Apparently, even the massive, all-powerful aliens and scumdogs of the universe known as GWAR have trouble with reception on their iPhones.
While conducting a phone interview before a show in Hollywood, band leader Oderus Urungus’ connection cut out twice, leaving him grumbling, “Maybe I’m clutching my iPhone too tightly!”
Perhaps it was his giant claws proving to be too much for our puny human technology to handle — either way, once the connection was re-established, the intergalactic beast that has led GWAR for more than a quarter century had no shortage of hilarious and outrageous things to say.
Having just finished taping a segment for the Fuel TV show Daily Habit, Oderus was being informed that he had revealed a bit more of himself to the television audience than he had thought. “I just did the show apparently with my balls hanging out the entire time and nobody told me! That’s not like a big thing for Oderus, my balls usually are hanging out — but to try to get on national TV, I’m willing to do the ball tuck, but apparently the ball tuck didn’t work, it was horrible, it looked like a duck-billed platypus coming out of a burrow or something!”
Although someone out there in TV land was undoubtedly offended by this show of alien masculinity, they can just add themselves to the scores of non-believers and critics who have unsuccessfully assailed the musical and cultural force that is GWAR over the past couple of decades. Currently celebrating their 25th anniversary, the heavy metal space gang that brought our planet recorded gems such as Scumdogs of the Universe and This Toilet Earth are back in all their unholy glory with a new album, The Bloody Pit of Horror (Metal Blade).
Propelled by the first sleazy single, “Zombies, March!,” Oderus Urungus and his cohorts have returned in fine beastly form, ready to again spread their love to fans around the globe — which of course means spraying audiences with all manner of fake blood, bodily fluids, and god knows what else.
At a time when many bands their age would be mellowing out and producing so-called “mature” material, GWAR has shown that they are only getting dirtier and heavier with time, as any fan should expect from a group with their background and history.
“With any of the records we’ve made, we didn’t really go into it with a preconceived notion of what it was going to sound like. We just went at it and tried to make the record that was appropriate to what we felt like at the time, and I guess we were feeling particularly ferocious [with this one],” says Oderus. "We just wanted to emphasize how fucking awesome we are, and recall a day not so long ago when bands actually put out an album about once a year — nowadays that just doesn’t happen, bands take forever in between albums, and half the time they’re full of re-mixes, or tracks from other albums that got cut.
We just wanted to have a whole bunch of great music for our fans, and just celebrate the idea of GWAR. One of the things about this album that’s a little different that gives it that ferocious sound is that we tuned down I believe to F#, which is basically the loosest that guitar strings can be and still stay on the neck — it sounds like the guitars are vomiting — in a good way! I think it makes for a very powerful record.”
When asked if his band of rubber aliens, mutants, deviants and demons ever looks back on their history and thinks about the fact that they’ve been doing what they do successfully for so long, the answer is a firm “No.”
“If we took the time to go back and actually examine what we were doing, we’d be so shocked and appalled that we’d stop doing it. It’s better to just keep mindlessly plugging onward,” laughs Oderus. “[With that being said] we are very well aware of just how awesome it is what we’ve managed to do, and we intend to keep doing it as long as possible — or until we escape the planet Earth, whichever comes first.”
With the release of The Bloody Pit of Horror, GWAR have been hitting the road in support, crossing the United States and making an appearance on national late night television, with a performance last month on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
“We did Springer and Joan Rivers like 20 years ago, and it took them 20 years to let us back on television!”
Oderus himself has been making several more recent appearances on TV, however — in the last year or so he’s been a regular guest on, of all places, a Fox News program, Red Eye. Although it does sound like an awfully strange pairing, the intergalactic barbarian thinks that Fox sees in him a potential for higher ratings, thus justifying having a giant space beast running around their studios.
“It is an odd match that they would put GWAR in a position where I can not only comment on society but do it over and over again, but obviously they’re having a little fun with it. It’s pretty funny to be walking around the Fox studios in New York City and run into Glenn Beck…yeah, Oderus and him are hanging out, backstage buddies!”
Having toured all over the world in the past 25-plus years, Oderus and his bandmates have seen all manner of crazy and twisted things, but the singer says that no place can hold a candle to what’s he’s seen and experienced right here in San Francisco.
“Pretty much every time we’ve been to San Francisco, it’s been insane, since the very first GWAR tour where we showed up in an old school bus, and ended up parked in the Tenderloin for a week straight, that neighborhood was really bad. And then our show at the Warfield where the bums were dropping dead right outside of the venue; the line was going around the block, they were three dead homeless people laying on the sidewalk, and out fans were just very politely stepping over their corpses, that was pretty weird!”
He also mentions a doorman selling crack by the side of the stage within just a few feet of a nearby cop — one that at first the band didn’t even believe was a real officer. “I thought he was a guy that dressed up in a joke cop outfit, because his uniform was so fucked up and dirty, and he was driving this cop car that was all beat to shit, the fenders were even hanging off it!”
With that said, Oderus is eagerly looking forward to playing here in the city on Sunday, and has some words of praise for his local fans.
“San Franciscans — you still have a complete, stone cold lock on the sickest, weirdest, most fucked up town in the United States. New Orleans has nothing on you people!”
With the Casualties, Infernaeon, and Mobile Death Camp
Sun/21, 7:30 p.m., $22-$25
1290 Sutter St., SF