Dave Brockie, a good-humored ex-art student from Virginia, is probably more comfortable with a mask on than not. After all, he's best known as Oderus Urungus, a horned alien who's been swinging both a sword and an eye-stalked penis across stages for 20 years with his equally monstrous cohorts in GWAR. He's decapitated innumerable slaves and audience ringers, along with select celebrities and politicians, and covered audiences in fake blood, pus and other fluids. (Suffice it to say, a highlight of many GWAR shows is the deployment of a fire hose/cannon known as the "Bile Driver.")
For the second straight year, GWAR is the halftime show on the Sounds of the Underground tour, a massive metal-and-other-loud-music festival that's running throughout the summer. They're sharing the stage with Cannibal Corpse, Behemoth, In Flames, Trivium, the Black Dahlia Murder, Shadows Fall, and As I Lay Dying, among others. And though casual observers may have been too busy ducking jets of liquid to listen carefully, GWAR is more than capable of holding its own with those acts on a purely musical level.
Some folks probably have come to believe that GWAR CDs are secondary products, akin to those compilations of WWE wrestlers' theme songs. The band has demonstrated musical prowess in the past, with the power ballad "The Road Behind" (which provoked the legendary Beavis & Butt-head comment "All videos should be like GWAR videos") and the horn-adorned "Saddam A-Go-Go." It's looking to score again with its new single, a raucous cover of Alice Cooper's "School's Out." The track serves the dual purpose of providing an anthem for the summer tour and paving the way for Beyond Hell (DRT), the forthcoming album produced by Strapping Young Lad's Devin Townsend.
"We've become a metal band again on the last few records," says Brockie. "For a little while there we got sidetracked, trying different sounds. But we've got a drummer and guitarist now who are just amazing."
But don't expect the stage show to change with the music. "The plot stays the same," says Brockie. "We come on stage, chaos ensues, and at the end, a giant monster comes out. In between, we bring out people who are currently in the news or the public eye and chop their heads off." Bill Clinton, O.J. Simpson, Osama Bin Laden, George W. Bush and many others have fallen before the swords, axes, meat grinders, etc. One of the best characters GWAR has come up with in some time, though, is the Nazi Pope, who's exactly what he sounds like -- a pontiff with a big ol' swastika on the front of his pointy hat. But who came first, GWAR's Nazi Pope or the Catholic Church's?
"The real Nazi Pope was first," Brockie says, laughing. "We thought that was too perfect not to do something with. I mean, the Catholic Church is so big in Africa and Latin America, and people really thought that when John Paul II died, they were gonna get a brown-skinned Pope -- but what do they get? A guy who was actually in the Hitler Youth!"
GWAR appears Friday, July 21, at the Verizon Wireless Theater, 520 Texas. As I Lay Dying, In Flames, Trivium, Cannibal Corpse, Terror, Behemoth, the Chariot and Through the Eyes of the Dead are also on the bill. Call 713-230-1600 for more information.
Brazilian dance-punk outfit CSS's first American tour
I can't be certain, but I think Lusa Matsushita -- a.k.a. Lovefoxxx, the 22-year-old frontwoman of the Brazilian dance-punk outfit CSS -- is excited about her band's very first U.S. tour. In one Portuguese-accented breath: "It's gonna be sooooo good because the shows will be our only concern. We won't have to pay bills, we won't have to work jobs, brush our teeth, take showers, sleep, eat...well, eating but no brushing teeth... noooo, we're all very clean! But the bus, if someone takes a crap in the bus bathroom, then it will stink and it will get trashed. They cannot poop, they cannot number two. And I don't want to stay too close to someone who makes noises while they're sleeping. But it's gonna be sooo fun! And if we're out anywhere and I hear 'Maneater' by Nelly Furtado -- that song's so great, right, it's the best song ever, oh my God, with the drums, the tchhhhhh -- if I hear that I'd better have a swimming suit under my T-shirt because it's coming off! No, I'm kidding. Oh my God, six, no, five days! I can't even sleep, I can't wait!"
If the snarky, smutty sextet is even half as manic, effusive and hilarious in concert as Lovefoxxx was in conversation over the phone from her So Paolo apartment less than a week before hitting American soil, their show could be the most talked-about gig of the summer. Lord knows the five-girl, one-boy group's self-titled debut album is entertaining as hell -- loads of slashing six-strings (they have three guitarists) glued to live-drummed disco-funk beats and electro programming, its addictive grooves colored by analog sequences both gritty and goofy. Lovefoxxx's vocal personas include the exuberant riot grrl, the low, cool seductress, the ghettofab rapper, and the noxious fashionista-slayer; her subjects include sex, booze, pretentious bitches, douchebag exes, and Paris Hilton, delivered inside songs titled "Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex," "Alcohol," "Let's Make Love and Listen to Death From Above" (a nod to the Canadian dance-rock duo, one of Lovefoxxx's favorites), and "Fuckoff Is Not the Only Thing You Have To Show." Think of a cross of Bis, Le Tigre, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Blondie and Peaches and you'll be in the right-style ballpark.
CSS stands for "Cansei de Ser Sexy," which translates from Portuguese to "Tired of Being Sexy," which, Lovefoxxx explains, alludes to a quote superstar R&B diva Beyonc dropped in an interview a few years ago. Between that and lyrics like "I wanna take you home, bitch / Cause I wanna do you good, bitch" (from "Meeting Paris Hilton") and "Lick lick lick my art-tit / suck suck suck my art-hole," from the scathing ditty "Art Bitch," the singer admits that the band hasn't been taken seriously by Brazil's music press so far.
And Lovefoxxx doesn't expect the American press to take them too seriously, either, but that isn't going to dampen her spirits any. "We're all so excited and so happy about this tour and everything that's about to come that I think we'll be smiling all the time and jumping around like crazy on stage," Lovefoxxx gushes, adding that years of seeing live shows in So Paolo has taught her what to do, and what not to do, when she gets in front of an audience.
"I've seen a lot of bands, mostly like electro girl bands, they always bring a lot of objects and toys to the stage, and I think that's cheesy, you know. Like those things if you don't know how to swim you go with that in the swimming pool, what's the name of those things?"
Ummm, water wings?
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"Yeahhhhhh! They come with those things on the stage. I like to play with things that are already there, the mic stands and cables and instruments and stuff. That's more creative, I think. Sometimes I just dance, and I got a wireless mic so I can go everywhere and go into the crowd and that's why I don't play any instruments -- I get too excited and I end up at the other side of the venue and I can't make it back to the stage to play a solo."
And now that they're signed to a prominent American label and get to perform their first shows outside of Brazil, what does CSS hope to achieve next? "Our next goal is to play in Scandinavia and at some point in the show, we'll all put our instruments down, take off our clothes, and stage-dive naked!" Lovefoxxx titters.
Won't happen any earlier, huh?
"We're trying to save it for Scandinavia, but you never know!" CSS appears Wednesday, July 26, at Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel. Diplo, Blondo Do Role, Ceeplus and the House of Bad Knives also appear. Call 713-629-3700 for more information. -- Michael Alan Goldberg