Gwar: The Alien Rock Band Comes to Atlanta

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Gwar is a rock band most known for its 34-year history and covering the crowd in fake blood. Yes, you read that right.

Gwar’s backstory is that they were banished to Earth and landed in Antarctica. Once thawed, they were found by manager Sleazy P. Martini who taught them to play instruments and has been exploiting them for money ever since.

Really though, the bandmembers met in Richmond, Virginia.

Gwar’s debut album, “Hell-O,” came out in 1988. Their second album, “Scumdogs of the Universe,” came out in 1990 and is their best-selling album to date. This is also their first album with Metal Blade Records, who released 11 Gwar studio albums.

Gwar performed in Atlanta at the Masquerade on Oct. 20. They performed songs from “Scumdogs of the Universe,” as well as their latest album, “The New Dark Ages,” which came out in June.

Their setlist featured eight songs from their latest release including “New Dark Ages,” “Berserker Mode” and “The Cutter.” They also played older songs like “Sick of You,” from the album “Scumdogs of the Universe,” “Womb with a View” and “None but the Brave.”

Gwar guitarist Pustulus Maximus aka Brent Purgason, said he has enjoyed playing songs from the new album.

“I’m fortunate enough that we’re in a band that has been around for so long, but we can still rock out brand new tunes. A lot of legacy acts can’t really do that. They pretty much just play the hits. I guess that’s the benefit of never having a hit,” said Purgason. “We’re definitely doing some stuff on this tour that are fan-favorites, like ‘Bring Back the Bomb’ and ‘Saddam a Go-Go,’ but it’s a lot of new stuff.”

Gwar guitarist, Pustulus Maximus, onstage at their concert in Atlanta on Oct. 20. Photo by Cannon Crompton

Purgason said the new album is about “humanity is returning to the dark ages in a way, mostly due to rejection of science and truth.” He also mentioned lack of privacy and disease spreading are things that the album references.

In addition to their latest album, they released a comic book, “The Duoverse of Absurity.” Purgason said the comic book and album go together, but that the comic tells a different story.

The album is more about what is happening in the present universe, but the comic has multiple universes in it, like what the Marvel comics have and what the tv show “Rick and Morty” does, said Purgason.

They are known for their live performances and the elaborate costumes they have worn since their start. Ever since the beginning, they have designed and produced their own costumes. They are also notorious for the blood. Even doing a cover of the song “If You Want Blood (You Got It),” originally done by AC/DC, for their 2017 album “The Blood of Gods.” For most of their career, they have been using fake blood and spraying the crowd with it.

Purgason described their live show: “It’s definitely different. Its far beyond any other rock n’ roll show that anyone could ever see. In addition to elaborate stage plots and outfits, we’re constantly attacked by various enemies,” said Purgason. “We must dispose of them as quickly as possible so we can resume with the show. Anyone that ends up getting killed, most of the time their blood will end up spraying all over the audience during the duration of the song.”

Gwar lead singer, The Berserker Blóthar, onstage at their concert in Atlanta on Oct. 20. Photo by Cannon Crompton

They are known for pretending to kill celebrities, such as United States presidents including Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump and Joe Biden. They have also “killed” celebrities such as Kanye West, Justin Bieber and Jerry Springer. Springer actually came out of stage to be “killed.” Most of the time, the celebrities are played by actors using prosthetics.

Purgason said that the current tour they are on, they have been “killing” Joe Biden and Donald Trump. They also “killed” Vladimir Putin. He also said, “a lot of the character on-stage relate to our new record, ‘The New Dark Ages’ and ‘The Duoverse of Absurdity’ comic book.”

In July, the documentary “This is Gwar” was released on the streaming platform Shudder. The documentary details the career of Gwar from how they met all the way up to the years after their original lead singer, Oderus Urungus aka Dave Brockie, passed away in 2014.

“It’s nice to see some of these stories finally come to light. For people that don’t know all the trials and tribulations that the band had to go through to get to this point…Everybody that I’ve talked to that’s seen the film, they definitely come away with new knowledge and a new respect for the band, which is really cool.”

Purgason had some advice for college students. He said, “Go to trade school and become a plumber because people will always need to shit.”

Gwar bassist, Beefcake the Mighty (left) and guitarist, Balsac the Jaws ‘O Death (right) onstage at their concert in Atlanta on Oct. 20. Photo by Cannon Crompton

Gwar has a history in Georgia. On May 15, 1998, their concert in Athens, Georgia at the Georgia Theatre was shut down by the police. According to the report on thefileroom.org and found in the American Civil Liberties Union Arts Censorship Project Newsletter, Fall 1992, the description of the incident is “Athens police charged the theater’s owner with violating the county’s alcoholic beverage code, which forbids facilities from presenting ‘licentious or obscene’ performances when liquor is served.”

The Georgia ACLU represented Gwar and the audience members and received a settlement of $17,500.

Gwar donated that money to the Missing Children Organization.

In an interview with Noisecreep that was published Aug. 13, 2009, the Gwar singer at the time Oderus Urungus aka Dave Brockie said, “Well, it turned out the check we gave them bounced. We didn’t realize we’d spent the money. We had a big ceremony on the steps of the Athens Police Department to hand over the check. It was the most f—ed-up, surreal thing I’ve ever done in my life. We ended up getting them the money later, but I was pretty ashamed of myself.”

Gwar is lead singer The Berserker Blóthar, lead guitarist Pustulus Maximus, guitarist, Balsac the Jaws ‘O Death, bassist, Beefecake the Mighty, drummer, Jizmak Da Gusha, bodyguard, Bonesnapper, nemesis, SawBorg Destructo and manager, Sleazy P. Martini.

More information about Gwar can be found on their website.

Feature Image by Cannon Crompton