The time has arrived again. On your knees in submission and worship at the feet of the true lords of the underworld, humans! The mighty GWAR is again upon us. Unassailable in grandeur, GWAR emerged from the very bowels of Antarctica and have grown into two-time Grammy Award-nominated music icons. With Lust In Space the group’s brand new album, the world shall be forced to its knees in total surrender. The release also marks the 25th anniversary of the band which comprises Oderus Urungus on vocals, Beefcake on bass, Balsac on guitar, drummer Jizmak Da Gusha and guitarist Flattus Maximus.
Recently, the band also resigned to powerhouse record label Metal Blade Records after an eight-year and two-record absence. GWAR
’s latest long player is their most sonically devouring, instrumentally challenging offering to date. A head-jarring, teeth gnashing Molotov cocktail of chronic chaos, that with songs like "Let Us Slay
," "The UberKlaw
," "Where Is Zog?
," and the title track, will silence any remaining skeptics for all eternity. Cory Smoot
kindly stepped out of his "Maximus
" character to chat with Joe Matera
’s new musical outing.
UG: GWAR are now back with Metal Blade Records, what led you to return to your old label again?
Cory Smoot: We had strayed from Metal Blade Records for a couple albums which at the time seemed like a step forward for us. But when DRT started fucking their bands around it, we knew it was time for us to go. Because we've had a long kick ass relationship with Metal Blade previously, we are very happy to be back and ready to kick ass with the Blade again.
Lust In Space is the band’s eleventh album to date, how did making this album differ from all the band’s previous efforts?
We had more time to write and record this album and so we got a little more experimental than we have previously. Plus, looking back over making this new album, it seems to be a little bit more of a collaborative effort. As far as, we were all there throughout the recording and writing process compared to in the past, where we would compile the music and then the vocals would get slapped on. We got a comfortable system happening.
Listening to the album, I find that musically, the songs are more melodic and more of a serious metal nature than heard previously. Was this something you were conscious of or something that has evolved naturally for the band?
"We had more time to write and record this album and so we got a little more experimental than we have previously."
We have become a little more conscious on turning the cheese down a bit when it comes to the writing process. But no matter what we do, there will always be the element of ‘funny’ there somewhere. I think the band is definitely evolving musically especially when it comes to my self. We seem to have a formula that’s obviously working great and so it feels great to be able to bring Gwar back to the metal front again where it belongs.
This album is self-produced, what was it like self-producing an album than having an outside producer onboard?
We felt that when it came to this record, because we have been doing it for so long, it was time for us to go ahead and produce it ourselves. The process for Beyond Hell (2006) went great with the help of Devin Townsend co-producing vocals and co-mixing the album. But for Lust in Space, it was all rehearsed, tracked and mixed at my studio; Karma Productions. So you can say officially say, we are all producers now. Anyway it seems more personal of a project when you self produce something than having an outside producer. Plus being noted as co-producer on the album is something I have wanted to do since I first joined the band.
What do you hope to achieve with the musical statement you’re making on Lust In Space?
Just to be another brutal fucking Gwar album! It’s definitely more metal and with Gwar finally having made it back to outer space, what with that now having been achieved, what were Gwar going to do next anyway? I also have a song on the album called ‘Release The Flies’ where I play all the instruments and do vocals so that should change things musically a bit too.
What was the recording process like this time round?
We recorded it digitally through Pro Tools HD. We took a couple months to write the album, then another couple months to record and mix. Everything went really smooth and because we got to stay at home, we didn’t have too many deadlines eating our asses. But having said that, of course you always wish you had more time to do it though. I had two studios, one where we tracked drums, guitars, effects and the other studio, which was less than a mile away, where we tracked the vocals and the bass.
I noticed ‘GWARnography’ is the bonus track for the download version of the album, so how many tracks were actually recorded and if there are others, are they going to appear on future releases in some way?
