From their highly entertaining and extremely intense live shows to a legacy that is literally dripping with tongue-in-cheek behaviour, over the top concepts and real-life apocalyptic comic book characters spitting a tirade of abuse with intent to shock, GWAR are impossible to ignore and also don’t give a fuck what you think.
We caught up with vocalist ‘The Bezerker Blothar’s human slave Michael Bishop to find out about the bands new album ‘Blood of the Gods‘ which is set for worldwide release on October 20th via Metal Blade Records.
OD – Let’s talk about the new album “Blood of the Gods” and the reasoning behind the title as I believe that it marks a new era for GWAR and deals with the loss of the mighty Oderus?
BOLTHAR – Well, the title of the album “Blood of the Gods” refers to the concept that GWAR struggles against humanity. We choose it because it does reflect what the band has been going through over the last few years with the loss of Oderus and Flattus Maximus. The band has seen a lot of loss and so it’s a fitting title on a few different levels.
OD – I believe that the new album was inspired by the uprising of humanity against the ethos of GWAR and you elaborate on that a little?
BOLTHAR – The album deals with this sort of war on GWAR that happens and our one theme throughout the LP is to remain free from the corporate forces that are controlling the planet at the moment. Also, we wanted to remain apart of the homogenization of culture that seems to be taking over the world right now and the difficulty that GWAR faces keeping up with humans desire for self-destruction.
GWAR is really on the side of nature and is an elemental force. We align ourselves more with nature than we do with man. For those reasons, man is a problem. He represents a kind of illness that has caused a lot of problems for the organism of the Earth and GWAR is on the side of that organism in some ways. Don’t get me wrong, we want to leave your planet but certainly out allegiance with the planet holds something that is familiar to us, whereas mankind is more of a nuisance and a mistake. GWAR views man as almost an arrogant problem.
OD – There are many topics on the album that you deal with such as politics, organised religion, pollution etc, do you find that the world has become more of a fucked up mess that it was when you took habitation here?
BOLTHAR – I can agree that Earth has become a steadily more fucked up place since we arrived on the planet, that’s for sure. This is no surprise to us. GWAR knew that this was going to happen. GWAR is not afraid of taking a political stance and have never been afraid of these scum-like humans. We’ve never tried to be above politics, but in our own way ARE above politics because our politics are the politics of destruction and the politics of chaos in some ways.
GWAR doesn’t identify with any political group as we have our own agenda that we are pursuing. We don’t steer away from talking about the foibles of human leaders because we don’t want anything to do with it.
We have been chopping the heads off Presidents for many years now, but all of a sudden as soon as we decapitate Donal Trump during our live show, his followers start to decry the band! We just think they should shut the fuck up! We’ve been doing this for a very long time and this person of all people is not above GWAR making fun of this goofball. Neither do we identify with the sort of nose in the air, out of touch liberals who have managed to alienate the most important people from the heartland of America. We’re not on any side, we’re on our own side, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t notice these problems and want to talk about them.
OD – Of course, Blood of the Gods is the first album without the legendary Oderus Urungus, was this a difficult procedure for the rest of the band to deal with and at any time was there a decision to not continue with your crusade?
BOLTHAR – No it wasn’t. When Oderus passed over, nobody wanted to stop doing what we were doing. The band was in a position to take another step and move forward with things. After loosing Oderus, the human slaves of GWAR involved looked at the situation and decided to keep going. Some of the fans didn’t understand why and that’s fine.
What we found out from this experience was that GWAR is simply something that can’t just go away and we don’t want it to go away right now. Some fans appreciate that some don’t.
We made a record that really sums up what we intend to do and that is making art to satisfy us. That’s our goal and always has been.If would have been easy to make a modern metal sounding record with a different singer and really followed with the past four or five GWAR albums but we wanted to do something different.
Very few people realise how much effort that goes into making GWAR work across all levels. People should realise that although Oderus was in some ways the face and voice of GWAR, there is a huge amount of effort from a lot of people that goes into making it all work.
When you see our live shows, I guess you can really see just how much effort goes into making each event happen. But for some reason, most people just think that the singer of the band somehow manages to make all of this happen and that couldn’t be further from the truth. There was even a time when Oderus wasn’t the singer of GWAR. I’m talking back in 1985, the first time I encountered GWAR live, they had a different singer as was the second time and the third time. The ensemble was always there and Oderus’s human slave Dave Brockie was always there but just doing different things.
The band is moving forward because the way people perceived the band was just GWAR.
OD – Your arrival into the ranks of GWAR has been a welcome development amongst the legions of dedicated subjects, are you content with this new album being the formidable stamp of your authority and arrival as lead commander of GWAR?
BOLTHAR – We didn’t have a choice in this situation. Even the voice was very different. Oderus was a baritone and I’ve got a higher tone. Oderus wrote a lot of lyrics and was not very interested in writing hooks within the music. I started as a very young space alien playing bass in GWAR and things changed over time and had a career prior to that in various punk rock bands. The truth of the matter is that I don’t know how to do the music that GWAR has been doing ever since Flattus Maximus (pictured below) came into the band and started his work on ‘Violence has Arrived’ and ‘Beyond Hell’ and records like that – I don’t know how to do stuff like that. I do something very different.
