Another trademark of GWAR's live show is their lampooning of celebrities and figures in current events. Victims of GWAR's antics have included O.J. Simpson, John Kerry, Mike Tyson, George W. Bush (as well as every other President since Ronald Reagan), Jerry Garcia, Osama Bin Laden, Michael Jackson, Al Gore, John McCain, Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, Paris Hilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Adolf Hitler, and many others. The band also makes frequent references to political and historical figures, fantasy literature, and mythology. For instance, the song Whargoul makes reference to Minas Morgul as well as the eternal warrior of Michael Moorcock. GWAR also has many references to H. P. Lovecraft themes (Antarctica, Yig, Giant Penguins, Fleshy Insanities, etc.). In addition, the title of their fifth album RagNaRok comes from Norse mythology.
Originally, the group's musical style was largely influenced by punk rock and the band composed short, simple songs, which would evolve over the years into heavily hardcore-influenced crossover thrash, with GWAR's musical experimentation becoming present in Scumdogs of the Universe, America Must Be Destroyed and This Toilet Earth. Later, this experimental sound would partially eclipse their heavy metal style and GWAR would become a chaotic blend of genres that would be most noticeable on RagNaRok and Carnival of Chaos (the latter showcasing the most variety in musical styles of any point in GWAR's career). 1999's We Kill Everything would present an unusual sound, but based largely on GWAR's Hell-O era sound, resulting in an album that the band dismisses as their worst. Indeed, the band's rejection of We Kill Everything would drive them to return to their thrash metal sound with Violence Has Arrived, which would later evolve into a more technical form of thrash, present in War Party and Beyond Hell.
The first known line-up for GWAR consisted of Ben Eubank (vocals), Dave Brockie (guitar), Steve Douglas (guitar), Chris Bopst (bass guitar), Sean Sumner (Drums) and Hunter Jackson. However, this line-up would be short lived and suffer multiple changes in the following months, with Ben Eubanks quitting after just one or two shows and being replaced by Joe Annaruma, who would also quit and be replaced by guitarist Dave Brockie as the band's vocalist (See line-up for more information). The band eventually somewhat solidified into a line-up consisting of Hunter Jackson, Don Drakulich (Alias Sleazy P. Martini), Chuck Varga, Mike Delaney, Mike Bonner, Scott Krahl, Dave Musel and Dave Brockie (Alias Oderus Urungus, no longer GWAR's guitarist, but permanent vocalist), with Heather Broome (The Temptress) joining later that year and Colette Miller (GWAR Woman) joining in 1986. Heather Broome would quit in 1986 and Mike Delaney retired in 1987. Dewey Rowell (Flattus Maximus), Michael Bishop (Beefcake the Mighty) and Rob Mosby (Nippleus Erectus) would be recruited in 1987 along with Steve Douglas (Balsac the Jaws of Death) who rejoined the band after having left early in its history. Lisa Harrelson would become the new "GWAR woman" after Colette Miller left sometime this year. It's this line-up with which the band's debut, Hell-O, a crossover Heavy Metal/punk rock album, was released in 1988 under Shimmy Disc Records; the original production was very poor, and it is believed that the album was recorded in just one weekend.
The band would start touring in support of the album, with Steve Douglas leaving that same year, later to form the alternative band Log, and being replaced by current rhythm guitarist, Michael Derks, who took over Douglas' alias as Balsac the Jaws of Death.
However, the band's line-up would undergo further changes before 1990, with Rob Mosby leaving in 1989 and being replaced by Pete Luchter, who would also quit to be replaced temporarily by Jim Thompson, who had been in the band prior to the release of Hell-O. Thompson however, would also quit and be finally replaced by the current GWAR drummer, Brad Roberts, alias Jizmak Da Gusha.
In August 1990, Michael Derks had a daughter, dubbed Smalsac by MTV. He took a short break from the band to care for her. Meanwhile, the remaining members of GWAR went on to appear on the Jerry Springer Show and in the movie Mystery Date.
Scumdogs of the Universe was originally released through the U.K. label Master before being picked up by Metal Blade in 1991. In the group's hunt for a larger label, they auditioned for Relativity Records, one of the bigger indie metal labels. The group killed their audition when they showed up in costume and Danielle Stampe let loose a blood capsule from her codpiece onto one of the office chairs, simulating menstruation.
The band suffered further line-up changes during this period, with Dewey Rowell leaving the band in 1991 and not being replaced until 1992 by Pete Lee, after the recording of America Must Be Destroyed.
