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A Gwar Review By the Numbers

50: The age at which Dave Brockie, a founding member of Gwar and the man who portrayed the band's larger-than-life leader, Oderus Urungus, died of a heroin overdose at his Virginia home earlier this year. When I heard the news it was difficult to imagine that the band, who had soldiered through 30 years of [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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50: The age at which Dave Brockie, a founding member of Gwar and the man who portrayed the band’s larger-than-life leader, Oderus Urungus, died of a heroin overdose at his Virginia home earlier this year. When I heard the news it was difficult to imagine that the band, who had soldiered through 30 years of quintessential shock-metal, would be able to continue on without it’s alien gladiator. His presence on stage was one of circus barker and merciless assassin, deciding the fate of many a poor human scum night after night, city after city. Sure, Kiss and Alice Cooper maybe lay claim to being the first, but it was Gwar that took the shock performance to its cartoonish and gory extremes. And it was Brockie, scratch that, Oderus, who ran the show. Nothing has yet to come close.

14: The age at which I encountered my first Gwar show. I lied to my parents, telling them I was spending the night at Chris Hough’s right down the street, when in fact his mom was going to drive us to Cincinnati, drop us off in a shady part of town, and let us experience our first Gwar show uninhibited. I doubt that I smoked any reefer or covertly sipped a beer, we were high on bloodlust and seeing all the hijacks we’d only seen on scratchy VHS tapes live on the stage. By night’s end we were adequately drenched in detritus and even met the band, sans costumes, behind the club. Chris’ mom waited patiently in the van as the Sexecutioner autographed my shirt “I sucked Sexy till cum came out my nose!” Understandably when my mother found the shirt it was considered contraband, worth a grounding, and locked away for years. In mom’s defense, she did triumphantly return the shirt to me the day I left for college.

16: This month’s Gwar show was my 16th show. I admit that without shame, guilt, or apologies. I may not own their barbeque sauce, or have purchased one of their albums since the late ’90s, but I’ll always see them live when they come to town. This time I was joined by Chris Hough, who’s mom, you might remember, took us to our first Gwar show 23 years ago. Though I’m what you might call an infrequent Gwar fan these days, Chris takes a bus to the band’s annual festival in Virginia every year.

3: The number of Gwar shows attended by my wife. God bless her heart. She’s from Brazil, a place where metal rules the day but Gwar never reached. Needless to say she loved her virgin experience years back and prompts me to take her whenever the band rolls through. On this night she had a much better time than I did. Coincidentally 3 is the number of Gwar albums I own, and admittedly all anyone should need to own. 3 is also the number of songs I recognized at this show, and the number of members on stage who I recognized — drummer Jizmak Da Gusha, bassist Beefcake the Mighty, and guitarist Balsac the Jaws of Death. Are we seeing a trend?

0: The amount of coordination and stage appeal of the “new” Gwar. Sadly, Blothar, the band’s new leader, is a cut-rate Oderus. The guy has antlers and an udder. Where Oderus swung a might broadsword, Blothar has a shield. Even Vulvatron, the band’s new “vixen” was a pale comparison to Slymentra Hymen – who once juggled fire and hasn’t been seen since the glory days — and that “lack” was felt. In a way I felt sympathy for Vulvatron, as she could be a star in a somewhat “lesser” version of Gwar. But this was Gwar, the same band many of whom, in this “now” cult following, tattooed themselves to pledge allegiance

.5: As in one-half. I don’t want to, as a lifelong Gwar fan, get into the politics of booking a tour without Oderus Urungus, but the stage show displayed half the blood, if not less, and half the theatrics. I could almost sense the smirk coming from the faces of Blasac and Beefcake (or even Blothar, who was played by longtime Beefcake, Michael Bishop) even behind their foam masks. Logic would dictate that any Gwar show post Oderus would celebrate his legacy, with hits and misses, and plenty of social commentary. Not a political or cultural figured was slaughtered. At my last Gwar show both John McCain and Obama were fed to the audience. Now it was just a deformed pizza boy. I figured at the very least we’d see a prototype of the Darren Wilson –an unruly pig – being torn apart for teenagers to soak in the guilty’s bloodshed. No? It’s been done before. Or at least I’ve seen Pope John Paul fed to the band’s now-dormant warrior dinosaur.

