys would be truly insane and would do
unspeakable things to poor me. That nervousness had disappeared
instantly when the relaxed atmosphere in the tent and the
appearance of the guys told me they were probably a lot more sane
than, to name but an example, Entombed. Now, however, I suddenly
became a bit anxious whether I'd come across as a good
interviewer. If you act like Gwar acts on stage without actually
being like that in true life, you've got to be pretty intelligent
and totally sane. That can make you feel just as ill at ease.
I noticed Sexecutioner was wearing a bandage around his elbow.
Sexecutioner: I get to be an old man, breaking things all the
I couldn't help but notice that he, too, had hands stained red.
Obviously the blood goo they use is pretty difficult to wash
off. I asked him how days of the year he walked around with those
Sexecutioner: Usually the whole tour plus the month before and
the month after, about six months out of the year.
I would like to know a bit about the true background of Gwar.
I've read quite a few interviews with Gwar and all of them were
filled with humanity being scum-ridden, the earth sucking, and
them being millions of years old and all that kind of thing. I
would like to know the true story behind the people in Gwar.
Sexecutioner: We wanna destroy the myth right now that Gwar is
art students. A few of us went to art school. We're students of
the arts still, but we don't like to use the A-word.
Jizmak: Hey, we're big rubber monster from out of space. That's
all there is to it.
I'd like to have answers beyond the standard image-related
Jizmak: That's not funny though, nobody wants to hear that
boring old drivel.
Sleazy: Anyway, 400 billion years ago...the universe as you know
it is totally different anyhow...400 billion light years ago...
Sexecutioner: (To Sleazy) Hey, that's not what he wants to hear.
Sleazy: Next question.
Sexecutioner: You guys just do the interview and I'll burp and
What are your real names, for example?
Sleaz: Mine's Don Drakulich, (pointing to Sexecutioner) Chuck
Varga and (to Jizmak) Brad Roberts.
And when were you born, in reality?
Sleazy: We're all 20 to 30 something, that's close enough.
Jizmak: I was born in nineteen boo-boo-boo-boom!
What did you do before Gwar was...er...excreted?
Sleazy: We were actually just various people still making art,
you know, but hanging out doing other odd jobs in Richmond,
Sexecutioner: Trying to find a career.
Sleazy: Basically, yeah, in that moment after college where
you're trying to define what your next step is gonna be.
How did the concept Gwar come about?
Sexecutioner: Essentially, Hunter Jackson and Chuck Varga were
working in this large building called the Derry (Dairy?, ED.),
and they were working on what was gonna be a movie. And they were
making a set right there within their studio, they were making,
like, whacky costumes, and it so happened Dave Brockie (Oderus
Urungus, lead singer, ED.) was playing in a band called Death
Piggy and they happened to rent a practice space there. They
kinda cross-pollenated, you know, they were, like, going back and
forth between studios checking out what each other was doing.
Hunter used to go and see Death Piggy, Dave would check out with
Hunter what he was doing in his building, and basically they
said, "Hey, where are these constumes for the movie?" And he was
shown, and eventually it took off from there.
Is Gwar a full-time job now?
Also when you're not touring?
Jizmak: When we're not touring we're making videos and
costumes...comic books. Chuck and Don and Dave write and draw the
comic books, and Hunter and a few others. We do all the Gwar art
- all the T-shirts and all the comics.
Who actually designs the constumes?
Jizmak: Everybody. A lot of the artists design their own
What are they made of?
Don, how much does your wig weigh?
Sleazy: I'd say about 3 to 4 pounds. (To Chuck) Pick it up, it's
right behind you.
Chuck, after making a great show of lifting the wig, hands it to
me. I am allowed to put it on. Upon me creeps part of the
character of Sleazy. I take it off again before I suddenly start
talking with an American accent and having a weird pencheant for
Sleazy: It's not as light as a feather. It's made out of latex
with polyfoam casting.
The dollar sign, too?
Sleazy: No, that's fibreglass-something I think.
