Blöthar the Berserker was unleashed upon an unsuspecting planet in 2014, when the antler-wearing, udder-waving warrior made his debut performance with GWAR at Chicago's Riot Fest, having taken over the lead vocal duties from the dearly departed Oderus Urungus. His fearsome roar graced the mythic band's 2017 comeback album The Blood of Gods, and can be heard all over their vicious new magnum opus The New Dark Ages, which will be released along with GWAR in the Duoverse of Absurdity, a companion graphic novel that expands on the album's apocalyptic themes.
But who is Blöthar, really? To find out, we sat down with him for a riotous and raunchy discussion of his interstellar origins and the unusual path he took to musical greatness. "You may hear a child crying in the background," he cautions as we begin our conversation. "Please ignore its plaintive cries — that's my lunch!"
IT IS SAID THAT YOU HAIL FROM SCUMDOGGIA. FOR THOSE OF US WHO HAVEN'T BEEN THERE, CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT IT'S LIKE?
BLÖTHAR THE BERSERKER Well, I actually haven't spent a lot of time on Scumdoggia. In human terms, it would be like going to Marine boot camp. It's like Camp Lejeune — there's nothing around it but a bunch of massage parlors and fast-food restaurants. [Laughs] Scumdoggia is really just a military planet. It's the home base of the Master's Army of elite fighting forces. It's where GWAR met and came together as a troop of misfits, one that eventually committed the cosmic crimes which got us banished to Planet Earth. But I am actually from the World of Mist. Those are Blöthar's origins. And, you know, I like to speak about myself in the third person, to mark myself as cool as Kanye! [Laughs]
TELL US ABOUT THE WORLD OF MIST, THEN.
Well, it's really just a void that has existed since before the dawn of time, a land that's full of mist and fog, a planet that's covered in a thick blanket of what really just looks like a fart cloud.
AND SMELLS LIKE IT, I ASSUME?
Yeah, exactly. It's just a reeking world of shit, really. I mean, you couldn't call it World of Shit — nobody would've come there if they'd called it that. And Fartland didn't work for the same reason, so World of Mist it was! The Vikings talk about it in their mythology. It's just a place that borders the World of Fire and the World of Ice. And that's where Blöthar is from. He is the OG Viking, but he is also a creature that is between — not male, not female, not god, not human.
WHAT WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD LIKE?
Well, my mother was a cow giant. She got fucked by, like, 500 dudes, and then she started licking a block of salt and she licked me out of it, and that's how I came into being. And then she breastfed me with her big old cow titties.
WHICH YOU HAVE CLEARLY INHERITED.
Oh, yes! As I said, I'm between — I've got four udders-slash-wieners, and one sideways vagina with teeth. And, you know, my childhood was normal. I hated Dwayne, my stepfather. He made me join the Cub Scouts and go to church all the time. So I started smoking weed, playing rock music, hanging around in the attic with my friends, burning candles and listening to Judas Priest.
WAS PRIEST YOUR ENTRYWAY TO METAL?
I would say so. I mean, they definitely were my entrée into the world of gay biker leather culture!
I'M GUESSING THAT DWAYNE WAS NOT SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR INTEREST IN MUSIC?
No, he wasn't. And neither was mommy. They both wanted me to be a preacher. I showed some talent early on as a spiritual leader, and that's really what I am today in GWAR.
WHEN DID YOU BECOME KNOWN AS BLÖTHAR THE BERSERKER?
Well, it became clear that I had an issue with anger pretty early on. You know, you're at nursery school, they ask you to put away your blocks, and suddenly you turn into a 15-foot-tall raving, drooling maniac. [Laughs] And once I got into drugs … I started smoking weed, of course, but it wasn't long before I started doing the psychedelic mushrooms that would put me in a state of absolute battle fury. I learned how to transform myself, and that's what I am — I am a Berserker, and the father of all Berserkers that would become a race of Nordic people on the planet Earth.
WERE YOU SENT TO SCUMDOGGIA TO BECOME A WARRIOR?
As I said, I showed a lot of talent as a spiritual leader, so I was gonna be a chaplain in the Master's Army, but it didn't work out, because I wanted to be a musician. So I joined the Scumdoggia Marine Corps band, where I played French horn, which really is the best horn. And that's when I met the other dudes from GWAR. It's a funny story, actually: We were all on leave together in the very early days of boot camp, and we were all at a massage parlor that was populated by octopi. Octopi are actually space creatures. They are the only sort of aliens that are out in the open here on Earth, and in space they're well known for their massage parlors. So we were all getting massaged by the same octopus when we met!
AND YOU CLEARLY STAYED IN TOUCH WITH THEM AFTER THEY WENT OFF TO FORM GWAR.
Yeah. I mean, there are a lot of Scumdogs who are here on Earth. They're all frozen like pot pies in the Antarctican fortress of GWAR, and we just sort of thaw them out when necessary. Most of us stayed in the deep freeze, but the fellows went out and partied and formed their little ridiculous rock band. Meanwhile, I was just dreaming and relaxing in the Antarctican fortress. But then, the minute that Oderus died I suddenly found myself onstage at Riot Fest. It was insane! I don't even remember how I got there. I just showed up with a microphone in my hand. So that's how it all started.
WERE YOU AWARE OF WHAT GWAR WAS DOING WHILE YOU WERE IN THE DEEP FREEZE?
