DAVE BROCKIE A.K.A. ODERUS URUNGUS: “IN MEMORIAM BY MATTHEW GREEN”
Last week the metal world was rocked by the sudden passing of GWAR front man, Dave Brockie. For over twenty years, this band put on some of the most insane and entertaining shows in the music scene, and it was all led by Dave, or Oderus Urungus, as we all called him. His death has left a massive hole in the metal scene, and especially with the legions of GWAR fans. To pay proper tribute to Dave, I asked one of the biggest GWAR fans I know to say a few words on what Dave and the guys meant to him, and you can read it below. This is a moving passage and I want to send a sincere thanks to my friend, Matthew Green, for taking the time to do this. RIP Oderus!
“The passing of Dave Brockie has created a vast hole in my metal life, therefore in my entire life. There are a few things i want to clarify to not be preconceptions of my experiences and opinions of Gwar, therefore a few factors I would like to lay out to explain why he and Gwar meant so much to me. Really, just why this just feels like such a bullshit situation.”
“I do not want and will not pretend that I have been a Gwar fan since the beginning of Gwar. For one thing, and I assume the primary reason, I am not old enough. I like all Gwar, from their punky roots to their shock rock peaks and particularly their metal finale. I like the music and the show, not just the show as many fans do. Brockie was a master of both, of crafting elaborate stories and experiences on their albums then bringing that magic and intensity to the show.”
“I began going to metal shows around 14-15, and based on the shows I begin picking, my dad (of all people), was the one who said I should check Gwar out. At the time, his talks of the band bleeding, pissing and cumming, which sounded disgusting but intriguing to my youngish mind. Then oddly enough, I saw Gwar themed xbox controllers in an advertisement, and the sheer detail / grotesqueness of the designs immediately peeked my curiosity made me want to learn more.”
“Flash forwards a little bit to the middle years of high school, and I finally made it to my first big summer festival tour. I was not quiet sure what to expect, which became obvious upon immediately smashing my bare knees on the pavement around noon to DevilDriver. This was at the first annual Sounds of the Undergound tour. I was still just a teenager, and a group of friends loaded up in a parent’s minivan to make the journey. The tour featured the likes of Strapping Young Lad, Lamb of God, Opeth, Clutch, Chimaira…but one band stood out and above all of the rest…the almighty Gwar. They began setting up their stage show later on in the afternoon, with the sun still shining bright, to the rabid fans awaiting the arrival of our Scumdog Lords. I was amazed by the sheer intricacy of a non-headlining band’s stage setup, and even somewhat weirded out by the dead and dying baby sculpts put into the backdrop (which i quickly grew to love).”
“Gwar hit the stage. It was like nothing I’d ever seen. An aural assault of some kind of grimy metal punk hybrid, with a live spectacle throw in, incredibly offending but genuinely original and profoundly delivered marched along by the live commentary from the one and only Oderus Urungus. They looked huge, larger than life, yet the band was playing their character roles and their instruments tighter and more entertaining than most bands of half their years. Jesus Fucking Christ Dave Brockie was working the crowd better and more uniquely than I had ever seen. It was love at first squirt, when I got hit in the face with a load of green and purple goo from his cuttlefish. In a fest with some 14+ bands running from noonish til 11, Gwar was the only band that brought the rain. I will never forget that, than on a hot summer day, on top of the amazingly refreshing gore juice and blood they were spraying, it fucking rained during their set. Only their set, of all the bands to play. The stage was actually built in a parking lot, and after there set, with the rain mixed in with Gwar juice, there were massive puddles bordering mini ponds and streaming rivers of blood, bile, and semen. It changed my fucking life.”
“Throughout the next few years, I became a true and genuine Gwar fanboy. I began collecting their albums, shirts, Gwar-B-Q sauce, and whatever else I could get. I joined the fanclub. I took at least one new person to a Gwar show each and every time they came, because to me a Gwar show is something everyone, metal or not, should experience in their lives. As the years went on, my tastes became heavier and darker. Admittedly, Gwar, especially the older stuff, became one of the softer bands I listened too. But they never left my library, never lift my car cd collection / ipod / phone, and will never leave my heart.”
“I never missed a Gwar show in Atlanta, from that day in high school forward, regardless of what time I had to work or how shitty the openers were, I was there. I never did not get soaked. I positioned myself near the decapitations, organ destructions, gore fuckings, and even when the Cuttlefish released it’s load from the ball brains. I even planned trips throughout the Southeast to catch their shows throughout the years, and was never once disappointed. I got to experience them in venues large and small, where their setup could be genuinely spread out and they had room to slaughter countless foes, slaves, and celebrities, and tiny rooms where Balsac would touch the ceiling standing still.”