2: The number of weeks this version Gwar might last on Broadway. Had I the connections, and the creative reigns “Gwar: The Musical” would be a Broadway phenomenon. In the death of Odreus, and Brockie, there is three decades of legacy to dramatize. There are at least a dozen songs which could be exploited exactly the way they were meant with a huge budget. And….Gwar possess a mythology that wasn’t once hinted on the stage by the “new ” Gwar on this night. The biggest gag came with Oderus’ “schlong” (aka the Cuttlefish of Cthulu) being brought back in a time-machine from the past. It subsequently “came” on the audience and not a figment of the leader materialized the rest of the night, even though the stage-show was wholly invested in bringing Oderus back to the stage. From this Gwar fan’s perspective, they’re better off mining the classics, putting a hack in Oderus’s now charred rubber suit and scavenging what’s left of the empire.

 

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Local rocker Angela Perley shines on solo debut

Mike Thomas

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Folk, alt-country, or indie rock—however you choose to categorize her sound, Angela Perley remains a pillar of the Columbus music community—and highly in-demand as a national touring act, to boot.

(614) caught up with Perley to discuss her new album, life on the road, and what it takes to make it as a musician in the Capital City.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

(614): YOUR NEW RELEASE, 4:30, IS YOUR FIRST AS A SOLO ACT. WHAT LED TO THIS CHANGE?

AP: Since 2009 until last year, I had the Howlin’ Moons. It’s always been myself, Chris Connor on lead guitar, and then we had bassist Billy Zehnal in the band up until last year. We’ve had a rotating extended family of drummers. Billy’s not in the band anymore, and we were also on Vital Companies, which is a studio/label in Columbus that did our previous albums.

https://open.spotify.com/album/04pKByd2ygDHXdvl1TcdWP?si=6njCmRpfR5GRWe5kLNghVw

So this one—it’s a solo one, it’s my first independent release. There’s no label involved, I own the masters to the songs. It’s hard to keep a band together, so Chris, who’s been in the band since the beginning, and I, we’re kind of the only members, and we have an extended family of really great and talented people who have other projects they’re in. It just works a lot better with what I want to do.

YOU USED KICKSTARTER TO HELP FUND THE ALBUM. WHAT WAS THE CROWDFUNDING EXPERIENCE LIKE?

Before, with Vital, they had a studio and video production, and they took care of all of our recording in-house. We didn’t realize how expensive everything was. We had paid for studio time [for 4:30] through show money, but to look at all of the other expenses of making a record happen and trying to get it out there, it’s pretty intense! There have been a lot of independent artists that we know that will do Kickstarters, and I’ve never done anything like it before, so I was really nervous doing it. But it was a success, and I actually just finished sending out all of the preorder vinyl that people ordered.

YOUR SOUND IS OFTEN DESCRIBED AS ANYTHING FROM AMERICANA, TO ALT-COUNTRY, TO PSYCHEDELIC ROCK. WHAT’S IT LIKE WORKING WITHIN THOSE TRADITIONS IN 2019?

You kind of have to make your own path, because although there is a resurgence of rock ‘n’ roll, everything’s been done before. It has those roots, but we’re not breaking the mold or anything. You just have to be true to yourself and to the music, and just go from there. Everyone’s voice is important as an artist, so that’s important to remember.

YOU’RE ON THE ROAD TOURING QUITE A BIT. DO YOU STILL KEEP TRACK OF WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE COLUMBUS MUSIC SCENE?

Columbus is definitely growing, and moving toward doing things independently. I’ve seen a lot of bands touring, which is good. It’s an affordable place to tour out of, and there’s a community here for sure. Whenever I have a chance, we go out to the shows. We love The Cordial Sins, and we’re having them as our special guests for our album release. The High Definitions, Souther—there are just so many good bands.

