Interview conducted by Drew Ailes. Published on 4/7/2008.
BS: How's it going?
It's going good, how are you?
BS: What's your name?
Drew, I'm sorry. I didn't even say that. I have bad phone etiquette, apparently.
BS: Well, nice phone manners, Drew. Nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you too.
BS: North Carolina? Is that where you are?
Yep. Sunny Raleigh, North Carolina.
BS: Nice, a buddy of mine is from there. Zach Galifianakis. You know him?
I don't know him personally. I wish I did, I'm a very big fan of his.
BS: Yeah, he's a goofball.
Yeah, he's got a beard.
BS: He's got a beard, yeah. And it works for him, too. It's a big fucking beard.
You know, I mentioned to someone that he looks like....the guy from Mr. Holland's Opus. I know that's not the way he should be referred to - he should be referred to as the guy from Jaws. Richard Dreyfuss.
BS: Mr. Hollands Opus, whenever that's on TV, I like to sit through the whole thing.
I don't think it's ever been played on TV.
BS: No, I've seen it. It's been on cable and I made a point to watch it before because one of my favorite things in the world are terrible music movies. Where they just don't get it and miss the mark. There are only a couple good music movies. There's Eddie and the Cruisers 2, is one of my all-time favorites of shitty music movies. It's one of the best things. I can watch it and re-watch it in the same sitting. Mr. Holland's Opus, the reason to make that a music movie to watch is the scene where there's that red-headed girl and she's having trouble playing the clarinet. Mr. Holland's just not getting through to her and she just doesnt get it and keeps messing up the notes.
Does he lose his shit over it?
BS: He doesn't lose his shit, no. He goes the other way. He makes her understand. He's Mr. Holland.
And he's got an opus, apparently.
BS: Yeah. So he says, "what are the things you like," and she lists a couple of things. One of the things she says is, "I like that my father likes my hair, he says it reminds him of the sunset." And then Mr. Holland thinks for a minute and he says, "play the sunset," and she lifts up the clarinet.
Wait, she says she likes it when her father does what?
BS: She says, "my hair reminds him of the sunset."
For some reason I thought you said, "I like it when my father bites my hair."
BS: Ehh, aw. That would've ruined the movie.
I know, I know. I wasn't sure if you were just going off on Mr. Hollands Opus and giving me some lines or what.
BS: No, this is a real scene. I'm verbally transcribing it for you. So anyway, he says, "play the sunset," and she plays maybe the most beautiful music I've ever heard in my life.
What was it like? Can you put a comparison to it?
BS: It was a bunch of fucking....a cluster of fucking notes.
Some wicked ass shit?
BS: No, it wasn't that great. But thats why I love that movie, because it's saccharine and shitty, and syrupy. It doesn't feel like musicians were involved at all. That and Eddie and the Cruisers 2, for the non-musical moments where the guy is bossing around the band and telling them what to do.
I haven't even heard of it, I'm sure that's probably heresy.
BS: No, no, no. It's a diamond in the rough. I feel like I'm the one who really discovered it. Not the first one, the second one.
Tell you what, I'll put this conversation in the interview and sooner or later the world will know of Eddie and the Cruisers 2.
BS: Part 2. Yeah. It's just a great story. Watch it. I'm a fan of horrible film.
I'm a fan of good films as well.
BS: A movie's either got to be really good or really bad, none of this bullshit in-between. I feel the same way about comedy. I don't want to watch a guy getting good. I want to watch a guy who's already funny or a guy who is having a meltdown on stage. That's what I think is funny.
I read somewhere that you found one of the best form of humor is to be incredible annoying. Is that what it was?
BS: [laughing] Oh yeah.
You were talking about how you wanted to give a lecture at Berklee and spend three hours just...not shutting up, essentially.
BS: I think driving people mad is sometimes funny.
I was telling my friend this today, about how I grew up with a man; my father.
BS: [laughs] With a man.
Yes, he's a man but he's also my father as well. He's the most annoying person I've ever met and he prides himself on it. He'll pretend to be completely oblivious and stupid, like he doesn't understand anything. And people buy it all the time.
BS: I don't go forth to annoy people - that's not my goal, however I feel that's one of the more important elements of great comedy. But not the main one. You don't want to blow your wad with just being annoying. You've got to be subtle and aloof every once and a while, too.
Yeah, you can't just be screaming in someone's face for ten minutes.
BS: Then again, that does come around after a while.
Yeah, there is a point where they do the kind of shit in Family Guy if you drag something out so long that it supposedly it becomes funny again.
BS: I don't know about that, I'm just talking about more like long car ride kind of humor. "Oh yeah, that joke was funny, now just fucking shut up. Well, alright, now it's getting funny again."
Kind of fourth-grade sleepover funny.
BS: Sure, but you're a grown man and you're driving people mad. I don't know, I don't know where I'm going with this. Philosophic vagueries that I don't really believe in.
Just go anywhere. Hey, look, we're Lambgoat. We're not here to restrict you. Anything you want to talk about, just let it out.
BS: Yeah, I checked out your website. It's cool. I was reading the review on the new Black Dahlia.
That's an alright cd - I don't mind it. I wasn't a big fan of theirs out of the gate but I'll put it this way. I was telling someone else about Metalocalypse and how the first time I heard about it, I was like, "oh, shit, metal. Explotation of metal. Making it popular. I can't like this." And that's kind of how I felt about Black Dahlia Murder, where I thought they were just trying to exploit Carcass or whatever. But now I've completely turned around and feel that anything that makes metal more known and popular, I think is good. Even the shit on TV I can't stand to listen to, I'm glad it's out there because it gives kids an avenue to listen to something aggressive.
