GWAR vs. Ethan Embry: We Finally Settled the Beef from ‘Empire Records’
We all remember where we were when Mark, played by Ethan Embry in the 1995 cult hit Empire Records, was devoured by heavy metal band GWAR’s “World Maggot” in his pot brownie-induced hallucination. I, for example, was in utero—not yet a viable fetus and well within the constitutional right to abortion limitations—when Empire Records came out. It was a big year for all of us.
The iconic scene portrays (with hyper-realism) Embry’s character achieving a brownie high so intense that he hallucinates GWAR speaking to him from the music video for their song “Sadam A-Go-Go.” From the television set, GWAR lures Embry’s character by saying those eleven special words every little kid dreams of hearing one day: “Hey Mark! You love GWAR, why don’t you join the band?” Immediately, Embry’s character Mark imagines himself transported into the television, guitar in hand, and is rocking out with his favorite barbaric space-monsters.
Trouble in paradise comes soon, though, when the next words they utter to him are, “Mark, you play a mean guitar, man. It’s really a shame that you must DIE.” A shocked Mark sits on the couch as he watches himself in the GWAR video get devoured by the ravenous maggot creature before his very eyes.
Though “Mark” ultimately lived, Ethan Embry has carried the burden and trauma of the scene ever since. On May 29, 2019, Ethan took the beef to Twitter:
— Ethan Embry (@EmbryEthan) May 29, 2019
GWAR members Balsac the Jaws of Death and Jiazmak Da Gusha were all kind enough to take the time to settle this beef with Embry right here with us at Riot Fest. The three joined me—comedian Anya Volz, trained in seventh grade peer mediation—on a call to settle this once and for all.
ANYA VOLZ: I’m Anya, a comedian, but more importantly the moderator for this very important squashing of Twitter beef. I’m here as an impartial person, just here to help you guys stabilitate your conflict—
BALSAC THE JAWS OF DEATH: —So progressive.
Just to be clear, which members of GWAR do I have here today?
BJD: This is Balsac the Jaws of Death.
JIZMAK DA GUSHA: Also very progressive. And this is Jizmak Da Gusha.
And Ethan Embry? Are you on the line?
ETHAN EMBRY: Uh, yeah! I am here! Yes!
BJD: We don’t want Ethan Embry. We were lured here with a promise of getting revenge on that nibbling little creature Mark from Empire Records. We don’t want to speak to Ethan Embry. WHERE’S MARK?
EE: Uh, I can be your intermediary… him and I are old friends.
Ethan is merely the vessel, you have to understand.
BJD: Okay, vessel.
So, just a basic mediation tactic—I want to give you the chance to give an introductory statement about where you stand on the conflict. Ethan, you were the one who tweeted in the first place on May 29th. Since you’re really the one with a bone to pick, I would really like to hear you give your opening, uninterrupted statement. What’s your issue, what would you like to resolve?
EE: Well, first of all, I haven’t prepared any statement—
Oh, that’s okay. Speak from the heart.
EE: This is off the fly. I guess I didn’t know the shit I was stepping into. I, Ethan, was just excited to see—I guess I’m a little late, because they’ve been playing there every year for the past decade—that GWAR was going to be at Riot Fest. And I thought “How fun would that be, to go up and watch GWAR and get covered in blood and shit again?” And, uh, I guess I didn’t understand the power of Twitter beef. I had never been involved in a Twitter beef—and I think you also combine the power of an intergalactic entity such as GWAR with Twitter beefs, and you end up where we are now.
JDG: This is a very typical let’s-blame-it-on-the-media-type stance that you Hollywood people always take. And you’re just afraid to admit it, you know? You were trying to start something with GWAR, and you didn’t think that we’d come all the way from Antarctica to Chicago to stand in front of you and slaughter you in front of the whole crowd. And that’s what we’re gonna do.
EE: What’s the name of your worm again?
BJD: The World Maggot. How did you survive the World Maggot? Because many people saw you die in Empire Records. You were devoured by it.
JDG: Ooo, ooo! Balsac! I know the answer. Cinemax did a little side-moonlighting a while back, and we did a little thing with Ethan Embry and the cast of Empire Records up in New York. And at that event, put on by BBQ Films, the World Maggot actually spit him back out. It was just an awful taste.
BJD: He doesn’t like liberals.
JDG: He was covered in all the maggot mucus, membranes of all the organs—honestly, I think that maggot got heartburn or something. He just chucked him right back out. It was pretty disgusting.
BJD: I think it was probably all those edibles you were eating that day you got swallowed by the World Maggot [in Empire Records]. Probably caused the World Maggot to hallucinate and spit you out.
If I understand correctly: Ethan, you want to “reap revenge” on the World Maggot for the pain it caused you all those years ago in the film Empire Records when you were playing Mark. Is that correct?
EE: There’s a lot of time that he lost. 25 years is a long time—
JDG: That maggot made you more famous than Jennifer Love Hewitt. What are you talking about?
