MT Music Blog Interview: Gwar’s Dave Brockie a.k.a Oderus Urungus!
Shock rockers Gwar may have about the same number of lineup changes as years spent playing Detroit rock staple Harpos. But one man who’s been a constant in the metal spectacle that is Gwar since 1984 is frontman Oderus Urungus or Dave Brockie. The Richmond metalheads first played Detroit in 1988 at Blondies, but when the leaky-roofed rock staple disappeared, they hopped over to Harpos, a place which Brockie says will always be like a second home.
“We used to have a lot of fucked up adventures up in Detroit before we could afford hotels and that kinda stuff. We’ve yet to outgrow the place and hopefully we never will,” Brockie said. To counter some of the brutality that Gwar will descend upon Detroit Rock City with tomorrow night we start things off with our first “Interview Haiku” with clips from Brockie’s interview.
No bullshit. Rough gig.
Harpos. Dirt keeps it standing.
Rely upon metal.
Check out the full interview below as Brockie gives us more of his thoughts on playing Harpos and Blondies, where Detroit ranks as a Gwar city, a shotgun wielding maniac named Scary, coked-out strippers, being on Fox News and more.
MT: Does anyone from Gwar have any ties to Detroit? Were you or any of the other guys living here for any period of time?
Dave Brockie (Oderus Urungus) : Well, uhhhh…No. I mean Detroit has always been one of the most faithful Gwar cities in the United States, you know? It was one of the first places that we actually went on the road to play gigs at. Cory comes from Toledo which is right down the highway. We’ve had some crew guys from around there. When you play shows at a place for 25 years you can’t help but feel a close affinity with the city. We’re all huge Redskins fans and you might remember the Detroit Lions broke their losing streak on the Redskins last year. So there you go.
MT: I mean, I know you’ve played Harpos a few times. Do you want to talk about any memories of playing Harpos or playing Detroit in general?
Brockie: Well. You know I’m not going to bullshit you. It’s a rough gig. It’s a rough town. It’s not a particularly pleasant place to go. That block around Harpos, and in general that whole neighborhood around it, we don’t really explore it very much because we’re advised not to. People are shot and killed around there all the fucking time. The one thing that keeps us coming to Detroit, and I think the reason that Detroit is such an awesome rock and roll town, is that the people really support music there. I think it has a lot to do with their town has been hit by the recession, the car factories a lot of them are down, the economy is in the toilet. It just seems like Detroit and that whole area has suffered a lot more than other areas of the country. Really heavy metal and music is one of the few things that people can rely upon to still be there to make their lives a little bit more bearable. Whether you have enough money to go see Gwar play live or whether you’re just listening to your cd collection. You know! It’s going to be one of the few things that can go to on a regular basis no matter what is going on in your life. Despite the fact that the neighborhood is a crack, drug, violence infested shithole. Harpos is basically…I dunno, I guess it’s all the dirt in that place that actually keeps it standing. Despite all that, we have some of the best, biggest shows that we have anywhere in the United States, in Detroit. That’s the whole reason we’re there. I think it makes it a lot more valid, the people in Detroit are hard. They don’t have time for a lot of bullshit. The fact that they’re very discerning, because they do get so much music up there, that they don’t have to support stuff that sucks. They grasped onto Gwar right from the get-go and have always fanatically supported us.
To this day Detroit I would have to say that Detroit is in the top 2-3 Gwar cities worldwide. That’s a bond between band and audience that is a really special thing. You can feel it as soon as you pull up to a Harpos Gwar show, and I can feel it as soon as I walk on stage. I honestly can say I look forward to Detroit show as much or moreso than any of the more plush gigs, like The House of Blues Chicago, or fucking you know…The Electric Factory in Philadelphia, these are really super, really awesome, really sweet venues. But there’s just something about seeing Ernie waiting for me when I get off the bus with those weird triangular sandwiches that his mom always gets for us, it’s like coming back to family. It really is. Representing Gwar I’m usually not allowed to say nice things about people, but I would have to say in this case we’ll make an exception. We love playing Harpos and love playing Detroit as much or moreso than any other place in the entire world.
MT: When was the first show in Detroit? Do you remember offhand?
Brockie: Yea, it was probably at a little place called Blondies, about 23 years ago. It was run by this guy named Ruzvelt (Stevanovski) and we used to come in there and play shows, I’m sure some of your readers will remember it. One time we played a show in that place, it was such a dive, there was actually a hole in the roof. It was raining that night so there was literally rain, cold like November Detroit rain coming through the fucking ceiling and lashing the slam pit as we played. Actually, we thought that made it a better show.
MT: Nice, you guys have been hitting Detroit for a long time now.
Brockie: Yea. We used to have a lot of fucked up adventures in Detroit back before we got a little bit more success, got a little more settled and we could stay in hotels. We used to have an old school bus, we’d drive it up there, and we had a friend, this guy’s name was Scary.
Brockie: Scary. Yea. He was a shotgun wielding biker maniac, who later went to jail for a double murder. But for some reason he kind of adopted us and let us stay in his bizarre, fucked up, basically den of criminal activity, cocaine and retarded strippers. And when I say retarded, I mean yes actually retarded people…that were strippers.
