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Indie Or Die: A Look At The Independent Scene

By Darren James Bowman, Contributor
Thursday, March 21, 2002 @ 5:40 PM


An Interview With Dave Brockie

- advertisement -
“Where’s the fucking money, Keith!?
It’s all gone. The money’s not important here!
This whole dream… It’s not what I wanted. It’s what you wanted!
You’re only 18 years old for Christ’s sake. You don’t know what’s fuckin’ important!
Then I’m 19. Then I’m 20. When does my life belong to me?”

NEVER YOU PUNK!

At least that is what the commercialized music industry would have you believe.

Throughout this series of articles, we will take a look at the fleshy underbelly of today’s Punk/Hardcore scene known as Indie. This is a place known only to its visitors. Many people still believe that all of those big hair glam fucks actually fell out of some producer’s ass, but no, even they were here once. Indie is like the base of the music iceberg. The top does look nice, and for many people that’s good enough, but the mass is all below the sight line. This is where all the action is.

I have been mandated by KNAC.COM to spelunk into this underground environment and shine our light into this darkness. Over the course of the next few months we will be talking to many indie bands, indie producers and whoever else I can get my calloused dick-skinners on. Every month in pursuit of the answers to questions that will help describe, or explain away, the Indie lifestyle. Also for your reading pleasure, we will profile a different indie band and provide links for you to follow to help guide you through this labyrinth of filth.

Why indie or die?
Why the fuck not! What have our mainstream artists been producing these days? These guys are tired and seemingly out of ideas. Billy Idol is covering “Don’t You” (Simple Minds, 1985), Marilyn Manson, “Tainted Love” (Soft Cell, 1982), and Powerman 5000 is doing “Relax” (Frankie Goes to Hollywood, 1984). Please correct me if I am wrong, but this shit sucked in the ‘80’s. These guys have all signed, what, a 7 record deal? Now, with their balls stored safely tucked away in some gold tooth pimp at Mega Records’ purse, they are livin’ large. Now all they need to do is pump out 90 songs-ish to get their ballz back. No problem, we can do really great covers of really bad $h!t! I am Leann Rymes, wouldn’t it be cool to remake “Purple Rain” (Prince and the Revolution, 1984)? No, girl, that would not be cool! You didn’t get where you are covering tired music. You got where you are by writing music that inspires imagination and is just fun to listen to. Does Britney Spears really “love Rock-n-Roll?” Apparently she would like to you to believe that she does. Girl, you should’ve had those tits implanted on your back. That way all those music pimps that you’ve allowed access to your backside would have a nicer view! I am here to say that, if you want the goods, go catch Joan Jett who is currently on tour. Bands put out a best-of when they are hungry and out of ideas… What’s it say when you put out another bands best-of?

Please don’t get me wrong. There are good bands out there under more major labels doing really great shit, but I do not think that this represents the majority of this cookie-cutter music industry. If we, as fans, are vigilant in our record purchasing decisions it is possible, not likely but possible, the record industry would listen and change their formula. We need an industry that promotes creative expression and absolute freedom to produce what you want. Let the fans decide what is good.

WHATS SHAKIN’? (by region)

NorthWest:
Life in the Pacific NorthWet sucks this time of year. The gray a$$ sky’s are directly linked to the highest suicide rate in the nation, as well as being serial killer central. These environmental variables drive us inside, seeking shelter in our dimly lit clubs searching for anything cool or at all interesting. Thanks to guys like Sub Pop Records, 10 things Jesus Wants You To Know, minor pact with Satan and many more independent influences, this area is on the tour circuit map.
The Dead Kennedy’s are rollin’ through the PNW finishing up a tour that has had them hopping all around the globe. Look for tour dates on their web site for March in Washington and Oregon. These guys are old as dirt but are doing a killer job keepin’ it alive. I really want to plug Manifesto Records here for a second. This is a killer indie label started by DK and has really powerful artists like Tom Waits (“Tommy the Cat is my name”) and Concrete Blonde (if you are into them, they are on tour in the southern states next month).
Check with SeattleMetal OnLine frequently to find out what is happening around the Puget Sound. If you do go to this site, though, you had better have a lot of time on your hands, cause it’s like Disneyland for the heavy metal surfer.