What kind of stuff is the blood stuff? Why doesn't it wash out
Sleazy: Maybe you're getting way too technical there.
Jizmak: We can't, you know, give our secrets away, you know.
Sleazy: We bleach, pal, you need something with a bleaching
effect to get it out.
Are there multiple costumes for one band member?
Sleazy: Yes, some members wear more than others.
Sexecutioner: The costumes are always tuned up, made better,
look better, look more horrendous, take the next step.
Sleazy: If you're talking about the musicians who are on stage
the whole show, they actually have one costume, with a few extra
How many Cuddlefish are there?
Sleazy: Three or four have been made. They got lost or
Sexecutioner: A lot of them get chewed to a stubble actually.
Like, the other night the eyeballs got bitten off by some girl in
the front row.
Oderus is your front man. How much does his entire costume
Sleazy: (To one of the guys playing the board game, one with a
skinjob hairdo and huge tattoos on arms and back) Dave, how much
does your costume weigh?
Oderus: Eighty tons.
Sleazy: He says 80 tons, but I guess it would be closer to 30,
Do you do fitness exercises just to be able to move around on
the stage wearing all that gear?
Sleazy: We're the hardest working band in showbusiness, no doubt
Have their been changes in the line-up? Obviously, behind the
masks you could have changed a zillion times and, to be honest,
Oderus' voice sounds quite a bit different on "Hell-O" (the debut
album, ED.) than it did on later albums.
Sleazy: It's still him. Only Dave Brockie, the lead singer, is
an original band member. Most of the rest of the members were
left over from "Scumdogs", the second album.
When did you come in?
Sleazy: I came in before "Hell-O". I joined full-time in 1986.
The first gestations of Gwar started in '85.
Would you take your parents or grandparents to a Gwar concert?
Sleazy: My parents been to a Gwar concert. They worried about
the subject matter but they appreciated the amount of effort.
Will you ever take off the masks, like Kiss?
Sleazy: Well, that would be doubtful, because there are more
artists in the band than musicians, so I can't really picture
Gwar like that.
Would you think the media and the members would lose interest?
Sleazy: I wouldn't presume that. But Gwar is largely made up of
artists and when there's no *art* to be made there wouldn't be
any point in having them around.
What was the budget for "Phallus in Wonderland"?
Sleazy: Roughly a hundred grand. It's very low. Most bands will
make one small music video for 100 grand. Maybe it will look good
but it'll be only 3 minutes long, whereas we bassically tried to
do something that's like a movie, with sortof a narrative
throughout the entire video as well. Something that the Grammy
organisation noticed and that's why it was nominated for a Grammy
as longform video. You didn't know that?
No. That's amazing, considered the fact that the Americans are
so stuck up.
Sleazy: Well, they weren't too stuck up to apprecioate the
Will there be another Gwar product soon?
Sleazy: Sure, I mean we got a new album out, "Toilet Earth", and
there's a longform video coming that going out in mid September,
it's called "Skulhedface". Then there's a "Jack the World" single
video and there's going to be a "Saddam A Go-Go" single video. As
to these on CD single, I'm not sure.
At this moment the interview becomes really difficult because
NOFX starts playing in the back. The walkman is located somewhere
in the middle of the tent so that all sounds can be picked up,
but now I have to relocate it closer to us. Thankfully, Don knows
he has to speak up more now. On to a totally different question.
Is Clinton any better than Bush?
Sleazy: I don't know how the Europeans feel about Clinton. I've
heard that they feel that he's shown a lot of, say, incompetence
in terms of foreign affairs, but the man definitely has made
*some* inroads into, say, more social programs. He is more
interested in the social welfare of the American, you know, the
lower class. And maybe you don't realise this, but after 3, 4
terms of republicanism straight, the lower class has suffered.
Have you ever run into problems, for example when a customs
officer checks out your luggage and suddenly finds Oderus'
enormous prop penis, the Cuddlefish of Cthulu, looking at him?