BS: Also, it opens up a whole world of other stuff out there. One thing I've noticed about Metalocalypse is a lot of kids are saying that they don't like metal, but they'd like to know a lot more about it. Then you've got the weirdo Adult Swim guys who are just indie-rock goofballs who don't even like music or anything. They're at least opening up their minds to learn about stuff. They're intrigued by it because it's such an interesting subculture.
And there's really some good music out there, too. I'm glad you liked the site. What sort of attracts a lot of our attention is the message board, which is just like most other terrible message boards only a lot more people saying the word, "fag."
BS: Heh, yeah. Since I've had things on TV, I've stayed far away from message boards.
I'd assume that shit would drive you crazy.
BS: You know what, I have friends who do other Adult Swim shows who put shows out there and are just trying to see how they're doing, and kids are fucking...it's amazing, the kids are merciless. I'm totally on their side. It's hilarious. The power of one voice to ruin your life - I love seeing my friends squirm. But its' like, you don't have to subject yourself to that. Keep focus and do what you want to do. If it's important to you, keep on doing it. People scrutinize you and have a good point, then maybe they have a good point. Sometimes those sweaty little dildos have a point about shit.
Yeah, scouring the interviews with you on the internet, I found an in-character interview with you on IGN, and on the same page they had a review of the first episode of Metalocalypse where they gave it a five out of ten.
BS: Somebody told me, I mean, again, I don't scour information about myself. Unless there's naked ladies involved, otherwise I'm not interested.
"Brendon Small seen with tons of naked women!"
BS: Yeah, and I'm like, "I have been? Where?" I would very much like to see that happen. But I'm only on guitar websites. I go on Gibson.com and stuff.
I wanted to ask you about that. How does it feel to be looked at as an accomplished guitarist? I know Metalocalypse probably set it off, but I know you did the music for Home Movies and stuff. Is that weird for you?
BS: Um, I don't know. You know what? Here's the thing about TV shows. I've said this way back with Home Movies. Having a cartoon is very much like not having a cartoon. You just walk down the street and no one gives a shit. You get the paper and you get a coffee or something. It's not like the pressures of keeping up things, or people digging your shit. It just doesn't get to you. So it's kind of a nice way to be creative and not really be affected by what other people think. Having said that, the compliments of guitardom doesn't really get to you either. I just want to make sure it doesn't suck. That's all my goal is. Make it not suck.
That's simple, but it's lofty to a lot of people.
BS: Yeah. It's fun playing guitar. The whole reason Dethklok exists is so that I have an excuse to play guitar.
Is the music you're playing as Dethklok the music you want to be creating? I'm trying to figure out, is the music supposed to be reflective of what you wish you were doing? Or is it just supposed to be typical metal? If you had a metal band, would these songs sound like Dethklok?
BS: I don't know. I actually really don't know. I think about that every once and a while, if I were to put a solo out or something. I think it would have elements of Dethklok like all the Queen stuff that I like to rip off, and the old school kind of thrashier stuff. I like that. I don't know. I do like epic and dramatic stuff.
Hence why you're into metal.
BS: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I like metal. I first started playing metal when I first started playing metal, like every kid in suburbia who gets handed a guitar. Playing "Iron Man" and some of it you keep playing and some of it you don't. But the first thing to really get me into metal was King Diamond when I was 14.
That was one of the bands to get me into metal.
BS: I don't know how old you are, but I'm 32. "Them" had just come out. I was like, "wow," because I was a horror movie geek and I like film. I like comedy like Marx Brothers and Woody Allen, and I was way into horror movies and b-horror movies and I discovered King Diamond and was like, "oh my god, this is awesome, it's so dramatic." I actually was sitting there being 14 years old, scared by the story.
He's got good stories, he does.
BS: Yeah, he's a good storyteller. He creates a really eerie atmosphere. I was like, "oh my god, this is great. It's a concept album." Because I also grew up on Jesus Christ Superstar and all the Andrew Lloyd Webber stuff.
Which is cool. I actually had a sister who was way into anything Andrew Lloyd Webber, so I know a lot of shit that I probably shouldn't about that.
BS: Yeah, don't want to ruin your "cred" by saying too much. But no, it's funny. That stuff actually does move you in some way. And then Andrew Lloyd Webber had really strong melody and really cool harmonic movement, and really cool odd-time shit. Jesus Christ Superstar is one of the most dramatic and cool pieces of epic rock.
It is. Everyone thinks it's a gay thing.
BS: It's also gay. I mean, it's like a combination of all the things that make something kind of cool. Almost the embarassing qualities of it.
And then putting Sebastian Bach in the role I can't imagine helps.
BS: Oh yeah, yeah. Wait, is he in that now?
Yeah, he was in that and I think he was in that Jekyl thing.
BS: Yeah, the Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde thing, which I haven't heard or seen. I remember Gary Cherone at one point was Jesus Christ. The guy from Extreme and from an incarnation of Van Halen. When they started getting their shit together.
Now let me ask you about King Diamond, as I don't want to forget. When you realized that you had the freedom to do a metal show, was one of the first things you thought was, "I have to find a way to connect to King Diamond,"?
