Wednesday, March 16, 2011

SDTK: GWAR


No strangers to lights, camera, or action – the legendary shock rock band, GWAR, has slowly, but surely been invading the world of film and entertainment since their inception. Beginning in the early 1990s with their breakthrough album, Scumdogs of the Universe (1990), GWAR quickly laid siege to the mainstream media and all of its various outlets. Always adamant about staying in character, their appearance alone was enough to get them in front of cameras, but it is their ability to play savage music that has kept them there for the last twenty years. The one specific thing that GWAR has which sets them apart from any other mainstream act and casts them into the spotlight is their unique sense of showmanship.

From the very beginning their act has been overly theatrical. To this day their live shows are still controversial, which is saying a lot considering societies increased tolerance for brutal, gory violence. To try and describe what they do would only prevent you from reading further, so here is a link. It is this public presentation that led to GWAR’s widespread notoriety. They quickly became the target of enraged parents, which only pushed their children further into GWAR’s grasp. Their devotion to debauchery made them the subject of several daytime talk shows including Joan Rivers and Jerry Springer. Lately the lead singer, Oderus Urungus, has been a guest correspondent on Fox News’ Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld. The satirical spectacle accounts for only part of GWAR’s success. Twelve albums in twenty-six years, not including EP’s, compilations and live albums, indicates that they’ve been doing something right.
  

GWAR’s first foray into films occurred with a video cameo in the sci-fi film Hardware (1990), although it was the music of the industrial metal band, Ministry playing over their image. They followed this with a live action performance in the romantic comedy Mystery Date (1991), starring Ethan Hawke. In the film, Ethan Hawke and his date enter a club where GWAR is prominently featured, playing Horror of Yig, off their album, Scumdogs of the Universe. In 1994 they contributed the song S.F.W. (So Fucking What), and music video, to the film of the same name, starring Stephen Dorff and Reese Witherspoon. The song earned GWAR their second Grammy nomination (Best Metal Performance) in 1996, but they lost to Nine Inch Nails.

It was during this time that GWAR received another boost towards their youthful appeal through their association with Beavis and Butt-Head (1993). The band had three of their music videos featured on the animated duo’s show. In addition to this GWAR were also featured in both the Beavis and Butt-Head Virtual Stupidity (1995) PC game and were the subject of their console (SNES, Sega Genesis, Sega Game Gear, and Gameboy) video game, in which the goal was to attend one of their concerts. A 16-bit animated version of the band appears at the end of the game and rocks out with Beavis and Butt-Head to an instrumental version of their song Jack the World from the album This Toilet Earth (1994).

The band also filmed a scene for the musical comedy Empire Records (1995). Their cameo is by far the most memorable and enjoyable part of that entire film, despite being censored and dubbed over. Allegedly several members of GWAR also appear out of costume in Zoolander (2001) during the “Walk Off” scene. Good luck picking them out. The band of intergalactic, necrophiliac, drug addict, barbarian, space mutants also contributed two songs to the Cartoon Network program, Codename: Kids Next Door (2002). The episode entitled Operation: F.O.O.D.F.I.T.E. (2004) features two GWAR songs, The Private Pain of Techno Destructo from Carnival of Chaos (1997) and Gor-Gor from America Must Be Destroyed (1992). Both songs were re-recorded specifically for the episode with new lyrics to fit the programs storyline. The band is credited as RAWG in the episode's credits – an alias they use when playing out of character, or costume.


Aside from all of that, GWAR has also established themselves their own cottage industry in terms of media production. Their company, aptly titled, The Slave Pit, is where they produce all their music videos, including promos, long-form videos, live concert editing and dubbing, as well as record their albums and build their costumes and sets. Since many of their albums are based around concepts involving some sort of story line they are usually accompanied by a home video release. Phallus in Wonderland (1992) earned the band their first Grammy nomination (Best Long For Video) in 1993, which they lost to Annie Lennox. They followed this with Skulhedface (1994), and Rendezvous with Ragnarok (1997). Since the release of It’s Sleazy (2000), the band has only produced live concerts, or video compilations – totaling twenty-two video releases throughout their career.

Having released a brand new album, Bloody Pit of Horror (2010), on November 9th of last year GWAR shows no sign of stopping their rampage against humanity anytime soon. They consummated this release with a performance of the opening track, Zombies, March!, on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (2009). As they continue to tour and headline concerts and festivals around the world while they write new material it’s only a matter of time before they find themselves in front of a captive, cinematic audience. Most recently their song Time for Death from their debut album Hell-o (1988) was featured in the independent thrash documentary RIPHOUSE 151: Could’ve Been’s & Wanna Be’s (2008). The song appears in a deleted scene where the band (RIPHOUSE) reminisces about playing a show with GWAR in December 1990. 


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