When chatting with Blothar, lead singer of GWAR (who sometimes is called “Michael Bishop” for some reason) he begins by stating he’s just sitting around waiting for the apocalypse to come, as we were currently in between hurricanes hitting the states. While Florida got walloped by Irma in the days following, GWAR is still standing after over 30 years as a band. And with no disrespect to Florida or Texas, they’ve weathered a hell of a lot the last few years as well, with their de fact leader Dave Brockie (aka Oderus Urungus) passing away from a drug overdose three years ago. With Bishop returning to the band to front it, their sound has shifted, and they’ve found elements of their stage show co-opted by the likes of Kathy Griffin. We spoke to him about that and more. GWAR’s The Blood of Gods will be out on October 20th on Metal Blade Records, and can be preordered here.
Harvey, Irma, Jose, the other guys. I’ve got to ask, are you behind it?
Indirectly, humanity is responsible for all of their own foibles. It’s an example of the earth organism trying to rid itself of human life. So I suppose indirectly, we’re responsible of having sex with apes to create humans, but not directly. We just benefit from the aftermath. We’ll go down there and steal TV sets.
Let’s talk about the new album. How long have you been working on it?
It’s been four years since we released an album, but we weren’t working on it the whole time. I think we really only worked on it the last week. We wrote and recorded it in the past week. Ronan Chris Murphy, who produced it and looks mysteriously like Jesus Christ, helped us in the process. I think it’s certainly one of the better-sounding GWAR albums that’s come out in the past few years, and ironically, it probably sounds the most like what people would consider a GWAR album from the old days to sound like. It depends on how you define GWAR. GWAR’s a band that’s had along career with a lot of different sounds, so it’s difficult to pin the band down and say “this is what GWAR sounds like.” But to me, this is a record that’s on par with America Must be Destroyed or Scumdogs, records that had a defining sound for GWAR at a particular period. This record has some of those characteristics.
The elephant in the room is that of course, this is your first album without Oderus. How did that inform the album?
I’ve told people that this album’s is going to have everything you’d expect from a GWAR album provided you’re not expecting Oderus Urungus. We had to do something different. You didn’t have that voice, you didn’t have that sense of humor. You didn’t have that wit driving the creation of that material. So we had to look for something this group of people did well, so that’s what we did, and I think we succeeded at it. What I’m trying to say is if we tried to do the type of records that the band had been doing for the last few albums, basically death metal records with a really creative, energetic and weirdo singer, it wouldn’t have come off. People would listen to it, and compare it, and find it lacking if we tried to write the same kinds of songs. So we had to do something different, which is really what drove the material. Plus, I’m a different musician than that. I was never in the band when it was making those types of records. I don’t know how to do that kind of stuff.
Yeah, it seems like a straight-ahead rock and roll record.
Yeah, well, it is. [As Blothar] It’s more age-appropriate for GWAR.
Speaking of that, you’re coming up on 30 years. With 2018 the 30th anniversary of Hell-o, GWAR’s first album, what will you do to commemorate that, kill Reagan for old time’s sake?
We’re going to take a commemorative nap. It has been a long time. We’re leaving it alone. We don’t want to be like Jello Biafra. I remember once when we were working on a project, he was like “do you think it’s passe to talk about Reagan’? And I said ‘well, he is dead, so probably. And he said “but I’ve got this great rhyme about the polyp on his nose.” So yeah, we’re going to leave Reagan alone, but we’re going to come out swinging with a great rock show, the band’s going to take it places it hasn’t been before and do things we haven’t done before onstage. We’re hopeful that we’re going to rip people’s hearts out with this show. The show is a little bit like the album. One way the album is different is that the music is allowed to breathe a little bit. If people are trying to put their finger on how it’s different stylistically, it would be that. There’s room in the songs, and there’s not a lot of vocality, so the music’s there. GWAR, even though a lot of people don’t believe this, is a fantastic rock and roll band, and they’ve been playing together for a very long time and there’s a lot of good players. This particular show that we’re working on is going to highlight the music as well as the show. And it’s difficult to conceive of how that could be, how it’s different. We’re moving towards an area where the theatrical element is more integrated with the sound of the band, so that’s a different thing. It’s hard to explain.