SouthWest:
Put ‘ur shit kikers in the back of your pickup and grab your Doc’s. Skinlab is in your area late march and early April. These guys do a cover of Brujeria's “Peto Wilson” that is worth the price of admission alone.
Lamb of God is on tour and headin’ for CA. From there they head due East to the Atlantic. Check with Metal Blade for dates.
SXSW Music and Arts Festival and conferences will be going on this month in Austin. You really need to go their web site to get the full grasp of what is going on, but this is for all artists in general to attend.
US Bombs have 3 shows in SoCal before heading to Europe for a full-length tour over there. These shows should be worth the broken bonze you will likely suffer while attending. Rancid also has a bunch of dates booked in the SoCal area next month. The Distillers are also doing four shows for you in April as well as 1 in Vegas. Why you SoCal fuckers get all the good shows?

MidWest:
I actually had no idea that people even lived here until I ran into the University of Iowa Girls Softball team. Put me in a room with 25 girls, where they all worship something called the “Big Ten” and you can believe I am hanging on their every word. Here is what they had to say. A band called Rival is tearin’ it up from their area as well as a The Terrorists, who are renaming themselves The Monster Party due to recent events (makes sense. You didn’t see anyone calling themselves The Communists 30 years ago). The general consensus though, was that for most shows you were drivin’ to Chicago to catch the national circuit.
The Dropkick Murphey’s are of course doing 3 shows at home in Boston this month for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. If you drink enough green beer even your vomit will be festive at these shows.
Bad Religon, with a lineup featuring G. Graffin, BR; Jay Bentley, BR; Brett Gurewitz, BR (Epitaph Founder); Greg Hetson, Circle Jerks; Brian Baker, Minor Threat; and Brooks Wackerman, (by far the youngest at 24), Suicidal Tendencies/Infectious Grove. 20 years later and this lineup is DOPE! This tour will be in the Midwest and then toward the end of March and then heading on to the Southwest region. Everyone will get their chance to see this act, just go to Epitaph Records and find out when it will be your turn.

NorthEast:
This is the home of the real American Hardcore and always will be. This area’s contributions to the independent music scene started with the Punk revolution in the ‘70s and shows no sign of slowing. Be sure to check in with the GoKart Web Site frequently to see when and where you can hook up with bands like Lunachicks, GBH and Anti-Flag.
New Jersey Metal Fest in Asbury Park, NJ will be one of the best shows of the year for you guyz. This is a show up dead or alive show. Featuring Exodus! Cannibal Corpse is going to be there after playing the New Jersey Metal Fest and then moving on with their N. American tour.
The StreetWalkin’ Cheetahs are currently on tour on the East Coast. You can go to their web site and check for dates near you. These guys have been tearin’ it up for years for you fuckers. Check ‘em out before they grow weary of entertaining you and you miss your shot.

SouthEast:
Unit One Records is out to make sure you get your metal fix in the SouthEast. You people in the Carolinas and Florida can refer to their site to see who is who for your local metal scene. Caution, Hard Hats Required!
God Forbid and Hatebreed have a number or dates in the Florida area in April so if you are not in a body cast this is worth motivating and rallying the troops. I think you can bring your pet gator’s to these shows (not sure though. Check w/ venue).


Interview With Featured Artist: Dave Brockie (GWAR)

It’s Tuesday, February 12th and GWAR is in town. A thousand kids line the street anxiously awaiting the blood bath that their $16 has guaranteed them. A crew of workers has just left after lining the entire interior of Seattle’s Showbox with plastic drops and throwaway carpeting. In the back, another crew of men load in all of the apparatus that will be used to completely destroy this theater. A very hot, technically perfect, hardcore act God Forbid (Century Media) is warming up in sound check.

