It is with heavy hearts that I, and the folks here at DT, say goodbye to one of the true kings of DIY. The punk rock and metal God. The multi-talented singer/songwriter/author/artist, Davie Brockie.
I first came across GWAR’s music at a very young age, somewhere in between the time when their second release, Scumdogs of the Universe, came out and when America Must Be Destroyed, their third, violated my sensitive eardrums, back in the days where you could still buy tapes at the record store. And you could actually find records in a record store… let alone a store full of them.
A real one. Not an online store.
Do the math here, folks. I was born in 1981. The space between the release of those two albums was only a year’s time (1990-1991) which makes me… 10. Yes, you read that right. I was 10 years old. That’s seriously fucked up, thinking about it… but it also makes a lot of sense.
Jesus… 10? What’s wrong with my parents? No, this isn’t my parents’ fault. They didn’t censor my musical choices, and I love them for that. Better yet, it’s a question of what’s wrong with the dude with the short, yet impressively feathered hair, who was selling GWAR tapes to a 10-year-old? (I still love him, wherever he ended up…)
Like a lot of people, I was introduced to the world of Dave Brockie’s GWAR persona before I was introduced to the man behind the mask, or his artwork, wild musings, and intensely creative writings. It shouldn’t be impossible for any of our readers to imagine me dancing like a maniac to Saddam-A-Go-Go or The Salaminizer, what with the insane ramblings I subject you to on a not-so-regular basis. Well… it sure as hell shouldn’t… but I always wondered about you lot…
Ugh. I’m sorry. This is actually proving to be really difficult to write. I have so many memories tied to GWAR and Dave Brockie. It’s actually a lot more than I initially thought it was.
See, I am an official, card carrying member of the GWAR Total Slavery Fan club, and I only just found out about Brockie’s passing the day after his passing - I’m writing this on Monday March 24th, 2014. I feel like I’ve been through the goddamned wringer.
I’ve got 13 albums of this man’s shit memorized, and every one of those albums spells out a different part of my childhood and adolescence. I know that what I’m feeling is obviously nothing like what his friends and family are going through, but it just… this is the saddest I’ve ever been about the death of someone I don’t know. I feel like I’ve lost a friend. I feel like I’ve lost someone I could turn to when things got bad. It feels like something major is gone from my life.
And, y’know… something is gone. A big something. No… two big somethings are gone.
1) Dave Brockie the friend, family member, artist, musician, author, and so much more, is gone. And 2) so is Oderus Urungus – the monster of my dreams, and the voice of one of my favourite musical fiends.
If any of my peers caught me listening to GWAR back in the day, they automatically knew it was a good day, and that I’d be in good spirits. And in truth, whenever I was listening to a GWAR album, it was a good day. How could I not laugh at Fucking An Animal‘s over-the-top barnyard insanity, or Slaughterama‘s ridiculous and overtly political Geraldo talk-show styled themed killings? Or how about Meat Sandwich. Penis I See. Have You Seen Me? Or my absolute favourite, nonsensical, and smile inducing song – Dirty, Filthy? How could I be even remotely upset when lyrics of The Ultimate Bohab coursed through my brain? (I don’t suggest that any of you who are easily offended actually look up those lyrics. They’re… they’re not very nice.)
But my real relationship with Dave Brockie, as much as it wasn’t a real, in-person relationship, began when I happened across Whargoul – his first, and sadly his only novel – on the website Oderus.com. A site that now simply features the statement “We’ll miss you Dave…” instead of the treasure trove of rants, art, and musings of a beautiful madman.
(But if you’re savvy like my dear old self, and know how to use the Internet Wayback Machine, you can take a gander at the site in all of its yellow, disgusting glory. In fact, if you go back far enough, you can actually take a look at the book before it was published by Deadite in 2010, and the way Brockie initially meant for it to be read before any professional edits happened.)
Reading Whargoul at such a young age was a real eye opener. While I was aware of Brockie’s incredible knowledge of historical events through his lyrics, and his penchant for war culture, it had never occurred to me that the man who wrote some of my favorite songs could possibly pen a full-fledged novel, let alone one that was actually any good. The fact that he was able to blend his vast knowledge of war with his vile, crass, and thoroughly inappropriate sense of humour, and bring to life a character only once before glimpsed in the song Wargoul (yes, the spelling was different) was more than my teenage mind could deal with.
And then imagine my surprise when I found out he was born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada – a four and a half hour drive away from me.
It wasn’t until many years later and my discovery of the Splatterpunk movement that I was again to wonder how writers were getting away with this kind of stuff.
From the matter-of-fact opening paragraph that reeks of Brockie’s brand of deadpan humour, to the last line that dares you to challenge its strange, almost non-sequitor-like sense of finality – Whargoul is a goddamned ride.
A lot of people around the internet today are calling Whargoul a “true piece of bizarro fiction”, but I see it as something more than that. It has its place in bizarro, of that there is no doubt. But it’s also a piece of history as seen by the dual personality of Dave Brockie/Oderus Urungus, and a unique vision at that. It’s the aforementioned musings of a madman, but told through the filter of someone who was brutally intelligent and had his shit together.
It has been for years, and will probably always remain one of my favourite books.
But listen, I can’t do this anymore. I’ve been thinking about what to say for hours now, agonizing over it, really, and I’ve decided that writing this is just prolonging the needless torture of saying goodbye.
I want nothing more right now than to spend a great many thousand words sharing all of my favorite Brockie and GWAR stories, of the friends made through a mutual GWAR appreciation, and of the amazing memories I made and shared with girlfriends and best friends… but I can’t.
I don’t want these memories to end. I want more, and that’s just never going to happen now.
So I’ll just bite the bullet and say goodbye.
Goodbye, Dave. Even though we never actually met, I’ll miss you more than you’d ever know. I’m sorry I never got to tell you how much you meant to me as an artist and a leader, and how you helped mold the sick and twisted man I am proud to have become.
And goodbye Oderus. I hope the trip home on the World Maggot is a good one.
Save a seat for me in hell, you beautiful bastard.
P.s: Enjoy one of my favorite videos of Oderus/Brockie reading Goodnight Moon (very or NSFW or for those who offend easily)