BS: I thought of three or four things at once. I thought, "there's got to be a record, some kind of tour, and oh man, what if we got King Diamond?" That was before any other voice over work, or getting anyone else to do anything. The other thing was like, "oh, guitars, amps, pedals, gear." So all that stuff kind of happened in one afternoon. I was like, "oh fuck." I almost exploded because I had so much to do.
I read you say that King Diamond is one of the coolest people you've had the chance to hang out with and talk to.
BS: Oh yeah, because, I mean, I've been listening to him since I was fourteen. I've always been keeping up with him and what he's doing, and he always sticks to his guns. He knows what he does and he does a great job with it. He's so passionate about his work. Getting to talk to him on the phone for the first time, you know, it's meeting one of your heroes. It's super exciting. He's totally a perfect gentlemen with amazing phone manners. I would ask him all these geek-fan questions, and he was so nice about answering that stuff and telling me what he was working on. He told me about the new album that's out now.
I heard it's very good, actually.
BS: "Give Me Your Soul, Please," yeah. But yeah, he was one of the coolest guys and he was the first guy I thought of. And I was like, "I don't think I have to direct you, I think you know exactly what you're doing," and he recorded it at his own studio in Texas. I got to ask him, one of my favorite things, was like, "King Diamond, what are you doing..."
Did you call him King Diamond?
BS: No, they call him King. It was Lars Ulrich who helped me get his number, through their management. Everyone referred to him as King. So yeah, I remember picking up the phone and going, "I'm sorry, is King Diamond there?" [laughing]
That's so cool.
BS: I know, yeah. I'm like, "yeah, this is Brendon, from Dethklok." "Oh yes, Brendon from Dethklok, hold on." But I remember asking him, "what is King Diamond doing in Texas," and he says, "Great weather. It's always warm here."
Wow, I've never been to Texas. I may go there just to say I'm in the same state as King Diamond.
BS: I would go there just for that reason, too, actually.
So with you bringing up my message board credibility with Andrew Lloyd Webber, it makes me think of an interview with Tommy Blacha where he stated you two were worried about how metal fans would react. Do you feel that you're at the point where you've kind of proven to people that you guys are actually into metal?
BS: Well, yeah, I mean, here's what we wanted to do: we wanted to do an entertaining show about something we gave a shit about. And whether or not we wanted it, there was a huge amount of responsibility the second we said, "hey, lets do this. Aw fuck man, now we have all this fucking shit to deal with, about this and that," and I get it. Because metal is about credibility.
Yeah, you have to represent it as accurate as possible.
BS: Yeah. We wanted to make sure because I think it's very easy to think about snotty hipsters shitting on metal. I think because there is a joke there where oh, people take themselves seriously and, "ha-ha, look at you, you care at what you do." And I mean, I think in the same way you can go watch the Broadway production of Wicked and go, "ha-ha, you all got dressed up and learned the words, ha-ha." But you know, thats how you put on a fucking amazing show and move people. It's fuckin'...so fucking...that's why black metal is awesome, that's why Amon Amarth are awesome, thats why fuckin' Cannibal Corpse are awesome - it's like, they fuckin' give a fuck, and they fuckin' mean it. And that's cool. You can make fun of that if you want to, but I think that joke will run short very quickly. We just wanted to make sure that people knew that our show was like, it's not so much about metal, it's about celebritism. Celebrities are...that's who everyone looks up to. You watch the news and it's all about ridiculous celebrities. At one point, celebrities could be crazy narcotic freaks, get everybody pregnant, and maybe shoot a couple people, but they were talented! Like back in the old days.
BS: Fatty Arbuckle might have raped that girl, back in the 20's...
[laughing] But he was Fatty Arbuckle. Exactly.
BS: They're not even talented anymore.
It's all about who you know and who is prettiest.
BS: Reality shows took over ever since the war started and it's not reality.
Why aren't they doing reality shows on real people? Because I know some people who need their own reality shows because they're completely insane but they don't ever get one because they want a "Macho Man" Randy Savage show or something.
BS: Over the last seven years, since the war started, the whole world just fucking….like back when they used to have protests about wars and people used to have messages, George Bush put the kibosh on that, like, the second The Dixie Chicks spoke up and had a fucking opinion they were shunned and their careers were killed. Everyone in the whole world got scared and bacame like "Hey, let's escape this in reality. Fake reality." Let's talk about how Paris Hilton is hot and she sucks but she can blow. Great. "What does she do?" Nothing. "Is she a model?" Kind of. "Does she act?" Uh, no. "Does she say anything?" I don't know.
But she sure is there.
BS: She sure is. Our show is about celebrities. Like helpless, ridiculous, narcissistic idiots that whether or not we want to, we're giving them our attention. But on our show they get to be about something cool. And they do have talent and they can make music. But we're still shitting on America and celebrityism.
But doing under it the pretense of metal, which is important.
BS: Yeah. Metal can be like a hugely important thing or hugely destructive thing it just depends on how...
Speaking of it being destructive, have you guys gotten any major criticism about the amount of violent content? It's pretty much the most violent show on TV.
BS: It's incredibly violent. It's funny how you sell violence on TV because we're not allowed to have tits or humping or anything like that on the show but we can split a guy's head open with an axe. And then the kind of notes we get are like "Make sure there's not excessive blood." And then we come back and we're like "What does excessive mean? We don't think it's too excessive. Maybe it would be excessive if it filled up outer space but not the swimming pool." So our show is not about violence for violence's sake. We set it up and it pays off and we're calling it slapstick.