Your issue seems to be that you think this “Hollywood-type” can’t put his money where his mouth is, and you want to eat the vessel himself this time—or let the Maggot eat it.
BJD: I just want to devour Mark’s head, because I think there’s enough residual THC from those hash brownies he was eating in the 80s to get me high.
So it really sounds like you just wanna get high.
BJD: That’s pretty much the whole reason any musician starts playing music.
If we found another way to facilitate getting you high, would you let Ethan walk away with his life? Is that possible?
BJD: I can’t make any promises like that.
JDG: Normally, though… we let our drug dealers live so that they can bring us more drugs.
So Ethan, if you were willing to just bring them drugs…
EE: It sounds like that’s what I have to do.
It sounds like that’s the best call, honestly. That’s how we squash the beef.
BJD: We don’t need a boring resolution. Blood needs to be shed here.
Okay, but does it need to be Ethan/Mark’s blood?
BJD: It needs to be Mark’s. I don’t care about this Ethan person you keep talking about. I’ve got no beef with Ethan. I just want Mark’s head on a platter.
JDG: As for the Maggot, we don’t know where he is. I haven’t seen him, I don’t know if he’s burrowed in the center of the earth—
BJD: He comes out whenever he wants to. We’ve made some movies in our time too, Mr. Embry, and if you’ve seen Skulhedface, you’ll see that the World Maggot actually burrows out from the center of the earth and flies into outer space, leaving GWAR behind. We haven’t seen him since then. He’s out there in outer space somewhere.
Does that make you feel any better, Ethan?
EE: Well, Mark doesn’t have any beef with GWAR, it’s just the Maggot.
So, if the Maggot is no longer in the picture, and you have drugs…
JDG: Oh, he’ll say anything just to snivel and weasel out of this thing, this confrontation with GWAR. “Oh, it’s the Maggot I’m after!”
EE: Just look at it from his position! His viewpoint. He was just hanging out, enjoying his favorite band—you guys invited him to be in the band, okay? In his weakest moment. And it brought him onstage, and experience a little taste of what he was so enthralled by. And then you fucking ate him!
JDG: Well, that was Oderus’s fault. He’s always doing that, trying to get people to join our band and then he’s like “Oh, you’re my best friend! Join the band, and we’ll pay you all the royalties!”
Are you trying to dodge responsibility for the beef that your band got into in the first place?
JDG: Well, that’s the facts. So I’m not trying to weasel. I’m just stating the facts. These are just the facts. I’m just trying to be factual. It doesn’t happen anymore because Oderus Urungus has left us and gone onto the stars now.
So you’re just going to pawn off responsibility?
JDG: Oh no, I’m going to kill Ethan Embry at Riot Fest. No doubt… Balsac and me, we see eye to eye on musical things. But killing things, we have way different styles. So he wants Mark? I’ll take whatever. He’s just flesh to me. Ethan, Mark, I don’t care.
Well, if Ethan were to scrounge up a sacrifice to offer to you, it wouldn’t have to be him, then?
BJD: What kind of sacrifice? I mean, it’s gotta be a step up from a movie star. You’ve gotta raise the bar.
EE: If I’m your bar, I can bring a tortilla sandwich and there you go.
BJD: You might want to aim a little higher.
JDG: It sounds like we really haven’t gotten anywhere.
The beef is meatier than ever.
EE: Yeah, because now they want me.
BJD: Have you continued to play guitar since the Empire Records days? Because I know they made you look pretty silly in the movie. They had you playing to a song you weren’t actually playing on stage. I recently found the footage of you onstage with us actually playing the correct song, and it actually looked a lot cooler.
EE: Because it looked like I was actually playing.
BJD: Yeah. And also, Oderus’s Cuttlefish wasn’t blurred out horribly. [Laughs]
So…you admit that Mark looks cool!
BJD: Well, I’m not going THAT far. Let’s not get crazy here. Come on.
Kinda sounds like you like Ethan/Mark. Kinda sounds like you’re interested in a friendship with him.
BJD: I think we’ve got a similar beef with the editors of Empire Records. They both made us look a little foolish, you know? They made Oderus sound like some kinda clown, they made Mark look like he couldn’t play guitar, it was just—
A common enemy. This is wonderful!
BJD: Yeah. We can team up—
JDG: There we go! Balsac with the ideas!
BJD:—And kill Liv Tyler! Wait.
EE: Whoa, whoa, whoa!
JDG: What about the store owner? That guy was a douche. Let’s kill him.
EE: We’re getting into like, assassination of Ronald Reagan with Jodie Foster territory. You know?
You say that’s a bad thing.
JDG: What’s wrong with that?
BJD: Wait, Ronald Reagan was obsessed with Jodie Foster?
EE: No, the guy that shot him, what’s his name…
BJD: John Hinckley.
EE: Yeah, that guy.
JDG: Also, even better to that outcome was the great band Jodie Foster’s Army (JDA), a great hardcore band.
BJD: Full circle!
Every great friendship starts with a music recommendation.
JDG: Well, let’s see what happens in Chicago! We’re up for a good time, we’re up for a good fight.
