Before we get to the name origin of GWAR, please take a gander at the greatest fake rock bio EVER:
"At the beginning of all things, there was the Master, a hideous planet-sized creature floating in an endless void. And it was a boring void, so he created everything ever just to amuse himself. And as life spread through this void, The Master found the best way to amuse himself with his new toys was to make them fight each other, so he created WAR. And he saw that it was good, so he created The Scumdogs of the Universe as the ultimate executors of his favorite activity."
"Led by The Master’s most loyal servant, the cyborg Techno-Destructo, the Scumdogs had become the most powerful force in the universe. So great that they dared to rise up in rebellion against their creator and fulfill their dream of destroying everything. The ensuing battle was beyond epic, as The Master deployed his newest and most powerful weapon, The Death Pod, and turned it against GWAR. Ultimately defeated, the Scumdogs were loaded into the dreaded Butt-Cannon and shot to the most insignificant, isolated mud ball of a planet in the entire galaxy—the planet Earth!"
"The first thing the alien refugees did was have sex with the local animal population, thereby creating the human race. Enraged that GWAR had created humans (the most annoying of races), The Master froze them in a great tomb in the barren waste of Antarctica, to sleep in its icy vastness until such times as he might need their awesome power and call them back into his horrific service!"
"Millions of years passed, but GWAR still imposed their will on humanity…reaching into their dreams and inspiring them to heap atrocities upon each other and pollute and ravage their own world with disease and war. And it was the pollution of heavy metal that ultimately led to GWAR’s release! Because of the brief dominance of hair-metal bands in the late 80’s, and their overuse of hair spray, a huge hole was burned into the ozone above the GWAR temple, and the Scumdogs began to thaw. At that precise moment, music mogul and notorious underworld boss Sleazy P. Martini was on the run from the I.R.S., shot down over Antarctica and crashing into the frozen tundra in front of the GWAR Temple! Stumbling inside, he discovered the ageless warriors stirring within their tombs. Seizing the moment and in short order Sleazy quickly got them addicted to crack (the only thing that saved his life), brought them back to the U.S.A., gave them electric guitars, and exposed the world to the sickest band in metal history—GWAR!"
Now to reality - Founding member Dave Brockie had an idea to use the costumes made for a movie he was making, Scumdogs of the Universe, and have his band at the time, Death Piggy, open for themselves as a barbaric band from Antarctica, playing nonsense songs while sacrificing fake animals.
(Narrator takes deep breath).
The name of the joke group was "Gwaaarrrgghhlllgh". The members of Death Piggy began noticing that more people were coming to see Gwaaarrrgghhlllgh and leaving immediately after the set. After several refinements, including shortening the band's name, Death Piggy was now GWAR.
They've covered Alice Cooper, appeared on Fox News, guested on talk shows, read Goodnight Moon for the kiddies and become cartoons. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention their annual GWAR-B-Q, where Bohabs (GWAR's devoted fans) can enjoy swimmin', drinkin, eatin' and getting covered with the requisite and copious amounts of fake blood and other fake (or are they...?) fluids.
And when you have Jerry Springer as an honourable member, there's really nothing left to say except,
Bolt Thrower could be one of my fave band names ever. It evokes an angry god or ancient Roman weapon. Either way, it's destructively kickass. The origin, however, is much nerdier (and yet just as cool) than you'd think...
The Coventry, England death metal band took its name from a weapon in the popular tabletop war strategy game Warhammer. The band based some of their lyrics and artwork on the game, with some of the art actually provided by the game's publisher, Games Workshop.
Eight albums and 30 years of brutally heavy compositions about war, death, plague, more war and more war brought the band a devoted following (including British radio legend, the late John Peel!) until their breakup in 2015 due to the death of drummer Martin 'Kiddie' Kearns.
The connection between metal and role-playing/tabletop gaming is a perfect one, but how many folks actually played Bolt Thrower whilst playing Warhammer? Inspiring for some, discombobulating for others.
Either way, a killer name.
There are band names based on songs, quotes, street names... but an unaired Monty Python sketch!?!
Toad The Wet Sprocket, come on down.
