Author: Michael Pementel
Welcome to part two of our kick ass interview with GWAR singer Blothar (aka, Mike Bishop)!
In part one of our interview with Blothar, we talked all things geeky; Blothar spoke to the band’s love for comics, as well as the band’s upcoming graphic novel. Our newsletter subscribers got an early preview of this interview; if you want to be one of the first to see our exclusive content, sign up here.
In this new installment, you’ll find our conversation with the GWAR singer to be about the more technical (albeit, comically fun) elements of the band’s creative process. We asked what the GWAR writing process is like, what it has been like for Blothar to take over as frontman of the band, and why the most essential ingredient to any and all GWAR music is fun.
So strap on in folks, because Blothar the Berserker has more laughs and awesome bits to share with you all!
What is GWAR’s approach to storytelling? When it comes to this new record, or past records, how do you and the band go about creating the iconic adventures of GWAR? Is it mostly you who does the writing, or is it a band effort?
It’s not mostly me; GWAR’s always been a group effort. It has always been the stories we tell ourselves when we get really stoned and ride around on the bus [laughs] and try to make each other laugh. And coming up with absurd things: “What if we had a catapult that shot excrement into the audience? Yes! That’s a great idea. How are we going to make the poop? I don’t know. Chocolate and oatmeal. Greenlight it.”
That’s pretty much how it works.
While GWAR is a band that loves to have fun, throughout your music, you also touch upon some serious shit. What is that process like in balancing serious political/social topics within your music, while still trying to be comical and have a fun time?
There’s the way that Oderus [Urungus, the late Dave Brockie] did it – he had a kind of allergy to sincerity. He would say some very serious and intelligent things; at his peak, when he was really writing, he was an excellent lyricist. He would write these songs… the way he would often solve that balance is by being silly and absurd. And I think, in his mind, [that silliness] would balance out the gravity of what he was saying a little bit.
That’s a way to do; I have done that myself in the past. But, it’s really… there isn’t any [one] way to do it; you just have to keep trying to do it and policing yourself. Certainly even on this record, there was some concern that we were being a little too preachy or not abstract enough – not silly enough.
For a song like “The New Dark Ages,” which really has a very serious message – [we included this comical sounding musical part within the song], and that’s one way this record is very different. We said, “Well look, in the past we’ve done music that was funny – it sounds funny – so let’s try that.” So that’s what we did; the song has what functions as kind of a middle eight in it, where it’s just GWAR kicking their feet up and watching the world die. And it’s hilarious; it sounds funny, well recording it was funny, and it’s intended that way. You find ways to balance it out.
This is the second GWAR album where you’ve acted as vocalist (with the first being 2017’s The Blood of Gods). How are you feeling now in the role? How much of a shift has it been going from bassist to frontman? Do you think you’ve adapted well?
It’s a lot harder; playing bass guitar is so great, because bassists are often times not very attention seeking [laughs]. You can stand in the back. When I was Beefcake even [Bishop’s past character], I had a way of leaning [on stage]; the one piece of the costume would fit on the other piece, which would fit on the other piece – so I could basically always be laying down on stage. There’s a lot of movement that’s required and energy [as a frontman]. In the Beefcake role, that character was a foil for Oderus, kind of a straight man; that’s maybe been the hardest adjustment… and I find myself a lot of times, that’s what Blothar will be, is a foil for the other members or characters coming on stage. Because that’s what I know how to do.
I do think I have adapted to it somewhat. But every tour is different; you get out there, you feel the moments, perform as best you can, and try to be funny. But yeah everybody is looking at you all the time – so, it’s not easy.
The idea of “fun” in heavy metal seems to almost be a thing of the past; when you get sci-fi or fantasy bands nowadays, it seems that a lot want to drill in this level of seriousness into their material. There’s a lost element of lighthearted, goofy fun. GWAR is very much about fun, and so we want to ask – How important is it to you and the band to not only create fun material, but to promote an air of fun?
It is absolutely vital. That’s what GWAR is. That’s sort of the beauty of it – we managed to mount a cultural critique inside of something that is funny. Not a lot of people notice this or have picked up on it, and we are hoping that, with this record, more people will pick up on what GWAR is. Because everybody knows who the band is; we’ve had a lot of penetration as far as the name value of the band, but not a lot of people understand that there’s a lot going on here. That there are funny stories and the band isn’t dismissible; [there are] interesting and compelling stories that mean something.
But being funny has always been really the primary goal; our medium is music and humor, and within that, as artists, we try to do stuff that’s meaningful.
We at The Pit would like to thank Blothar for his time talking to us! The new GWAR album The New Dark Ages, is out June 3rd. You can pre-order the album here.
Also, if you happened to have missed out on part one of our interview with the GWAR singer, you can click on the link below to read about Blothar talking comics, board games, and the new GWAR graphic novel coming out.