“EVERYBODY IN GWAR IS AN EXCEPTIONAL musician in his own right—they’re some of the best musicians I’ve ever worked with,” says bassist Casey Orr, known as Beefcake the Mighty to the GWAR faithful. “Unfortunately, it’s often overlooked when we’re wearing giant rubber suits. The costumes blind some people to the fact that the guys involved are actually writing music. Then again, if we weren’t wearing the big rubber suits, maybe nobody would be listening!” For 25 years, GWAR has brought its inimitable shock rock to the masses. Orr, who got his start alongside Ministry guitarist Mike Scaccia in the thrash band Rigor Mortis, joined in 1994. The mighty bassist can be heard on GWAR’s latest, Lust In Space, and with the recently reunited Rigor Mortis.
Were you always interested in playing bass, or was it stage performance that attracted you most?
I wanted to be on stage, but I always wanted to play music. My older brother turned me onto the Beatles when I was young, which is when I first noticed the bass. Then he introduced me to King Crimson and the Who. He also gave me my first guitar, and took me to get my first bass when I was about 12. A few years later, Judas Priest and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal came along, and I was hooked.
How did playing with Mike Scaccia in Rigor Mortis affect your approach to bass?
I basically learned to play by trying to keep up with Mike, which was kind of like running down stairs extremely fast with your arms full of stuff: you knew you’d bust your ass … you just hoped you’d recover from it! He was the only guitarist and played lots of lead, so I’d cover a lot on the rhythmic side.
What are some of the challenges playing in GWAR?
In terms of style, the band is all over the place; there are country, punk, and metal elements, and even some symphonic textures. Most artists don’t have the luxury of playing a heavy song followed by a goofy ditty about barnyard animals!
Whether you’re working with GWAR or Rigor Mortis, how do you get back to basics and polish your bass skills?
I listen to pretty much everything I can get my hands on, from Paul McCartney to Lemmy, and try to learn different songs and absorb other styles. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be bringing that to my own playing, but I like to think that as long as you keep playing, you can’t help but evolve and improve and learn new things.
HEAR HIM ON
GWAR, Lust in Space [Metal Blade, 2009]
Basses Dean Razorback, Razorback V, Z Custom, Z Tour, Edge, and Demonator basses; Schecter Hellraiser, Schecter Stargazer, Fender Precision Bass, Fernandes Nomad; GHS Boomers (.045–.105) and Jim Dunlop Tortex picks (0.88)
Rig with GWAR: Two Peavey Tour 700 heads, two Peavey TVX 410 EX cabs, Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI; with
Rigor Mortis: Peavey Pro VB-3 head, two Peavey TVX 410 EX cabs, Tech 21 SansAmp Programmable Bass Driver DI