By Don Zulaica Originally published in the May 2005 issue of DRUM! Magazine
Gather ’round, kids, and let Uncle Don tell you a little story about a band called GWAR. There are two versions of their history. One takes place millions of years ago, and involves the group – vocalist Oderus Urungus, guitarists BalSac The Jaws Of Death and Flattus Maximus, bassist Beefcake The Mighty, and drummer Jizmak Da Gusha (a.k.a. Brad Roberts) – being created by the “Master Of All Reality” (because he didn’t have anything better to do), and becoming a rock-and-roll force after being imprisoned in Antarctica for many moons. The other version revolves around some art students from Virginia Commonwealth University who were into punk rock, horror movies, Dungeons & Dragons, Monty Python And The Holy Grail, bizarre comic books, and even more questionable things. Thus, explaining the first version.
Mr. Gusha, may I call you Jizmak?
You can call me that, yes. That’s the only thing you humans can pronounce.
How are things in Antarctica? Or are you on the road?
Yeah, we’re in Maine. It’s a lot like Antarctica, except there’s less penguins to boot.
In California, we see a number like 65, and go, brrrr.
Hasn’t California fallen into the ocean yet? We’ve done all we could. Mudslides and earthquakes, we’re really trying.
The mudslides, that was you?
Oh yeah. GWAR’s responsible for tsunamis, earthquakes, plagues, famine … that’s what we do. Hey, isn’t this for DRUM! Magazine? Are you going to ask me anything relevant whatsoever?
Is it true that Buddy Rich took lessons from you?
Yes, Buddy Rich was a student of mine – I’m millions of years old, you know. He was kind of a dick … but he was great. I taught him everything I knew, and he proceeded to take the humans on a journey through rhythm that was very important to your culture, here on this planet.
War Party is the heaviest album you guys have done in a while.
Yeah, I think GWAR had a phase a few years ago where we were trying to satisfy every idiotic musical whim we ever had. We just make whatever music we want to. When you’re in a big monster costume, what can’t you do? You don’t have the guidelines that other “serious” musicians have. So we did whatever we wanted. But now we’re heavier. We just want to decimate everything in our path, and we think we needed to go back to the really heavy metal roots where we started from.
Are you still using GMS drums?
Absolutely. GMS are the best drums that the humans could come up with. I initially found out how to make sounds by beating the slaves with their own severed arms, and then realized that when I hit them, they would make weird tones. As time went on, I discovered you could stretch different animal skins over stuff – like the Grand Canyon – and make a big sound. But it seems, GMS are the next logical step from beating slaves and stretching animal skins over the Grand Canyon. And they make a comprehendible sound that you humans can understand.
Besides Buddy Rich, who were the mortal players you were into when you started to drum?
There were a slew. Rich being one, Alex Van Halen, Bill Stevenson, Dave Lombardo, Mikkey Dee, Bill Ward, and Billy Cobham. You name it, I listened to it. I wanted to study everything.
The drummer from GWAR likes Billy Cobham?
For sure! I think the most important quality a drummer should have is to not just be, “Oh, I’m so great and I can do all this stuff,” but he should play within the context of the song. The drummer’s job is to make that song swing.
I’m sorry, I thought I was talking to Jizmak Da Gusha. Did some jazz drummer take his place?
No, no. I wish I could play a lot more jazz, but this band doesn’t really call for that.
What do you think about some of the newer metal bands?
These new kids are playing way too fast. I can’t keep up with all this fast blast metal stuff, Jesus Christ! Where do they come up with that? I want to strangle every one of them. No, [seriously] metal has always been a big part of my existence. I’m more from the old school, but there are a lot of great cats out there now. I love Gene Hoglan. Awesome player.
What about the masked bands, like Mushroomhead or Slipknot?
Slipknot, I love them, because I think they’re probably the greatest GWAR cover band ever invented. They really have it down. It’s good, what those guys are doing. I think GWAR’s influence has made a big impact on metal, so that we could have bands like Slipknot, Mushroomhead, Green Jelly, Marilyn Manson, and Mudvayne. GWAR was doing this stuff so long ago that it actually inspired enough people to sort of create a whole sub-genre of heavy music. So I would love to take credit for that.
It’s been about 20 years, hasn’t it?
Yes, this is the 20-year anniversary of GWAR’s first show.
Your fans are raving lunatics aren’t they?
We love our fans. They’re the most crazy, dedicated, loyal fans, and they’re into GWAR because they’re not going to settle for Ozzfest – the Wal-Mart of heavy metal. They want real, subversive, vile stuff. They don’t want the watered-down corporate metal.