In the club room, on the back of one of the couches, the following conversation transpires:

KNAC.COM: Alright, folks this is Darren James Bowman representing KNAC.COM talkin’ to Oderus from GWAR. Are you ready to do this?
ODERUS URUNGUS: Arghg.

KNAC.COM: Arghg, okay! Oderus, in your illustrious career you have resurrected Jerry Garcia only to slay him and jump rope with his entrails. You have decapitated O.J. Simpson, the Pope and countless others. You’ve been victorious in many battles aliens from all over the galaxy. You have even had forceful sex with the undead Jean Bonet Ramsey. I am thinking you guys don’t need drugs ‘cause you must just be “High on Death”.
With all of these successes what could possibly be interesting or challenging at this point?
ODERUS URUNGUS: Arghg, I don’t know, makin’ it through the show tonight without that Bastard Gor Gor eatin’ half my brain out of my head. I mean, sure it’s an endless cacophony of violence and hatred, but, you know, I would still like to have all of my organs at the end of the show. You know I’m just takin’ it one day at a time.

KNAC.COM: Right on. What’s goin’ on with GWAR these days? What can we expect to see at this show tonight?
ODERUS URUNGUS: Well uh, yes this is our latest uh, death campaign, directed against the world and we have decided to make it a little more public service oriented this year. We are calling it the Blood Drive 2002. You know tryin’ to get a little blood for the war effort. We don’t really have anything to put it in. We just kinda let it kinda slop all over the ground. But still its blood and it’s helping something. Um, you know in order to harvest blood from people we need to do the same thing GWAR has always done. You know, getting them to come to the show, set up the big horror noise machine, draw them all in there. Then have them all torn apart with a variety of guest celebrities. Celebrity blood donors… giving and giving. It’s just amazing how much people are giving on this tour. Giving 8, 9 pints and a pint of flem. You know it’s just like the fans, the fans, their fans.

KNAC.COM: Speaking of GWAR and flem… I remember a few years ago at a show you said that spittin’ at GWAR was like throwing water balloons at Jaws. A great quote I have repeated a number of times: “So is Sleazey P. still treating you like a bunch of skid row, crack ho’s?”
ODERUS URUNGUS: Oh, yeah. He sucks. We haven’t even seen him for months. He just shows up, every day a dump truck, with a 9 ton crack boulder shows up beside the tour bus. He is back in Manhattan in his solid gold skyscraper counting money, while I am out here doin’ all the dirty work. But that is all I really can do. Dirty work.

KNAC.COM: Right. Well, we are all fit for a certain role in life.
ODERUS URUNGUS: Can’t count… Can’t count, money. Can’t count anything really.

KNAC.COM: All right, so nothing personal here, Oderus, but I would like to talk to the Wizard behind the curtain of blood. Dave you back there?
ODERUS URUNGUS: Ahhh… Pathetic whining noises are heard… Whining gasping cries…

KNAC.COM: A little three-foot midget comes out from behind you…
ODERUS URUNGUS: Yeah, a little midget crawl’s out of Oderus’ butt. “Hi, I’m Dave.” That would be nice. That would be really nice.

KNAC.COM: Okay, so this piece is for an indie scene article. You are, in my opinion, a king in the land of indie. Nothing makes this more evident than the whole Warner Bro’s/Baby Dick Fuck thing. I know that you are good with your decision of telling them to fuck off, but was there contention in the band behind that decision?
DAVE BROCKIE: Not really. Everyone seemed to be pretty together about that. We didn’t even really… We decided that that was what we wanted to do. Even then we called up the label and said, “Look we know this is probably going to screw your entire distribution deal up”. And Metal Blade was just like “Well, you know, that’s O.K… We’ll get another one. No big deal”. They were in all kinds of hot water with Warner Brothers over Goo Goo Dolls anyway. I think they were probably just looking for a way out at that point. If GWAR were able to facilitate that then I guess we did.

KNAC.COM: I think it would be a choice between exposure and freedom of expression.
DAVE BROCKIE: Well, I never thought that GWAR was going to be a massively huge, successful, financial thing, so it’s like the only thing you have is your artistic integrity. That is like the most valuable thing we have going for us, and what we want to protect more than anything else… Even if it ifs for a song like “Baby Dick Fuck”.