I have friends that only care about the violence.
BS: It's funny, the networks don't really care about the violence. I think with death being the ultimate slapstick, that you're going to die, it's kind of funny. People die in absurd and embarrassing ways all day long.
Not to get too personal on you, but with having this comedic take on death what is your view on it? Is it something you think about?
BS: I don't really think about it too much. I'm not a morbid or morose person. I'm more of like a wisenheimer…. You know what, let's not say that. I don't want to use that word.
My dad will definitely appreciate it.
BS: I think half of being alive is knowing that you're going to die. And if you can take the piss out of death and kind of celebrate it a little….that's how death metal is sometimes. I mean, you're going to die so it's relatable.
Ten out of ten people die.
BS: Exactly. So it's relatable. Again, I think if you can take the piss out of death then your life can be worth living. I know there are people who fear death and who are neurotic people and think about death constantly but I got work to do. I gotta think about work.
How far have you written into Metalocalypse? Do you have everything planned out? Do you know where this is going?
BS: I have a very big plan for where the show is gonna go. What me and Tommy are doing is just little pieces as we continue because we'd like to just tell the story. TV is at its best when it's episodic and it can tell you a bigger story. The Sopranos and similar shows taught us that. They really tell a bigger story and I think that's the only reason to do a TV show.
So you don't want to do something without continuity? I mean, anyone can tune into Metalocalypse and appreciate for what it is but you really appreciate it more when you watch it in sequential order.
BS: Absolutely. And I think that now TV shows are made to ultimately be watched on DVD. On DVD you can really appreciate the entirety of the season. I don't really think about how the show is going to play out on TV. When we're putting the show together I think more about how it is going to play out on DVD, as two big DVD's back to back.
So once the story is completed are you going to keep going with it?
BS: There has to be a lot of things that happen to complete a story so I don't know. I've said this before but TV isn't like having a band where it's like this is my passion, this is what I do, this is mine and I'm going to do it as long as I can. TV is more like, here's an idea, give me lots of money and if no one watches it, it's over. And then it's taken away and it's gone so you just tip your hat and keep on walking until you think of another idea. TV can be taken away at any second so you try and kind of live for the moment and do it while you can do it. A show like Metalocalypse is a fucking exhausting show because there's not that big of a staff. I write the music myself and still write the scripts, do all the voice and just manhandle and nitpick everything and I gotta be the bad cop.
Yeah, I watched one of your staff meetings online.
BS: And I always have to be that guy. We have so much to do at once and we have so many projects. We're in the middle of I think fourteen different episodes and different points of production. Some of them are in outline stage, some of them are being rerecorded or reanimated.
And it's a fifteen minute show.
BS: Yeah, it's a fifteen minute show and it's easily as much work as….I mean Home Movies was a half hour and this is easily more work. Just with the artwork alone and everything it's way more work than a half hour show.
So let me ask you a little about the album. How did you get hooked up with Adrenaline (PR Company)?
BS: I just kind of asked around. The whole thing with Adult Swim is that they give a lot of support and are very cool and open. They have to look to me and Tommy as authorities as far as what to do with the show because they're not really metalheads. So they said "Yeah, let's let the people who know what they're doing do this." So I was like "Great, I really want to do this. Let's find somebody." So we tossed around a few names and came up with Adrenaline. So I went and met with them and immediately liked them just based on attitude alone. I like to work with people that enjoy working.
You made a great decision. I've worked with them a lot and if I have a chance to do anything with them I'll do it. I might not have any interest in it but I'll do it just because it's Adrenaline.
BS: They've been working out great for us. We're really happy.
Why is the music that Dethklok makes better than about 75% of the metal that's currently being made?
BS: I don't know about that.
That's what everyone is saying. That this is better than most of the shit that's out there.
BS: I can't really comment on that. I've lost all sense of objectivity towards what this music is. I don't know, I like it personally and I like to do stuff I like. I think of Dethklok or anything that I get to do music for as an opportunity….like, I think TV is really generic and any time you hear rock or anything that comes close to metal it just sounds stock and generic and I was like "Why not make it specific and have it coming from one place and care about it?" I mean, how many opportunities am I gonna get to make a record and play all the instruments and do all the solos and all the singing? I'm probably only going to get one so I may as well make it kind of cool. That was my thought, you know? I don't want to half-ass it or anything. It should be fun and be what I like about things which is to say it should embarrassing, stupid and epic.
I can definitely hear the Queen influence in there.
BS: I've ripped of Brian May so much that I'm just waiting for him to serve me with papers.
How did you get up with Gene Hoglan?
BS: Well, I wanted real drums because I had been programming and I wanted a bigger sound than the TV show. With the show I'm basically just sitting with a G4 Pro Tools LE and basically direct lining all guitars. So I decided that I'd like to work with a real producer and produce a record with real drums that sound big and fat and not produced. I mean, I program drums but I'm not really that good at programming. I put the double kicks in there and they're not too loud but you can hear them. So I wanted something with some personality and some musicality so I talked to some people at Century Media and asked for some recommendations and immediately everyone said Gene Hoglan. And so I called him up and you know, I've been a huge fan of his for years.
What's your favorite Gene Hoglan project?
BS: I don't know. I love Death but I've really been listening to a lot of Strapping Young Lad.