...but instead of becoming an all-out eccentric, DEVO-type group, this Santa Barbara, CA band goes the way of milquetoast radio-friendly pop. The guys just thought the name was 'hilarious'. But because it comes from such a Python deep cut, how could they not be a little more weird/out there?!? Easy - because they didn't have it in them.
Yes, they hit the Top 20 with the songs shown above and below, and had the bottom (see how I'm not even mentioning the names? That's how miffed-yet-underwhelmed by the unused potential of the band name) song featured on the soundtrack for the Friends TV show, but disappeared but the end of the 90's along with the other 'meh' MOR bands of the time, like Tonic, Matchbox 20 and Counting Crows (whom they have toured with at one time or another - sarcastic 'YAY!').
They broke up in 1998 and got back in the late 2000's, releasing an album, EP and touring regularly, but does anyone care?
I'm sorry - as a Python fan, I can't get over the fact that an idea of theirs was so badly misused. At least the band could have had Cleese, Idle and/or Palin in a video or song! Or perhaps the Pythons boys turned that down once they heard Toad's music - at least I hope as much.
The only good thing that's come out of this is that I've finally decided on the name of the Wet Sprocket cover band that I'll be starting up: The Batley Townswomens' Guild.
Japan, although of this planet, is like another planet in itself.
There is no other place on Earth that could possibly come up with Harajuku fashion style, array of vending machines or the breadth and depth of game shows there. Could it be due to their island-nation status? The constant push-pull of overworked, OCD-level salaryman work structure vs. hyper-stimulated, anything-goes anime culture?
Most likely, yes and yes. But we can't forget the cult-like fascination with Western pop culture, especially rock music, as a huge influence. Starting with Elvis and reaching true recognition overseas with Cheap Trick's At Budokan album, the insane fandom and consequent reimagining of said rock music culture is a big source of fascination and reimagining of that Western style.
Enter Babymetal - possibly the truest hybrid of North Japanican (trademark pending) cultures:
1) Girls in their late teens styled to the nines in Harajuku/anime fashion
2) Said girls singing J-pop influenced vocals
3) The backing band plays some of the crunchiest, tightest, reimagined Western-style metal
Babymetal's name is their style in a nutshell: 'Baby' describing the J-pop female vocalists, and 'metal' being the... let's just listen to what that word could possibly refer to:
Don't quite grasp it yet? How about another example...
Alright - still don't get it yet? Think of an unlikely food fusion restaurant, like this Jewish/Japanese spot in NYC. On paper, not in a million years does it seem like it would work, but Sailor Moon anime-influenced J-pop combined with breakneck, crunching heavy metal WORKS, because of the similarities between the two genres: Over-the-top theatricality, spasmodic beats and killer hooks.
Not unlike Matzo balls (which are essentially dumplings) in a hearty bowl of ramen being quite the tasty proposition. Dang - now I'm hungry. But more of a craving for chocolate...
One thing is for certain: Kawaii culture and rock is a popular pairing: Babymetal has won numerous awards, toured with Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers, plus performing with metal deity/Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford gave them a stamp of approval like none other. They've also spawned their own mini (at the moment) genre. Are they a trailblazer for future projects such as a Hello Kitty / Slayer collab? Time will tell.
Now to work off that chocolate with a karate lesson:
A band that could be called Normal and would still have a story interesting enough to be worthy of this blog, but thankfully, they have a solid moniker too.
Vancouver BC's Japandroids have earned their success the old-fashioned way: by DIY promotion, touring, and the odd Pitchfork rave review. The Age of The Two-Piece has come and gone, but these two Canucks are simply known as a great band. Try to imagine DNA from Springsteen, The Replacements, Hüsker Dü and Thin Lizzy (and so many more) spliced together to create an indie rock super-soldier unlike the world has ever seen.
The name is the purest example of democracy (expect nothing else from a Canadian duo): Japandroids came from two other band name ideas: Japanese Scream (from David Prowse) and Pleasure Droids (from Brian King).
