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GWAR... On Acid!

"Derek" loses his mind, and his button-up once the acid kicks in.
April 4, 2012, 4:00am

We personally can't imagine anything more mentally and physically uncomfortable than eating acid at a GWAR show, but Jon Novak convinced his buddy "Derek" that it was a fantastic idea. We were happy that he went along with it.

Right after my friend "Derek" took the acid he told me it was going to be hard to get out of the “producer” mindset, probably because we had an interview with the lead singer of GWAR, Oderus Urungus, scheduled at 9:30, 45 minutes before they were supposed to play. Even though he had prepared questions like “If GWAR were a slab of meat,” and “Why doesn't GWAR have a corn snake?” my first thought was that he might start stressing about the interview, which made me a bit nervous. He told me that we were “role models” before we left the house. When we got in the car he said, “this could be weird.”

We argued about my camera setting for most of the drive. Thankfully, the drugs hit him hard before we showed up and he stopped caring much about anything, so it was actually really easy to document his experience.


We showed up at eight to avoid the two opening bands. I can't remember their names. I don't think Derek even knew about them. He's not fan of metal, thrash metal, etc. He listens mostly to Santana and Plants and Animals. He looked at flowers for a minute in a store window before he realized I was behind him taking pictures. There was nobody in front of the venue when we got there except for one kid who couldn't get in, so we took a picture with him.

I set up camp near GWAR's merch table and waited for their stage manager Eddie Oertell to find us and lead us back stage to set down our equipment and to take pictures of Ghoul. In the meantime, Nevin, the other photographer, took a picture of Derek and I talking.

They all had burlap sacks covered in blood over their heads. I thought it was awesome and I'm sure Derek did, too. A guy in a machine suit came out on stage with a massive can of pepper spray and aimed it at Derek's face. It was just fake blood, so it made him fit in with the rest of the crowd fairly quickly, and for the rest of the night made it seem like he had on lipstick.

Between sets we ventured to the front of the venue to take pictures of weird guys soaked in fake blood and to drink whiskey in the family bathroom. Derek thought it was funny to drink whiskey on the toilet and then to pose with a curtain concealing storage shelves full of toilet paper.

Municipal Waste was about to come on so we went back up front behind the barriers and I slowly started setting up lights while Derek got photographed with some of the weird props all stuffed like body parts in black bags. Derek got in the crowd and we were luckily enough to capture this photo of him.

The interview with Oderus went to shit because Derek went to check his mic and instead of turning it on, he turned off, then on, then off again. Oderus sat there and stared at the camera while we were fumbling around getting everything together. The interview was supposed to start at 9:30 but they didn't even get into costume until almost 9:40, so from the beginning the whole process was rushed.

Derek had two pages of prepared, mostly bullshit questions. Oderus ripped the notebook out of his hand and started making fun of him non-stop until they went on stage. Luckily we got lots of pictures and six minute silent interview of Oderus man-handling Derek, who probably wouldn't be going to bed for another five to six hours.

GWAR played fine, and overall the show was a success. We walked around in the pit in all the pools of blood and beer cans. Derek found a pair of glasses smashed on the floor and put them on.

We got to take pictures of three farm boys on the way out from Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. They repeated that around five times just to make sure I was aware they drove that far to see GWAR. One of them even decided to lick Derek's head.

We saw Eddie Stage Manager once more and Derek asked him for a free sweatshirt. It embarrassed me, but when he got one it was fitting. I took an overexposed picture of him wearing it back at his house.

Photographers: Jon Novak and Nevin McIntyre