How was playing the Warped Tour, where you were playing in front of 15 year-olds that might have been conceived to a GWAR record and their parents, who might not have heard you in years?
To expose ourselves to that many young people felt kind of borderline illegal. But it was truly great, and there were a lot of young people there. And yeah, you do hear that occasionally. Someone that looks like a 75 year-old meth head that’s actually only 40 comes hobbling up with a GWAR shirt on looking like a toothless skeleton, and they’ll say ‘I came here with my kid, could you sign this shirt, you’re my favorite band.’ And I think that being conceived to a GWAR album is like drinking while you’re pregnant. At the very least, it’s going to create an awful-looking child.
What about the younger kids?
A lot of them were there because they heard they could get hosed down with something and they thought it would be like walking through a sprinkler at an outside birthday party. They didn’t know what to expect, and GWAR, in all of it’s completely offensive and violent and gory and hilarious grandiosity, you could see on their faces that they were losing their minds. The only thing we can compare it to was the early days when GWAR would tour. When we cut a path across the country, people didn’t know what to expect at all. When we took the stage, their faces, the look on them, that look of terror, we were seeing that again, and it brought our twisted old hearts great joy.
You also debuted a new song, “Fuck This Place,” on the tour What’s wrong with this place?
Every fucking thing. Come on, look around. The earth itself is trying to rid itself of this human plague. Things are getting warmer, things are getting colder, things are getting harder. Humanity is long in the tooth at this point, and it’s time for someone else or something else to take over. I can’t help but think what a better place it would be if cows were in charge.
We have a megalomaniacal President that, much like GWAR, also seems hell-bent on destroying America. What are your thoughts on that?
You’re the first person who’s noticed that. I usually have to point that out. They ask us about the song “El Presidente” and if it’s about trying to kill Trump. Of course – he’s a human and we’re trying to kill everyone. As far as humans go, he’s got a great haircut, he’s a good looking guy, his wife is bangin.’ He’s got really great taste. The only thing I can compare it to is a coked-out Persian. All that gilt and gold, it’s beautiful. If I could live in one of those places, I’d be stoked. He’s got a great interior decorator.
It seems to me like he’s coming for your job.
That’s the one thing that does bug us. He wants to take down humanity more than anyone else. We’re actually thinking of handing this whole thing to Kim Jong Un. We can just call America West Korea.
What about Kathy Griffin ripping off your schtick? Is she welcome at a GWAR show?
Kathy Griffin is welcome at a GWAR show. She’s an old tart. In fact, she’s almost beyond the tart and to the fart stage. She’s a fartish tart. She’s kind of gross, so she’s right up my alley, and also in the same age range, a couple million years old. I mean, I’d do her, i’d do her in a heartbeat, she’s hot. But yeah, she ripped off our schtick, and her publicist, proving she could spell, called us G-W-A-R. And the idea that GWAR gets away with it, and all these other acts that do something that’s outrageous get away with it because they’re men, is ridiculous. First of all, we’re not men. Second of all, I think that she didn’t get away with it just because it’s kind of stupid for her to do it. It’s unbecoming. We cut off heads all the time, and we’re used to being ripped off. KISS ripped us off, AC/DC ripped us off, not to mention Slipknot, Mushroomhead and Lordi. We’re used to being ripped off, but now it’s Al Queda and Kathy Griffin.
Is there a kill list for your upcoming tour?
Oh yeah. What we do is we go out and play a rock and roll show, and our enemies attack us. So far, Trump has been showing up. I think the entire Trump family is on the list. We’re really gunning for that kid Barron. It turns out that he’s the most powerful one of the bunch. And supposedly, this time around Sleazy is working out a deal [for a corporation] to actually purchase GWAR, so that might be a theme of the upcoming shows, GWAR struggling with a new corporate identity. Sawborg will probably be back. He was on the last tour, and he kept showing up to ruin everything, so we’ll probably kick his ass again.
GWAR have had their own movie, a cameo in a video game, a cameo in Empire Records, and even have their own bar. Pretty much the only thing they don’t have is their own slot machine, but with online casino slots to fit your favorite metal bands, they’d be smart to consider having one made. The Blood of Gods will be out on October 20th on Metal Blade Records, and can be pre-ordered here.