By Liz Tracy
By David Rolland
By Alex Rendon
By Terrence McCoy
By Natalya Jones
By County Grind
By Liz Tracy
By Chris Joseph
The stage show put paid to that problem, and the band followed through in the studio with the grave-spinning Tarnished Tapes of Transylvania. DBY's cartoonish enigma either repelled or attracted witnesses; the group in turn became fascinated with both its fans and antagonists -- or anyone who was paying attention. This symbiosis extends to 17-year-old fan Carver Durrett, in charge of the band's 21,000-hits-and-counting Website. Durrett's mom even baked him a birthday cake with a photograph of DBY on it earlier this year. The more fans they met, the more the four didn't feel so dysfunctional after hearing stories about the kids' own Jerry Springer-esque family lives. Following a show at FU*BAR one night, they found themselves giving a ride home to a carload of kids that included Amy Wiess, a local teen later accused of tossing her newborn into a canal.
The Tamarac townhouse Lee and Janos share is just one in a long row of identical units that look as if they were extruded from a tube of frosting against the Sawgrass Expressway. But with a typical couch and typical loveseat and typical entertainment center, the only remotely malevolent creation in this quintessential modular living room is a small gargoyle.
This suburban setting wouldn't strike anybody as the ideal spot for a sacrificial bloodbath, unless one remembers young Brian Warner. But the mechanical animal is more or less a joke to the band, and even though DBY's version of "The Fight Song" appeared on Anonymous Messiah, a Marilyn Manson tribute album, the band claims there is no comparison between the groups. "We don't have time to sit around and figure out how to enrage you," points out Lee.
"Again with the Manson shit," Janos complains, but the pale, shirtless Lee appears almost as bloodless and freaky as his better-known counterpart.
Janos likes his music tough. Bauhaus he writes off as "all atmosphere and no punch." GWAR is considered "an art band -- like Genesis on a killing spree." But he comes with enough savvy to recognize that the Ramones were the American Beatles. The band's manic take on "Pet Sematary" was included on a recent Ramones tribute from Australia, to which Lee contributed his trademark inarticulately passionate liner notes. But KISS was the ultimate touchstone, Janos decides: "If you're going to make a spectacle of yourself, you better believe your own hype."
Of course, Death Becomes You believes. When the members of the band watch their own images on video performing the larger-than-life spectacle, each one is caught up in a wide-eyed trance, punctuated by various permutations of "Dude, look at me right there!" No one in the band has a girlfriend -- and not because they have a dog named Fluffy or because they'll fight over a 1977 Burger King Limited Edition Darth Vader Commemorative Glass That No One Has Ever Been Stupid Enough to Drink Out Of -- but because women would only get in the way.
"Put the work in now," Janos coaches confidently, "and they'll be much better looking later."
Another reaction the band admits receiving is guffaws of disbelief. "Most of the people who laugh are threatened by you," smiles Nicodemous, who clearly doesn't care: During the 45 minutes he's on-stage gruesomely contorting his body, he's experiencing the most fun he's ever imagined. "We feel mighty when we're up there with our boots, our armor, our hair." Sizing up his on-screen image, he concludes, "I can totally see a Nicodemous doll."
"The pinnacle of what we can do would be action figures," nods Janos in agreement. However, until Mattel gets in on the game, Death Becomes You is still one hell of a show for the money.
"I think it's worth $5 or $6 to come see us!" Janos shouts, while bathed in the cathode-ray glow of his own image. "You're in the middle of Dante's! Come on."