We actually recorded a total of fourteen songs. And we have another song recorded that we are hoping to release for a special Christmas download called ‘Christmas, Stripper, Summer, Weekend’. It's a more catchy mainstream type song but in the usual Gwar language. Because it was totally different from the rest of the songs for the album, we refrained from putting it on the album.
The album also sees the return of bassist Casey Orr back into the band’s fold.
He's an awesome guy, very funny and a good person to write with. Casey is a new/old Beefcake now. His personality definitely does well for the character which I now call him, "The Yosemite Sam of Metal".
What gear did you use for the album?
We tracked the rhythms through a Madison Divinity Head which went through a Madison 412 Cab. It is a very simple set-up, but man, I'll tell you that those things sound really good for recording. Then for the leads, effects and harmonies, we experimented with Mike Derks’ [Balsac] Lexicon, some Digitech stuff, especially the old GSP-2101 and, of course, a Morley Wah.
How does this studio set-up differ from your live set up?
My primary setup for both studio and my other band Mensrea live is a Marshall JMP-1, a Valvestate Pro 120/120 and a BBE Maximizer which is my older Gwar rig. For Gwar live now, I use a Mesa-Boogie Rectifier recording pre-amp and a Rectifier 2:100 through a BBE Sonic Maximizer, a Rocktron Hush and a Rocktron Expression pedal, a Korg Tuner and an EV wireless.
When making a GWAR album, are you always conscious of how you record it and whether it will be able to translate into the live environment and how the music will suit comfortably with the visual aspect of the live shows?
Not really. But there have been times when I would write something like a lead part and by the time I'm in my Flattus persona on stage, it's like ‘oh shit I forgot I can’t see the fret board’. It's definitely a challenge which is why I love it. Try playing with all that shit on and not to mention, having been doing it for 25 years now. Though I’ve only been doing it for eight years, sometimes its great but at other times, it can take its toll on you. Especially those damn 3 month long tours!
With the band’s 25th anniversary taking place next year what have you got planned to celebrate the anniversary?
"We have become a little more conscious on turning the cheese down a bit when it comes to the writing process."
We got a new show, a new album and are now working on a box set and a new music video. Who knows what else is to come but we are always full of last minute surprises. The tour will last a few months and though it is hard saying it, it probably will be a two year celebration by the time it is finished.
What keeps GWAR inspired enough to keep making music after 25 years?
By trying for as long as possible, to not have to jump on the conveyer belt of working a nine to five job… no I’m just kidding. If you were a part of something like GWAR, you would strive to make it last as long as you could which is what we’ve been doing. Plus, the demand for Gwar has always been great anyway.
Ever had embarrassing moments onstage?
Absolutely! One example is the time I could not find my underwear and had to play commando with my nut sack dangling in the fans faces. That is one incident right off the top of my head. I'm sure there is more but I do remember that one quite vividly.
With the whole ethos of GWAR and the “character playing” of the band, how does life away from that stage persona differ for you in your personal day to day existence?
I'm actually pretty boring in my normal day to day existence. I like working on the house and working in the studio, riding my motorcycle and going fishing. I just got married after a 12-year relationship and who knows what that may bring. Maybe a kid or two may follow? I just helped my wife open up her own private hair salon. And I also play in my other bands; Mensrea and Locus Factor. So really, it’s just, you know, your basic American shit.
How long does it normally take to put your costumes on before a Gwar show?
It normally takes about 30 minutes, give or take for each character since they’re each different. I have the least stuff to put on but we usually do give ourselves at least a half an hour.
There was talk awhile ago of ESP guitars making you custom bodied guitars, what’s the status with that?
I love ESP but that custom guitar never happened. However there are some talks of another kick ass company - Schecter Guitar Research - actually releasing a Cory Smoot Maximus Signature series in the near future. I can’t wait as it's going to be badass.
And there was talk of doing a best-of-Gwar instructional DVD too?
That is still in the works among everything else going on. But it's been put on the back burner for awhile. But for all the fans out there, I like say this, do keep checking our website and stuff as we will always keep the masses posted on everything Gwar related...
Interview by Joe Matera
Ultimate-Guitar.Com © 2009