Sleazy: No. They really haven't fucked with our props at all.
Are you still banned in some countries?
Sleazy: We had some problems in England for a while. We
couldn't get the best venues, but we still went in there and
played. We had harassment, I'd say, but as far as banning...
nothing. We were banned in North Carolina for a year. The
Cuddlefish of Cthulu was confiscated and our lead singer was
arrested. That inspired the plot for "Phallus in Wonderland".
What music is the band inspired by?
Sleazy: I can't really say it for the rest of the band, because
I'm not a musician, but...em...I think it's a healthy cross-breed
of old school punk and, you know, speed metal. A wide variety of
What's your favourite book?
Sleazy: I never really thought about that. My favourite book is
"Alien Viewpoint". I don't remember who it is by. It's a
collection of essays from five UFO-ologists and basically they
have some pretty hard-core conspiratorial viewpoints on what
alien visitation is all about - its intents and purposes, and
design. I wouldn't expect anybody to be interested in it unless
they'd be interested in the subject already. I myself have some
strong feelings about alien visitation.
What's the film that made most of an impression on you?
Don: Recently? (I nod) Well, I like this one "Army of Darkness"
because...em...because it had a big epic look, you know, very
ambitious but at the same time used very cheap effects. And it
pulled off a merger between the two: Having a big, epic look, you
know, with cheap effects.
What's your favourite Gwar song?
Sleazy: I think "King Queen", which is not one that is played
I read in the media that, after you would have toured for
"America Must Be Destroyed", you would quit. Why didn't that
Sleazy: We never said that. We were definitely misquoted. We
probably meant "After the next tour we're going to *stop*...and
do a video and an album." This is common, you know, you go
through a tour cycle and then you record. As far as I know,
nobody ever said this band was gonna quit or break up. That's
never been a serious discussion.
Are there any taboos left for the next album to expose?
Sleazy: I don't know if we exposed any taboos to begin with,
really. I'd probably expect Gwar to be a little bit more
sophisticated about what it choses to do. You'll see in
"Skullhedface", there's some taboos in there too. That'll be out
in September - if it comes out in Europe at all, which I hope it
Now for the question that everybody dreads the answer to: Are
Gwar songs wholly or in part autobiographical? Because if they
Sleazy: Only in small, small occasional references, but, no, I
wouldn't say so. We're basically half-decent people. You can see
(looks around, spread his arms) they're not out of their mind on
drugs, they're playing a board game, you know. We're not
strangling cats, not burning people at the stake, not exposing
genitalia. They've got their clothes on and they're playing a
board game. They're just like good little children.
What do you think is the most underrated aspect of Gwar's music?
Sleazy: I would say the melody in the songwriting, of the
vocals. Compared to, say, a lot of bands that go "dah dah dah dah
dah", and the fuckin guitar goes "chuck chuck chuck chuck".
Would you agree that "America Must Be Destroyed" and "Scumdogs
of the Universe" are more melodic than "Hell-O" and even your new
album "This Toilet Earth"?
Sleazy: I might agree with that. I don't know. I think "America
Must be Destroyed" was more melodic.
Was "This Toilet Earth" a conscious decision to go more back to
Sleazy: Hm...well, I guess that could be conscious. I don't
think we'd actually say it; the music just went that way.
Well, now for some words to react to.
Sleazy: Rich (grins), powerful, and I wish they would play our
videos more. Also, I'd say, pretty commercialised as well. But
that'd maybe sound like sour grapes, because they don't play our
videos as much as we'd want to. But Beavis and Butthead play our
video and they love it. We're in their video game that's coming
out for the Sega Genesis. We're at the end.
Sleazy: The first album was pretty cool, it just seems like they
lost it after their first album, they became so slow. They don't
seem to be able to put together anything as good as their first
album. Sophomore jinx kindof thing.
Sleazy: I think he's very funny. I...I happen to think he
probably has some problems with children. That's just my opinion,
and I think it's very funny the way he sets them up to be a
champion of their cause and he turns out to be, you know, a
hypocrite. That's funny to me, because society does that to us
every so often. People are not who they seem to be, you know.