"City" is one the greatest records ever recorded in my opinion.
BS: Exactly. Every one of their records is amazing. I love that they're not afraid to be melodic and musical. It definitely comes from a place.
They'll go from being the most pummeling music out there to something with just a really sweet melody to it.
BS: Yeah, my favorite kind of music doesn't have a style attributed to it. My favorite kind of music is written by a person who understands harmony and melody and can make it strong. Basically just making a really awesome piece of music and that can be done on a banjo or anything, it doesn't matter. But that band just has a strong meeting of the minds and everyone gets it. I particularly like Gene's drumming because he would do stuff like divide up the kit and divide up the kicks and just be really thoughtful about his time. So that's why I picked Gene. He was the only one I talked to. He just worked out really well. He's a great guy and again, he's incredibly musical. When he had something to say I would always shut up and listen.
Yeah, it's Gene Hoglan. Going out on this tour, how is this gonna work? How did you get working with Mike Keneally and Brian Beller for the tour? Did you know those guys from school?
BS: Mike I knew about Mike because, well, when I was in high school I was a shred guitar player. I had like Paul Gilbert and Yngwie instruction videos and I was just getting good at that shit and it then became desperately uncool to play your instrument. That was like at the start of the whole grunge thing. And I was like "what the fuck is going on here?" I was really upset that people were embarrassed about playing. And when I went to music school I went through this huge Frank Zappa phase. That was all I fucking cared about. And I knew who Keneally was because he had played with Dweezil Zappa and of course with Frank Zappa first. He was Frank Zappa's last live touring guitar player. And I looked up his solo records and I was just blown away by how creative and how technical he was and how musical all of it was. It's smart but it didn't take itself too seriously and it was funny and it was just shit that I like. I like being blown away. I like people who are virtuosic and don't take themselves too seriously and yet are amazing people. So oddly enough, about ten years later he got in touch with me because he was a fan of Home Movies which I couldn't believe because I was such a huge fan of his, and we became friends. He's just such a sick guitar player. I watched him play last night in Hollywood and my jaw just dropped. He played with Marco Minneman who is the drummer for Necrophagist and who is just one of the scariest drummers to watch. So anyway, I sat down with Mike and basically told him he could do whatever he wanted. I was like "I like you, you're an amazing guy and I want you to play with me. Please." And Brian Beller played with Mike and can do anything on bass. So basically I just wanted solid musicians who I knew well and just really liked a lot because with this tour we're going to be spending a lot of time together.
How do you feel about this whole touring process?
BS: I would actually like to do it later. We're dividing up our season in the middle of producing this thing too so I'm like writing and producing this tour in the middle of writing and producing our season so I would like to do it later but it's pre-sold and this is the one thing that I don't have anything to do with. I'm a control freak and I got to do everything on the record myself. It was just me and two other dudes and I called the shots. (laughs) And that's the way I like it. Same thing with the TV show. That's why you create a TV show and write and produce it because you're a control freak. But with this, the only I have control over is what the animation is gonna look like and what we're gonna sound like. Everything else, I don't know. It's a college tour and there's some kind of corporate sponsoring going on. I think Guitar Hero 3 has a lot to do with it. You know, it's our first outing and I'd really like to be able to do something under the radar but this isn't going to be under the radar at all. Basically what we're doing is playing as a picture so it's gonna be kind of like the Gorillaz. The focus isn't on us, it's on the pictures. We're gonna be playing but we're not gonna be wearing big Styrofoam faces or anything.
Yeah, I was wondering about that.
BS: We're not gonna dress up or embarrass people by doing that. [laughs] My goal is for us to sound good. I don't care what we look like. We're gonna be in the dark. If you wanna squint and see how we play sweep arpeggios, that's fine, but it should like a big, stupid, Universal Studios ride or a Disneyland ride. It's gonna be dark and fucked up and we're gonna tell a little bit of the story and have some comedy and things like that. Anything can really happen so I don't know. I'm like twice removed from the production of the show. It could catastrophic. It could be very cool. It could be cool catastrophic and horrible which could be funny.
So anything could happen really.
BS: It's either gonna be Dethklok or Spinal Tap, I'm not sure.
Well, both have their fans.
BS: I think I'm covering all my bases saying it could really suck but I'm playing with three great players so no matter what those three guys are gonna sound good. I don't know about me or the animation though.
At one point didn't you have terrible performance anxiety?
BS: I don't really have it any more but when I first started doing stand up, yeah I had a lot to get over. When I was 15 I entered a guitar competition that I think changed my life. I was so fucking horrible and so embarrassed…
Wasn't there a Home Movies episode based on that experience?
BS: Yeah, there kind of was. But if I had made an episode based on the actual experience I had, the fucking darkness that enveloped me from being so embarrassed, it would have been a much different episode. It was traumatic but it did really help me. I was just like "You know what, guitar? I don't like you and you don't like me. But we have got to fucking figure this shit out. We can't let that happen again."
Being that show is built around such a defined niche, do you ever worry about running out of ideas? Or do you ever get sick of metal?
