Known to humankind for over 30 years, and infamous not only for their imposing and grotesque appearance but also for making beheadings, disembowelment, and bloody violence prominent features in their live performance. It is a brave or foolish writer who accepts the opportunity to meet this formidable band face to face.
Even while repeating the mantra, “it is only make believe”, I feel some trepidation as I prepare to descend into the depths of London’s O2 Academy, where I am told GWAR are waiting to address the people of the Earth.
Myself and a small group of nervous journalists are led by one the band’s human slaves down a long staircase and through a labyrinth of corridors. Eventually we are told to wait in a dank corner of a subterranean floor. A quick glance around reveals the lack of an easy exit, but by this time it is too late to turn back because moments later, Beefcake The Mighty, Blöthar The Berserker and Balsac The Jaws Of Death come striding out from their makeshift lair, eyeing the humans before them with some disdain.
A brief confirmation from Balsac confirms that two weeks into the European tour already feels like two years! I ask Beefcake if he is pleased to be in the UK; “What do you find to be good and the bad about the place?”
Hmm, he growls. “It’s great,” he reluctantly acknowledges… “but the bad? Ummm, the toilets. No hot water in the sinks when there’s hot water water in the shower. No hot water in the shower when there’s hot water in the sink!… The food, the ugly women. All that! But, I got my proper fish and chips today, so I’m HAPPY!”
Balsac adds, “We had jellied eels!”
The conversation turns to the virtues of a whelk, prompting another writer to ask, how the band would describe GWAR‘s music to the average seafood eating patron in a pie and mash shop?
“Well, kind of like a musical jellied eel really!” Says Balsac, making reference to the aggressive nature of the slippery fish. “It’ll slit your throat if you look at it wrong”
With mischief in his eye, Beefcake clarifies that GWAR are a lot more drunk than a jellied eel though, chuckling to himself at the recent memory of beers and seafood.
The young man to my right carries on, “Would you consider GWAR a religion?”
“Ah, fuck no!” snaps Beefcake. “Religion is the stupidest fucking thing ever conceived! Why worship some bullshit you can’t fucking prove, that’s just stupid!”
He goes on to ask if GWAR have a mission that is specifically anti-religion.
“No! GWAR‘s only mission is to get the fuck off this planet.” “Meanwhile,” he says with nonchalant flourish, “our only fun is killing anybody that gets in our way of killing anyone! So, y’know… we drink, we fuck, we kill, we play rock & roll.”
Balsac, gnashing his jaws in agreement, backs up his bandmate and elaborates, “If you see anyone that kills someone that we were gonna kill, you kill that motherfucker!”
Beefcake nods. “If anybody gets in the way of me killing anyone… I’m gonna hurt ’em, really bad!” He drifts off into a murderous daydream.
Picking up on the theme, another of the assembled journalists reveals he has heard a dirty rumour about the band. “Is it true that when you sleep with British groupies you kill them by imploding them and sucking out their breasts?!”
Beefcake acknowledges the inevitability of a groupie’s fate. “Well, when this (he says gesturing to himself) lays on top of that… that dies! I mean, it’s eight thousand pounds of fucking hot man flesh!
“Beautiful man flesh,” the writer next to me agrees. Sensing the heat rising, my own recorder begins to tremble in my hand. Beefcake slaps his skin and leans forward to the man and says, “we can talk later!” Laughing, the writer goes on to describe another rumour he’s heard. He asks if it’s true that at the end of the set, the band is going to “let off a thermo-nuclear device!”
“If it works tonight. We’ve been having trouble with it. They’re more like home made flash-pots… only ours are thermo-nuclear.”
Balsac seems cynical about the idea. “We’re really not that hi-tech, we prefer to get a bit more hands on!” He mimes someone having their entrails pulled out. This grim action appears to peak the interest of Blöthar the Berserker, who until now has been lumbering around on the periphery. Now the conversation has moved on to human destruction he appears keen to take part.
One of the journalists seems queasy, and asks, “Who is most likely to throw up on the tour bus?”
Sensing the young man’s unease, Blöthar cuts in, “Probably you! You’re coming on the tour bus, and you are definitely gonna throw up!” Beefcake is offended at the suggestion of GWAR having a weak constitution. “We may ooze from certain regions, but throwing up isn’t something that we do!”
Attempting to take the spotlight off his own fate, the young journo’ asks the band, if they could execute one person on stage, who would it be? GWAR all roll their eyes. “Oh, THIS question!” they sigh.
Balsac shuts it down. “Why would we limit ourselves to just one person? We do it every night!” Blöthar reassures us that the band will get around to everybody at some point and Beefcake offers a clue as to who will be meeting their demise in tonight’s show. “Who is it that sticks out right now? He answers his own question. “We kill Donald Trump, every single night!
He goes into more detail. “Trump comes up and sucks Blöthar off like a champ, like he was BORN to do it! It’s amazing just watching Trump work that thing!”
“We would’ve killed Boris Johnson,” says Balsac, “but to be honest we couldn’t tell the difference between the two! All fat men with blonde wigs look identical to GWAR.”
“Ah, well,” says Blöthar, “I don’t know if I’d say, invited. More like, ceremonially invoked! Why would we waste our words, when our fists are poetic?!”
“Indeed! And before we start getting too political, let’s get back to tonight. This is your last show in the UK?”
“It is! It’s just about our last show this decade. Now we’re ready to go to Eastern Europe, where the women are really beautiful… They’re hairy! Ooof!”
“And you have a new years eve show planned in Cincinnati? Is that going to be special?”
“Every GWAR show is special!” Beefcake roars!
Blöthar picks up on his bandmate’s enthusiasm. “We’re gonna throttle the old year and then throttle the little baby new year!”
“We’re gonna take both years and bang their heads together like coconuts!”
“GWAR, we love you. Do you have anything else to say to the people of London?”
“Well, y’know,” considers, the frontman… “fuck you.”
He draws another breath. “What else is there to say? It’s the oldest city. The oldest Roman city! It IS a Roman city. We’ve been here so many times, at this point it’s just old hat! Londoners know us.”
“And they still buy tickets,” Beefcake acknowledges. “It’s sold out tonight! No matter how many times we come here and kill ’em, and no matter how many years between us coming over here and killing ’em, they still buy tickets!”
Blöthar nods in agreement, and just in case anyone was still on the fence about getting a ticket, he boasts the following. “What I would say to anyone in London is, GWAR LIVES MOTHERFUCKERS! Come and fucking see us! It’s the best fucking rock show you’ve ever seen! Period. Bar none!
With that, the three monstrous musicians heave themselves away, thankfully leaving us unscathed. I feel grateful that our fate could have been very different had the band not gorged their appetite on seafood earlier in the day. Wisely, we each turn and exit before tempers change, heading for the light at the top of the stairs. Each one of us now carrying the unbelievable tale of the time we stood face to face with GWAR, and lived!