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Features :: Where's the Beef? Interview with Gwar's Beefcake the Mighty

Features


Where's the Beef? Interview with Gwar's Beefcake the Mighty


The following interview focuses on Gwar bassist, Casey Orr, aka Beefcake the Mighty. The interview was completed via email and concentrates on the history of the band, as well as their new album "Bloody Pit of Horror."


Gwar first arose in 1984 as the result of two Richmond, Virginia projects. Then vocalist for punk act Death Piggy, Dave Brockie (Oderus Urungus) occasionally wore costumes created for Scumdogs of the Universe—a film Hunter Jackson (Techno Destructo) and Chuck Vargas intended to make. Eventually, Death Piggy became “GWAARGGGH!!!”, which was condensed to Gwar. Since donning the Gwar name, Brockie has led a massive cast of blood-spewing characters that has included slaves, musicians, fire dancers, massive worms, priests, robots, aliens, dinosaurs, monsters, villains and soon-to-be-slaughtered celebrities.


Current Gwar bassist Casey Orr, aka Beefcake the Mighty explains how the band travels. “There are nine full-time active members. On tour, we take additional crew, of course. We currently travel with thirteen people in a tour bus that has fifteen bunks. The other two are crammed full with computer bags and dirty clothes! Our production fills an entire fifty-three-foot truck!”

While many of the Slave Pit crew wears multiple hats, those wearing the hats have changed so often Gwar’s history of members reads like credits from a Hollywood-produced film. Some of the characters have continued, often unknowingly by fans, with different people playing the role. One position that has remained, although with different members, is that of bassist Beefcake the Mighty. While this character has appeared on every Gwar studio album, the Beefcake character didn’t materialize until 1987. Interestingly, Gwar called its original bassist BalSac (Chris Bopst), which is confusing because Balsac the Jaws of Death would take over one of the guitar spots when the Beefcake character arrived.

Three people have played the Beefcake character. Appearing on classic albums such as America Must Be Destroyed and “Scumdogs of the Universe,” Michael Bishop first played Beefcake. Since he first donned the gladiator dress code, the Beefcake character has been a revolving door. A couple of years after Mike Scaccia put Rigor Mortis on hold to play with Ministry, Casey Orr became Beefacke #2, and traded the spot with Bishop and Todd Evans of the Midwest punk band Lazy American Workers. Evans left the position in 2008 to concentrate on Mobile Death Camp, and Orr has filled the spot since.

One physical characteristic each Beefcake player has in common is being big and “beefy.” I’ve met both Evans and Orr out of costume (saw Evans play with Lazy American Workers and Orr with Rigor Mortis). Hailing from the Dallas, Texas area, Orr has the look of a shit-kickin’, Texas cowboy. Toledo, Ohio’s Todd Evans is an opposing figured. Much larger and goateed, Evans has the appearance of a Midwest bouncer.


Playing in Gwar is a much different experience than playing in a traditional thrash metal outfit such as Rigor Mortis. Fluids flying everywhere, gut-busting jokes and assault by massive swords (figurative and literal) and wrenches are just a few of the distractions that might lure one’s mind away from playing bass. When asked what he was thinking when he first took the stage with Gwar, Orr gave a reply that related nothing but confidence and joy. “I thought, HELL YES! I'm part of something absolutely amazing! I was a fan before I joined and I could already appreciate the hard work and talent involved. I'm honored to be a part of the hardest working band in rock and roll!”

In addition to playing with Rigor Mortis, Orr played in one of Gwar’s multiple personalities—X-Cops. He played the role of Sheriff “Tubb” Tucker in the band of the world’s most dirty cops. Orr explains his entrance into Gwar and the X-Cops, “I joined Gwar at the beginning of 1994. After our first rehearsal, they started playing some songs for a side project called X-Cops. They had the concept and some music written, but didn't have a singer yet. I said "Bullshit! I'm singing!", and the rest is history.”

Gwar has a musical style that is like no other band. The group’s roots lie in punk rock and crossover, but over the years Gwar has incorporated a plethora of metal styles in what Dave Brockie calls ‘Gwar metal.’ Having different members throughout the years has definitely helped bring in a variety of influences. Orr agrees, “All of the musicians in Gwar listen to vastly different music from each other so our influences are all over the place. I definitely think I bring an old school, Motorhead-esque metal quality to the band.” He continues, “I don't think you can define our music. It's obviously influenced by metal and punk, but we have the luxury of being able to pretty much do what we want. Our fans don't abandon us if we put out self indulgent records; in fact those records are favorites to many.”