BS: You know what? No. On the show there's only one part where there metal happens and everything else is not metal. Like when I score the show sometimes I try to have just the gayest music happen. Like when there's a montage or they go to a restaurant, I always want to have something so not metal happening. Like even in the first episode when they go shopping, the grocery store music is like the polar opposite of metal. And writing those types of cues is fun. As the show continues we're getting more dramatic with the cues, more kind of orchestral and stuff like that and it's really fun for me. It keeps me thinking and not doing metal. I have to keep doing metal though. After a month or a week on and my fingers turn to fucking jell-o. For me, the guitar is kind of like that movie Memento. Like how he wakes up every day and goes "Ok, who am I? These are pants?" After having the guitar in front of me for like a day and a half I start going "What is this thing? What do these strings do? Why do I have this? Oh yeah, that's a pick, I know that. Alright, let's get cooking here!" And then "KWONK!! What the fuck am I doing here?" So I've like taught myself back into it every time. I don't really ever get sick of metal though because there's so much cool stuff going on and it's so easy for me to get inspired and it's so fun to go to shows and again, just surround yourself with cool musicians. When you're doing comedy there sometimes comes a point where you just get sick of jokes and start thinking that comedy isn't funny. You just kind of get sick of everything you do. But I'm always excited to hear new records that come out.
Any records coming out now that you're particularly excited for?
BS: I'm looking forward to the new Exodus album. It's supposed to be a bit heavier but still thrashy.
I always liked their cheesy period where they covered Lowrider and The Toxic Waltz.
BS: Oh yeah, I love that too. Their old stuff is really great but I just like the really thrashy stuff. Let's see, the new Arch Enemy is awesome. I love listening to their guitar playing.
They lost me once they lost Johan Liiva.
BS: I hear ya. I just love how they aren't afraid to get a little hard rock. Again, I love the drama in all that stuff. It's funny, in death metal and melodic metal… I love people who are like, devoid of melody and kind of atonal…
BS: I'm not familiar with them.
Check out the album "Obscura". There's really nothing like it.
BS: Awesome. But yeah, I like extreme shit that just keeps building and getting crazier and crazier and you're like "Where's the downbeat? What the fuck is going on How do they know when they're done?" And then I also like shit like "Fuckin' yeah man, put a fuckin' melody in there." Make it silly but make it good. Don't be afraid. Fucking own it. So yeah, I go both ways on it. There's so many different kinds of music to listen to that you don't want everyone to be the same.
Metal continually reinvents itself.
BS: Yeah, it's like it own kingdom of animals where there's different phylums.
But to people who don't research it, it all just sounds the same. Like you play them Cannibal Corpse and they're like "Yeah, it just sounds like a bunch of noise." Then you play them Arcturus and they're like "It sounds the same as the other one." And you're like "It's fucking different! There's fucking keyboards!"
BS: Exactly. And I do like the new Black Dahlia.
You going on record saying that?
From what I've heard I like it a better than the stuff I've heard before out of them.
BS: Totally. I've kind of forced myself into a situation where I have to be creative with metal. It's about palette cleansing and not always listening to metal.
What do you listen to when you're not listening to metal?
BS: Um, I listen to like film scores and stuff. I'm always trying to get ideas for like different arrangements, different chord structures, minimalism and stuff like that. But I'll listen to any embarrassing thing, I don't give a fuck. I think I have the new Arch Enemy in my car and I got the new Down cd also. I haven't got that far into but I really dig it. Basically, I listen to a lot of metal but you have to have a palette cleanser every now and then. Like ginger while you're eating sushi.
Very apt comparison.
BS: Some of my favorite bands are Queen, The Who, The Kinks and British invasion shit like that. Again, Andrew Lloyd Webber. Wait, don't print that.
It's going in there.
BS: Ah, that's fine. You know what though? That's one of the big parts of rock music. The grandiosity and the drama.
Metal wouldn't be where it is today without it.
BS: Fuck yeah, dude.
Tell me about your involvement with the whole Lords of Chaos movie.
BS: There's not really too much to report at this point. I'm working with the guys but nothing is really, I mean, getting a movie off the ground can sometimes take like ten years. Battlefield Earth took 14 years. Anyways, they're working on it and I always get little reports of progress and things like that.
Are they still working on the script then?
BS: No, the script is all done it's just that they want to shoot it in Norway and get the financing but they wanna do it the right way and with their own money. Their hearts are in the right place which makes me believe that it's gonna be a good movie that's authentic.
It's going to be a documentary, is it?
BS: No, it's not a documentary. It's more of a…. I'm sure they have a better description but it's more a story between Varg and Euronymous. It's not really a music movie and it's not really a metal movie. It's more about what was going on between the two guys. Basically I met with those guys, Hans Fjellestad who is directing it, and we really clicked. Now he's actually working on Metalocalypse doing editing and stuff like that. And another guy was the line producer of The Dethalbum, so everyone was kind like "Yeah, we'll work together. We're on the same page and we hate the same shit." I think I said this earlier but there's nothing worse than a shitty music movie and concurrently there's nothing better comically than a shitty music movie.
I'll have to agree with you on that. Let me ask you about Morth, or The Barbarian Chronicles.
BS: Yeah, that was originally called The Barbarian Chronicles and it's a really cool idea. I read a really good script for it.
I heard it was a cross between Lord of the Rings and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
BS: Yeah, I still think it's a really good idea. I worked with Worldwide Pants, David Letterman's company on that and they were awesome. But the networks couldn't really get their head around how to do animation. It was there that I really learned the difference between Adult Swim and how they treat comedy and animation versus people who just want to…but basically they cashed out on it and kind of killed it. I'm actually much happier that it's dead with that network because I went right back to Adult Swim with Metalocalypse immediately after and was like "Ok, this is a show that's ready to go." I think the other one would have been a good show too. I think it would've definitely had an audience.