However, this success would not be met without controversy. During this period, GWAR was banned in North Carolina because Brockie was wearing his "Cuttlefish of Cthulhu" prosthetic penis, which led to his arrest; this incident was the inspiration for GWAR's third album, America Must Be Destroyed, released in 1992. The album was accompanied by the movie Phallus in Wonderland, which documented the main concept and contained music videos for the album. This movie would be nominated for a Grammy Award in 1993, the year during which Mike Bishop would also leave the band, after the recording of This Toilet Earth, being replaced by Casey Orr, from the band Rigor Mortis.
This Toilet Earth was released on 1994, meeting moderate success and with the videos for Saddam a Go-Go and Jack the World being aired on Beavis and Butt-head; however, this would also mark the beginning of the band straying from their trademark sound, as the album contained heavily experimental songs instead of the more focused heavy metal of the previous two albums.
Through the last few years, GWAR had managed to build a cult fanbase; however, their mainstream success would start to slowly wane; this, accompanied by multiple line-up changes, would cause the band to fade into the underground. GWAR would then enter a period that is considered a "low point" by members of the band (Especially Dave Brockie), and would start experimenting with obscure genres of music even more than before.
It's under these circumstances that they would release RagNaRok in 1995, an album characterized by a particularly unique sound, including the use of keyboards, something largely unseen before by the band, as well as a much larger use of secondary vocalists. The record is considered to have been largely unnoticed after the success of the last three albums. Despite this, the band would record two videos for the album, "Surf of Syn" and "Meat Sandwich" as well as release Rendezvous with RagNaRok to support the album's plot through footage from the supporting tour.
The band's next record would come out in 1997 under the name Carnival of Chaos, proving to be the epitome of this experimental period containing songs from many different genres, including the classic Heavy Metal, but also hard rock, country and even jazz.
Carnival of Chaos would be the last album with Pete Lee on guitar, being replaced by Tim Harriss (Who had previously been in the band around 1986 and was featured as a guest guitarist on America Must Be Destroyed) for the recording of We Kill Everything between late 1998 and early 1999, for which Michael Bishop would temporarily rejoin the band as the bassist during the absence of Casey Orr. The record, largely influenced by punk rock, is the band's least favorite album, as its songs are rarely played live. Following this, co-founder Hunter Jackson would leave the group in 2000 to focus on personal projects. Danielle Stampe would leave the band to focus on a personal project named Girly Freakshow; however, she would rejoin the band temporarily for the Bitch is Back tour in 2002.
Due to the band's distaste for the previous album, GWAR's sound would suffer major changes for the next recording. With Tim Harriss gone, Zach Blair would be hired to fill his spot as Flattus Maximus, Casey Orr also having returned to the band as Beefcake the Mighty for the recording of the band's first entirely thrash metal album in years: Violence Has Arrived, released in November 6, 2001, the album being seen as a "comeback" of sorts and setting off changes that would result in the current state of the band. Violence Has Arrived would be, however, the band's last album on Metal Blade Records, with the band leaving the label soon after the recording and releasing of it.
In 2002 Zach Blair left GWAR to form the power-pop band Armstrong along with drummer Brad Roberts to release a single album titled Dick The Lionhearted.
As the band would start approaching a focus on a heavier, more brutal sound near the end of this period, it would also result in the creation of another side project, the Dave Brockie Experience, a band created by frontman Dave Brockie along with rhythm guitarist Mike Derks and drummer Brad Roberts as a way of continuing the comedic sound found on albums like We Kill Everything while maintaining a more serious focus in releases by GWAR. They would release their first LP in March 20, 2001, named Diarrhea of a Madman.
This was not the end of GWAR's new focus on heavy sound, however; following their release of Violence Has Arrived by their most successful album in several years, War Party in 2004 under their new record label, DRT Entertainment. The album would meet a large underground success, as it followed the same path Violence Has Arrived did, but this time with a more serious and technical edge, partially thanks to the efforts of new lead guitarist Cory Smoot (Flattus Maximus) and bass guitarist, Todd Evans (Beefcake the Mighty). Videos would be released for "Bring Back the Bomb" and "War Party" (An early release from director/editor David Brodsky, which was declined by MTV Networks as being too inflammatory despite GWAR removing much of their trademark gore and sexual overtones), and the band would be invited to play in the Sounds of the Underground tour in 2005 along with Lamb Of God, Clutch, Poison the Well, Opeth, Strapping Young Lad, Unearth, Chimaira, Norma Jean, Throwdown, High On Fire, All That Remains, Madball, Terror, DevilDriver, A Life Once Lost, The Black Dahlia Murder, Fear Before The March Of Flames, The Red Chord, and Nora, the same year of the release of the band's second album in DRT Entertainment, Live from Mt. Fuji, which would also be the band's first live album besides the then-extremely rare You're All Worthless and Weak, released in 2000 (and re-released in 2006) under Slave Pit Records.
