Rebekah McKendry remembers GWAR’s Dave Brockie
Rest in Peace The Renowned Intergalactic Traveler, Oderus Urungus, and His Human Counterpart, Dave Brockie.
I had to pinch myself a few times on set. As a dedicated and lifelong fan of GWAR, the fact that they had asked my husband and I to direct one of their music videos seemed like a mystical dream. And now, after years of working with them on various projects, I was deeply saddened to learn that Dave Brockie passed away this past Sunday.
To fans, Dave Brockie was Oderus Urungus, a loud and brutish intergalactic space traveler. Behind the scenes Dave was a true artist. I first met Dave while visiting a friend in Richmond, VA. I knew GWAR’s FX shop was based there and thought it would make a cool report for Fango to see inside their lair. With Brockie and band mates leading the tour, I saw the world behind their world. I saw how the shows were created, how the blood sprayers work, and how their ideas went from paper to actual stage props. I saw Gor Gor and the World Maggot. I left with a GWAR mask of my very own. It was, simply put, magical.
Dave Brockie and I kept in close touch and eventually made a GWAR video, “Zombies, March!” together. Over this time, I observed well past the band’s stage presence. Dave emerged as a passionate artist who would doodle sketches during downtime that would rival professional comic books. He was a lover of all forms of art and would often discuss art history and current trends. He loved football, as well, and would often rant with my husband about the Redskins’ frequent losses. He was also fervent about politics and loved a good moralistic debate, much of which bled through into the stage show in a wave of decapitations and fluids.
I came to see Dave as a kind of mad genius. He had the brains and talent to do most anything, but his passion (along with the rest of the band members) was creating stories for dim-witted slaughtering monsters. And that is genius! Sometimes the true brilliance of GWAR gets lost in all the blood spray and carnage, but it is important to remember the art behind the viscera. They are a modern day Grand Guignol combined with fantastic music. Dave loved pushing social boundaries. Whether it be his giant Cuttlefish of Cthulhu phallus that would spray the audience or the “killing” of presidents and religious leaders on stage, Brockie and the band knew what buttons to push and how to present intelligent satire combined with glorious amounts of gore.
The music of these brutal alien overlords often gets overlooked amidst all the shock and ooze, but Brockie’s lyrics and vocal abilities were amazing, and his improvisational skills the same. Dave and the band created these characters and mythos out of thin air, and when Dave would do interviews (even appearing repeatedly on FOX’s RED EYE) he would have to preserve this mythos and perform as the character. Dave’s ability to spontaneously create Oderus’ stories, adventures, and witty retorts will forever have me in awe. Even under the pressure of cameras, press, and screaming fans, Brockie’s sharp wit and talent was always spot-on.
Dave was also one of the most gracious guys I’ve ever met. After working with him at multiple conventions, it was apparent not only how much he loved what he was doing, but also how much he truly loved his fans. No matter how many GWAR groupies swooned or gushed, Dave was always grateful, never too busy and never came across as unapproachable. He was a metal god and brutal intergalactic monster, but he was also a fantastic person.
Dave and GWAR changed the face of music forever. They gave music a back-story, an interactive quality, and they made it so theatrical that it became infectious! Dave, I can only hope you are somewhere better drinking a beer and watching a football game where the Redskins are always victorious. Your FANGORIA family is going to miss the bloody hell out you!