Gwar invades Moncton for show at O2

Inspired by the theatrics of artists like Kiss and Alice Cooper before them, heavy metal band Gwar has been punishing audiences all over the earth for almost a quarter century now.

With the inside joke humour of Spinal Tap mixed with a horror movie, the group is perhaps better known for its elaborate stage costumes than its music and will be performing at Oxygen Nightclub tonight. This will be the group’s second appearance in the Hub City in as many years, having played the Agrena last September as the guests of popular heavy metal band Lamb Of God.

Dave Brockie (who performs as Gwar’s supreme leader Oderus Urungus on stage) isn’t shy about admitting the influence that both Cooper and Kiss had on the group in its early days, but says that the members of Gwar had set out to ratchet up the theatrics a notch from the get-go.

“I wouldn’t say they influenced us as much as they directly inspired us,” he says. “We do what we do because of them but we wanted to take those theatrics and do it better.

“There are so many monster bands out there today but I think that Gwar will always be remembered as the king of the monster bands. All those other monster bands are terrible compared to Gwar. We have the experience; no one can equal us and no one can better us.”

Before assuming that Brockie is full of himself or his band, you must understand that his bravado is an essential piece of the Gwar puzzle. Part of the group’s shtick is that they maintain their members are interplanetary warriors who came to earth to enslave the human race. The Gwar live show meanwhile has been known to be a potentially provocative affair with mock beheadings of world leaders, rituals and more all being a regular part of the performance. In fact, the Gwar live show probably has an equal reputation to that of the band’s music itself.

If you plan to attend the show and would like to remain clean and dry for the performance, you might want to take a viewing point at the back of the room. Fluids are routinely sprayed upon audience members as a part of the show so an unwitting audience might find themselves surprised if they didn’t know better. Truth is though, Gwar fans know exactly what to expect when seeing their overlords in concert.

Acceptance of Gwar (and the antics in their live show) has become increasingly common over the course of their career. While the band has had their share of misery over some of their content, Brockie says that the group is more popular now than perhaps they have ever been.

“Entire families are being brought into the Gwar cult on a regular basis, now more than ever it seems. It doesn’t necessarily surprise me that people are coming around to joining us.”

Asked how tough it is to put on a live performance while wearing their costumes, Brockie equates the experience to “playing professional football while trying to play the violin.” Brockie feels, however, that since Gwar’s members are not from earth, it has only benefited the group’s members in helping them make it through their live show.

“I would like to challenge any mortal being to do what we do. Human bodies simply cannot take this strain or stress. I would like to see Vince Neil perform on stage while being attacked by a tyrannosaurus rex,” he says, referring to the Motley Crue lead vocalist.

While fending off dinosaurs on stage is just one of the many hazards associated with being a member of Gwar, the group has somehow found the time to make a new record which will hit stores next month.

The album, the group’s 13th, is described as their “sickest album yet” with Brockie proclaiming that their fans anticipation of the new music will cause a fever pitch so severe on earth that it will ignite an international firestorm of sickness.

But even the cruelest beasts have hearts and when talk turns to the band’s upcoming 25th anniversary, Brockie is clearly humbled by the fact that Gwar is still kicking after all these years. While various members have come and gone from the band, he says the core of the group has remained consistent for their lifespan and doesn’t see anything changing anytime soon.

“Honestly, I have no idea why we’re so successful,” he laughs. “We started this as an outlet to amuse ourselves; we thought it would be funny but had zero clues about what the band would actually turn into. “Hopefully it is just the beginning of even more doors opening for us on a massive scale. In a way, I see this as justice for people like Rob Zombie who offer absolutely nothing original to fans. There’s nothing to him or his whole ‘horror’ thing.

“Hopefully in another 25 years, I will be sitting in a rest home watching the next generation of Gwar conquer the world. We are actually breeding the next Gwar members in our slave camps as we speak.”

Article published in October 19, 2010 edition of the Times & Transcript