Spilling The Blood of Gods: GWAR’s Pustulus Weighs In
The latest installment in the epic of GWAR, The Blood of Gods (out October 20), is an ode to the shock-rock fixture’s fascinating career that’s withstood run-ins with the law, extensive lineup shifts, and the unexpected loss of one of their own. Opening with devilishly heavy riffs unmasking a secret stoner side, the band’s resentment toward their colonized Earth boils into full-on grandiose anger through area-style wails on tracks like “Phantom Limb.” The chronicle is held together by the unapologetic rock-and-roll spirit that GWAR has retained over their career, while also offering brief interludes that pay homage to their many musical phases. While a sit-down listen may lack the accompaniment of stage theatrics, the album still makes demands of the listener while maintaining an energy that ceases to wane.
In addition to being an appropriate sequitur in GWAR’s career, The Blood of Gods fits soundly into the larger context of the ill-fallen world around us. The album depicts the savvy cyborgs stumbling into an era of fast-food media who happily exploit their controversial sound bites which, ironically, only helped garner popularity for the band. As the world burns in the fiery nihilistic aftermath, GWAR uses The Blood of Gods as a space to meditate on their responsibility for the creation of a toxic human race, as per the band’s infamous narrative. Facets of this great brain-drain include attempting to make sense of human atrocity and coping with backlash from their offspring as it deflects its blame to its makers, which takes form in the recitation style of storytelling in tracks like “Fuck this Place.”
The album’s finale “If You Want Blood” personifies the final stage of anger: a special breed of “fuck it” acceptance. Nothing short of a prime, beer-slanging party sing-along, the track conjures up nostalgia of house ragers and high times, à la the final segment of TV show Viva La Bam when all of the day’s hijinks have been attended to and it’s time to get crunk. Despite the grave challenges that The Blood of Gods addresses -- both within the context of GWAR’s career and within the surrounding universe -- it teaches the important lesson that no one will ever know all the answers to the problems that plague the universe, but we can celebrate the outrageously dark humor integral to the journey of trying to find them.
That humor is precisely what we unearthed when speaking to GWAR lead guitarist, Mr. Pustulus himself.
What’s up in Richmond?
Same old shit. Just rehearsing. Wanting to blow my brains out.
How’s rehearsal going?
We’re still doing it. This call has saved me from having to be in that room any longer, so that’s good.
So you guys are going on tour soon, right?
And you just got done a music video?
Yes, we just got done filming the video for “I’ll Be Your Monster.” It’s going to be converting people to the dark side. It’s a beautiful love ballad. If you would call full penetration love, then this is love.
That’s beautiful. How would you describe the concept behind GWAR in the context of this era of the band specifically?
The Blood of Gods encapsulates what GWAR has gone through in the past five years at least and, quite frankly, it is quite literal because it seems when we were at the point where we could have used the most help, that’s when a lot of people decided they could turn their backs on us. Especially humanity, seeing as though we created them, evolved and turned against GWAR. There was a whole World War III and nobody even picked up on it because the fake news didn’t report on it. That kind of brings us here.
What parties were involved in this war?
The NRA and Gil Mantera’s Party Dream.
Gotcha. I think. So some have described this album as “a chronicle of the rise of humanity against their makers.” Why do you think people tend to cast blame upon their makers instead of taking responsibility for their often actions?
Well, like you just said, you would have to take responsibility for what you do, and there’s no fun in that. Everybody wants to be completely irresponsible. That’s exactly why most dads don’t even raise their kids because responsibility sucks, and to pawn that off on someone who’s just as much of a scapegoat as we are just feels natural for people. Any gods, really -- they always take the blame. Fifty thoughts and prayers for one like.
In light of everything going on in the world, do you wish you would have worn some rubbers when you fucked those monkeys?
I do now because I can’t take any more paternity suits. I’m already getting what little wages I’ve got garnished. You’ve got to make a deadbeat dad pay somewhere.
So what anniversary is GWAR approaching now?
