GWAR, Me, and the Onrushing Grip of Death: Part 14

Wowsers…one of the most fudge-packed years of my life is drawing to a sloppy conclusion, and all I can do is lie here and weep. I barely have enough strength to get the needle in my arm. And I have to get my pet monkey, Mr. Fibula, to depress the plunger! Ahhh, urine…

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Wowsers…one of the most fudge-packed years of my life is drawing to a sloppy conclusion and all I can do is lie here and weep. I barely have enough strength to get the needle in my arm. And I have to get my pet monkey, Mr. Fibula, to depress the plunger! Ahhh, urine…

Fuck it. I’m pretty darn proud of myself and the GWAR machine in general. In an economic environment like this one (that SUCKS), a lot of the tours on the road this year are EATING SHIT. That’s shop talk for losing money. Yet the GWAR juggernaut, 25 years old and counting, is still a hit. There are lots of reasons why…the obvious one being my nice ass (crap comes out of it!), but there are many others…like the make-up of our fan base. GWAR’s demographics are all-inclusive, and more than ever we see whole families coming out to the show. Paw has brought son who brought all his friends…and the next thing you know you have a special “kids only” area during the show, where a group of 6-10 year-olds get drenched in filth and sing along to every song. And I have met more than a few bloodstained grannies–fucked a couple.

Rock and Roll used to be a way to tell your parents to fuck off. Now you steal their Ramones albums!

In the next couple weeks will we wrap up the longest road-trip in GWAR history and my body has impressively withstood the ravages of extended touring. Things I once thought unthinkable I do on a daily basis. If you had told me 25 years ago that I would still be doing GWAR shows a quarter-of-a-century later I would have asked you for some of what you were on. If you had told me I would still love doing it I would give it back to you.

My role models have changed from more traditional rock and roll self-destructive types to guys like Brett Favre. If guys in their 40’s are starting at QB in the NFL, then it’s not too hard to picture me in the monster suit for another 20-30 years. At that point I would hand over the crown of GWAR to a suitable replacement…probably the same one that would have been doing more and more of the show for the preceding 10 years at least. I can see myself, enshrined onstage, lounging in some kind of murderous La-Z-Boy, goading my replacement onto the stage at the end of my dildo-tipped cattle-prod. I’ve often said, even when not high, that GWAR is the only band around today that will be around forever, and that we would breed our own replacements, or maybe adopt. I personally would like to see a completely ripped twelve-year-old Asian boy with full sleeves take my place one day. Adopt them at twelve, that way you miss all the shitting and pooing stuff. No need to go to high school, he could learn at home. Learn how to cook my meals, how to wash my clothes…get all the domestic slavery one could hope for out of a marriage, yet with none of the sexual obligation or financial responsibility. My boy will follow me and my Hover-Round everywhere, collecting my drool buckets and selling them on ebay! And then, when I have squeezed every last drop out of my battered carcass, I’ll sluff off all my band-related responsibilities onto my hapless slave boy,uh… I mean my son, but not before he signs a contract granting me full rights and ownership.

I have found it helps to live in a dream world. I mean, what is reality but what we make of it? But enough of the present, let us get back to the past…the story of the humble, behind-the-scene origins of the mighty GWAR…let us get back to…

GWAR, Me and the On-rushing Grip of Death

Part 14: “Bohemian Rape-sody”

I was dropped off at The William Byrd Hotel, which was in 1984 was being used to help house the over-flowing population of one of the city of Richmond’s few success stories—VCU. Yes, even back then VCU. was a ravening beast-thing, gorging its gaping maw with fistfuls of tuition, seeking to ever expand its environs. At that point they were doing it by being the cool school with the hip art department that opened its doors to herds of talented-yet-clueless middle class kids like me. At that point I don’t believe they had a business school, much less a basketball team! And from the start there were not enough dorm rooms for all of us. In my first semester I lived at the William Byrd Hotel, The Downtowner Motor Lodge, and finally got shoved in with the medical students at MCV. My double mohawk tended to stand out, especially down there.

The Byrd was cool because they had a live phone in the elevator room that we used to call up to every U.S. Embassy we could think of. I talked to the marine guards in Lebanon at one point! The Downtowner was cool because it had double beds and a color TV sticking out of the wall. And the MCV locale was cool because the food was better down there.

I lucked out on my new roomate, whom we’ll call “Psycho”, for reasons that will be revealed later. Psycho had a huge shock of flame-red curly hair and mouth always coated in slobber. He was from Fredericksburg so he had a little country in him, but not enough to make him a racist boob. He loved to swill beer and smoke weed while turning me on to all kinds of new music…stuff like Eno and Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp and King Crimson… in return I would play him my punk records, which he dug, so we got along pretty well. He ended up following me through all the moves of that first semester.

So there I was, 20 years old, with Richmond spread out before me, a dark playground of alleys and parks, parties and bars…and tons of hot chicks. My trusty skateboard was my only means of transport, and I set out to make friends and influence people. Oh yeah, I was also going to school!

