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MUSIC : GWAR Is Hell--Just Ask the Dinosaurs : From the rock theater group come weird characters, buckets of blood, sharp instruments--Up With People it isn't.

November 10, 1994|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Well, Beavis and Butt-head like GWAR, and so would Vlad the Impaler, Jack the Ripper and Freddy Krueger. Sort of a slasher movie meets thrasher band in Sam Peckinpah's garage, a GWAR gig is an all-out gore fest, not for the faint of heart or the white of shirt. Carving its way down the West Coast, GWAR will headline a noisy gig at the Underground in Santa Barbara tonight.

Besides the sonic musical onslaught, there's a stage full of outrageous costumes and props and lots of ugly people with sharp instruments. And blood--lots of blood--fake blood, to be sure, but don't stand too close to the stage. But what could you expect with a nom-de-scream lineup that features Oderus Urungus (lead screamer), Balsac (loud guitar), Flattus Maximus (louder guitar), Jizmak de Gusha (drums), and Beefcake the Mighty (bass). There are more characters, but the five Richmond-based weirdos are the main culprits.

GWAR has a new album, "This Toilet Earth," plus a full-length film, "Skulhed . . . Face." The band has been around a long time, too long to some, about half-past forever according to their bio. Banished to Earth billions of years ago, space aliens, then known as the Scumdogs of the Universe and soon to become GWAR, killed the dinosaurs, made Stonehenge a croquet court, sank Atlantis and invented hair spray, the latter a capital offense if ever there was one.

Whether GWAR is a menace to society with no redeeming social value or just another boys-will-be-boys band gone nuts is unclear, but the fellas do have fans. Lots of them. But getting Oderus (Dave Brockie) to give a straight answer more than once in a while is as hopeless as giving Jason of "Friday the 13th" a season pass to the Mighty Ducks to mellow him out.

As the Scumbags of the Universe, you guys reportedly killed the dinosaurs?

Sure, we killed them. Dinosaurs were very intelligent--they wore shoes and drove cars, but they challenged GWAR and we kicked their butts. We stretched their gizzards across the Grand Canyon and created music. They're making sort of a comeback with this "Jurassic Park" crap, but we're ready to kick their butts again.

It took four days to get from Chicago to Seattle?

Yeah, but we had to go by ('50s cannibal) Ed Gein's house in Wisconsin, then to the badlands where it's colder than a witch's brass monkey. We did have David Koresh with us for a while, but we had to kick him off the tour because we found out he was a better guitar player than Flattus. Now we're touring with the rotting corpses of Burl Ives and Boxcar Willie.

What, so Zamfir's on vacation? Anyway, are there more dead bodies at a GWAR show or a Clint Eastwood Western?

We try to approach what Sam Peckinpah did in "The Wild Bunch." He invented modern screen violence, and people being blown away and all that other beautiful stuff.

So who goes to a GWAR show, serial killers in training?

We get everyone from 3-year-old midgets to 48-year-old professors standing in the back, taking notes, trying to figure it all out. A lot of people in the front wear white, some even wear white virgin robes. Our fans are truly the scum of the earth.

Does the grotesque imagery detract from the alleged music?

Certainly not. It enhances it if anything--the fury of the bloodletting and the musical onslaught. We're just these degenerates in these big dumb costumes that kept becoming more elaborate. It's still dumb, but now we pretend it's smart.

From Screamin' Jay Hawkins to the Village People to Alice Cooper to KISS to the Mentors, where does GWAR fit in with all that?

GWAR is the next step in the logical progression of expanded musical theatrical elements. Devo and the Tubes were into theatrics, too, and so is Green Jelly, but to a lesser extent. They're sort of a G-rated GWAR.

So who is mad at the band this week?

Oh, let's see, our manager, our label, the usual. People seem to go to more insidious lengths to get at us these days. There's some actual censorship on the genitalia on the artwork inside "This Toilet Earth."

So no airplay and no MTV, how do you do it?

Actually, we are on MTV--we're in eight different "Beavis and Butt-head" episodes. That's just as good, if not better, than being in the rotation because they play for a longer period of time. We spend about six months a year on the road. We've been to Europe, and we even played some gigs in Eastern Europe. Prague was great.

What kind of mail do you guys get?

Everything from a decapitated pig's head to 50-page term papers, so there must be somebody who is obviously interested. We answer all our mail even if it takes years. Hey, the support of the fans is what keeps us going.

So what do the GWAR haters say?

That we suck, and that we're like some stupid gimmick. I mean, we have literally thousands of fans, four records and a movie. We have created a genre unto ourselves.

Where can one find your new movie?

In porno booths worldwide. No, really, it's in music stores. It's 70 minutes long, and we're very proud of it.

So what scares you?

Actually, I wouldn't want to be in a plane wreck. And the kind of feeling you get in America . . . where someone just walks up and blows you away.

What if some kid cuts up his family and the survivors decide to sue GWAR?

We'll just hire (Robert) Shapiro and deny everything.

Details

* WHAT: GWAR, The Dickies.

* WHERE: Underground, 110 Santa Barbara St., Santa Barbara.

* WHEN: Tonight, 9 p.m.

* COST: $15.

* CALL: 965-5050.

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