They've done their own thing their own way since the beginning. Self-reliant to the max, they've at one time or another created and released their own albums, setting up their own concerts... they are rock's version of Alec Baldwin and Anthony Hopkins in The Edge, only without the I-wanna-kill-you-for-your-supermodel-of-a-wife storyline.
This self-reliance has done them well, getting them a sweet gig on the Late Show With Stephen Colbert recently:
And they're big enough now to pull off an AC/DC cover or two at their shows. Not big enough yet to don the schoolboy outfit, but there's time still...
Sunday, or better yet, the Sabbath. No better day than today to say goodbye to (with apologies to Led Zeppelin) the godfathers of Heavy Metal, Black Sabbath.
Birmingham's finest (wow - between them and Duran Duran, there is quite the Brummie musical legacy): Ozzy Osbourne (vocals), Tony Iommi (guitar), Geezer Butler (bass) and Bill Ward (drums) were influenced by British blues giants - Cream, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers and Zeppelin - formed Earth Blues Company (shortened to Earth), in 1968.
FUN FACT: their true first band name was the Polka Tulk Blues Band. Sheesh.
Thank the good Lord (or Beelzebub) for Geezer Butler, who came to the band with an idea for a song inspired by a disturbing apparition.
See, good ol' Geez was a huge fan of horror films and the black magic-themed novels of Dennis Wheatley, and dabbled a bit in the black arts. But then he believed he saw a hooded figure at the foot of his bed one nigh and ended his flirtation with the occult right then and there.
With lyrics by Geezer and Ozzy and heavy usage of the tritone riff, otherwise known as the Devil's Interval, the group came up with “Black Sabbath” (after the 1963 Boris Karloff film) about the visitation. The reaction from their audiences was so powerful that the song (plus the fact that there was already another band named Earth) became an eponymous one.
Their debut album made them the most evil band in the world, but their 1970 sophomore effort, Paranoid, made them huge (and provided a quality theme song for Tony Stark):
Master Of Reality in 1971 laid the foundation for the doom and stoner metal genres, while Vol. 4 was experimental locationally (L.A.!), musically (Piano! Gospel blues!) and pharmaceutically (*ahem* cocainecocainecocainecocaine). Sabbath Bloody Sabbath almost never happened until they left L.A. and set up shop in an English castle dungeon to kickstart their muse, which took them into acoustic guitars, strings and prog-rockish synths.
FUN FACT #2: Tony Iommi plays detuned, lighter-stringed guitars while wearing leather/plastic thimbles on two fingers on his right hand. Why? He severed the tips of said fingers whilst working in a sheet metal factory pre-Sabbath. HE EVEN WORKED WITH METAL!!
Sabotage was yet again pushing the musical envelope and a quality-yet-underrated chapter in their career, but signs that the band might go supernova began to appear (more drugs, going to court with their record company). Heck, you don't even have to listen to the album to know this. The cover alone can tell you things are getting ugly. Tony's looking like he's going to produce a Bee Gees record right after taking the photo, Ozzy's wearing a daishiki paired with platform boots, Bill Ward's crosslegged with a laser-guided death stare, and Geezer's wearing pants so tight that we would see less if he were naked. If only they'd turned around and faced that GIANT MIRROR to take a look at themselves...
Technical Ecstasy (brilliant elements yet all over the place) and Never Say Die! was the end of the original lineup, with Ozzy leaving the band, then coming back, with an ex-Fleetwood Mac (?!?) singer and Bill Ward providing vocals in between. That and the fact that the band was even physically capable of playing anything at the time made this a trainwreck-yet-miracle of an album. Ozzy was fired after that album's tour because of his out-drugging the rest of the band, and Sabbath's future seemed bleak.
Enter Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P.).
He would've been a legend even if his sole contribution to society was the Devil Horns hand gesture, but the former Rainbow lead singer came to Sabbath when all seemed lost, and gave them a solid kick in the tuchas.
He also was a great interview.
After 4 quality years, Tony Iommi and Geezer fell out with with Dio in '82 and hired ex-Deep Purple singer Ian Gilliam and released the panned album Born Again. The highlight of that period being the inspiration for the "Stonehenge" gag in Spinal Tap, only instead of the set being Lilliputian in nature, it was mistakenly ordered as 15 metres high and not 15 feet.