MT: At least they’re working…
Brockie: We used to hang out there a lot back in the day. We were just little bright eyed and bush tailed kids hanging out with this notorious biker murderer coke dealer with all his fucking retard stripper girlfriends. Ahh those were the days.
MT: When about was that?
Brockie: That was about 1988/89. It’s funny we went right from playing at Blondies, which ultimately got closed down, hanging out with Scary, who ultimately went to jail. Then we went to Harpos, I swear to god, that was 20 years ago and we’ve been playing Harpos every year since then. We have yet to outgrow the place and hopefully we never will.
MT: I actually got a chance to see you guys at Bonnaroo this year, what did you think of it ?
Brockie: It was an amazing experience. I’ll tell you, what was interesting about Bonnaroo and you look at what they’ve done there. And we went to Europe and went over and played festivals all fucking summer, and it blew me away how much better the festivals are in Europe. Bonnaroo, sure it was an amazing experience, it was fun. Gwar played in front of all those people at three in the morning. But physically it’s miserable. I don’t see how the fans can get out there in that muddy fucking shit for three days of 100+ degree temperatures and deal with it. But they did. It’s a testimony to how dedicated music fans are. Fans of having a good time. But God, America needs to learn a bit from the European ways of doing music festivals. Then again they’ve had longer to work on their music festivals. A couple thousand years longer. The fact that people over there don’t smoke crack and carry guns everywhere. In Europe you don’t have to have a big police presence. In fact you don’t have to have any police presence at all at these festivals. People generally behave themselves. That was cool about Bonnaroo there wasn’t a lot of security going on. it was just insanity. I think we still have a long way to go. I mean yes, They had Gwar there and that was awesome. For instance we got there and they set up our tent, we had a dressing room tent. But they hadn’t cut the grass where they had set up the tent, so there was like 3 feet of grass growing in what is supposed to be our dressing room. So what the fuck? So what do they do, they come over with a lawn mower, drive the lawn mower into our dressing room and chop everything down and leave the inside choked out with carbon monoxide.
MT: That sounds about right. Any artists from Detroit you’ve been listening to lately?
Brockie: I’ve been so wrapped up in all things Gwar that I don’t have time to do anything else. I have time to watch a football game and that’s about it. Gwar has been on a fucking tear these last couple years. It’s really starting to pop off right now. I’m woefully out of date, not just with Detroit, anything from anywhere period.
MT: So what do you guys have going on right now?
Brockie: Ohh God. We’re on tour right now, our new album Bloody Pit of Horror comes out November 9th. We’re winding down our 25th anniversary celebration. Slay-abration, excuse me. We have a huge pay per view event coming out on Gwar.net for Halloween. The biggest thing here, our new video for our first single off the record is out this week “Zombies March” and finally we’re going to be on Jimmy Fallon this coming Thursday. So that’s like the biggest piece of TV that we’ve ever had, it only took 25 years to get it. but you know there’s every indication that dam is about to burst and Gwar is going to take over to the level that we’ve deserved all these years.
MT: Please blast that fucker with blood. I hate him. Give him the Margaret Cho treatment.
Brockie: Haha. I doubt that he’ll be ready to give us the service that Margaret Cho did. When you’re trying to get out there you take what you can get. A lot of people were freaked out that I’ve managed to do so well on Fox News’ on the show Red Eye that I’ve been on 14 times now. And people are like “what are you doing on Fox News?” and I’m like I don’t give a fuck if it’s Fox News! What I care about is that Oderus Urungus is on fucking national television blathering his insane opinions about everything. That’s what’s important. As far as I’m concerned Jimmy Fallon rules.
MT: So how did you get tied in with Red Eye?
Brockie: They called me up asked me if I wanted to be on the show. I was actually in New York at the time, and I went over and did it and they called me up a week later like “we want you back on the show.” apparently it had to be quite a connection, they must have gotten some feedback from their viewers. I mean the next time I was on the Fox News website, I was being named “Official Interplanetary Correspondent.” I’ve rolled with it ever since. It’s another indication that Gwar is slowly fucking taking over. The reason that it’s taken so long to get Gwar into some of these places is because Gwar is the biggest, nastiest, grossest, most obtuse band in history and we’ve always insisted on doing things our way even when we knew we were missing opportunities because of it. Because we knew that sooner or later people would bend their rules to admit Gwar, rather than us change what Gwar is about, because then it wouldn’t be Gwar anymore. We don’t know for certain that it worked yet. We do know that it took a hell of a lot longer than it should have. All we can do is keep slamming away, the Gwar assault is a slow, savage and steady one. As they say, sure and steady wins the race.
MT: Alright, I should be good, anything else you want to touch on?
MT: So the Halloween show streaming online?
Brockie: It will be online, I think it’s $3. HD quality, awesome audio. It’s pretty crazy that we can reach around the around the world with it. Don’t worry though, it won’t stop us from touring.
Gwar hits Harpos this Saturday.