“When I traveled to New York for an entirely different metal reason, I happened to check Gwar’s site and realize the first Crack-a-Thon was happening in the same general vicinity as where I was. I managed to locate the building in a random Brooklyn neighborhood, waved in by a giant bouncer who simply saw my black band tee and said “you’re in the right place.” The gallery was covered in fantastic Gwar art from different people throughout the years, stuff I could only dream of affording and displaying in my collection. It was then that I happened to notice one super eccentric, crazy focused guy who could not stop moving throughout the venue. He was barefoot in jeans and a tshirt, running from the stereo equipment to the makeshift bar to the mini stage to help whatever local punk band set up. It was none other than Dave Brockie, and although he was not quite as large as I expected from his intimidating stage presence, he exuded this sense of energy, ability, and focus, that I do not think I have ever seen in my life. I stopped him just long enough to shake his hand and say what a crazy great job he has done and continues to do. Retrospectively, I will forever cherish that memory, and wish I had just asked for a picture with one of the current living legends of metal.”
“The passing of Cory Smoot was a hard one. I was shocked, then saddened, then surprised but impressed with how the band handled it. How they continued the tour. With how Dave honored his memory through his music, then wrote it perfectly into the Gwar saga so that Flattus would always be a cornerstone, always be and original and influential Scumdog. I generally wore white shirts to Gwar shows, for obvious reasons, but the few times I saw them after he passed, I made sure to wear a white shirt with “RIP Cory Smoot, Goodbye Flattus Maximus” written in extra large sharpie. Their first time back, I made sure to hold the shirt up like a target, to make sure the band saw the fan’s respect and remorse for their late guitarist, and I swear I saw Oderus wave his much too large finger gloves at me in recognition.”
“To wake up to the news that Monday morning was beyond devastating. There are lots of bands that can come and go, lots of fantastic artists who, if they pass, they can be replaced if energy is put into finding the right replacements. Lots of amazing bands who if they were to go away, it would suck, but they are in a broad enough genre that they do not leave as sad and vast a hole. Gwar are a niche. They carved their own path. They created their own evolution, be it punk, shock rock, metal, satire, or all of the above. All spearheaded by Dave Brockie. He was the ringleader of their controlled chaos of a circus, the Captain of their Scumdog ship, and the Lord and Master of all Lords and Masters.”
“I always kind of thought and assumed Gwar shows would be a constant in my life. They have been for nearly 10 years now. They were one of the few bands I would for mosh a bit then leave the pit and work my way to the front. Even though their shows were hot, humid, and smelly, with no personal space and just generally uncomfortable, Goddamn they were fun. I can remember sharing a flask of whiskey with a good friend in front of the stage between songs as celebrities were called out and mauled. I can remember bringing unsuspecting dates to the show, who would become terrified at first then get into the swing of things and have a fucking night they would never forget. I can remember the amount of showers taken post show, where red and pink water flows down the drain for the first 10 minutes, with the occasional purples and greens thrown in for good measure. Then going to work the next day, where it was impossible to hide the missed spots on and around the ears, fingernails, beard, and eyes. The stained red contacts. The Glory of Gwar.”
“Beyond Gwar being a band from space, before time, frozen in Anarctica, to Hell, back to space, and everywhere in between, they were always their own distinct entity. Chocked full of more lore and mythos than most scifi / fantasy sagas, able to act them out year after year, all curated and conducted by the charismatic and never predictable Oderus. However, even with all of their crazy stories and lyrics, Brockie branched out far beyond the band. When I discovered he wrote a full-length novel, I will admit I was skeptical. But given some of the ingenious and disgusting things he has written in the past, I figured I would give it a chance. And Goddamn did that book fucking rule. Admittedly it is written about and named after a song, however, Wharghoul is a beast of it’s own. More disgusting / vile / offensive / and epic than a Gwar show, if you are a fan of horror, scifi, weird history, or human satire, I would check it out. It showcases Dave’s obvious love and knowledge of history, human brutality, and self discovery. The book rules and it tears me up that I will not ever get to read any others by him.”
“One of the most bittersweet aspects of Dave’s passing is that his last official release was written to honor a fallen brother. Listening to Battle Maximus now brings it to an entirely new level. Not to take anything away from the passing of Cory / Flattus, but holy shit the darkness and sorrow even for a Gwar record is so much more palpable and present now. It’s sad. Cory was tragic, as Dave is, but in my opinion Gwar dies with Dave. He handled the Cory passing better than I could’ve ever imagined, but now it is time to say goodbye to all of the Scumdogs.
I am going to miss Dave Brockie so very much, even as just a fan that never knew him personally. I feel like he wore his heart on his sleeve, always broadcasting his opinions and thoughts to those smart enough to listen. His random tv / movie appearances, his near constant commentary of current events, his opinions regarding the metal scene and the world overall; these things were all phenomenal, original, and expertly executed. He is not replaceable in the band, or in this world. His passing is completely and utterly unnecessary and fucking bullshit. How the fuck did he not outlive Lemmy and Ozzy? Don’t get me wrong, I love Motorhead and Black Sabbath but I feel like these guys will end up living uncomfortably long when Dave was taken far too soon. I guess he just rocked too hard, gave a little bit of his heart to each one of us during his gigs, and did not leave enough for himself.”