Star Scene: Michael Bishop (Blothar) ~ GWAR

Michael Bishop (Blothar)’s scene is “bad”. The vocalist, and occasional bassist, of science-themed mythological metal rock band GWAR states: “Yeah, it’s just a bad scene. That’s GWAR. Our scene is just that; that’s what a GWAR show is. I don’t think we fit into any particular scene. Metal fans like the band. Punk fans like the band. But then again, when GWAR goes onstage, I mean, the people that are in the audience … I mean, in the early days, we would wind up playing at the weird little Mexican restaurants. The only people there were, like, migrant farm workers, and they loved the band. I mean, they absolutely loved it, so, but I think GWAR doesn’t really fit into a scene, and we never have, partly because we were too silly for the punk crowd, and dismiss-able by the metal crowd. GWAR’s scene is disaffected people. People who don’t quite fit in, and know how to laugh at themselves. That’s GWAR’s scene.”

As GWAR doesn’t fit a particular scene, neither does Blothar – whether he is answering as Blothar or as Michael Bishop. His influences match his scene. He states: “Ah, well, Blothar, the Viking Berskerer, his influences growing up were pretty much just being a Viking. Running around as a Viking kid, just living the life of a bucolic, marauding monster, that traveled from place to place, and racking, pillaging, sacking towns. The human side of Blothar, Michael Bishop, that’s more of a … I’m a person, who, ironically, Blothar, his character is kind of a spiritual leader in the band. And true to that form, I learned how to fake in church, and I preached when I was a child, though I quickly discovered, once I became old enough, that it was just a bunch of fucking bullshit. But, for awhile there, I was suckered into believing. So, ironically, the only good thing about religion was the music, so, I learned how to do some things that have paid off, in later years. But as far as influences, rock ‘n’ roll, man, I am an ethnomusicologist, by training. I have a doctorate degree in that, and I’ve actually studied Australian aboriginal music a little bit, some of it, but more like pop. Some of the pop stuff, though. I’d love to hear more about it, when I go, about stuff that’s not more, like, sort of [traditional].” Blothar continues: “Vernacular music is something I’ve always been interested in, and also, always wanted to go to Australia, because I’ve always been interested in that country and its culture, from both angles. Both, like, this big, crazy, sort of lawless colony of prisoners, cut loose on the end. And then, the people who live there, who are outwardly so, sort of almost, still living like, in some places, almost like humans really lived, thousands of years ago. And yet, their interior life and spiritual life, is, they’re among the most evolved people on the planet.”

Blothar recalls: “I first heard metal from my grandmother, of all people. She gave me Kiss, Rock ‘N’ Roll Over, and she also taught me how to play piano. She was one of my music people. I don’t know what she was doing with the record. But she had it, and she gave it to me, and I just, sort of, I loved it. Kiss was one of my favorite bands, growing up, unsurprisingly. And I think that’s true for most of the people in GWAR.” Blothar continues: “But, Black Sabbath, you know, that there’s certain influences on GWAR. I mean, GWAR comes from a punk rock background. GWAR is a band that was originally thought of as, people who loved metal, who loved Kiss, and the sort of, excesses of metal, but had almost an ironic relationship to it, because we were coming from punk rock, where we had learned, the music itself … learning how to perform music, we learned through punk. Because, if we had tried to be like Kiss, right off the bat … I mean, that was the thing that punk did, is, it gave people access to a stage. And GWAR formed in that atmosphere, and it was a punk band for years and years, and still has those sort of proclivities in the music. And I think they come out on this album, more than they have, maybe, on some of the more recent records. But GWAR was also steeped in Black Sabbath, and even, some of the, I swear, the ridiculousness of Led Zeppelin, that was the problem with metal, was that it took itself too seriously. But a band like AC/DC, not so much. That was fun. But it was a good time, and AC/DC, from what I understand, that was the Sex Pistols, in Australia. So, that’s, GWAR has always looked to bands that know how to play music, and have fun, and who think of rock ‘n’ roll as fun. I saw something before, and they had, it was a cartoon, I think. It was Angus Young, dancing around, and he looks at the camera, and he says, ‘I had no idea when I started that I’d be doing this when I was 65 years old!’ He doesn’t make a very convincing school boy anymore.”

