When you’re in a costume-clad metal band that makes its living playing foul-mouthed thrash and defiling prosthetic corpses of socialites, presidents and religious leaders, it’s a safe bet you don’t take yourselves too seriously.
But what happens when the harsh realities of life come crashing down upon your insular circle of headbanging pranksters?
You have the emotionally intense situation GWAR is in now: touring just months after the tragic death of longtime guitarist, Corey Smoot, who died of a heart attack at age 34.
“One of the most difficult things humans can go through is the sudden, tragic death of someone you love,” GWAR frontman Dave Brockie (aka Oderus Urungus) told DigBoston from the band’s lair in Richmond, Va. “You start getting used to it as you get older … but it’s not supposed to happen when you’re fucking 34 years old. It’s been a real struggle for us all.”
Such heart-wrenching adversity is an unusual position for Brockie and company to be in. He and his crew of sharp-witted ex-art students have spent the past three decades soaking eager crowds with fake blood and bodily fluids while churning out satirical speed metal songs like “Pre-School Prostitute,” “Saddam-a-Go-Go” and “Hail, Genocide!” They’re the ultimate DIY gang, having made grisly sci-fi-inspired movies, videos and comic books, all based on a crew of crack-addict aliens who crash-landed in Antarctica on a mission to destroy Earth.
“Corey wouldn’t have wanted us to quit,” he said. “He would have been mad at us.”
The band has retired Smoot’s character, Flattus Maximus, and on its current “Return of the World Maggots” tour, his guitar sits ominously in his former spot on stage in tribute.
“We’ll never forget him and will always honor him. But the show must go on. We’re rough and tough—the hardest working band in show biz.”
With that last sentiment, Brockie seamlessly shifts into his Oderus Urungus character and talks of how he plans to “arm-fuck Snooki” on the hallowed stage at the Wilbur Theatre March 20.
“What the fuck are they thinking?” he grunted of the historic venue’s owners. “They should book us in a garbage dump. It’s going to be a disgusting mess. The cleanup crew will quit their jobs.”
They’ve already got plans to go back into the studio to follow-up 2010’s acclaimed Bloody Pit of Horror, but plan to remain a four-piece rather than replace Smoot.
“It’s certainly made us appreciate each other and this thing we’ve created more than ever. It’s gone on a lot longer than we ever thought it would and it’s still a real gas to do it.”