Oh god, pushing 35. We started in 1984, which were probably the worst years of the band. I’ll get crucified for that one, but that’s okay. Honestly, the golden era of the band was the early 1990's. I thought GWAR was a better punk band than a metal band. That’s why our new record is going to be so disappointing. It’s not punk and it’s not metal. It’s got a little bit of both in there, but I don’t what to call it. It’s all rock and roll to me.
We got to collaborate and work together as a band and that’s painful as shit because we’re in there right now, and like I told you, I didn’t even want to be in the room. But somehow, for this record, we managed to get through it. The songs that we produced have been some of our least hindered. You’re going to hear a lot of rock and roll flavor on this new record, and when I first came in, I only wrote two songs on Battle Maximus (2013), but on this one, I wrote almost half of it, so if you hate it, you can blame it on me.
One of the really golden moments in GWAR history is when you guys did the talk show circuit in the early-to-mid 1990's. Why do you think it is that GWAR is still harboring attention and gaining success, while talk shows, on the other hand, have lost their gravity in our culture?
I think people are amazed that we’ve been stupid enough to do this for this long. It’s the freak show thing. Out of the history of all the other bands, we’re the only one who night after night shower you with bodily fluids and blood and cum and shit and piss -- whatever happens to be on stage that night. We sacrifice that for you. Other bands just give you music. We give you death, sex, ejaculation, and music.
The commitment GWAR has to that is important. With the talk shows, they started burning themselves out and started grasping at straws to maintain their own freak show. Personally, I stopped watching Tyra when they brought on the lady who wanted to fuck the Eiffel Tower. All standards were pretty much lost.
Standards tend to go away pretty quickly in this business, that’s for sure.
Would you fuck the Eiffel Tower?
At this point I’d fuck anything just to reconnect. I’ve got mommy issues. I’m just looking for someone to love me.
That sounds intense. I’d recommend a relationship with a futon. It’s low maintenance. Objectum sexuality I think is what they call it.
I’m romantically attracted to getting hit in the face with a beer bottle.
Do you have a preference as to the kind of beer?
Domestic bottles tend to break a little bit easier. You’ll lose a few teeth getting hit with an import.
Earlier this month your colleague Marilyn Manson got hit by a stage prop. In case you haven’t heard, he had two big guns that fell over on him and he immediately went straight down and apparently broke his ankle and had to cancel the rest of his tour. A bunch of drama then ensued from his former keyboardist who basically said he’s an asshole who deserves to suffer. Have you ever found yourself in any similar situations through stage antics?
We’ve all taken a few tumbles and we don’t pull any punches. All of the violent acts that you see on stage are real -- decapitations and the sex acts and everything. There’s a lot of pain involved in that stuff. So Manson got fucked up, huh? Who was that talking shit? Madonna Wayne Gacy? He’s just grasping at straws. He’s a nobody now and he fucking knows it. Manson has been successful. Yeah, he’s probably fucked a few people over along the way, but who hasn’t? As much as I think Portrait of an American Family (1994) is a great album, one person had a career that was successful and the other one didn’t. I tend to favor the one who is doing better, which is obviously Manson. I think Madonna Wayne Gacy is a known shit-talker.
His name doesn’t seem to flow quite the way Marilyn Manson or Twiggy Ramirez does. It’s too clunky.
I think his real name is fucking Claude Estevez or something. I don’t know. It’s something weird you wouldn’t expect because it’s very forgettable.
It makes me think of how Gaahl’s real name is Kristian even though he’s the poster child for Satan.
Gorgoroth started like that -- torturing people and keeping them bound in a cabin for a few days. That’s the era of music we’re going to miss when everything goes all PC.
So you believe shock rock to be a dying era in extreme music?
It seems like it’s dying nowadays because if you do anything controversial or do anything that doesn’t fit a very specific narrative, people just tend to chastise you on every side. Everybody likes to throw around this thing of people attacking free speech, but ultimately that’s what this all boils down to. When it gets to the point where even your peers will censor you to the point where you can’t form your own opinions without being crucified, what’s going to happen? The government doesn’t even have to step in at this point. People are doing it to themselves by taking their own rights away. When you’re not left and not right, disgusted with both sides, you can clearly see it.
Does GWAR still receive blowback from venues and so forth? Or have they gotten to the point where they know what they’re getting into when they book you?
