Brendon Small Talks Dethklok, ‘Metalocalypse,’ ‘Galaktikon’ + More
Brendon Small, frontman of Dethklok and co-creator of the show ‘Metalocalypse,’ was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show this past weekend. Small spoke all about how great touring conditions can completely spoil a musician, as well as the triumphs he's had with both the Cartoon Network show 'Metalocalypse' and Dethklok as a touring band. He also discussed his first performance with his other project Galaktikon, which occurred over the weekend at the Wesfest 8 benefit show. If you missed Full Metal Jackie’s show, check out her interview with Brendon Small below:
Dethklok, an amazing band [in real life] and an amazing band on the show ‘Metalocalypse.’ The animated band on the show comes across as inept. If art imitates life, what’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever done that ultimately became a premise for the show?
Oh boy, that’s a good question. The thing I think that happens from being a writer on a TV show and being a guy that likes music and plays guitar from being a touring band is that something happens where you get a tour manager and they start doing things for you and you start to expect things to be done for you. Then all of a sudden you become a guy who doesn’t know what time it is or where the door is or how to get out of a building and that’s something that I think happens to a lot of rockstars where they give all the responsibility of their day to day life away from themselves and give it to somebody.
I’ve noticed that’s something that happens very often – I don’t know how to get a cup of coffee on my own, like a stupid baby, like a stupid fat baby. I see lots of celebrities and they’re angry about their sandwich or they don’t know what day it is: “I thought it was Tuesday. How come nobody notified me it was Thursday!” I think it’s kind of funny to fold a little bit of that stuff into the show.
I think that’s funny when bands tour a lot and when they come home and go back to their regular lives, they’re like, “Where do I poop?”
They don’t know how to make a sandwich, they don’t know how a doorknob works because someone is usually holding it for them – things like that. These are things that rock 'n' roll stars don’t remember how to do. I think you get to a point where you just stop being able to do that. It was funny because I was sitting there, this past tour that we did and I was like, “Oh I get it, I see how this happens, this is a very comfortable lifestyle. It’s not like sitting in a tour van – these is a nice bus, with catering and all that stuff and you can get spoiled rotten and turn into a monster if you really wanted to.
There have been bands that were later portrayed as cartoons Kiss, the Beatles but not really any that began as an animated cartoon. What is the live band able to do because the show came first rather than the other way around?
Well the whole idea is that I wrote the music first and then I put a band to it. I first started programming the drums, then I got Gene Hoglan to come in and then I had the guitar parts and I thought, “I can’t do this all myself,” so I had another guitar player, Mike Keneally, come in and the bass stuff was Bryan Beller. It was fun to kind of hand select a band based on simply on how great they played and the fact that they have a sense of humor and are easy to hangout with – that’s the fun part because it’s really about having good musicians playing with you that make me better as a musician.
You know what’s really amazing about Gene Hoglan -- he’s an amazing drummer but he makes it look so easy.
That’s true, he does. I noticed that about great guitar players, too, and great piano players – they make it look effortless.
It doesn’t even look like he’s breaking a sweat, but what you’re hearing it like “Holy crap.”
Yeah there are some guitarists out there who grit and make faces and it’s like, “Why would you do that for a living? It looks like it’s killing you.” I love his guitar playing and I love his music but Steve Howe from Yes – his face looks like he’s in pain, it looks like he’s passing a kidney stone.
Brendon -- what’s more important to the development and success of the other, the animated Dethklok on TV or Dethklok, the touring band, and why?
Well I think the TV show’s got to come first because I think the TV show reaches a bigger audience especially with Adult Swim – they just have a big crowd of people that watch it all the time so the ratings are always pretty good. That’s what afforded us the ability to go and tour and to find an audience for this record so I think that’s got to come first.
I think the only think that makes this interesting is that it’s a story with characters in it that don’t really exist in real life and I think it’s hard to compete with that if you’re a band of guys that are just regular dudes. The thing that makes this whole project interesting is that this band doesn’t exist.
I want to talk to you about this Wesfest 8 concert that’s going on. Tell us about the organization.
I’ll tell you how much I know. It’s an important thing where we’re raising money for a scholarship in conjunction with the Berklee College of Music and Bryan Beller, who pitched this whole thing together and has been doing it for the last seven years, asked me if I wanted to take this record, Brendon Small’s ‘Galaktikon’ -- I don’t know why I’m putting my own name in front of it -- but this record ‘Galaktikon’ and do it live.
The whole idea of that record was to make a studio record that would be very difficult to reproduce live because I have tons of layered guitars, tons of layered vocals – the way that I phrase the songs, it’s almost like I don’t allow myself a place to breathe but I don’t care, I think it’s about the idea of the melody making sense first and the possibility of it being played live second. I didn’t really think I’d ever play it live.
He basically said, “If we had this many vocalists, if we had this many guitarists and we got me on bass and an amazing drummer and a keyboard player, could we do this?” and I said, “So five vocalists, four guitarists, you on bass, Tim Young on drums and then I do the majority of the vocals and the lead guitar parts and I don’t have to play any rhythm?” and he goes “Yeah” and I go, “That sounds like maybe we could do it then.”
I’m playing with some of the best musicians in Los Angeles right now and I think it’s going to be a really fun show and we’re just going to re-create the album from beginning to end and see what happens.
Tell us what’s going to be in the future for this year in terms of Dethklok and the show.
Well I can tell you this and I’ll tell you why I can only tell you a little bit, it’s because I can’t say too much without the network – the network wants to say everything first, so we’re in production on something right now and I can’t say what it is. I’ll tell you this, it’s really exciting, it’s really cool, it’s continuing right where we left off in the last one but it’s going to be way cooler than anything else we’ve done.
What about the band in terms of touring.
We’ve had a couple of offers to do some things and there have been some conflicts unfortunately with everyone’s time but we’re getting some pretty cool offers. [Laughs] But we can’t do them and also me being in production – that’s one of the things, if I’m doing the TV show that has to come first and that has to be the priority, we have to do that first and the music second. Stay tuned there’s some really cool stuff coming, again I can’t talk about half of it – I’ll turn this thing off and I’ll tell you everything if you want.
Full Metal Jackie will welcome Pantera / Down vocalist Phil Anselmo to her program this coming weekend. She can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.