Absolutely. I was able to stay in touch with them telekinetically. I mean, the multiverse is real, so my dreaming state is simply another reality on this mudball of a planet.
WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT GWAR AS YOU OBSERVED THEM THROUGH YOUR DREAMS?
I felt sorry for them, honestly. "Look at them, out there trying to appeal to humans. Who gives a shit what humans think?" [Laughs] But I could understand what they were doing and why they were doing it — they were tempted by the pleasures of the flesh. Who wouldn't come to this planet, you know? I mean, we don't have crack in outer space, but here there's crack cocaine and rock & roll and professional wrestling and comic books and horror movies, all the things they love. So I watched them immerse themselves in that culture and become GWAR.
WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU SAW THEIR TV APPEARANCES, LIKE WITH JOAN RIVERS OR JERRY SPRINGER?
I thought they were very well-spoken! [Laughs]
WHAT WAS ODERUS LIKE?
He was an engaging, extremely talented individual, a born performer. He was a clown — he went to clown college — but he was also a great rock & roll frontman. And he was absolutely out of his mind. He would pretend to be the Terminator for two months and not break character. A lot of the things that made him so great onstage were just amplifications of his everyday personality. I remember one of Oderus' great stories about getting started in "this business they call show" was of running away with the circus, where he ended up cleaning shit out of dick slits with Q-tips. [Laughs] That was his job as an understudy.
DID YOU MAKE ANY SIMILAR STOPS ON YOUR OWN MUSICAL JOURNEY?
Oh, I've done some things that I am not proud of, to get to where I am. You can't have this level of success without making some serious spiritual and emotional compromises. So yes, I've been compromised. And I suppose you want the details! [Laughs]
Well, for a while, just to make ends meet, so to speak, I worked as a dancer in a porno booth in Times Square. People would put giant tokens in the slot and watch while I was getting sucked off by a catfish on a giant Lazy Susan. The place was like a Chuck E. Cheese of sex. It was horrible! But that's the whole thing with showbiz — you take the compromise an inch at a time, and the next thing you know, you're fucked! [Laughs] But yeah, getting back to Oderus — he was a friend, and a cherished and honored member of GWAR. But he still owes me a lot of yams, which is the currency that we use. I loaned him, like, 5,000 yams and the next thing I know, he disappeared with some prostitute, and we haven't seen him since. [Laughs]
HAD YOU EVER THOUGHT THAT THE DAY WOULD COME WHERE YOU'D REPLACE HIM IN GWAR?
That was a huge surprise. But I thought, What better way to pay tribute to my friend? And it's been a lot of fun. Learning the old songs has been a great meditation on the god that was Oderus.
THE BLOOD OF GODS WAS THE FIRST GWAR ALBUM YOU SANG LEAD ON. WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THAT?
Well, I remember not really knowing what the hell we were gonna do, because we had to make a GWAR record and there was no Oderus. [Laughs] But I'm very proud of that record. It was really a return to GWAR as an ensemble, because everyone was sort of pitching in like they did on the older records, where there would be four singers on a GWAR record. It was really going back to that style and approach in some ways.
AND THEN YOU RODE THE MOMENTUM FROM THAT RECORD INTO THE NEW ONE, THE NEW DARK AGES.
We did — once we figured out that we still had a career, then it was time to do it all over again. "Here's your reward: Do it again!" [Laughs] And it was a blast. This record was easier to make, for sure. I mean, making The Blood of Gods was a tribute to Oderus in a lot of ways, and he is on that record in his absence. But this record really is the new GWAR moving forward and doing something different, and it feels really good.
SO HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE THE ALBUM'S MESSAGE?
If, on The Blood of Gods, it was really sort of a race to find a way to even keep up with the depravity of humans, this record's more about looking at the way things have shaped up in the past few years. It's about recognizing a pattern that we, as immortal creatures, have seen before, which is a pattern of deep spiritual darkness that seems to have come over the world. What we're seeing now is a mixture of reality and unreality mixing together, and science and magic and all the tensions between those things, just like we saw in the Middle Ages. Science is contested, truth is contested. … And as immortal beings, we have seen humanity fuck up in this same way, time and time again.
GWAR HAS DISPLAYED DISDAIN TOWARDS HUMANITY FOR YEARS. BUT YOU'RE SHOWING CONCERN HERE, AT LEAST ENOUGH TO OFFER THE ALBUM AS A WARNING.
That's always been the tension with GWAR — while we hate humans, without them we'd be nothing! [Laughs] We have to pay attention to what they're doing, and we have to make art, and ... you make art out of what you see. You're absolutely right, though — one of the big challenges has always been, how do you write songs that humans can relate to when you can't relate to humans?
YOU'RE TOURING THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER AND FALL. ANY SPECIAL ADDITIONS TO THE STAGE SHOW THAT WE CAN EXPECT?
Absolutely ... when we go out in the fall, that's when we'll be touring for the new album. This release is really different for GWAR, because we have a graphic novel coming out with it which really tells a lot of the story of The New Dark Ages, and when the album comes out, people will see how these things are very closely related. We also have a documentary that's coming out soon, I think in the summertime, so there will be a big convergence! And we'll have all the characters from this album onstage, and all the narratives will come together. But for the [first run of tour] dates, we'll be setting up a wrestling ring, and we're going to parade some of the most hated human beings in the world out there and kill them — all while playing a full rock & roll concert, of course!