So you don't have any current plans to work on it again?
BS: Not right now. I'm so busy with Metalocalypse right now. I've gotta start thinking about a new record and I've gotta start writing for season three. There's just a lot of story to tell with this one and I wanna keep my focus where it's at now. In the future though, who knows? We'll figure that out later. I thought the idea was great though.
Yeah, I cracked up for about five minutes when I first read about it.
BS: It's very Monty Python-esque. It kind of felt like the vibe they had in Holy Grail. Just kind of a modern thought process but crammed into the middle ages. That's a great starting point. You can really get fantastical with the world if you want to. You know, dragons and orcs. I was thinking it would just be cool to have bipolar orcs or something in a world with no medication, just wizard warriors and stuff. I don't know.
That seems to be a reoccurring theme of yours. You know, putting personality traits in characters that wouldn't normally be there.
BS: I think it's fun to have someone who is innately insensitive have some sensitive, well not sensitive, but vulnerable characteristics. To be vulnerable is a weird thing no matter who it is. It's kind of like, it doesn't matter whether they're right or wrong, you know? It's just something that I'm drawn to.
Do you ever think about updating your website?
BS: No. In fact, I'd like to get rid of it. I hate having a website. Clearly.
It's only been a year and a half.
BS: I think it's been longer than that. Home Movies season two came out and it was just one of those things where I was like "I think I'd just like to abandon it." Just leave it there like a car on the side of the road and claim it was stolen. I actually went as far as to contact someone about updating and redesigning my website so it was black on black. Just my name in black text on a black background and it just has nothing. Maybe you'd click on something and it would say "fuck you" or something, I don't know. I don't like to be in charge of blogging or any shit like that. I hate it. But I'll make sure someone is in charge of updating the Dethklok myspace page.
Is it a matter of not wanting to write anything personal or is it that you don't want to write something exclusive that isn't going to go towards anything productive?
BS: Well, it's good be in touch with people that dig what you do but when I get time off I just wanna fucking eat a pizza and not do shit. I just hate updating shit. It's like homework. It feels like fucking school. And I hate school. There's nothing worse than school. School sucks and I'll go on record saying that.
Should I go to school?
BS: For what?
Well, all the stupid shit you shouldn't get involved in like television, film, etc.
BS: I didn't really go to school for it. My last year of school I studied writing and stuff and they forced me to write a TV script.
See, that's what I need. I have tons of ideas but absolutely no discipline.
BS: You know what? For that reason you should go then. If you want to go and have someone try and show you what works and what doesn't, that's not gonna happen. All they're gonna do is say here's shit you could do right now, you have your instincts…
Yeah, I know what I wanna do I just have no desire to sit down and write a script.
BS: In that case, the one thing I learned from taking….like I took the Robert McKee Story Seminar, which is like a famous Hollywood seminar that you take, and it made writing seem less daunting. And that's the important thing is that it shouldn't be daunting. If you do have a good idea then you have a good idea and all you're going to do is get better if you want to. Your first draft will always suck and sometimes you have to throw shit away and it's not always going to be consistent. Sometimes you have a good story sometimes you have a bad story. Sometimes a bad story will go through you and you'll fix it and make a great story. And sometimes you'll lose so much objectivity that the thing you love, everyone else hates. If you cam force yourself into a situation, it doesn't matter if it's community college or whatever, as long as you're learning it's cool. And there's a certain artist's maturity level where at first you hold onto everything you write and you think it's great but it's good to hate your shit and grow from it and be able to look back on your work and say "Oh yeah, I was horrible, I didn't know what I was doing and it's good that I've gotten better." So you don't have to go to any fancy school or anything it's just about putting yourself into a position where you're forced to…that's how I started doing stand up was I forced myself to.
Stand up is also something I've always been interested in.
BS: You should go watch people doing stand up then. When people ask me for advice about writing and getting a TV show and all that stuff, it all goes back to stand up. People are always looking for a new voice.
The kind of stuff I enjoy is more off the cuff kind of stuff. Like Doug Stanhope who is more conversational and rambling but also guys like Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn who can set up a joke and are good with segues and what not.
BS: Yeah, you don't really have to lock into one particular style, you can do all those things. You can try a different style each night. All it is is just writing writing exercises. You put yourself on the spot as the story teller of the joke and you're the produce/writer/actor of your set. And with stand up too you're going to suck your first year. You're gonna have good nights and bad nights but you learn and you grow and you become…
BS: Exactly. You become mediocre. The thing with stand up is that I don't think there's too much of a point in doing it unless you're gonna do something different with it and put your own take on it but the comedy world is kind of flooded with people who, more or less, don't share that philosophy.
The funniest stuff to me is stuff that's not funny. Like earlier when you said you thought it was funny to just be annoying.
BS: Every now and then you just get that cool feeling that, "Hey, this guy is really different and has a unique point of view. I wanna know what's going on in that guys head. That guy is cool."
BS: I guess my advice would be to hang around stand up places and then pick a date. It's like quitting smoking where you're just like "Ugh, in a month and a half I'm going on stage no matter what and I'll use this time to prepare." That's the best thing you can do. And you'll learn a lot of lessons just watching comedy.
I watch a lot of amateur comedians getting laughs on shit that I don't think is funny at all.
