Sleazy and I eyed each other from either side of a rubble-strewn chamber, somewhere deep inside the bowels of the Richmond Dairy. The jig was up; the Alter Natives had left for California to record a record for SST, so I was out a band.
THE GWAR-B-Q IS BACK!
Aug. 8th at the Bike Lot shall see an auspicious event in the annals of Richmond and Slave Pit history — after a 10-year break (because of 9/11, man!), the GWAR-b-q is back! Tons of bands, food, tattoos, beverages, and of course, sweltering heat. And as part of the entertainment we are proud to present a special set featuring many of the old members of GWAR, including the legendary Mike Bishop–the original Beefcake, Death Piggy guitarist Russ Bahorsky, and that lovable loudmouth, Christopher Maynard Bopst. 25 years of Slave Pit music…using the actual original members whenever possible. Should be pretty damn fun! Get full details at www.gwarbq.com
But I didn’t sign on to this column so I could use it as a platform to plug my various side projects…not today anyway. It’s time to get this oft-meandering but always written in English epic back on track. So this is it! We are really starting this thing again. So rest assured this is not another attack on the mean old men of the Republican Party, disguising itself as a rambling travelogue.
GWAR, Me and the On-Rushing Grip of Death Part 25
“I Don’t Know What to Call This One”
Sleazy and I eyed each other from either side of a rubble-strewn chamber, somewhere deep inside the bowels of the Richmond Dairy. The jig was up — the Alter Natives had left for California to record a record for SST, so I was out a band. The Slave Pit was getting bulldozed in the huge refurb the Dairy was getting, so we were out a studio as well. The “Dairy-Daze” were over. But the worst was yet to come…because at that point it seemed like GWAR might be over as well.
One filthy day as I was stumbling around the Dairy, trying to avoid the Pete the Piss-Troll and the homicidal rednecks in the basement, I walked into our beloved Pit to discover all of the costumes were gone. Techno’s pick-up truck, loaded with all the pieces he’d made (and a couple that he didn’t) was at that moment (we thought) barreling towards Detroit, where he had a job as a security guard waiting for him. I didn’t get it. Techno had always, despite his Dairy-dwelling, held normal jobs and was a reasonably normal person (despite his beet-red skin and white-blond mohawk). I took his departure as him trying to find a little more security in his life. Despite creating the costumes that inspired us to come up with GWAR, GWAR was never really his thing. In many ways, he was.a lot like the character he played on stage, Techno-Destructo, meaning that he hated GWAR a lot and me (Oderus) most of all. Techno had a real vision of what those costumes were for and increasingly he was realizing that it wasn’t going to happen with the current cast of idiot drunks. So he bailed.
As it turned out Techno had just stashed the shit with his folks…good thing he kept it a secret because we would have gone over there and busted that shit out. As it was, when confronted with our dilemma, Sleazy didn’t bat an eye, he just said:
“Fuck it. We’ll build new shit!”
And so we set our plan in motion We bounced out of the Dairy and ended up in the old tobacco warehouses past Shockoe Bottom. We had the Muselman to thank for that.
The Muselman was a graduate student at VCU that had been drawn into GWAR through Spike, a cohort at the Sculpture Department, where he had also studied. You see, it was really VCU that was most responsible for the creation of GWAR. If it hadn’t been for the cultural mecca of the VCU art school, none of the people that created GWAR would ever have come to Richmond. Unless of course it was for the fine crack and transvestite hookers that swarmed all over Broad Sreet. on any given night.
Muselman was an amazing sculptor with a low-key yet smoldering intensity. He, as much or more so than any other Slave Pit artist, typified what came to be known as “throwing down” — getting in the Pit, setting up your “glugs” (beers, usually Black Label but increasingly so Milwaukees Best), and building shit for hours and hours. That’s what it took and what it will always take to do GWAR. Tons of hard work, in hot, sweaty rooms, standing for days on end on hard-ass cement floors, swilling glugs, slathering yourself with toxic substances, cutting and carving foam, applying cloth and glue coverings, doing fiberglass, etc., etc. We used to cut foam with electric carving knives and then slop cloth and glue onto whatever it was we had created. We had a “hot wire” we used for cutting hard foam, which worked great except for the cyanide gas that was created when you melted your way through the stuff. The shop was always a disaster and nobody could ever find their scissors.
But the Muselman brought a new level of skill and craft to the Slave Pit. His shit looked so nice. And whatever he built lasted forever. With him, Sleazy, Sexy, Spike, myself, and increasingly Mantis and Boner, we set about re-building all of the costumes and getting GWAR going again.
I helped in the shop, but not much. That was probably good, as my sculptures had a tendency to suck. I was a GWAR- toonist, meaning I did a lot of the drawing, but my primary job was to get a new band together. So I went with what I knew– the local punk scene. I went straight to Spewy.
Spewy had used to play bass in White Cross and then guitar in Unseen Force. Both of those bands ruled and White Cross had even toured. He was a big, mellow, and most importantly friendly Richmond local, who was in the midst of a messy break-up of his latest band. He lived in a big house on Grove with his girlfriend The Ice Princess, and I would hang around over there until somebody fed me. I skated over there one day and put it to him, and he responded favorably. He got on the phone and the next thing I knew I had Hoseby as my drummer, notorious drummer of White Cross. Hoseby was a known hood who never changed his expression except when playing drums, when his lip would pull back slightly. Plus he had the best naturally spiking hair ever, which I was very jealous of.
It was a great start! I had two local legends and a warehouse full of dudes building new shit…but the line-up wasn’t set yet.
I didn’t want people from other bands. I wanted people who were ready to throw down for GWAR, as their number one priority. I needed to do something here! I obviously wasn’t going to pay the bills as a painter, and my construction gigs were getting fewer and more odious when they did occur. Working with idiots is hard for me. I needed to make GWAR a success, or my life was going to suck . The Alter Natives, for all of my jealous rantings directed at A-Hole, had inspired the hell out of me. Hell, EVERYBODY was piling into vans and hitting the road. Death Piggy had given me a little taste of success. GWAR and Shafer Court had given us a fabulous glimpse into what the future could be. But I needed a damn good band before I could go anywhere. My next move was a solid if not very daring one. I picked up Thuglass, the original Balsac. Nobody knew much about him except he was a little older than the rest of us and that he played a wicked guitar; his solid chops would off-set Spewy’s sound nicely. So I decided to overlook the bald-spot and stories of crack-abuse. Thuglas was in!
Of course I was seeing this all through beer-colored glasses. I had no idea about the deep and distressing problems that all three of these people had. My “dream team”, would turn out to be a total nightmare, and within a few years all of them would be gone. No, not dead, just out of the band.
I was happy with the progress, but the band was still incomplete.I still didn’t have a bass player. For GWAR to step up, and nothing less than the best bass player in town would do — and he also had to be the fattest. And I knew just where to get him.
Tickled pink? Well, don’t you worry, there will be more pink-tickling coming in just two short weeks, when the next, all new, on time, every other Friday appearing, and actually about what it is supposed to be about episode of “GWAR, Me and the On-rushing Grip of Death.” Don’t miss the next one as I tell the story of the reborn GWAR trying to take the step from Richmond joke band to actually touring the craziest show in history. So, see ya in two weeks with:
“The Golden Battle Barge”