Santa Cruz, are you ready to be slayed?
From deep within the bowels of Richmond, Virginia, the heavy metal space aliens Gwar have surfaced and they are showing no mercy. On Nov. 17, they return to the Catalyst—for the first time in five years—promising another night of chaos drenched in the blood of their prey. Only this time, they demand more than a sacrifice.
“I look forward to leaving Santa Cruz with a briefcase full of money and drugs,” says guitar player Pustulus Maximus. “It doesn’t even have to be a specific amount of money, the briefcase just needs to be full of it. And drugs.”
Just don’t try to pull a fast one on the Scumdogs of the Universe.
“No coins, it needs to be all paper,” he warns. “It can even be the Canadian funny money, that’s fine.”
For the last three decades, this grotesque group of renegade alien warriors has toured the world slaughtering ear drums with their merciless music and brutal stage show. At each show, Maximus, the Berserker Blothar (vocals), Balsac the Jaws ‘O Death (guitar), Jizmak Da Gusha (drums) and Beefcake the Mighty (bass) drenching their loyal fans—also known as bohabs—in gallons of blood. Literally. Bohabs specifically wear white for the occasion, often keeping each tour shirt as a token souvenir from their gods.
But who are these mysterious creatures and how did they come to wreak havoc on our planet?
The Gwar mythos is deep and often mysterious. They were intergalactic warriors serving a supreme being called the Master, and sent throughout the universe to kill his enemies. The only problem was that they were a little too enthusiastic about their work and each member “earned a reputation for being an intergalactic fuck-up.” They were banished to a dirt planet called—you guessed it—Earth, where they changed the natural order by mating with apes, creating all human life. They found their way to Antarctica, where the Master trapped them for centuries, only to thaw in 1984 and return to the slaughter. They even managed to escape the planet for a tour in space, but quickly returned because, well, space doesn’t have crack for them to smoke.
But don’t take our word for it—it’s all explained on their latest album, The Blood of Gods.
“It definitely tells the tales of our struggles, trials and tribulations over the last years,” Maximus admits. “Especially the last few years, which have been an extensive grieving process and rebirth.’
The band has had a cast of characters come and go over the years—from their cave troll slave Bonesnapper to their greasy manager, Sleazy P. Martini. However, tragedy struck when their longtime guitarist, Flattus Maximus, stole a spaceship and returned to his birthplace of Planet Home.That’s when Pustulus stepped up to the plate, defending the honor of the Maximus clan.
“The last time we played [Santa Cruz] in 2012 was actually my first tour with the band,” he remembers.
The second tragedy came in 2014, when founding member and long-time singer Oderus Urungus, became trapped between dimensions, unable to return to the band, and is now confirmed deceased.
But as Maximus noted, with destruction comes rebirth. From the portals of time, Gwar pulled Blothar through history and into our realm. The Blood of Gods might be his first album with the Scumdogs, but he was able to quickly carve his own warm hole in the group.
“We are the gods [in the title],” he says. “It’s been shown over the past decade that Gwar can bleed and suffer mortal blows.”
“He speaks for all of us in the band through these lyrics,” Maximus states. “And I think he did a fucking great job at expressing what we needed to get out there. If you want to know what’s going on with us, it’s all there.”
From the opening track, “War on Gwar,” to tracks like “Crushed By the Cross,” Gods is a brutal onslaught of heavy metal. It was a massive undertaking that the cretins didn’t take lightly, knowing how heavily they would be watched along the way. And as sales have shown, they nailed it.
“It was an accomplishment to make a record without Oderus Urungus, which was the elephant in the room,” acknowledges Maximus. “Every listener is going to judge us in that respect, so we decided, ‘Fuck it, we’re going to do what we’re going to do.’ It was a very organic process.
“We wanted to do a Gwar record, and I’m very glad for that,” he says. “Gwar has changed over the years, but there was a cohesion to the way things were put together.”
While it is definitely a Gwar record, what makes it stand out from their most recent albums is the decidedly rock ’n’ roll turn they chose to take. Songs like “Phantom Limb” and “El Presidente”—in which bohabs will hear a horn section, something that hasn’t appeared on a Gwar album in years—bring a distinct 1970s hard rock flavor to the music. They even do a gruesome cover of AC/DC’s “If You Want Blood.”
“Oderus had wanted to cover that for years,” Blothar remembers.
“The biggest reason why this is such a diverse record is because we didn’t want to be limited by any one style,” he says. “And Gwar shouldn’t be, considering we invented all of them.”
This new rebirth has led the band on a wave of destruction with Oakland-based Ghoul and Richmond group U.S. Bastards, on a tour that Maximus describes as “long and hard, much like a pecker.” But it’s a tour that is needed, because it seems not even space aliens can escape the IRS.
“We don’t get any medical benefits, but they still take a shitload of taxes. How’s that for America?” he growls. “I’m not even allowed to vote, since I’m not a natural-born citizen. Not like there’s anyone to vote for anyway.”
INFO: 6:30pm. The Catalyst Club. 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $25adv/$29door. 429-4135.