BS: Well that will happen forever. You just expect people to get laughs on stuff that's abominable and hacky and not coming from and particular view point whatsoever. Which is fine if you're experimenting but if it's you're final product you should try harder. I have a real love/hate relationship with stand up. My philosophy is that there's gotta be something out there that's funnier than comedy right now.
I grew up hating stand up comedy but in the last few years I've really started to respect it.
BS: I don't know if it's a be all end all for most comics but some guys, amazing comics like Louis CK, you're just like "Wow, that is that guy's format. That's his ideal way of communicating." But I don't know if that's true for me. I do like doing it and it gets my brain working and it puts me on the spot in a way that I think is important. It's good to put yourself on the spot and not let yourself get comfortable every once in a while but I don't know if it's a be all end all for me. There's other ways I like to express myself. I like comedy, I like movies, I like music. I like all sorts of other kinds of shit.
To close I kind of wanted to get you to touch on this quote, which I love: "There's so much death metal going on out there today and nobody knows it."
BS: That's a philosophy that I hold very dear. When you make a decision to make a TV show it means that you're going to be thinking about that shit constantly and you have to have an angle on the comedy. If you don't have that your show is going to get away from you. And my philosophy is…I was just thinking "Why is metal so awesome? What is it about death metal that I like?" I think it because it's about brutality and the idea that death is right around the corner and there are many horrible ways to die. Like getting fucked with a knife, you know? It's a great song by Cannibal Corpse. And you're like "Okay, I get it. What a horribly awful thing." But inadvertently you end up celebrating the fact that you're alive. It's like watching a horror movie or a slasher movie. At the end you kind of celebrate the fact that you survived it and that you're alive. Inadvertently, obviously. I don't know if that's true but it's part of this philosophy that I'm building. There's a lot of shit that I think is brutal in everyday life that you tend to overlook. If you could put a magnifying glass on shit that happens every single day that is just brutal. I mean, they shut off the water in my apartment the other day. I couldn't even take a fucking shower. That's brutal, man. I know a guy that has to travel an hour and a half to get to work every day. That's fucking brutal. The DMV is brutal. I got a parking ticket the other day. That's fucking brutal. Just the stupid mundane shit that you don't notice every day.
What happens if you don't pay those, by the way?
BS: Oh they put the boot on your car. I'm notorious for forgetting to pay shit. Same with Tommy. We're both equally irresponsible and stupid. Like, I'll give him a ride to the DMV and vice versa. That's kind of how we do things. I'll get a call from him or he'll get a call from me and one of us will have fucked up and done something stupid. But it's brutal, you know. Anything like that. A cold. That's fucking brutal. Hanging out with your parents. Fucking brutal. Picking out a birthday present for somebody. Like if you start dating a girl and then two weeks later it's her birthday. What do you get her? It's fucking brutal. Shit like that. Breaking up with a girl. Fucking brutal.
Alright, I have two more questions. Are we getting more Dr. Rockso in the new season?
BS: The answer is, "yes."
And the second one is did Tommy really come up with the idea for the XFL? You know, The Extreme Football League?
BS: I don't know that he came up with it but he worked on it. You'd have to ask him about it. I think he came up with a name or two for the teams. He was working on it with what's his name? The head of the WWE. Um, Vince McMahon. So yeah, he worked for Vince McMahon for a while but I don't know that he would be considered the inventor of it.
I was just curious because I always thought that the XFL was a fascinating idea that never took off the way it may should have.
BS: May should have?
Might should have?
BS: That was good.
Thank you for picking up on that. You can use that if you want to.
BS: No, I got enough stupid backwards talk to deal with Swisgaar and Toki.
Did you change his voice in the second season?
BS: Who, Swisgaar?
BS: What we're doing in the second season is, like, it's always changing a little bit. What we're doing now is we improvise all five characters at once and I think they start finding a different kind of range within it that so I'm sure it will switch back between episodes. We don't notice because we're kind of more concerned with intent than the actual voice. Only in the first couple episodes did we really overdo the voices to make sure that they were in their pocket. It's funny though because you'll find that on all the shows that I've worked on the voices change pretty often. They usually go down lower than where they started.
They become more exaggerated?
BS: No, I think they actually become less exaggerated.
That's pretty much it for me. Is there anything else you want to say or promote?
BS: Well, the record is doing well. I think it's #21 on the Billboard charts. We kind of have an unfair advantage in that we have a TV show to help advertise the fake band.
At least you aren't The Monkees.
BS: Maybe Someday we will be.
You never know.
BS: They had good songs.
They did. People used to tell me I looked like Peter Tork, which was upsetting. [laughs] Thankfully they can't say that anymore because my hair started falling out. And that's brutal.
BS: It's not really a compliment anymore.
No, it's not.
BS: America, don't tell people they look like Peter Tork. You look like a longer haired William Hurt. That might be better.
That might be better. Well thanks for spending an excess amount of time talking to me.
BS: Hey, whenever I have work to do I'll do anything to not have to fucking do it so it's my pleasure talking to you.
Well if I can ever think of another reason to prevent you from doing work I'll let you know.
BS: Thank you.
Go out and check out the stand up thing and see if it's something you want to do.
Yeah, I will. I just have to be a dipshit, irresponsible kid right now.
Hey, that's cool too. Then again, I had my first TV show when I was 23 so, you know, keep working at it and it'll happen.
Thanks, man. Take care of yourself.