KNAC.COM: I guess you have got to draw your line in the sand and stand by it.
So now thanks to Metal Blade and Slave Pit Productions… Violence Has Arrived. I have only heard 1 song off this new album. What makes this album different than the violence that came before it?
DAVE BROCKIE: Well, it’s not as all over the place as the last couple of records have been. The last few records we’ve done have been real experimental musically. All over the place, they’ve been like Jazz numbers and country songs, and elaborate rock opera pieces and all kinds of crazy stuff. And ah, that’s all great, but on this record we wanted to change it up a little bit and do something heavier. A little more mean sounding, a little more heavier sounding. That’s not to say we took the comedy element out of it ‘cause you can never take that out of GWAR. But we just wanted to make something a little tighter. A little heavier and not have it be overly comedic.
I did this record called Diarrhea of a Madman, with my side project DBX and that’s about the silliest record ever. Honestly, it drained me of all my silliness for a little while. So, when I got ready to do the new GWAR album, it was really easy for me to write a very hateful, bitter, violent record. But, with meat to it. Every one out there is hateful, violent and bitter but no one is happy about it, really. I think we are like kinda’ happy about it.

KNAC.COM: So word on the street is that Danielle [Danielle Stampe a.k.a. Slymenstra Hymen] is not with you on this tour. What is she doin’ now? Is she at the Betty Ford Clinic or some shit?
DAVE BROCKIE: Oh fuck no! She was just on the Ripley’s [Believe It Or Not]. I don’t know if they have aired it yet, but she was on the Ripley’s doing the Tesla coil thing.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, January 30th.
DAVE BROCKIE: They did air it already? She is doing all kinds of shit. She is in L.A. doing her girlie freak show and all that stuff. It’s like, you know one of those things where I was just, well you know, this tour we just want to do the boys club version. You know. We didn’t want to have… we kinda wanted to get rid of the ah, I hate to say, extra characters, ‘cause that kind of implies that they’re not, that we don’t think, we don’t value them as much as anyone. Which isn’t true. But the cold economic reality is that we can’t keep bringing this thing out on the road, and keep bringing 20 with us every time, and ever expect to make any money at all off if it. I mean it is getting more and more expensive to run this band, every year. And every year it seems like it is getting harder and harder to get money. Man, this whole economy is just strangling us slowly but surely. You know it really sucks for an independent, ‘cause we are an independent band you know. And we are an independent corporation as well. We run our own business and everything. It’s amazing we have stayed in business as long as we have, you know? And we have to like, learn from the past and figure out new ways to do things to be successful. But don’t worry, I’m sure, GWAR woman will be back at some point! She is certainly our gal.

KNAC.COM: Well, yeah, I am sure she is.
DAVE BROCKIE: And we love her very much. And she is kicking ass, so watch out! And the same goes for like Techno Destructo and Sleazy P. Martini. You know, Don Draculation, Hunter Jackson, Chuck Vargo and a lot of the other really heavy weight artists that were you know, started this thing years ago. They’re just not into touring, they just don’t want to tour. They just want to stay home and build stuff and draw comics. They are not into this like, road dog attitude that we -- thank god -- that some of us are still into, cause we have to have that or the band won’t survive. You got to get out there and tour. And get in peoples faces and make the money, or you’re just not going to make it. We just took almost two years off from touring and that was real tough. But we needed it. We needed a little break, a little time to reassess and let the pieces settle. Let the mix kinda sort itself out. Instead of like kickin’ it, trying to kick it into shape, we just let it… And it worked out real well. Real natural… real natural production on this tour.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, well in the independent scene, I mean, you are kind of in the darkness where your fans have to find you, as opposed to this mass produced environment where its just all of these advertisements are in your in your face and everything like that.
DAVE BROCKIE: That is certainly true. You really have to rely on your local promoters to get the shit out there. And even then, they can’t help to keep up with all these gigantic corporations that have millions of dollars to spend. And then tear their posters down as well.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, I know that in Seattle, Lori LeFavor, with Infinite Productions is doing her part.
DAVE BROCKIE: Lori is great! She has done our shows in Seattle forever. She kicks ass. And finally she got us in this excellent venue tonight. I am very stoked.