Sleazy: Fortytwo what? The year?
Sleazy: (Thinks intently for rather a while) Charlie Taylor,
wide receiver of the Washington Redskins.
Sleazy: Friends of ours...em...fast learners, and really lucky
that they had a hit record. It enriches you so that you can do
Sleazy: I think about it quite a bit, but I'm not into any
religion. I don't know how anybody else in the band feels.
Sleazy: Money is freedom, that's the way I look at it. I don't
look at money as materialism, I'm really not into buying things
and having things around, but I do appreciate money because it
allowes you to do more of the things that you wanna do. Create,
build, and money definitely helps you to do that.
But with the money you earn you help to destroy things, people
might say, such as decent moral values and religion.
Sleazy: I think deconstructivism has its place, but I hope that
a message that we hopefully get across is what you can do with
hard work, because that's what we do, if you consider the large
amoung or production that goes into Gwar. And the amazing thing
is that it's self-generated and not artificially supported by
subsidy, not much.
The Real Morality Squad.
Sleazy: PMRC (Parental/Parent's/Parents' Music Resource Center,
ED.), is that what you wanna know about? Well, the Real Morality
Squad is a lot more sophisticated right now. Essentially they're
working through distributorships in America and instead of trying
to fight you legally they basically are putting pressure on
individual retail chains and whatnot to boycot them so those
retail chains will, rather than risk that confrontation, refuse
to carry objectionable material. We had a situation where we had
to change one of our albums because it was just not gonna get out
in the stores. That was "Toilet Earth", and we had to do a
version without "Baby Dick Fuck". It would otherwise not have
been released throughout a lot of stores in the States, including
most of the big ones.
Is it not against the very grain of Gwar to go for those kinds
Sleazy: Yeah, it goes against the grain but it's not that big a
deal to us. First of all because I don't think we set out to
*offend* people so much as we set out to *entertain* them. What's
entertaining to us is what's offensive to other people. There is
entertainment in offending people anyway. People like to be
offended. It's like a rude joke.
Sleazy: That's a question that is definitely answered better by
our lead singer, but as far as I'm concerned: A wrinkled old man.
Sleazy: Long gone. Another example of people being totally
different from what they represent.
Sleazy: A very complicated, subtle disease that is probably
being misdiagnosed and definitely a lot of money is being made
off of. I think it's probably a natural progression of AIDS virus
mutations. What you have is a planet crowded with 5 billion
people and you have tons of different anibiotics and drugs for
curing diseases, and the diseases got to mutate to survive. It's
just a natural progression. Venereal diseases in particular are
an excellent way to pass on a disease. So you get that many
people, you get a lower morality, and you get the right situation
where a disease like AIDS is logically likely to happen. And
unfortunately it's so sophisticated that it's probably easy for a
lot of doctors to misdiagnose. They already did it with AZT,
which is really nothing other than something that brings upon the
demise of the patients faster than the disease itself. If you
just ate well you'd do better, probably.
Sleazy: If they're just fully into it, when they buy our
products and come to the show, they're up front, they're
enthusiastic, they have a good time, but they're not destructive
to us, you know, and hopefully not too destructive to the other
fans, I would say that's typical. I don't know what they do at
Are you all now very rich?
Sleazy: No, very far from it.
Sexecutioner: (Looking up from some nowing of his costume
padding) We're below poverty level.
But why do you do it then?
Sleazy: Because we love it.
A great phrase to end this interview, I should think.
The various members of Gwar go about their business as I take
from my bag a selection of Gwar CD liner notes for them to sign.