The rest of the 80's happened with the original lineup reuniting at Live Aid and Tony Iommi wanting to release solo efforts but the record company forcing him to to call them Black Sabbath albums. Geezer left the band and glam metal had taken over.
Dio and Geezer came back to the band in '90 to record Dehumanizer, although relations between Dio and Tony were still somewhat tense. Ronnie left again when Ozzy announced he was retiring from music after a decade of solo success, and the rest of the band went on stage with Ozz to play a set with him.
Tony went on with his revolving door of members and forgettable albums until 1997, when the original members officially reunited, beginning with a co-headlining tour with Ozzy's band. They began to record an album with producer Rick Rubin (me: schoolgirl-like *gasp!*) but the project never made the light of day. Tony got back together with Ronnie James Dio in 2006 to record a few new tracks for Heaven & Hell, a compilation of Sabbath songs during the Dio years. They were so happy with the end result that they went out on tour as Heaven & Hell, eventually recording an album in 2009. Oh yeah - Sabbath was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, Metallica doing the inducting and providing a suitable musical tribute. No biggie.
The original lineup reunited yet again 2011 to tour and record an album, but Bill Ward left, again, due to contract squabbles. The album 13, produced by (me: schoolgirl-like *gasp!*) Rick Rubin, came out in 2013. The album went #1 in the UK and U.S. and had this little Grammy Award-winning gem:
But after over 70 million records sold, influencing countless artists (don't forget Spinal Tap!) and creating entire musical genres, Black Sabbath played their final show (but without Bill Ward) on Thursday, February 4, 2017 at Genting Arena in (fitfully) their hometown of Birmingham.
So in honour of their final show, here's to Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill. You will forever inspire future rockers and haunt the dreams of the rest of us.
Sometimes there's a band name that evokes such a breadth and depth of imagery that one's mind could go cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs with overstimulation. Head Wound City, come on down!!
The definition of "supergroup" in regards to music has morphed over the years, but if it's the punk/hardcore genre we're talking about, Head Wound City is it. Members of The Blood Brothers, The Locust, Holy Molar and Yeah Yeah Yeahs (okay, you might be getting the classic Sesame Street song "One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other" in your head, but it all makes sense).
Sadly, there's no story (so far) about how they came up with their name, but their explanation of their musical style makes up for it in spades. According to vocalist Jordan Blilie: “It's kind of like if Alien and Predator started a band instead of fighting each other.”
Me (wiping away tears): *sniff* Beautiful.
What makes a solo artist go by a handle other than their real name? Take one Damon Michael Gough, for example. He could've become D-Gough, Run-DMG... No, his decision sounds like a third-rate superhero sidekick:
Badly Drawn Boy.
In 1995, Damon found himself watching the 70's British TV show Sam and his Magic Ball at a party in Manchester. Between this his making business cards with a printed picture of a drawing by his nephew, it seemed to be a no-brainer.
In one of the classic cases of the name being a perfect-fit-in-retrospect-due-to-his-career, Mr. Gough (or is it Mr. Boy?) made a great choice. His debut, The Hour of Bewilderbeast, put him on the map and is what fans think of when they hear his name.
In fact, it may be the only thing some folks think of when they hear his name. That and the great soundtrack to the solid Hugh Grant flick, About A Boy. But he's still had a solid career, and whenever you can get Joan Collins in your video, you've done alright.
Since he has a thing for 'question' album titles (How Did I Get Here? Is There Nothing We Could Do? Have You Fed The Fish?), I have a question for Mr. Badly Drawn Boy: could you go on Jimmy Kimmel's 'Mashup Mondays' with a certain band that wrote "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)"?
You'll be called Badly Drawn Fall Out Boy. And you're welcome.
Moral of the story: Sometimes a ridiculous-sounding-at-the-start name will be the perfect one later on in your music career. This, and life is truly filled with all possibilities...
*BIAS ALERT* How could a pretty-boy synth band out of Birmingham, England, whose audience was almost exclusively female, have such an influence on a 10-year old Canadian boy? Better yet, how could this same band have last over 3 decades of while influencing hundreds of bands and still sound vital?
