Saturday, October 22, 2011

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The band's characteristic costumes are generally made of foam latex, styrofoam, and hardened rubber. The costumes cover very little, with the rest of their bodies accentuated with makeup. They further their production in concert by spraying their audiences with fluids. Most of the fluids are made of water and powdered food coloring which, for the most part, flakes off or washes out easily. The thicker fluids are made from a clear seaweed extract called carrageenan which is also used in ice cream and milkshakes. Gwar does not use syrups or stage blood because they dry solid and can damage the band's costumes.
Gwar was the result of two separate projects that eventually combined into one. Dave Brockie was the vocalist for a punk band named Death Piggy that often staged mini-plays and used crude props to punctuate their often ridiculous music. Bands would occasionally practice in a room at the Richmond Dairy, a deserted bottling plant that had been taken over by hippies. The hippies rented out interior areas to various artists and musicians. It was at the Richmond Dairy that Death Piggy met Hunter Jackson (Techno Destructo) and Chuck Varga (Sexecutioner), both attendees of Virginia Commonwealth University who had set up "The Slave Pit", a production space for Scumdogs of the Universe, a movie they intended to make. Jackson would create props for Death Piggy to use on stage. One day, completely on a whim, Dave asked Hunter if he could borrow the costumes made for "Scumdogs of the Universe"; the idea was for audiences to be excited and thrilled to finally see Death Piggy take the stage, after witnessing a barbaric band, supposedly from Antarctica, playing nonsense songs while sacrificing fake animals (in reality, it was actually Death Piggy in Hunter and Chuck's costumes, essentially opening the show for themselves). They would call this elaborate joke group, "Gwaaarrrgghhlllgh". Show after show, Death Piggy started noticing a staggering trend at their shows—more and more people were coming to see Gwaaarrrgghhlllgh and leaving immediately after, not staying for the headlining Death Piggy. After a few more refinements, as well as shortening the band's name (after growing tired of writing all the letters on flyers), Death Piggy was slowly being eclipsed, and later was fully absorbed into the new focus—Gwar.
The first known line-up for Gwar consisted of Ben Eubanks (vocals), Dave Brockie (guitar), Steve Douglas (guitar), Chris Bopst (bass guitar), Sean Sumner (Drums) and Hunter Jackson. However, this line-up was short-lived and would suffer multiple changes in the following months, with Ben Eubanks quitting after just one or two shows and being replaced by Joe Annaruma, who went on to record a few demos (The first 4 tracks from Let There Be Gwar). The demos were recorded in somebody's bedroom on a 4 track (really a cassette recorder from K-mart), as heard from Joey Slutman's vocals circa 1986, who had later quit and was replaced by guitarist Dave Brockie as the band's vocalist (See line-up for more information). The band eventually somewhat solidified into a line-up consisting of Hunter Jackson, Don Drakulich, Chuck Varga, Mike Delaney, Mike Bonner, Scott Krahl, Dave Musel and Dave Brockie (no longer Gwar's guitarist, but permanent vocalist), Mike Delaney would retire in 1987 as well. Dewey Rowell (Flattus Maximus), Michael Bishop (Beefcake the Mighty) and Rob Mosby (Nippleus Erectus) were recruited in 1987, along with Steve Douglas (Balsac the Jaws of Death) who rejoined the band after having left early in its history. Danielle Stampe (alias: Slymenstra Hymen) joined sometime in 1988 and toured consistently with the band until 2002. The band has also recruited, and lost, three other female members: The Temptress (Heather Broome, 1986), Amazina, Gwar Woman (Colette Miller, 1986–87) and Gwar Woman (Lisa Harrelson, 1987–88).

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The band's debut album, Hell-O, a crossover heavy metal/punk rock album, was released in 1988 under Shimmy Disc Records. The band started touring in support of the album, with Steve Douglas leaving that same year, later to form the alternative band Log, and being replaced by current rhythm guitarist, Michael Derks, who took over Douglas' alias as Balsac the Jaws of Death.

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However, the band's line-up would undergo further changes before 1990. In 1988, the Slave Pit saw the joining of Bob Gorman, a young, new artist who would help with the art design and fabrication aspects of the band. One year later, in 1989, Rob Mobsy left the band and was replaced by Pete Luchter, who also quit to be replaced temporarily by Jim Thompson, who had been in the band prior to the release of Hell-O. Thompson later quit and was finally replaced by the current Gwar drummer, Brad Roberts, alias Jizmak Da Gusha.
With Gwar's line-up somewhat solidified, the band would set up to record Scumdogs of the Universe. The album met a moderately large mainstream success and would mark the start of a career under the Metal Blade Records record label. The band would tour extensively in support for this album, releasing the Live from Antarctica VHS tape in July 1990, containing, amongst other things, the band's first music video for the song Sick of You. It was shortly after the video's release when the Slave Pit took in another new, young artist, Matt Maguire, to help out with costume fabrication, as well as illustrations for comics and such.

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In August 1990, Michael Derks had a daughter, dubbed Smalsac by MTV. He took a short break from the band to care for her. Barry D'live Ward from the band Rich Kids on LSD filled in on guitar as Balsac on Gwar's 1991 European tour. Upon returning to the USA, Gwar was asked to do their first cameo in a mainstream film, debuting in Mystery Date. Scumdogs of the Universe was originally released through the U.K. label Master before being picked up by Metal Blade in 1991. In the group's hunt for a larger label, they auditioned for Relativity Records, one of the bigger indie metal labels. The group killed their audition when they showed up in costume and Danielle Stampe let loose a blood capsule from her codpiece onto one of the office chairs, simulating menstruation. The band suffered further line-up changes during this period, with Dewey Rowell leaving the band in 1991 and not being replaced until 1992 by Pete Lee, after the recording of America Must Be Destroyed.

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