Dave Brockie, lead singer of the singular heavy metal band GWAR, known for its outrageous costumes and over-the-top concerts, was found dead in his Richmond home on Sunday evening, police confirm.
While the Richmond-based band has cycled through members since its inception in 1984, Brockie (known to fans as his alter ego, Oderus Urungus) was a founding member and leader. The Grammy-nominated group, famous for its one-of-a-kind costumes, wildly graphic lyrics and intentionally gruesome on-stage antics, has become a respected cult-favorite act over the course of its 30 years together. A change.org petition asking for the band to perform at the 2015 Super Bowl even garnered more than 50,000 supporters.
The band, which would frequently do things like open the show by decapitating an alien and spraying concertgoers with gallons of fake blood, had a worldwide audience. They had just finished international tour dates in Japan and Australia after releasing their 13th album last year.
Former band member Jim Thomson (stage name Hans Orifice) paid tribute to Brockie on Facebook:
“He had a way of inspiring you. He was very local. Very punk rock. The kind of punk rock that was real,” Thomson wrote. “…Dave was an entire cosmos of spirit and boundless energy. He always had a sketchbook or notebook nearby. Constantly creating. It made you feel like you should be doing something too.”
Mike Bishop, GWAR’s former bassist, also weighed in, calling Brockie a “criminally underrated lyricist and hard rock vocalist.” “He was brash sometimes, always crass, irreverent, he was hilarious in every way,” Bishop told Richmond’s Style Weekly. “But he was also deeply intelligent and interested in life, history, politics and art.”
In an interview with The Post in 2004, Brockie talked to Mark Jenkins about how the band got started, and how they were once banned from the 9:30 Club when some of their fake blood got into the venue’s new equipment.
“We are a bunch of pimply-faced [Virginia Commonwealth University] art students and punk-rock musicians, many of us actually spawned from the D.C. area, who decided to produce something we thought was even more amusing than the Butthole Surfers.”
A loyal Redskins fan, Brockie also spoke of his attachment to his native Richmond, despite the town being wary of letting the band play there. He cited the “isolated, super-conservative” local scene as an inspiration to the band. In recent years, the city became more friendly and supportive of the group; the fifth annual GWAR B-Q was scheduled for August in Richmond.
“A lot of people are like, ‘Well, it’s such a cultural backwater,’ and yeah, it is,” Brockie said in 2004. “But there are lots of cool people down here, and lots of great bands coming out of here. This town does not get the credit it deserves.”