GWAR’s Michael Derks aka “Balsac the Jaws of Death” Talks “Blood Vomits”

Michael Derks aka “Balsac the Jaws of Death” guitarist for the rock group Gwar has a new project coming out titled “Blood Vomits” which is a puppet based adventure series that was fully funded through the internet donation site had a chance to catch up with Michael to talk about the project and how he came about using

Adam Lawton: How did you first become involved with the “Blood Vomits”?
Michael Derks: I didn’t really know too much about it at first and I don’t really know why. I knew about the idea as Davis Bradley who basically came up with the idea and built the puppets used to tour with Gwar and was one of our Gwar slaves. After he left the band he was working on some other weird little projects and one of them was these puppets. A friend of Davis’s by the name of John Brennan had written a script about three Mexican banditos with one being a priest and the other two being completely evil. Davis took that script and adapted it to the puppets he was building and then had Dave Brockie and Todd Evans do the voices. I hadn’t really heard about it until I found it on YouTube. This was a couple years later as nothing had really been done with it except for the skit being put up on YouTube. I went to Davis and asked him what he was doing with the puppets and Davis told me nothing really become of the project so I asked why not? As I thought it was really awesome. I asked him if he had a problem with me using the puppets and writing some more stuff. The only problem was Davis didn’t have any money for the project and couldn’t really afford to do the project just for fun. A short time later I saw Chris Gethard from “Upright Citizens Brigade” on his comedy tour and I got a chance to talk with him and he told me about how he had funded the tour he was on through a website called I thought that sounded perfect for what I wanted to do so I asked Davis and he said sure and we just ran with it from there. We had a budget of $5,000 which is nothing but we were able to save a lot of money due to all the in house talent we had with the band.

AL: Other than writing you also did some of the voice work as well correct?
MD:  I added some writing and a few additional voices but not a whole lot. I decided that since Todd Evans wasn’t around anymore we had to recast other than Dave Brockie’s character. I thought it would be a cool idea to get a super group of Richmond, VA metal bands together and have them do something other than play music. I was able to get Randy Blythe from Lamb of God as well as Tony Foresta from Municipal Waste. It’s kind of become a collaboration between the three of us.

AL: What were your first thoughts when you reached your budget goal on kickstarter?
MD: We put it up there as kind of a test. The original idea was to do more episodes so us reaching the goal kind of gave us hope that once we have the first episode done there will be interest to do more and keep funding those episodes.

AL: What are the release plans for the project?
MD: It’s almost edited. Davis had thought it would take around a month to have everything edited but unfortunately it has taken closer to 3 months. It’s almost done we just have to get together and do the final tweaks on everything and make sure everyone is happy. I’m guessing within a few weeks we will have it out.

AL: This being just the first film/episode what are the future plans for the project?
MD: We are hoping to do a full 12 episode television season. We want to release it on YouTube for people to watch for free and just see how it goes. We want to get the funding before we make the next episode so if people like it and want more they have to help us. (Laughs) As we go along we want to get more celebrities involved doing different voices and such. When we are on the road with Gwar we run into a lot of our rock star friends so the idea is to give them the lines and record them right on the bus.

AL: Do you have any other projects your working on right now?
MD:  I have a couple things that I am sort of working on. I am thinking about another puppet based series but that’s still in the development stages.
For more info on “Blood Vomits” you can go to for all the latest info.

Interview with GWAR’s Cory Smoot & Michael Derks

Michael Derks and Cory Smoot are their given names however most GWAR fans know them as the guitar wielding duo made up of Balsac the Jaws of Death and Flattus Maximus. Movie Mikes had a chance to interview Michael (Balzac) and Cory (Flattus) about the bands recent Australian tour and the band’s new album “Bloody Pit of Horror”.

Click here to purchase GWAR’s music and new CD “Bloody Pit of Horror”

Adam Lawton: How is everything going today guys?
Michael Derks: Ugh I am jet lagged as hell from Australia! (Laughs)
Cory Smoot: Pretty good man.

AL: How did each of you come to join the band?
MD: I was going to VCU and I had been playing guitar with Mike Bishop,who played Beefcake on the GWAR album “Hell-O.” Just as I started jamming with him, Steve Douglas who played Balsac was kicked out of the band. From there they asked me to join the band.
CS: Back in 2002, GWAR had lost their previous guitar player Zack Blair.  I had always been a local guy in Richmond. I was playing in a band called Misguided which had opened for Rawg a few times and I was friends with Dave Brockie. One day they called me up and asked me to join the group. I think I am now the longest lasting person to play the Flattus character.

AL: Michael, what did you think initially about having to where the Balsac costume?
MD: (Laughs) it was fun. I wasn’t really excited about having to wear it but it wasn’t horrible. The costume has actually gotten bigger and bigger over the years.  So back when I was asked to join it really wasn’t too big of a deal. At first there was really just a mask and some boots. Now I have huge legs and shoulders pads.

AL: How was it touring Australia for the first time?
MD: It was a lot of fun. The Aussies went crazy!
CS: It was really beautiful and awesome. It was summer time there which beats the weather we are having here right now.

AL: Were you guys surprised by how great the reception was?
MD: Everyone goes crazy for us we are fucking GWAR! (Laughs).   If we had gotten anything less they would not have survived!
CS: The crowds were really great and the promoters really want us to come back again soon!

AL: What’s your favorite track off the new album?
MD: The opening track “Bloody Pit of Horror” which is actually just about the entire first half of the album. That song or songs really encompasses a lot of different styles. It covers a lot.
CS: I like “KZ Necromancer” as well as “Bloody Pit of Horror” which we get to change it up a bit and play eight string guitars.

AL: What was it like using an eight string guitar on that track?
MD: It was fun! At first I hated it. When I picked it up I thought it was ridiculous. It was a really weird feeling but after using it this whole tour it’s actually still ridiculous. (Laughs) I have gotten used to it and its kind of fun to hit that low F string.
CS: It was different but it wasn’t too hard to get used to. I had some experience on the last album using one so I knew what I was in for.

AL: You both worked as producers on GWAR’s latest DVD release “Lust in Space: Live at the National” correct?
MD: I actually did more of the engineering work of the audio mixes than the visual production side of things. Cory was more of the producer. As a band, we produce the songs collectively.
CS: Besides producing the DVD I also have produced the last two GWAR records “Lust in Space” and “Bloody Pit of Horror”. I also co-produced “Beyond Hell” and “War Party.” So I kind of have a dual role as artist and producer.

AL: What are your plans for when the tour wraps up?
MD: As soon as I get home I have to go back to work as a bartender because it costs a lot to be a big rubber monster (Laughs).
CS: I have a recording studio at home called Karma Productions that I plan to start spending a lot more time on.  The wife and I have started to look for land which we can build a house and studio on.

AL: Any funny stories from this year’s tour?
CS: Oh there were some fun and crazy moments. Nothing was however too crazy other than the fact that we are GWAR and a certain amount of that stuff comes with the territory. The customs officers had a good time going through are stage gear (Laughs).

Click here to purchase GWAR’s music and new CD “Bloody Pit of Horror”