KNAC.COM: Um, so this is a three-fold production question: 1.) How does your prop production process go? 2.) Have you ever had a prop back-fire? and 3.) Have their ever been any related injuries?
DAVE BROCKIE: Oh sure, um, well what we do basically with the props is a… We decide what we are going to build -- we draw sketches. We build clay models -- sculptures of it. Then we make molds off the sculptures. Then we cast the molds with latex. Then we attach the latex pieces to football pads or strap systems, leather, whatever and voila! You got a GWAR costume. You have got a monster, you have this or that. I am not going to reveal too many of our secrets but… Props back-fire all the time. I mean, all the fucking time. We have had dudes almost drown in their costumes. Because, like, the spew tube is not pointed the right way and it is just filling their face area up with blo… water. And they literally could not breathe. (D.B. turns to crony) I think that was you Matt, wasn’t it? (Crony confirms near death experience. We all laugh).
We had a, Sleazy P. Martini had a fake shotgun held up to this kid’s neck and the damn’ thing went off. It blew this hole in this kid’s neck. We are lucky we didn’t kill him. There was this huge char mark on his neck. We had to pay like $3,000 to him for his medical bills. We had to do that or he was going to sue us. He probably would of put us out of business.

KNAC.COM: He is probably the only guy out there that can say I almost got my head blown off by GWAR.
DAVE BROCKIE: Luckily, he was such a big fan, he was such a big fan he was cool about it. I am sure he has still got a scar. Yeah, shit fucks up all the time. I am happy to say that on this tour things seem to be working out real well. Gor Gor, in particular is just a masterpiece and the whole set, everything just looks great. Especially in this venue tonight. Looks really neat.

KNAC.COM: Good, sweet, I am looking forward to it. I know you have done a lot of side projects, DBX, X-Cops, occasionally RAWG, are these business ventures or are you trying to find a way to express yourself in a way that you can’t from the GWAR platform?
DAVE BROCKIE: Oh, well they are both. I think first and foremost they are, especially with DBX, those are a bunch of songs I wrote over a long time, really took my time doing it. Had a lot of fun with it. That was more of a labor of love than anything else. And as far as a business project… well that came later. It was neat, though. With only 3 people, in the band we actually made some money. Pretty cool. But it’s already over practically, just like X-COPS. Everyone’s always like, ‘are you going to do another record?’ I’m like, yeah, I’d like to but we’ll just have to see.

KNAC.COM: How often do you do a RAWG show? Is that like an impromptu thing or something you book?
DAVE BROCKIE: We usually do it, like right before we are getting ready to hit the road on a GWAR tour, is usually when we do it. We will like practice with the band until we are tight, well hopefully, and then we will do a RAWG show right before we split.

KNAC.COM: So what is your opinion of doing an all ages show? Do you think your show is for all ages?
DAVE BROCKIE: Oh yeah, sure. Kids get way worse shit than GWAR on TV nowadays. There is nothing to gross or horrible about a GWAR show. Even the… the worst thing has got to be the dick spew. It’s so obviously… not a dick. I mean sure it’s hanging between my legs. It’s a fish -- it has been highly publicized as being a fish. (Laughs all around) So what if it happens to be hanging between my legs. It’s no big deal.

KNAC.COM: Phallus in Wonderland…
DAVE BROCKIE: You know, and who am I to judge? I remember when I was like twelve years old, thinking I was pretty grown up. Watching Monty Python. Pretty much understanding it. Getting off on all the subtle humor. You know, a lot of that stuff is so deep that an American will never get it. It’s like obscure jokes about ‘70s British TV celebrities. But you know, fuck it, I think it should be all ages. I think it should be like twelve. I would draw the line at twelve.