The Richmond locals were friendlier than the DC dick squad but still had a distrust of outsiders, especially when they were snotty little shits like me. At that point I had worked my way through my “pretend like I’m from England” stage, past the “act like I’m a mean skinhead” portion, all the way to the final transformation, the one I am still rocking, the “I am a complete ass” stage.

I had some support as the Mantis was also present…he was a year behind me, and had planned to go to VCU—I was happy to join him. Another Northern Virginian present on the grounds of VCU was the notorious “Bam-Bam”. I had met him in a huge heap of entangled bodies at a show in DC As we got untangled (could be a lengthy process!) we got to know each other well enough to figure out that we were both headed to VCU, that he played drums, and that we should get a band together.

We didn’t know it at the time, but that innocent conversation was going to have staggering consequences for a lot of people. The wheels had been put into motion. Though we couldn’t see it at the time …the road to GWAR lay before us.

I set about meeting the locals and taking the lay of the land. Richmond had an amazing scene centered on a few clubs that consistently brought the biggest acts in punk rock. East Coast bands like the Bad Brains, COC, and Minor Threat played regularly, and about once or twice a month heavy weights like Black Flag from California or The Exploited from England would show up. There were at least a couple shows a week and at least that many parties. And of course anytime a cool band came from out of town every band in town jumped on the bill. So it wouldn’t be uncommon to see Minor Threat with White Cross, Honor Role, Graven Image, The Prevaricators and about 10 other local acts on the flyer. There were several clubs that did shows but the epicenter of the Richmond scene was a tiny dive bar located across from the swings in Monroe Park…the infamous Benny’s. Of course Bob at Hard Times did his best to compete…and then you had Casablanca, Going Bananas, and later PB Kelly’s…so there was never a shortage of places to play. But Benny’s was the spot where you could drink dollar Black Label’s, hang around on the swings, and try to get laid, and seemed to get the majority of the shows. It became the focus of my attention and main hang-out spot as I began my attempts to break into “the scene”.

Richmond was a young rascals’ dream world…the scene was barfy and hot, replete with tons of hot slutty punk chicks (gawd, the hair-do’s!) and lurking malcontents. Disaffected youth from all over the state had gathered here, casting the production with characters of CRAZY. Dirtwoman, Crazy Jimmy, and Dickie Disgusting were not moldy rumors, they were very real (and at times very scary) PEOPLE. When I first met Dickie (lead singer of The Degenerate Blind Boys, at the time Richmond’s most notorious punk band) he was fresh from a dog-food eating contest vs. Dirtwoman, and was on his way to hurl himself off the old Lee Bridge and try to catch a tree on the way down. He did this all the time, and swore by it!

The parties were fucking insane. There was one where the stated goal was to destroy an entire house. We spent all night out in the country, attacking this abandoned cottage, and didn’t leave until we had attached a chain to the center brace, wrapped the other end around the truck hitch, and driven off in an explosion of pissy mud and empty beer cans, collapsing the rest of the structure. Ask Skillet if you don’t believe me!

At that time the undisputed “Kings of the Scene” were White Cross, and my new hero was their lead singer, Crispy. Crispy had a venomous look that masked a sweet disposition, and I was always right up front any time they played, sucking his cock. Between my mindless flailing and Mantis’ patented “Zombie” move, we had made quite an impact on the local slam pits. Soon I had cracked my head wide open. Blood always makes an impression, and the locals didn’t seem to hate me too much.

But Psycho was starting to. He didn’t want to go out, he just hung around in the room, smoking pot and doing what I assumed was his homework on his typewriter. He was an English major so that made sense. My only interaction with him was our weekly Dungeons and Dragons sessions, where Psycho would act out violent elf- rape fantasies. One day I read some of his writing—an essay describing the graphic rape and murder of his teacher. Apparently he had turned this in and received an F. This drove him into a rage, and Psycho unleashed a slew of creative writing, every sentence focused on the ultra-detailed description of a slavering humanoid mutant creature which did nothing but rape and murder people, mostly women and usually teachers. He had even illustrated the work. But for all his prodigious efforts Psycho received failing marks “across the board”.

Everything came to a head one nameless night. I came in late, drunk, and stumbled into my room, to find my bed was gone. There was Psycho, snoring in the corner. The room was trashed, and smelt of char…a trail of ashes led to the shower where I found my mattress, or rather what was left of it, still smoldering. This was bad. I was already in trouble for the giant obscene drawings I had plastered on every floor of the stairwell. I never really got the story of what happened that night, but Psycho left school the next week, and went back to Fredericksburg soon after. And me? I has hauled up on charges by the Residency Board, and thrown out of the dorm…

Next episode…The Richmond Punks to the rescue! Medium-sized game-hunting in the big city! And the birth of Death Piggy! All this and less in the next, mind-shattering episode…

“And she goes by the name of…Domino”

(Confused? Get caught up with Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13.)

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Dave Brockie

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