Yeah, they know what’s up. They know that their venue is going to get destroyed and there will be damages and fires and drug use in the bathrooms. Underaged kids backstage. It’s all par for the course for a GWAR show. We make them a couple bucks and they take it.
Speaking of which, should everyone be penciling in a GWARBQ 2018 festival on their calendars?
It doesn’t really look like it. We’ve been trying to make it work, and this is by no means an official statement, but at this time there have been no plans for a 2018 GWARBQ.
I imagine it takes pretty extraordinary efforts to put on something like that and getting the park there on board and everything. It sounds pretty tedious, to say the least.
It does take a lot of work, and I think that’s why the record was delayed. It should have been out a year earlier. We spent a lot of time working on other shit. When you tell your agent, “hey, I’m going to take a year off,” they immediately put you to work for as long as you can so they can to save up enough money to let you take a year off, and then we didn’t even end up taking one like we were supposed to.
What inspires GWAR to keep rolling through all of that? Putting on shows, making new records.
This is the hardest I’ve ever worked by not working. But, it’s something we all enjoy doing, and I think the uniqueness of it is what keeps everyone together. Plus all of the middle-aged members of the band have been doing this their whole lives and can’t find another job. For me, I’m going to quit next year. Nothing drives me anymore. It drives me insane.
So Pustulus is going to retire and go back into outer space?
I think I’m going with the Hunter S. Thompson retirement plan -- do a whole bunch of drugs and then suck on a .45.
That’s understandable given the ugliness of the world right now. If the march of the Juggalos that was recently held -- which seemed to mitigate the attention of the concurrent Nazi march -- is any indication, maybe they’re the saving force we’ve been waiting for.
That would be the ultimate plan is if we could pit all of our enemies against each other. Add some Republicans in there and have a Mexican stand-off. They’d be shooting in all three directions like a perfect triangle. That would be great, just great. I don’t know who else I’d lump in the category of who I’d like to see kill each other. Well, I mean Hollywood. Hollywood versus the music industry. They could fight each other off. And whoever invented money -- we should just kill everyone in their bloodline in the streets. Bankers versus attorneys, that would be another good one. We just can’t let the Juggalos win because that would be an awful place to live.
I guess their costumes are a little different than yours -- XXXL tees and face paint.
Yeah, I mean I’d like to say there are worse people existing in the world, but the Juggalos, they’re pretty rough. I think just on our tour bus, we had more teeth collectively than all of the people at the Gathering of the Juggalos whatever year we played it.
Oh my god. I had no clue you played that.
What kind of responses did you get?
They threw fucking fireworks on stage and tried to put our eyes out and shit. That’s how they showed their appreciation. The only way you’ll have a decent time at that thing is if you get completely bombed out -- drink or do drugs or whatever. I tried to walk through the crowd a couple of times and it definitely wasn’t funny; it was disturbing, to say the least, and it’s kind of hard to make me say that.
Where to go from the Juggalos? Well, the new album is said to touch on the issues of “fast-food and fast-farming.” There’s this great debate surrounding consuming honey in the vegan community that I’m interested in having you help settle. What are your ethical views towards the honey bees? Apparently they’re the first ones to die right after the polar bears.
Interestingly, I was vegan for about six years and the entire time honey was definitely one of the things I did not abstain from. Reason being, that’s something that they do anyway. If you cultivate honey bees or have beehives or whatever, you’re actually doing things to increase their population. That’s a benefit; that’s not detrimental to bees. Plus, fuck all life anyway, which is why I’m not a vegan anymore. Factory farming is definitely disturbing and disgusting, but I have no problem with making something die so that I can eat. I prefer to do it myself. Truthfully, what I actually do in my off time is raise rabbits and chickens.
I hope you don’t have too many kiddos around the rabbits. Then they’ll want to keep them as pets.
That’s the best thing about farming -- you have to take care of all of the things you raise from birth and then you get very emotionally attached to them. Those are the ones that I kill because I just want to feel some kind of emotion and I think that’s the best way to do it; kill something you love with your bare hands as it looks at you and the life drains from its body.