KNAC.COM: Twelve is the…
DAVE BROCKIE: I don’t know, bringin’ little kids to the show, that always kind of annoyed me. Holding your seven-year-old up on your shoulders to get spewed on… But, hey, whatever. That’s why I don’t have kids. I don’t have to make those decisions. We need the all ages fan support totally.

KNAC.COM: We just have a lot of all-ages shows around here. I go to these shows and everyone is half my size. I am a 31-year-old punk rocker, I’m like a spotted owl at these things.
So I have seen in many references that I have come across being a fan of GWAR, where you are talking about “wrapping this project up.” What is the future for GWAR looking like? I don’t mind how you answer this, as long as you say it will never end.
DAVE BROCKIE: Oh, well I can’t promise that, but it never will end. ‘Cause even if we are not doing GWAR actively anymore, the legacy lives on. All the stuff we created, the music and the videos. You know those things are eternal now. They are for the ages. The memory, the ledged of what we did is already so, so grandiose. It’s like you will never be able to get rid of GWAR. You will never be able to erase that.

KNAC.COM: Blood-stained history.
DAVE BROCKIE: We will continue to do GWAR actively as long as we can make a living at it and as long as it is fun. And right now it’s both. So if you ask me today, hell yea GWAR is going to go for another twenty years as far as I am concerned. I think when we get older it won’t happen so often. Be like more of a nostalgia thing -- when we are up there in our ‘40s. I’ve seen people in their ‘50s even in their ‘60s who are in excellent physical condition.

KNAC.COM: So, are you familiar with KNAC.COM outta Hollywood, and…
DAVE BROCKIE: Oh, hell yeah, I’m way familiar with them.

KNAC.COM: And do you have any closing comments for their readers?
DAVE BROCKIE: Ahhh. The Hollywood show sucked at that dump the Key Club (ralphing noises). Every other show in California ruled! Ahh, well, all I can say is that GWAR rules and buy the new GWAR album, Violence Has Arrived and fucking arrrggghhr! Hell Yeah!! Not the most airodite (?) comment but it was from the heart.

KNAC.COM: Alright, Dave. We thank you for your time.
DAVE BROCKIE: THANK YOU!

GWAR is:

Dave Brockie, Orerus Urungus; Vocalist, Murderer
Mike Derks, Balsac Jaws of Death; 6 String Washburn, Murderer
Brad Roberts, Jizmak; Drums, Murderer
Michael Bishop, Beefcake the Mighty, Bass, Murderer
Flattus Maximus, Zack Blair; Gitar, Murderer

Links:

Metal Blade Records
Gwar Official Web Site
Oderus’ Own Official Web Site
Danielle Stampe on Ripley’s BoN Episode #304
Infinite Productions Web Site
RoadRunner Records Official Web Site
GoKart Records Official Web Site
Century Media Official Web Site
SXSW Conference and Festival Official Web Site
Dead Kennedys Official Web Site
Manifesto Records Official Web Site
The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs Official Web Site
SeattleMetal Online

Other info:
O.K. so you and your partners together equal 4 dudes who can make rippin’ music, but maybe there is not a lawyer between you all, here is a legal page on contractual issues and concerns when signing a deal with an indie label: Musicians Survival Course

There were a few new albums released this month. None that I know of is as important as the release of The Distillers, Sing Sing Death House on HellCat Records (dist. Epitaph). This is a follow up to their self titled debut album. This one makes you almost giddy when you are walking out of your favorite independent record store with it. There are serious ethical issues surrounding cloning, but I am here to say that if there was a way to populate the planet with nothing but female Brody’s, I would have no problem telling the rest of you ladies to take a walk into the ocean, your cervix is no longer necessary (sorry Mom, that would include you). If you haven’t heard of them yet, that would be yesterdays excuse ‘cause you just read this. Highly Recommend this one.

This article will run as long as there is fresh and interesting information to be presented. If you have an independent (as in, not owned by a major) record label or band that you think is worthy of investigation and publicity on this platform please Email your suggestions to DJBowman@KNAC.COM.

(*All photos exclusively by Darren James Bowman)


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