GWAR started working on their new album (Then tentatively titled Go to Hell!) in January 2006. The same month, GWAR also opened a gallery show called "The Art of GWAR" at Art Space gallery in Richmond to display the many props, costumes, cartoons, paintings produced by The Slave Pit, GWAR's art and effects studio.
On February 23, 2006, GWAR's official website, GWAR's Japanese Official website (www.gwarjapan.net) and Oderus Urungus' official homepage announced GWAR's latest album, Beyond Hell, for which, at the urging of DRT Entertainment, a cover version of Alice Cooper's "School's Out" was recorded and released. The music video, was directed by David Brodsky on July 2nd, 2006. The part of the "school marm" has been mistakenly identified as Devin Townsend, the producer of the "Beyond Hell" CD. It is actually Scott Krahl, a long-time GWAR "slave" and inventor of Gor-Gor. "School's Out" was nominated for Best Video of 2006 on MTV2's Headbanger's Ball.
Due for release sometime in the future, GWAR will be getting 7" action figures and Shockinis which are 3" figurines made of themselves by toy manufacturer Shocker Toys LLP. Though no date has been confirmed for the release according to Todd Evans the figures and Shockinis should be out some time in 2007.
GWAR performed a special "half-time" show at the Sounds Of The Underground 2006 Tour along with headliners As I Lay Dying, Trivium, Behemoth, Cannibal Corpse, The Chariot, The Black Dahlia Murder, Terror, Killswitch Engage, Through the Eyes of the Dead, In Flames, HORSE the band, Unearth, It Dies Today, Job for a Cowboy, 3 Inches of Blood, Shadows Fall, This Is Hell, Ringworm, Converge, Machine Head, and Still Remains.
GWAR went on to Headline the following year's The Sounds Of the Underground Tour in 2007.
The entire GWAR concept seems to be gaining acceptance elsewhere, judging by the success of Lordi, a Finnish hard rock band, which won the 51st Eurovision Song Contest 2006, in Athens, Greece, on May 20, 2006. Lordi's costumes and subject matter is very similar to GWAR's, though the music style and attitude are different and Lordi states their influences are from KISS, Alice Cooper and horror movies. GWAR have been executing Mr.Lordi at the beginning of each of their sets on the Sounds of the Underground tour.
Vocalist Oderus Urungus is also featured on the newest Strapping Young Lad album The New Black as a guest vocalist on the song "Far Beyond Metal". Oderus' lines in the song are taken directly from the GWAR song "Maggots" ("now in the halls of the Necrolord..." etc.). It's worth mentioning that the vocalist of Strapping Young Lad, Devin Townsend produced GWAR's Beyond Hell album. Scott Krahl is in the "Schools Out" video as a female teacher, of whom Oderus makes out with and proceeds to mount at the end of the video.
Beyond Hell was released on August 29, 2006, with GWAR touring to support the album and being helped by the creation of new props for this tour, including several character's off Beyond Hell's plot, including Jitler and Jewcifer. GWAR was also present in the third annual Rock & Shock festival from October 13 to 15 as a part of this tour.
On April 7, 2007 GWAR not only released their long awaited video for the song Eighth Lock off of Beyond Hell, but also announced that they have a headlining slot on Sounds of the Underground 2007 alongside Shadows Fall, Chimaira, Job for a Cowboy, Amon Amarth, Goatwhore, and Suicidal Tendencies.
In Spring 2008 Todd Evans left GWAR to focus efforts on his side project Mobile Deathcamp. Shortly after Todd's sudden departure, Casey Orr was confirmed to fill his former spot as Beefcake the Mighty.
Sleazy P. Martini is to return to the rock stage with GWAR on their “Electile Dysfunction ‘08” tour in the fall of 2008.
These are members not involved musically or in the GWAR stage show anymore while still working to varying degrees with band.
(Guitar, bass, drums, trumpet, keyboard, vocals, saxophone, tuba, triangle, clarinet, bass clarinet, french horn, violin, Oboe, Flute, Harp, Organ, Hoola Hoop).
As Balsac the Jaws of Death:
As Flattus Maximus:
As Beefcake the Mighty:
GWAR also has a plethora of members, most of which are referred to simply under the collective label of "slaves" (see above). The GWAR slaves are involved in many other aspects of the band, including costume design, music mixing and editing, running Slave Pit Records, the record label owned by the members of GWAR, and the creation of the now defunct GWAR comic book, Slave Pit Funnies.