Blothar states: “Well, one of the reasons GWAR was from outer space was probably because we didn’t really wanna be from Richmond. But, it’s a town that is in our soul. There’s nothing we can do about it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, really, to be honest with you, but it’s definitely a town that when we were making GWAR, the city belonged to us. It was ours, because nobody wanted it anymore.  Black folks had been pushed out, by a combination of weird policies, and economic situations, and, so, I mean, it was a city that had a lot of empty space. There were a lot of cheap places, and we were able to make GWAR in that situation. Now, I kind of long for those days, in a way, because GWAR … not for the alienation of black people, I don’t long for that, but I long for the situation where it was a city that was, in some ways, it definitely belonged to us. We didn’t have to compete for space, and we had our small little areas of the town where we could be, and have our spaces, and play music, and have our bars and our restaurants and nightclubs. And now, it’s really changed. It’s a city, like most cities, or many cities in America, that is going through a kind of renaissance, where it’s being redeveloped. And a lot of those spaces are disappearing. A lot of the old neighborhoods are being replaced. Whereas, GWAR sort of rose out of this decay, now, in this place of that decay, there’s this sort of gentrified revitalization, that’s going on in that city. It’s actually pretty typical of American cities in that way. And GWAR fits into that narrative, in a really interesting way, because all of a sudden, GWAR is something that the city’s proud of.”

Blothar continues: “Sometimes, I think that the people who look at GWAR, and say that they like it, and aren’t like your typical GWAR fan … people like, museum curators, who express an interest in this, or art historians, or theatre historians, that’s their interest … sometimes, I wonder if they really know what we do, right, if they really pay any attention to what the band does. But for better or worse, the band, we’ve gotten away with it. And they seem to have laid claim to us. Which is both good and bad. I mean, if we can keep a toe in that world, and still keep kicking ass, playing heavy metal, and having fun for the people who really understand GWAR. That’s what’s important to us.”

Longevity is definitely in the stars for GWAR. Blothar discusses the most challenges with GWAR’s latest release, The Blood of Gods: “On this record, the most challenging song, probably, the most difficult song to sing, is Phantom Limb. That, and the AC/DC cover. Yeah, Bon Scott had a voice that, as a singer. It is much more, it’s much more sophisticated, than what people understand. He’s not screaming. He’s singing. And when you get up into the top of that range, I’m fortunate because my range is similar to his. But when you get up into the top of that range, it’s really easy to just go ahead and scream. But he never did that. So, you have, like, some of it’s really easy to sing. It’s right in the pocket. But then there’s some stuff that, like, just … It’s like, I get to that place, and my voice just sort of disappears. I had to work really hard, to get it to fill out in that way, but as far as a GWAR song, Phantom Limb was difficult. And it was, it’s difficult to perform live. I mean, it’s an emotional song. You have to pour yourself into it. Or it doesn’t come off. If you don’t mean it, then it doesn’t matter, so you have to feel that, every night. A song that’s sort of, born out of grief. And the desire to keep moving. You have to feel all of those things, every night. And you watch the audience feel it. And that’s, it’s important, I think, and … but it’s also very difficult, and not because it’s hard, emotionally, but just because it’s demanding of you as a performer.  Also, because of the range of it. And there’s some notes in it, that, I actually wish that we’d have recorded the album after about, two months of touring, because my voice was in a lot better shape, but what’s on the record is pretty good, though, so, we went with that.”

Nevertheless Blothar is certain most of the new album will be included in the Australian tour setlist. “When we go to Australia, we have gone there, so few times. And this is the second time, so we’re gonna look at that setlist, and see what we did. And then, we’re gonna fill it out with some things that we think people in Australia want to hear, and haven’t had a chance to hear. But, on this tour, we did the whole album, of The Blood of Gods, except for one song. And so, and people loved it. I mean, the reaction to this album has been phenomenally. The fans love it, and they don’t seem to miss it, you know? Nobody’s losing attention, or drifting off, when we play the new stuff. I mean, it’s good to know that GWAR’s not a legacy band. I mean, that’s always a danger. I mean, if I think about it, I’m like, ‘If I go to see the Rolling Stones, I don’t really wanna know what the fuck their new record sounds like, you know? I want to hear the classics.’”

