While he’s known colloquially as Beefcake the Mighty, GWAR’s bass player does have human name: Casey Orr. And this is his fifth time joining the satirical intergalactic monster metal band since 1994.
“I keep quitting and they keep begging me to come back and save their asses,” he says. “It’s a humanitarian thing. For all the smells and hard work and wearing a million pounds of shit on stage, GWAR’s home. It is a weird, weird thing to be part of, but it’s really fuckin’ cool.”
Formed in 1984 Richmond, Virginia, GWAR distinguished itself from the nearby Washington, D.C. hardcore scene by jumbling social commentary with monster masks, strap-on alien penises and gruesome stage antics.
Orr’s most recent stint began in 2014 started when Mike Bishop moved from bass to lead vocals after the unexpected death of longtime frontman Dave Brockie from an accidental drug overdose.
“It was a mistake and it was fuckin’ damn shame,” he says. “Everything he won’t be able to do. It’s a shame that his talents are snuffed out. But there is no better way to honor Dave than to keep doing this. You don’t want to shut down shop or whatever. You want to keep the artist’s spirit alive and GWAR is bigger than any one member anyway.”
When he spoke with Tahoe Onstage in September, Orr was in Millvale, Pennsylvania, setting up the stage for a show at Mr. Smalls where the band has played “a zillion times.” It’s all part of their nationwide Use Your Collusion tour with Sacred Reich, Toxic Holocaust and Against the Grain.
“GWAR is still bringing this big-ass fucking show to big venues, small venues and festivals wherever, keeping ticket and T-shirt prices down and delivering a show with no label money whatsoever,” Orr says. “If anything, history is going to look back and say that GWAR was an amazing and important thing. It follows in the footsteps of Monty Python, Saturday Night Live and the crazy underground theaters in Paris where rich people would go with masks to watch gory, bloody shows. It goes back to the gladiators in Rome. It’s a spectacle.”
To date, the shock-rock goliaths have released 14 albums, including the most recent, 2017’s “Blood of the Gods,” while touring the world with a complex stage show that features handmade costumes, interplanetary scenery and enough blood, guts and semen to drown the whole damn earth.
The current iteration of the act involves mutant babies being born, transvestite pregnancy, a human meat grinder, a talking toilet and plenty of other sadistic surprises that Orr refused to unveil prior to show time.
Fans regularly show up to concerts in white T-shirts, silk wedding gowns and hazmat suits in order to take home as much of the show as possible by the time they leave. That is … if they survive.
For $299, the elite VIP package includes a chance to pledge your fealty to your alien overlords during sound check, as well as admission to the Slave Pit from which you will be killed onstage by GWAR during the show.
“You can even take a selfie while you go down the meat grinder,” says Orr. “If you don’t want to get bloody, stand from the soundboard back. Even if we’re not the biggest band, it’s always a good crowd. Our fans love GWAR and they play off of us. Everybody in the audience is having a blast. I might be fuckin’ up or whatever, but they love it and they eat it up. People leave a GWAR show with a big smile on their face.”
Part of the perverse ensemble’s enduring popularity has to do with their ability to change with the times while upholding the appalling fundamentals, bizarre science fiction mythology and musical wizardry that put them on the map in the first place.
“It’s comedy and political satire,” Orr says. “It’s entertainment made by really good artists and really good musicians. You get other bands with makeup and costumes, but they don’t come millions miles to do what GWAR does. … Overall, I would say GWAR is hardest band in show business.”
Along the way of a now 35-year career, they’ve killed every president since Bill Clinton, including Ronald Reagan, who they once resurrected as a giant robot, as well as Jerry Garcia, Paris Hilton, Mike Tyson, Pope Francis, Michael Jackson and a countless cast of other celebrities. Of course, it’s Donald Trump who gets the royal treatment this time around. And that’s in spite of the fact that the astronomical assassins actually like the guy.
“Trump is on the same page of us,” Orr. “He hates people and so do we. So we’re thinking this guy ain’t so bad after all. Either way, we kill him every fuckin’ night.”
Over the years, GWAR has been offensive, sexist, racist, homophobic and downright depraved, but no one can ever say the players haven’t stuck to their guns. In 1993, when they finally gained international exposure through a few choice spots on MTV’s “Beavis and Butt-Head” and the teen cult film “Empire Records,” they almost made the record deal of lifetime with Warner Brothers. Everything was set for the music giant to acquire and distribute Metal Blade Records, until one teensy request from the head office stopped everything in its tracks.
“GWAR fucked it up refusing to cut a song called “Baby Dick Fuck” from the record,” Orr says. “For some reason, Warner Brothers raised an eyebrow at that. I think looking back in time, it speaks well of (Metal Blade CEO Brian) Slagel and the boys.”
GWAR forced the record company to walk away from the massive deal and they’ve continued to work as DIY legends ever since.
“I’m proud of the variety of music GWAR gets away with creating,” Orr says. “All the silly shit we’ve self-indulgently recorded over the years. It’s a lot of fun. It’s real satisfying to be creative without being told how to be creative in these parameters or you need another hit single or anything like that. GWAR is a very egotistical art project slash musical force. It’s a big art commune of weirdos that people are going to enjoy and far outlast any of us.”
In fact, after being banished here by the Scumdogs of the Universe for mistakenly destroying a planet populated by hot intelligent women, these extraterrestrial executioners may just be getting used to Earth after all.
“There’s big titties and drugs and really good beer, pollution, hate and wars,” Orr says. “What’s not to love?
GWAR’s message to the human race:
“Die Already!” Beefcake the Mighty says. “What in the fuck is wrong with you people? You’re making our job easier. You’re destroying your planet. You’re voting for the last motherfuckers on Earth that should be in charge of anything.
“Death by GWAR should be blessing for you people instead of choking on your own atmosphere or getting shipped off to die in a war for somebody else’s golf cart. You deserve GWAR. It’s honor to be killed by GWAR. But if you’re all gonna die, you might as well give us your money first.”
— Sean McAlindin
GWAR with Sacred Reich, Toxic Holocaust and Against the GrainWhen: 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16
Where: Virginia Street Brewhouse, Reno
ABOUT Shaun Astor
Shaun Astor cites pop music singers and social deviants as being among his strongest influences. His vices include vegan baking, riding a bicycle unreasonable distances and fixating on places and ideas that make up the subject of the sentence, "But that’s impossible…" He splits his time between Reno and a hammock perched from ghost town building foundations. Check out his work at www.raisethestakeseditions.com
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