It's about half past seven in the evening, and Napalm Death will
be on the stage within about half an hour. I get most members of
Gwar to sign, some of which add witty remarks or small drawings
to their stuff (and, of course, I even manage to get a signature
of the slaves - "the slaves drule"). A bit later I have them all
with the exception of Slymenstra Hymen. Chuck is so friendly as
to fetch her from the tour bus during which time I am alone in
the Gwar tent. I don't know why, but it's a weird experience of
some kind. I find myself gazing at Slymenstra's spiked bra next
to the prop coffin, have to tear off my gaze.
After a while she walks in, a totally normal girl with tangly
medium-length hair and a zany giggle bordering on the nervous.
She seems not very sure of herself, quite on the contrary to her
stage presence (this total antagonism between reality and stage
presence made me wonder about the true penis size of lead singer
Dave "Oderus Urungus" Brockie <grin>). Chuck sits down with a
large notebook, doing some drawings on a concept he has for an
upcoming tour with a few other bands called (I seem to recall off
the top of my head) "Organised Chaos". And Gwar pales when he
describes the two other bands that will be on that tour - one of
them with something involving vicious machines hurling pig
carcasses and some other machines incinerating them while in the
air. Really weird.
I leave Chuck to his brainstorming and have a short talk with
Ms. Hymen, faithfully captured by the walkman.
What's your age?
Slymenstra: I'm 26 million years old.
So you're 26?
Slymenstra: Yeah <giggles zanily>.
What's your real name?
Slymenstra: Danielle, but sometimes I spell it D-A-N-Y-E-L-L.
It's French. My father is from France. You know, Americans always
say they're from somewhere.
We continue talking in short about some of the video game
projects, but she tells me, pointing to someone who's sitting
outside the tent reading a book, that I had better talk to Scott
Krahl about that.
I wish her a good gig and say goodbye, going outside to
interrupt Scott in his reading in the last five minutes prior to
Napalm Death taking the stage. I have not recorded this bit so I
just hope I'm not forgetting anything in this summary.
Scott tells me about a Gwar level that will be designed for
Dallas' ID Software's "Doom II". He knows of no plans to port it
to Jaguar or Falcon, but he's a NeXT and PC person in the heart
so he'd be unlikely to. He also tells me Gwar is actually online
via the Internet (email address below) and that he is planning to
set up a list server with mailing list and all, once he has
installed a more powerful and faster modem and that kind of
thing. Right now it's just an email address where you can contact
Gwar. He says there are about eight messages there every day, and
he answers them all by himself when he's home. He says he'll be
home again in August.
At that instant I have to interrupt this otherwise interesting
conversation and join to photographers in the press pit in front
of Napalm Death to make pictures as they take to the stage and
kick off with "Suffer the Children", the song I had sadly missed
during the previous gig when I saw them because I was
interviewing Entombed at the time.
THE ULTIMATE "WHO'S WHO" GUIDE TO GWAR
ODERUS URUNGUS Vocals Dave Brockie
JIZMAK DA GUSHA Drums Brad Roberts
BALSAC THE JAWS OF DEATH Guitar Michael (Mike) Derks
SEXECUTIONER Co-vocals Chuck Varga
FLATTUS MAXIMUS Guitar Pete Lee
BEEFCAKE THE MIGHTY Guitar (left Gwar?) Casey Orrison (?)
SKULLHEDFACE & SLAVE Co-vocals, slave Scott Krahl
SLYMENSTRA HYMEN Co-vocals, dancing Danielle Stampe
SLAVE Slave Mike Bonner
? ? Hunter Jackson
SELECTED GWAR DISCOGRAPHY
"Hell-O" (Shimmy Disc, 1988)
"Scumdogs of the Universe" (Master, 1990)
"Live at Antarctica" (Video; Fotodisc 1990)
"America Must Be Destroyed" (Metal Blade, 1991)
"Phallus in Wonderland" (Video; Metal Blade, 1992)
"The Road Behind" (CD single; Metal Blade, 1992)
"Tour de Scum" (Video; Metal Blade 1993)
"This Toilet Earth" (Metal Blade, 1994)
"Skulhedface" (Video, Metal Blade, 1994)
If you want to contact Gwar via email, this can be achieved.
Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.