The song writing for Gwar’s newest album Bloody Pit of Horror was somewhat collaborative. Orr details, “A good many of the songs on Bloody Pit of Horror were already written by our guitarist Cory Smoot (Flattus Maximus). Since the band lives in Richmond and I live in Texas, they arranged most of the songs while I wrote some stuff from home. When I arrived at the studio, most of the record was recorded, and I just wrote my bass parts in the studio. It was actually a good experience that gave me quite a bit of freedom with my parts.” Orr further states, “Dave Brockie (Oderus), wrote almost all of the lyrics, with a bit of input from me and the other guys, and I wrote the words to the song I sing, “Beat You To Death.”

Orr shares his thoughts on how Bloody Pit Of Horror ranks in the vast Gwar catalogue. “I think Bloody Pit of Horror is some of my favorite Gwar music so far! I'm very happy with the record, especially considering the time restraints we had with the writing and recording process. Scumdogs is still my favorite Gwar record (which I wasn't even on), but I think this one is second. This record is a natural progression from Lust In Space, but much darker and dirtier, without losing the trademark Gwar humor.”

Before releasing “Bloody Pit of Horror,” Gwar issued a video for “Zombies, March!” Having been released around Halloween and at a time when zombie films are peaking in popularity (just scan how many comments appear on Facebook concerning the new AMC program The Walking Dead), Gwar couldn’t have chosen a better time to release a zombie video. The vid gets further props because it was filmed by director, Dave McKendry of America’s favorite horror film zine, Fangoria. Orr said the whole process was “great.” He further details, “We rented out The National Theatre in Richmond and filmed there. I think they did a great job!”


More promotional opportunities came by way of a national television appearance. Gwar is no stranger to the boob tube. Oderus Urungus has made several guest appearances on the Fox News Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld. The group has also appeared on MTV’s Viva La Bam, the Beavis and Butthead video game, the movie Empire Records and a host of other appearances. Recently, the group made its first live performance on a late night talk show, playing “Zombies, March!” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Beefcake had a blast! “It was really cool! It was our first major national TV appearance. We've done Joan Rivers and Jerry Springer, but that's not the same. It went really well and they treated us great…really fun experience!

Playing national TV gave the band massive exposure and obviously, Orr had fun, but putting their offensive humor in front of the FCC meant the group had to “clean up” their act just a bit. Oderus didn’t strap on his huge penis nor did the band spray its audience with food coloring and carrageenan. Stripping down their performance didn’t seem to bother their beefy bassist, though. “There are very few situations where we will agree to censor ourselves or go spewless, but national television exposure is one of them. Besides, if you strip away all the theatrics, we're a good band underneath, contrary to popular belief!”

I agree with Orr’s statement about Gwar being a good band. Their fans obviously enjoy their music because the group has sold over thirty million albums. Would they have sold so many records without the theatrics? Probably not. Everyone, metal head or not, should experience at least one Gwar concert. Before this feature is buried, you too can experience the greatness that is Gwar. The group is currently on the road with punk icons The Casualties, Todd Evan’s band Mobile Death Camp and Infernaeon.

Orr says the tour is going great and the group is about halfway through the U.S. leg. From there, the group heads to “New Zealand and Australia in December to play the "No Sleep Til'" fest with Megadeth, NOFX, and Dropkick Murphys…Next year we're hoping to explore some new ground, possibly Japan and South America in addition to getting back to Europe for festival season!”

The group recently made an appearance in my area at Austin, Texas’ Fun Fun Fun Fest. The three-day fest plays host to more than just hard rock and heavy metal. Some of the artists that played on this year’s festival include Weird Al Yankovic (comedy/parody), The Vandals (punk), Slick Rick (old school rap) and even wrestling in the form of Anarchy Championship Wrestling. Of course, Suicidal Tendencies, Municipal Waste and High on Fire gave the fest its share of metal, but Orr didn’t feel like he needed a metal crowd for Gwar to make an impact.


“That's the thing about Gwar. It doesn't matter if you love us or hate us, or whether or not you even know who or what we are. If you find yourself in a situation where you can see Gwar, you're hooked. You can't look away! And in the end, for whatever reason, you'll have a good time! I love looking out in the audience and seeing the obvious Gwar version getting their first dose! Almost every time they give in and have the time of their life!”

Casey Orr’s position in Gwar has been consistent, especially when considering how many members have gone through the band’s ranks. The large number of cast, though, has brought different ideas to the table, and helped Gwar evolve, musically. Dave Brockie never seems at loss for new lyrical ideas, sometimes revisiting the familiar, but never causing Gwar to stagnate. The national television appearances and heavily populated concert halls prove the group is still gaining momentum, even after a quarter of a century. Casey Orr feels the same way, “Gwar will be around for a long time to come. We're just getting started!”


Sources:
http://www.myspace.com/gwarofficial
http://www.deanguitars.com/rigor_mortis.php
http://www.metal-archives.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwar



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by Darren Cowan, on November 15, 2010
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