Over to you, Duran Duran.
Formed in 1978 by Nick Rhodes (keyboards) and John Taylor (bass), they played the clubs in town and the big club, where bands like The Sex Pistols and The Clash played gigs, was called Barbarella's. They would go on to name the band after a character from Barbarella, Roger Vadim's French science-fiction film starring Jane Fonda. The character, played by Milo O'Shea, was named "Dr. Durand Durand".
A little history - Being a child of the 80's my musical tastes were shaped by the usual suspects: Prince, Boy George, Michael Jackson... but there was one factor above anything else that led me to the Fab Five - censorship.
My mother, in her well-intentioned, loving way, forbade me to see Michael Jackson's Thriller (although there was no way the ban hold up outside of the household, added to the fact that I had already seen Stallone's First Blood at a friend's 9th birthday party, which was psychologically scarring than dancing zombies could ever be, but I digress...) which was always #1 on Toronto's CHUM 30 video countdown:
But I could only watch up to #2, which ended up being my gateway into popular music - Duran Duran's 'The Reflex' (shot at Maple Leaf Gardens!).
The end result being me becoming a lifelong Duranie.
Sure, they were (and are still somewhat) dreamy, but I was mesmerized by how they could switch and mix rock, pop, funk so effectively. It also didn't hurt that they were the trailblazers of the nascent video art form.
Yachts! Indiana Jonesesque quests! And this little epic that answered the question, "What if Mad Max started a pop band?"
But then Live Aid happened, and the stratosphere the band had reached quickly imploded, punctuated by the low note-but-yet-highest note of their careers.
The band split into two, with 2/5ths shacking up with a pre-Addicted-To-Love Robert Palmer to form the muscular funk-rock outfit The Power Station. The other 3/5ths became a poor-man's (yet almost as solid) Duran Duran as Arcadia.
Simon and Nick reformed the band with John Taylor in '86, with drummer Roger Taylor (becoming a hermit/sheep farmer in rural England) and guitarist Andy Taylor (not related to John or Roger, but on his own as a rock producer/nomadic guitar-slinger) doing their own thing. Duran Mark 2.0 was a little funkier, courtesy of Chic co-founder Nile Rodgers...
They were a trio until 1989, when they took on guitarist Warren Cuccurullo and drummer Sterling Campbell as full members. Liberty was released in 1990 but was, to put it plainly, a dud. Fast forward to 1992 and the mega-success of the "Wedding Album" and the all-conquering single, "Ordinary World":
Several so-so to good albums (Thank You, Medazzaland, Pop Trash, Astronaut, Red Carpet Massacre, All You Need Is Now), a complete original lineup reunion in the early 2000's, and the second departure of Andy Taylor later bring them to a present-day quartet as big as ever. Sold-out stadiums, the music industry falling at their feet to have the honour of collaborating with them...
...see - I said I was biased. Duran Duran were originally part of the New Romantic music movement (hence the Valentine's Day date of this post), but are now firmly pop/rock legends. Can't wait to see what's next.
Alex Trebek: "King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard" for Final Jeopardy... [Final Jeopardy music...]
Contestant #1: What is a 1983-86 cult children's TV show from Albuquerque, New Mexico starring a portly weatherman wearing what seems to be discarded Burger King mascot costumes and a wisecracking marionette Gila Monster?
Contestant #2: Who is that guy I always see on the subway wearing a tiara and robes with an iguana on his shoulder?
Alex: Nice try, but you're dead wrong as well.
Contestant #3: What is the name of a band from Melbourne, Australia that mixes surf, garage and psychedelic rock with themes of reptilian conspiracy theories?
Alex: Judges? We would've also accepted "Who is an Australian stoner band whose lead singer said, 'We just did whatever we wanted and we hardly ever played. We just had fun with it so we had a silly name that we never thought would stick, and now the joke's on us.' ", but you are the winner. Plus, I'd like to hang out with you after the show.
The officially unofficial blog of Faux Rawk. Everything you read is true, although some of what you read is 100% false. Whoa... trippy, man.