When I go to other cities and I realize that there’s not really much of a scene going on, it is kind of cool to see that in Columbus, people are very aware and supportive of musicians. Even the businesses around here, everyone’s trying to work with musicians in some way. There are so many gigs, be it at breweries, at restaurants, or little festivals that pop up. There’s work for musicians here. And some other cities, there’s really not.

IN THE PAST, YOU’VE PLAYED SOMETHING LIKE 150 SHOWS A YEAR. ARE YOU KEEPING UP THE SAME PACE THESE DAYS?

I’m glad that we played that many shows at that time. We were playing anywhere and everywhere, and a lot of that was pressure financially. If that’s the way you’re making a living, you’ve got to take every gig. We’ve spread out the shows since, especially since we have been doing it for this long. We’re kind of gearing more towards quality shows. I will say, playing that many shows—I needed that. We needed the experience, and just the repetition. Every venue is different, every environment, every crowd. You cut your teeth and it makes you stronger.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO LOCAL ARTISTS HOPING TO MAKE A CAREER IN MUSIC?

It’s tough, because for each person it’s so different. Getting out there and working hard, playing as many shows as possible—that's all really great experience. But also focus on the music itself. If you’re going to make a music video or a recording, take your time—don’t half-ass it. Wait until you know what you’re doing. Although, you kind of have to learn from your mistakes, too.

Catch Angela Perley with special guests The Cordial Sins on September 6 at Skully’s Music-Diner for the release show of her new album, titled 4:30.

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(614) Sessions

614 Sessions: Doc Robinson

Mike Thomas

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4QdxpbrZgg&feature=youtu.be

Doc Robinson, the collaboration of Columbus music stalwarts Jon Elliott and Nick D’Andrea, joined us for this session in the 614 offices to share their unique brand of "Backyard BBQ Breakup music."

While here, the duo played stripped-down acoustic versions of their songs "Wilderness" and "Wild Beauty."

To hear more from Doc Robinson, follow them on your streaming platform of choice, or visit https://www.docrobinsonofficial.com/

Be sure to catch the group at Woodlands Tavern on Saturday, September 21, when they'll be joined by Hebdo, Parker Louis, Honey and Blue and many more for their Family Jamboree.

Spotify:
https://open.spotify.com/artist/5O0efDEpkqEmWbXD2zpkjz

Apple Music:
https://music.apple.com/us/artist/doc-robinson/1116027164
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Producer: Mike Thomas
Videographers: Adam Fakult, Mitch Hooper, Mike Thomas
Audio Mixing/Mastering: Jared Huntley
Video Editing: Mike Thomas
Contact: [email protected]
Website: 614now.com

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(614) Sessions

(614) Sessions: The Turbos

Mike Thomas

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ThYK1D0000

The Turbos’ high-octane heroics have earned the group a fierce following in the Columbus rock scene and beyond. Combining shredding guitar virtuosity with soaring, anthemic vocals, co-frontmen Alex D. and Lucas Esterline lead the group in a sound that combines the best of the old and the new. Rounded out by the multi-talented Cameron Reck on bass and mononymous local music veteran Jahrie behind the kit, the Turbos are leading the charge for a new generation of rockers.

For the first of what we hope will be many in a new music series we're calling The (614) Sessions, The Turbos joined us in our offices for a stripped-down acoustic set. Despite leaving the electrics at home, the power of their performance was still enough to garner multiple noise complaints (sorry, neighbors).

For show dates and more, be sure to follow The Turbos on Facebook. Big thanks to the group for sharing their music as our first-ever guests in this new endeavor!

———

Producer: Mike Thomas
Videographers: Mike Thomas, Adam Fakult, Mitch Hooper
Audio Mixing/Mastering: Jared Huntley Video
Editing: Mitch Hooper
Contact: [email protected]

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