Gwar's Oderus Urungus dead at 50
RIP, Oderus Urungus a.k.a. Dave Brockie
Photo by Erik Hess
Over the past 30 years, the thrash metal band and its frontman pulverized its audiences with bodily fluids, political fury, and one of the most elaborate stage setups in the history of rock 'n' roll.
Jack Flanagan, GWAR's manager, issued the following statement:
"It is with a saddened heart, that I confirm my dear friend Dave Brockie, artist, musician, and lead singer of GWAR passed away at approximately 6:50 PM EST Sunday March 23,2014. His body was found Sunday by his band mate at his home in Richmond, VA. Richmond authorities have confirmed his death and next of kin has been notified. A full autopsy will be performed. He was 50 years old, born August 30, 1963."
I had the pleasure of speaking to Brockie on two occasions, most recently around Valentine's Day for the Minnesota Daily's dating advice column. He was surprisingly serious with his answers, but always threw in lines like, "If she says she's not into the relationship part -- a spear through the mouth."
The last time we spoke, I messed up the time change and called him 30 minutes late. Where another artist might refuse to speak to me after such a slip, Brockie took it in stride, using the opportunity to tease me. I apologized, blaming Eastern time for my mistake, and he responded, "Well, that's no excuse. You're a reporter -- what if they send you to Mongolia? You'll be right fucked. Wear a sundial."
Later in the same conversation, he walked into a "nine ton" coffee table "made out of a planet" and began incoherently screaming into the phone. "I'm a hoarder," he said. "I haven't thrown anything away in 40 billion years." It wasn't part of the interview. It was just Brockie being Brockie.
Brockie was always kind and accommodating, no matter how inane my questions were. He approached each interview with the enthusiasm you'd expect from someone being interviewed for the first time ever, though he'd been in the game for 30 years. He had a quick and witty sense of humor, deriving great pleasure from gently poking fun at me, a novice college reporter. At times, he'd go on long-winded tangents about his quest to find the perfect whale to mate with to form combination Oderus Urungus/whale creatures. He lived his fantasy, never running out of bizarre, fantastical stories he'd tell off the top of his head. He was simultaneously generous, thoughtful, disgusting, and hysterical.
When I interviewed Brockie before GWAR's last Minneapolis show last October, we spoke briefly about the death of Cory Smoot, GWAR's former guitarist who died of a heart attack after playing a show at First Avenue in 2011. In regards to the difficulty of moving forward with the tour, Brockie said:
"It was hard. Super hard. But the guys are superhuman chaos warriors from outer space, and we weren't gonna let it stop us. In fact, almost immediately we seized upon the opportunity as a way to show to the world that no matter how crappy a card you are dealt, that you can actually use this as a way to prove dominance and mastery more than ever. Despite all the adversity, we found a way to rise above it, and I hope people take that as a lesson.
Far too many people take the sufferings of others, make them their own and use them as an excuse for their own pathetic, miserable lives to turn into shit, and we were absolutely not going to let that happen."
I can't help but think Brockie would want the same attitude applied to his own passing.
Brockie and Gwar held absolutely nothing sacred during their performances, which rolled through First Avenue on a yearly basis. RIP, Oderus Urungus.
Photo by Erik Hess
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