Setlists aside, there’s also the stage antics. On their last tour, it was then Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, who bore the brunt of the sword.

Once again there will be no favours, and also no misogyny, when it comes to planning stage antics. “GWAR sort of spreads the death around,” Blothar states, “Yeah, and not only decapitations. We’ll punch Julie Bishop. We’ll do something. We’ll do some fun stuff. It’s not as fun to kill Malcolm Turnbull, because he’s kind of an attractive. In all of our shows, we have decapitations, we have arm rips, we have face rips, we have, ripping people’s guts out. We’re putting people on stakes, I mean, the whole time. We think about who deserves it. Then, we will kick it.”

Catch Blothar hit the high notes, with GWAR, on their upcoming Australian tour.


[pullquote]GWAR’s scene is disaffected people. People who don’t quite fit in, and know how to laugh at themselves. That’s GWAR’s scene.”[/pullquote] 

Attention Human Scum!!!!

Earth’s favourite interplanetary warriors, GWAR, are returning to conquer and destroy Australia in APRIL 2018!

“The Blood of Gods Tour” continues on into Australia, as your masters and supreme overlords take their one of a kind carnival of blood-drenched death and destruction Down Under. The last time GWAR visited Australia in 2014, they upset the Australian public with the controversial and media-hyped beheading of an effigy of then-Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. The body count will be even higher when GWAR returns to Australia in April of 2018 for more heavy metal carnage. Mark your calendars or leave the country.

Blothar the Berskerer had this to say about the upcoming bloodbath: “People of Australia, koala bears, kangaroos, crocodiles, wallabies…lend me your ears…and your skulls, and all of your internal organs…GWAR is coming to turn the Land of Dreams into your worst nightmare. Fire up the barby, we are going to eat Australia!

As for the Adelaide scum and your worthless existence, the so-called “Rock Capital of Australia”… is that crack rock?  We shall turn the Great Australian Bight into our Great Australian BITE as our parting gift to Australia.”

GWAR are riding the wave of worldwide dominance with their new record The Blood of Gods, released by Metal Blade Records in October 2017. The new record, and the spectacular tour to support it, have been praised by fans and media alike as triumphs of unimaginable genius.

Formed in Antarctica 1984 by manager Sleazy P. Martini, GWAR has forged a path of debauchery for over 30 years and it seems their work is still not done.

GWAR’s mythology is rich in political and social satire. Their cult-following is galvanized by their controversial, indefatigable and ostentatious live performances, where crowds of willing slaves are subjected to ripe humour and theatrical imagery… and lots and lots of blood, vomit and other bodily fluids.

“This tour was a masterpiece of the bizarre, an epic telling of a collection of freakish fairy tales” – – –

Don’t miss GWAR’s odyssey of death and destruction as they turn their eyes towards Earth’s most remote outcrop of human scum, Australia.

“Death cannot kill GWAR. Nothing can.” – – – GWAR


GWAR April 2018 Tour Dates

Tuesday 24th April – Brisbane, Eatons Hill
Thursday 26th April – Sydney, Metro
Friday 27th April – Melbourne, 170 Russell
Sunday 29th April – Adelaide, HQ


Tickets from:

PLATINUM VIP M&G Ticket – 6 only per show – includes:

  • Meet and Greet with GWAR
  • 1 personal item autographed by GWAR
  • Photo of yourself with GWAR taken by professional photographer
  • Autographed Limited edition A3 Thick Card Poster
  • Watch two songs from side of stage
  • Collectors set of 7 guitar picks
  • Official commemorative VIP Laminate
  • Priority Access to the Venue

GOLD VIP M&G Ticket:

  • Photo of yourself and 5 other slaves with GWAR taken by professional photographer
  • Autographed Limited edition A3 Thick Card Poster
  • Collectors set of 7 guitar picks
  • Official commemorative VIP Laminate
  • Priority Access to the Venue

For More Info Visit:

About Mary Boukouvalas 1614 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos,,,, She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.