This Is GWAR Director Scott Barber On Making A Documentarian’s Dream [Exclusive Interview]
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This Is GWAR Director Scott Barber On Making A Documentarian’s Dream [Exclusive Interview]

Do you think their early fans were hip to the satire?

I think their fans have always known that. Their hardcore fans have always known that there’s element of satire. I think even a lot of people that are into rock and roll don’t necessarily know that there is that. I’m not knocking these bands, but bands like Slipknot or ICP, they’re a little different than that. 

They always say, “We’re not a band that wears costumes.” Because the people that make the costumes are part of the band. They’re an art collective. Half of what you consider GWAR is not musicians. There’s comic book artists. There’s the sculptors, welders. All of those people are members of GWAR, whether you play an instrument or not. So they’re not quite the same as those other bands. It’s like, “We’re a band that just has somebody make costumes for us, and we wear them.” They’re an artist collective.

Also, some people are like, “Oh, it’s that tough guy stuff. I’m not into that tough guy, heavy metal.” It’s like, “That’s not what it is. It’s not that.” It’s hilarious, actually.

It’s the opposite of that, that’s what surprised me. They’re artsy VCU kids.

Yeah, that’s what they are. That was one thing, too, that we wanted to show. I don’t think a lot of people understand that GWAR has always been cool in a heavy metal way, but they’re actually cool in a hipster way, too. Like you said, they’re all art students. They were into art, and they were nerds.

Chuck Varga, the Sexecutioner, said, “When people would meet me, they expected me to look like Glenn Danzig or Peter Steele from Type O Negative.” And they’re like, “You’re just a regular-looking dude? That’s weird.” It’s like, “Yeah, I am. I wear this costume with this weird guy that chops people’s heads off. I’m just an artist that likes sculpting things.”

Any stories you loved you didn’t have time to include in the doc?

A lot, because it’s 40 years. Really, technically, GWAR started in ’83, and then by ’85, they were GWAR. And then they put out their first record, “Hell-O,” shortly thereafter. So that’s a long time. A long time with people living their life to the max. So yeah, there are going to be a lot of stories that you can’t fit into just under two hours.

I think that our crew, not myself, but our editor, Casey Pinkston, and our producers, everyone wanted 90 minutes. And we’re like, “There’s just no way it’s going to be 90 minutes. It can’t.” And when we tell people this is almost two hours, they’re like, “Oh, God. Two hours. There’s no way.”

It flies by.

I love hearing that. Because there’s so much stuff that happens. People die. People get shot. They make two movies. They got nominated for a Grammy. They build all this stuff. And also, there’s just more characters than in a regular band. A regular band has, what, four or five people? There are 10, 15 people that are in the doc, and that’s not even nearly all the people that have been in GWAR. So yeah, there’s a lot that I wish we could have put in there. Hopefully, someday we will be able to put it out in a different capacity.

Plus, these are characters you want to spend more time with.

That was another thing: You have to get to know these guys. All of them. You have to at least feel like them a little bit for you to really care. It’s one thing when you hear about somebody going through tragedy. It’s another thing when it’s somebody that you know went through tragedy. That’s way more sad. If it’s your friend’s mother who passed away versus you see on the news somebody passed away. They’re both sad, but one hits you a lot differently.

We were like, “If we edit it shorter, it’s actually going to feel longer.” The Pete Lee story, he’s just the sweetest. We interview him, and he’s the first guy that’s not from Richmond. He’s from Texas. So at that point, the story gets bigger. It’s not a Richmond band anymore. Now, they’re nationwide.

Pete Lee comes in, and in my opinion, you fall in love with him. He’s got that Texas accent, and he’s just like, “I went down there, and I had a bag of weed in my car. I said, ‘I’m going to audition. I’m going to be your new guitar player.'” He is just this fascinating guy. And then when you see what happens to him, you’re like, “Oh man. Not that guy. That guy is so sweet. Why is this happening to him?”

Or Michael Derks. Something happens to him later on in the doc. And you’re like, “No, not Michael Derks. He’s the sweetest man I’ve ever met.” We knew that you needed to know that they were sweet, beautiful people to care about them later on.

“This is GWAR” is now available on VOD, Digital, DVD, and Blu-ray, and it’s currently streaming on Shudder.