EE: It sounds like they’re okay, but now I’m pissed off, and now I need to do something.
Why are you pissed off?
EE: Well, now it’s directly pointed at me—and I have my own toxic masculinity issues to deal with, but now I feel like I can’t just let this go.
What specifically can’t you let go?
EE: You know, they threatened Liv, they threatened me.
BJD: Hey, you’re in on this with us!
So you feel like you have to defend the honor of Liv Tyler?
EE: Yeah, and me too. I’m gonna say that it’s about that, to make it seem egotistical on my part. You know? So that it’s really about me, my honor. But I’ll say it’s to protect Liv.
Right. Well, it’s been about you this whole time.
EE: I thought you were supposed to mediate this!
I am! I’m leading you to see the light of where the conflict actually is.
JDG: Yeah, she’s doing a great job. She’s gonna guide this rubber sword right up your rectum, is what’s gonna happen when you get to Chicago.
I decline to do any such thing. However, it’s been Ethan on this phone call, not Mark. It’s been Ethan tweeting.
BJD: And you’ve done a great job. Because I don’t want to kill Mark anymore, I don’t want to eat his head to get high, but now I hate Ethan. So mission accomplished, you’re a great moderator.
EE: And that’s my point, she’s trying to get us—they want us to fight!
Am I trying to stir the pot for publicity? Absolutely I am. That’s the entire point of any of these things.
JDG: Well, let’s get to Chicago, let’s get all hopped up and make some poor choices! I’m there.
EE: You know me. If you Google my name, you’ll see I’m really good at making poor choices.
JDG: [Laughs] is that your IMDB profile or whatever?
Okay, I feel like everything is solved. Ultimately, the only way to find out is if people see you at Riot Fest.
BJD: Unless you chicken out! You can keep tweeting like a tough guy, or you can show up in person and we can settle this once and for all. Or you can hide behind the internet. Your choice, Ethan. But me and Mark and Liv are going to be hanging out, and we don’t think you’re gonna show.
JDG: Yes! To all you humans! Come to Chicago! Riot Fest! See Mark, Ethan Embry, Liv Tyler and whole cast of The Partridge Family be devoured and killed by Gwar!
EE: Aw, now he called us The Partridge Family. That’s low.
Yeah, now that your honor’s in question, it sounds like you have no choice but to come out [to Riot Fest].
EE: I really don’t have any option. Looks like I’m hiking up to Chicago. Now the beef is against all of them. The Maggot doesn’t even have to be there. It’s GWAR themselves. I want my guitar back. That was a really nice SG—that was a vintage, late 80s, Gibson American-made SG. And you took it from me, and I want that shit back.
BJD: How could it have been a vintage 80s if it… it was the 80s! It was new! It was destroyed, it doesn’t exist.
EE: Vintage now! You broke my guitar.
BJD: Tell you what: If you can bring us David Cassidy, Susan Day, or the little Partridge kid—Chris Partridge—as a substitute sacrifice, then we’ll let you live. And give you your guitar back!
That sounds like a great deal to me. I think case closed.
JDG: We’ll see in Chicago. You’ll never know. Any one of the Cassidys or a Hardy Boy you can bring us, that’ll be fine.
Ethan, how does that sound to you? Does that sound acceptable?
BJD: Say no.
EE: I just need to get to Chicago. That’s it.
JDG: Yeah. Let it unfold in the windy apple.
A fickle bunch.
BJD: Alright Mark—I mean, uh, Ethan—let me just close by saying: “Hey, Mark! You love the band! Now be IN the band!”
EE: He fell for it once, he’s not going to fall for it again, you lying bastard.
That to me sounds like a “To Be Continued at Riot Fest.” Thank you gentlemen, thank you intergalactic monsters—is that what you are?
JDG: That’s a nice way to put it.
EE: Can I just make one quick point? I do like how in all of your violent and gore and mayhem, you’re also environmentalists. I appreciate that a lot.
BJD: Oh yeah.
EE: Like, your hatred for the human race stems from what we’re doing to the planet.
JDG: It comes from the heart.
BJD: But we’re still gonna kill you!
JDG: This isn’t a movie, this is the real thing.
BJD: It’s mostly because we feel guilty about the human race. We’re your fathers. We created you by having sex with apes, and now we see what you’ve become, and we feel bad. It’s kinda all our fault.
I had no idea you were such sensitive beings underneath it all.
JDG: We have to fix our mistake on this planet so that they’ll let us come back to outer space where we’re really from. We’re banished here. We hate it here. We hate all of you, we hate the planet—I mean, we sorta wanna save it by killing you, but we kinda wanna don’t be here, so we kinda wanna destroy it so we can leave—it’s a real quandary. But if we can start with human eradication, we figured we’d get back into the good graces and get to go back to outer space. That’s where the real fun is. This planet sucks.
That sounds like sound logic to me.
JDG: It’s GWAR logic. The only logic you’ll ever need.
And you can take that to the bank.
BJD: The sperm bank. [Laughs]