The intergalactic warriors known as GWAR are a staple at the Chicago-based Riot Fest. Each year they unleash a concoction of gruesome metal all over their adoring fans. The macabre collective is touring through the end of the year in support of their 2017 album, The Blood of the Gods. It’s GWAR’s first new effort after the death of co-founder and lead singer Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus, in 2014.
While GWAR has more of a reputation for wielding blood all over the crowd, they occasionally sling beer. In 2016, they collaborated with Cigar City Brewing to release Oderus Ale, a pale ale honoring their departed bandmate. With a GWARbar restaurant in Richmond and GWAR Pub pop-up in Washington, D.C., running through Halloween, the band’s warlord world takeover is imminent.
I met up with the horned howler Berserker Blothar (Mike Bishop), who stepped into the role of lead vocalist following Brockie’s death, and guitarist BälSäc (Mike Derks) backstage on a sunny Saturday ahead of their evening set to chat about beer, GWAR’s three-decade-long career and what aliens request on their rider.
What do you drink on your home planet?
Blothar: On my home planet, mostly the urine of infants. Infant urine is kinda hard to get. You have to have a real dedication to that perversion, like Gary Glitter style.
So, you don’t like to drink any Earth beer. What do you drink here?
Blothar: Well, on Earth I mostly drink human blood, to be honest with you. We’re constantly draining humanity for its precious life force.
Whose idea was it to create a GWAR beer?
Blothar: I haven’t drank it, because I don’t drink alcohol, but from what I hear it’s delicious. We actually have a GWARbar in Richmond, Virginia. It’s a fun place to go and it’s got a really crazy menu. I love the joint. I go there and eat brunch all the time. You wouldn’t know it from looking at me, but I’m a big fan of brunch. I’m a brunch guy.
What do you like to brunch on?
Blothar: Oh you know, usually chicken and waffles. Or they have a wonderful vegan menu there which, believe it or not, appeals to me because I eat so much meat during the business year.
I’ve heard GWAR beer is actually pretty delightful. There is a lack of human body fluids, which I found surprising. Did the FDA interfere with your recipe?
Blothar: No, no we don’t pay any attention to them. We knew we needed to make a beer that other people would drink besides us, so we decided to keep out any of that sort of viscera. It’s there, it’s just strained out so you can’t really taste it. I mean how would you know if you were eating human. You would have no idea, would you?
I guess I wouldn’t.
Blothar: It would just taste like possum. Humans taste like possum, I mean, which is something that most people eat all the time. At least, I do.
GWAR is definitely looking at the human race and wondering why the hell it hasn’t just evaporated already.”
You named your beer as a tribute to Oderus. What was it like recording the last album without him?
Blothar: Well, we had to do a record that was different than what we had done before but that still sounded like GWAR. It was difficult in some ways. It was an emotional process. The guy was a hell of a lyricist and a funny, funny entertainer and performer. We miss him a great deal. There’s no question about that. But we decided to do what this group of musicians could do, and that’s what we did. I’m very pleased with it.
We made a GWAR record that sounds like a GWAR record. You listen to it and I think fans and other people can hear that this is the same band that put out thirteen or fourteen other records. But it’s not just GWAR without Oderus, you know. It’s still GWAR, and it doesn’t just do the same things that we did before and tell the same types of stories. We tried to do something different. This is a record that’s maybe less metal than some of the previous efforts. It’s got more of a rock and roll sound, and the punk influence that’s always been in GWAR comes out a little more on this record. There’s still a healthy dose of heavy metal.
It definitely touches on current themes of the social and political environment we’re in, but so does a lot of your older material. Is it surprising to see your human offspring keep making the same mistakes?
Blothar: Well, I mean they made a pretty damn big one a few years ago now when they voted in this Trump, who I’m convinced isn’t human. We’ve probably killed Trump on stage 500 times, and he just keeps showing up. GWAR is definitely looking at the human race and wondering why the hell it hasn’t just evaporated already. We’d be happy to help it along, but humans are doing a damn good job of putting themselves out of business.
Actually, we kind of like the guy because he’s funny, you know. We haven’t had a president… actually maybe we did have presidents who were borderline mentally handicapped, but we just didn’t know about it, because they didn’t have a Twitter account. I was thinking the other day how great it would have been if Bill Clinton had had a Twitter account. It would have been a great Twitter to read. It would have always been like, ‘Hey, I didn’t get a blow job in the Oval Office.’
'Just practicing my saxophone with Socks the cat.'
Blothar: Yeah, ‘This is just Republicans trying to railroad me. I didn’t get a blow job for an ashtray.’ I would read Clinton’s Twitter.
What can visitors to the GWARbar in Richmond look forward to?
Blothar: They should look for some damn good food and some really, really good-looking people working there. It’s fun, it’s a great place. You’ve got lots of GWAR memorabilia all over the place. It’s a good atmosphere and you’re gonna get food that’s weird but delicious.
I’ve been to the restaurant and there was a healthy amount of blood stains, but I was expecting the music to be more deafening. I could still carry on a conversation.
Blothar: Usually, it is ear-piercing. That’s in the employee handbook.
BälSäc: Most of them can’t read.
Blothar: We pluck out their eyes.
I heard the pop-up in DC has Jäger Coladas?
Blothar: Yeah, I don’t know what those are like. What’s a Jager Colada like BälSäc?
BälSäc: Like a piña colada but with Jägermeister. Everything’s better with Jägermeister. It sounds disgusting and it’s actually phenomenal.
Blothar: Yeah, licorice and pineapple. Two great tastes that go great together. Who would have thought?
BälSäc: Who would have thought? But Derek Brown [of Drink Company] is a fucking genius mixologist.
Blothar: That and then just take a swig of isopropyl rubbing alcohol, and there you’ve got it.
One last question: What do you guys request on your rider?
Blothar: I’ll be honest with you, usually what I get on the rider is a lot of fresh fruit. I have type eight diabetes so I’m trying to cut down on a lot of things. I have a lot of Diet Coca-Cola.
BälSäc: The club has to be within four blocks of a preschool and a sperm bank.
Blothar: That’s right. Delicious, delicious babies. That’s what’s on our rider.