We know that we couldn’t do the same thing that Oderus and Flattus were doing and we weren’t in a position to try, as it just would have been executed badly and we didn’t want that and to be honest the fans wouldn’t have wanted that either.
I am more interested for the music to exist with more space and not having the vocals crowd the melody and the feel of the music. I think that is stylistically different and my voice is also stylistically different also which dramatically changes the way GWAR sound. Besides that, I think that what I do and what GWAR does is essentially pop music to a degree. Black Sabbath is a heavy rock band but they are also a very good pop band at heart. They write songs that have cleaver hooks and arrangements that people remember and that’s the way I approach music now and always.
I brought that back into GWAR and yes it does sound very different. One of the biggest things that I’m very proud of with this new album is that, although it’s a new approach, not at one moment does it stop sounding like GWAR! It always sounds like GWAR and I’m very pleased with that.
OD – When you see other bands such as Lordi taking influence from your appearance, does this flatter you or do you not concern yourself with such frivolous thoughts?
BOLTHAR – We’ll always be jealous of Lordi as we want nothing more to be on the Eurovision Song Contents and be given “Nul Points” by the judging panel. (laughs)
Lori does take influence from GWAR, there’s no doubt about that. It’s interesting to me as there really isn’t a comparison to what we do. I mean that vocalist makes a point of wearing that fucking costume live and then doing the interviews as himself. So, you get this very boring regular Swedish guy talking about stupid shit, while he looks like a monster.
He made a point about GWAR once, saying “well, GWAR is really silly, of course, I know that I’m not a monster”, well yeah okay, so you have this fucking guy sitting there and is nothing more than a boring fucking asshole. That’s not what GWAR does! We don’t set out to bore people, what the fucking point in that?
Also, you have to recognise GWAR lives for their art and it’s very important to us all that what we do is very different, clever and funny. It’s as if having a sense of humour rules you out as being a serious artist and that’s just fucking ridicules. It’s a product of arrogance and not a product of critical thought. GWAR mounts a seriously smart band and it’s always been that way and if I had to compare it to something I would compare it to the likes of Teodor Adorndo and The Frankfurt School of Thought, rather than compare it to fucking Lordi!
GWAR is a band that makes meaning and some of these other bands like Lordi don’t have any kind of message or meaning. GWAR is also terrifying in a way that some of these bands are not terrifying. It’s not every band that wears a costume. Take Slipknot, for example, they are a serious group of musicians and they know how to play as well as put on one hell of a show. Although, sometimes I’m not sure why they wear those outfits. With GWAR you always know why.
OD – I’m sure you have plans to take the gospel of GWAR far and wide off the back of ‘Blood of The Gods’, can we expect to see you in the flesh at this side of the planet anytime soon?
BOLTHAR – We are currently talking about it and are looking at 2018 as the year that GWAR goes back to Europe. Obviously, there is a lot of logistics that we need to figure out and although it’s early days we are very much in a discussion about European dates right now.mIt’s been way too long since the band was over there and hopefully, we will get back there in 2018 to teach the scum of Europe the ways of GWAR!
OD – GWAR just completed a stint on the Warped Tour, did you feed off the fear in the eyes of the kids at each show?
BOLTHAR – What we saw, to be honest with you was something like when we first came to the planet. There was a very intense reaction to the shows and all positive which pleased us very much. We got up on the stage and there were some kids that had a look of pure terror on their faces and in some cases, there were kids that were very upset that GWAR had ruined their brand new merchandise that they had just bought. I believe that some of the kids were taking the merchandise back to the march stalls and looking to switch the shirts. (laughing) They were all complaining about it and getting themselves into a hot mess which we thought was rather entertaining.
The Warped audience definitely didn’t know what to expect and for the most part, they really enjoyed us. GWAR was one of the major draws over the whole tour and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive and for us, we were just very happy to expose ourselves to a younger audience and bring people into the GWAR universe.
They may have been a little afraid at first but the people right up the front were really receptive and responded in a way that was very open-minded and positive which restored my faith in the younger humans on this planet.
OD – You have given us ‘Fuck This Place’ as an appetiser for the new album, however, will there be another single coming off the album?
BLOTHAR – Yes, in fact, we are working on one today. The concept is very much within the narrative of the album as we have Sleazy P. Martini who get’s GWAR to sell out to a corporate entity and he says “I want you to make a hit song” and the track we are playing is “I want to be your Monster”, so that’s happening today and it’s just packed with the typical GWAR humour and I’m sure the fans will dig it.
We’re also talking about doing something for ‘Viking Death Machine’ and there has been talk of doing an animated video also, so we have a lot of irons on the fire. Whether you like it or nor GWAR is coming for you!
Whether you like it or not, GWAR is coming for you!
‘Blood of the Gods‘ will be released on October 20th via Metal Blade Records. Click here to order your copy.
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