huntermc: What ever happened to Death Piggy?
Russ: The reason why Death Piggy suddenly seemed to disappear and why Gwar suddenly took off was because Sean had a little run-in with the law. He always had a temper and drinking problem, and he tried to kill a guy that was sleeping with his (Sean's) recently ex girlfriend. Sean spent a year in jail and later violated parole, so he had to leave the state permanently. Dave spent that time developing Gwar and I had other plans of my own.
huntermc: Do you know if there are any bootleg videos floating around out there? Do you guys still have extra copies of the records?
Russ: Records, recordings, and videotapes have always been in short supply. I've seen videotapes that people have made of Death Piggy shows, but to this day I couldn't tell you where they are or who has them. Even Dave and I don't have much of anything left.
huntermc: What were some of the theatrical things you did in your shows, and how did they differ from early Gwar?
Russ: Death Piggy wasn't focused, like Gwar is, on developing characters--though that was certainly part of it. Because Richmond has a very active arts community, we had a lot of exposure to the performance arts (kind of a cross between theater and sculpture). We just added music. Some of what we did was fairly simple (playing a whole show in which we lip-sync-ed to our own records, playing with our whole set-up turned around so that our backs were to the audience, or one show where I played inside of a large box). Some were more complicated, involving costumes, performances, props. . .whatever seemed completely absurd and out of place.
The first time we used stage blood was for a song called "Wino the Clown" that ended with the line "We laugh when he throws up blood." I made a mixture of Karo syrup and red food coloring and managed to hold a mouthful of it for the whole song. When the line came I swallowed half of it and lost the rest of it all over my guitar and my shirt. It was just the beginning.
huntermc: You were GWAR's first guitar player, right? How did that come about?
Russ: Gwar's first show (I played the first two shows and later did a cameo in my recurring role as Mr. Magico. . .a failed necromancer who mistakenly thinks he has conjured GWAR out of the netherworld) was with Suicidal Tendencies (the first punk band to get on MTV) at the 9:30 club in DC. We really just wanted to wear the costumes, play heavy metal, and see if anybody could tell the difference. As usual, we did it because we thought is was funny as hell, but nobody else noticed. . .or even cared. Not our problem.
huntermc: How else did Gwar evolve from Death Piggy?
Russ: In a lot of ways, Death Piggy has always been the soul of GWAR I think. It was the time when we could do anything we wanted without limits. For me the costumes were a whole different gig. They really cut us off from the audience in a lot of ways. Death Piggy was an idea factory. GWAR was just one of those ideas, but there were too many more good ideas just like it. That's why I didn't really stick around. Sean felt the same way, even though we both knew that GWAR hads loads more commercial potential.
Here are some other tidbits from Russ:
We were one of Jello Biafra's picks for best bands of 1984.
Our first drummer was a Young Republican. He lasted one practice and then we got Sean.
We taught the Butthole Surfers everything they know. . .except for the Tuba.
My sister's marrying Sleazy (Don Drakulich) in July.
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Death Piggy Lyrics
Click here for an interview with Death Piggy from Soundzine, finally converted to hypertext
Click here for my own interview with Dave
Click here for some pictures and sound files from Death Rules The Fairway
Click here for some pictures and sound files from Love War
Click here for a list of GWAR links