Diarrhea of a Madman

Dave Brockie, a onetime art student from Richmond, Virginia, has hacked quite a swath for himself through the more extreme end of pop culture. Better known as Oderus Urungus, leader of the intergalactic warrior tribe known to our planet as GWAR, Urungus and his depraved ilk were sent here more than a decade ago to enslave us while committing unspeakable acts on our women and covering all and sundry with blood, bile and semen. Urungus would just as soon rend planet Earth asunder as spend a single moment reflecting on the whys and wherefores.

And who can blame him? Life has proved to be surprisingly easy on the third stone from the sun. Humans crush against one another simply to get close to Urungus, BalSac (the Jaws of Death), Jizmak Da Gusha and the rest of GWAR. All that these puny earthlings ask for is the honor of getting personally defiled by the band's perpetually cascading bodily essences. Yet Urungus and company want nothing more than to escape from our trivial whirling ball of saltwater and dirt.

But beneath the 60 pounds of armor required to perform as Oderus Urungus, there dwells a living, breathing, more conventionally excreting person known merely as Dave Brockie. Brockie has stepped outside the GWAR universe a number of times in the past, with X-COPS and Death Piggy being the two most notable forays. But the Dave Brockie Experience (DBX) -- rounded out by Mike Derks (a.k.a. BalSac, guitar) and Brad Roberts (a.k.a. Jizmak, drums) -- is, as the name suggests, the most first-person of any of Brockie's excursions to date. The resultant debut CD, Diarrhea of a Madman, is an entertaining mix of the leader's musings on the world (as opposed to Urungus's) and liberally applied doses of not-altogether-gratuitous poo-poo and masturbation humor.

"I've never had any qualms about being an entertainer," states Brockie, with theatrical flair. "I'm not trying to browbeat people or make them feel really bad about life. Or come off as some suffering, whining rock star. My motives are much more pure. I really just want to make people laugh. Laugh at themselves, laugh at society, laugh at me especially! You get to laugh; I get your money. I get to laugh while you give me your money. I'm laughing all the way to the bank. Actually, I'm not. I'm laughing all the way to one of the tin cans buried in my backyard."

The only problem, he says, is that leprechauns keep making off with his loot. If anything, however, such unfortunate encounters have served only to fuel Brockie's ironic muse (not to mention potentially solving one of his "problems," specifically that of a surfeit of cash). Surface readings of songs like "Too Much Stuff" find nothing but manly-man slapstick humor: "A car with wheels that sucks my life because it never moves / A penis that will help me with the taming of the shrews / A little boat with bells on it, oh who could ask for more / I'll sail my ship across the seas and fuck exotic whores." But just one layer down, there is often universal "truth" to be found: We get trapped by our belongings; masturbation feels nice; Americans don't like Europeans; sometimes strangers make the best company.

Wrap it all up in a mix that moves from trash guitar rock to Dead Kennedys-style punk to faux acoustic and on to theatrical scores, and the combination can't help but find its way into your head. This is a contagiousness not found on Brockie's other explorations. "This is the newest one, and the one I can have the most selfish control over," states Brockie with relish. "On all those other projects I have to deal with a bunch of other supra-geniuses. But right now I wanted something that I could totally control and ride shotgun over. I wanted everything on my head so that, good or bad, I would either take full blame or all the credit. I didn't want to do art by committee. I had a bunch of songs that GWAR would never use anyway. More than anything else, I wanted to get them out or they just would have dissolved, and that would have been a cultural holocaust!"

Brockie singles out "Dance of Europe," about how most of us find Europeans peculiar and vice versa, as one notable example of what the world could have lost. The ideal, as Brockie sees it, is that everyone on both sides of the pond should just put their gripes out in the open. That way, the grievances could be discarded and a new starting point created. He is, however, quick to acknowledge the idea's utopian nature. Such "air clearing" hardly ever manages to solve conflict between two individuals -- given human nature's tendency to "betray, backstab and take advantage of the weak" -- much less two continents.

"Evolution is the key," opines Brockie. "So long as we can avoid nuclear holocaust, we'll one day evolve into being round-headed, multi-eyed, omnisexual creatures who can simply hook up to our pleasure boxes whenever we like, and...." (Perhaps we are already halfway there, given the number of hours one can spend on-line seeking exactly such synthetic stimulus.) Brockie continues: "Our mental capacities will be so much more evolved we won't even need our bodies anymore. Eventually all of our consciousness will literally merge into one. Wow. I've got to quit smoking weed before I do these interviews!"

Being on the road as Dave Brockie instead of Oderus Urungus is, according to the man himself, not only more convenient -- three people in a van instead of 16 on a bus -- but also liberating, since he can cast off the ultimately narrow confines of Urungus's worldview for a somewhat broader perspective. Performance replaces role-playing. Brockie also takes pains to point out that the "Experience" part of the name isn't just there for lexicological show. The band is there to entertain and startle as well as to perform -- to create an overall experience, if you will.

Brockie is even trying to incorporate one of the two extended, overtly theatrical compositions from Diarrhea, "I Saw Three Forms" and "Calling Dr. Fong," into the live set. Both are the type of free-form-storytelling-to-music rarely heard since Apostrophe-era Zappa, and would make a welcome digression from the current pop norm. However, given the constraints of a six-band bill, he adds, there simply might not be time.

"We know that we're going to have a [leg] up on any other band that's just starting out, because the GWAR fans have always been great about supporting anything else we do," states Brockie with sincere appreciation. GWAR bassist Casey Orr's (a.k.a. Beefcake the Mighty) side project, the Hellions, is also on the bill. "There're a lot more stories over here in the Slave Pit," GWAR's Richmond rehearsal/dwelling compound, "and they must be told or they will forever be lost."

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Chris Smith