On March 23, 2014 the music world lost a true visionary with the passing of GWAR’s Dave Brockie (AKA Oderus Urungus). As fans mourned the loss of this one of a kind man they also worried about the future of the band, that is until one man, Michael Bishop (formerly Beefcake the Mighty) took the reigns as GWAR’s lead singer in the form of an all new character named Blothar. Today, Mr. Bishop has been kind enough to speak with us about his time with GWAR and where he sees the future of the band headed.
BLANKMANinc: How did you first get involved with GWAR as Beefcake the Mighty?
Michael Bishop: I was this pimply faced little fat kid that was into punk rock and I had my little punk band, Dave Brockie and the other guys were kind of older than me, they were really my heroes and I had watched them play for a long time. I had gone to see GWAR in its’ very early days before it ever played out of Richmond. I’d gone to see those and I knew that their bass player was leaving because he was a friend of mine, Chris Bopst (Balsac), and he suggested that I try out and so I did. It went well and then I started hanging out at the Slave Pit, which was at the time over at The Dairy. I went over there and they had all the costumes and me and Don Drakulich (Sleazy P. Martini) came up with the idea that my punk name was Beefcake so we were just like “okay, that name’s stupid enough that we can just keep it and you’ll be Beefcake the Mighty.” That’s how that happened. We put together costume pieces that made him look like a Roman Centurion, that’s the GWAR thing, ancient aliens influencing all the development of life on Earth. Beefcake’s realm of influence was sort of Roman, Greek culture, Spartan culture, gladiator culture.
BMi: You left the band in …1995 was it?
MB: I actually don’t remember. It was probably more around 93. Yeah, I quit around 93 and I came back in 98 and 99.
BMi: What led to your departure in 93?
MB: In 1993 I had a band called Kepone that had just started to play and I was really into that. I’ll be honest with you man, GWAR is a hard band to be in, it’s really hard. You know, you’re putting on the stuff and it’s a lot of exertion and it’s tiring to do the touring. There’s not a lot of money because there’s so many people, especially back then. It was kind of a combination of factors that I wanted to do this other band and it was difficult and I was also, at the time, not very well. My health was sort of going down but that all got better. I did Kepone for a while, Kepone recorded three records and toured and did that stuff but that’s really why I quit, a combination of many factors. It wasn’t anything personal. Because I got in the band right out of high school there was a lot of things I wanted to do, including going to college. So I did that stuff.
BMi: Was it a really big decision to come back or did it just seem natural to come back as Blothar?
MB: It seemed natural but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a big decision. The answer is kind of both. Basically what happened was that I started showing up at the meetings and they wanted to keep going and I was trying to think of who could be the singer. I thought that I could do GWAR B Q, just that gig, and that I could sing all the songs that I used to sing. There were several songs that I sand and I knew that I could probably sing a couple old GWAR songs but then I was riding down the road and two of the guys called me so I was like “well, shit. Okay!” Ya know, I have a PHD in music and I had been teaching and working as a writer so it’s something I have the time to do. Right after they asked me I walked into the grocery store and I felt like Dave was asking me, if that makes any sense. So, I felt like I had to do it. The answer is that it was partly obligation. I do feel tied to those guys. I always will be tied to those guys.
BMi: You have a PHD in music, so obviously that’s going to bring a huge element of change to the band right, improve the music even more?
MB: Yeah, I’ll be honest with you, I think that the way that my professional lifecan help the band, I think, I’ve been out in the world and I’ve encountered other kinds of performance, other ways of structured performances. I’ve studied 19th century opera a lot, not as a performer but as a critic. My degree isn’t in playing music, I study the music of groups of people and how people use music in their lives. The way that I would bring that stuff is just in providing some perspective that they don’t have but it’s not like I’m suddenly going to change the way they sound or anything like that. It’s more like just helping them have ideas and move forward with what they’ve already been doing.