Dethklok's Brendon Small predicts future of Metalocalypse
After being forced to reschedule the beginning of their tour for the just-released Dethalbum III due to a schedule that -- eerily relevant to their fable -- matched the exact trajectory of Hurricane Sandy, the virtual band is back at it, hitting Myth nightclub in St. Paul tonight. Prefacing this inevitably cataclysmic performance, Gimme Noise was able to check in with the man behind the macabre: famed creator of Home Movies and Metalocalypse, Brendon Small.
Gimme Noise: The latest [and bloodiest] season of Metalocalypse aired this summer, Dethklok's third studio album has recently dropped and you're already back on the road for another high-production tour. What's the disposition this time around?
Brendon Small: I'm basically a part-time musician. Most of what I do is television but I have been playing guitar for a really long time so it's especially fun for me to play guitar live. It's a challenge. There is a lot of tricky stuff you have to negotiate between the vocals and the guitars, but it's something I like to work at. We have a really amazing crew so it's pretty incredible doing the shows. They're really, really fun and we keep adding little bells and whistles to it as we keep going. It keeps us excited and moving forward. It's just a great production. We've got some really creative people so I'm very lucky.
GN: What are some spoilers you can divulge about this cycle of the live show?
BS: Well, in the most basic sense Dethklok operates like how any band would tour, you know? You fold out the old songs and you exchange them for some other ones. But this wave has audience participation more so than any previous show; it's more directly built around being there in that moment. So far the audiences have been participating amazingly. It's weird to see because you build the show in this tiny little room and then you watch it unfold.
GN:I know in the past you've continued to write Metalocalypse as you toured...
BS: I made sure that didn't happen this time because it was just way too much stuff. My job here is to be the band's leader and to be the executive producer of this live show and the guy who promotes it and stuff. That's my main job. I'm not doing more than one thing. It was a nightmare. It was not fun. I want to actually enjoy performing. That's why I got into this whole, absurd, stupid business: because I really like telling jokes and playing guitar -- that's the highlight of my day you know, and I want to have it be just that.
GN: Since Dethklok is a virtual band what your audiences are really identifying with are characters. Yet you're still a band and you've experienced development as a band. Will you talk about the dynamic of the growth within something that's only kind of real?
BS: It's a tricky
thing because we aren't a normal band. I mean I do work with the same people
all of the time but Dethklok is about me going in a room and
writing music and then showing it to people and teaching them how to play it.
It's not like Led Zeppelin where they all come into a room and bring in a piece
of music and collaborate. I'd love to have that band at some point but this is
the way that Dethklok works, the way the TV show works. It just doesn't happen
But the music has changed over the years. The third album is ultimately making it more personable, exciting and more real. Now, as far as working with these guys, there's a really comfortable shorthand. For the most part, the great thing about playing in this band is that you get to spend the whole show kind of just being a source of music.The larger thing that's gonna always win it out is this big, gigantic animated feature showing behind us. At some point we say "hey, it's us" and, you know, say hello. It's a really satisfying thing just to be able to concentrate on your parts and then have sex with the audience when it's possible.
GN: So would you say you approach Dethklok in a more technical way?
BS: Not necessarily. My only rule for any music I write is that I have to enjoy it; I have to experience some amount of pleasure from it. Whether it's the most melodic thing or if its heavy and ugly and I have to expand it: It has to function on its own logic to carry me through the entire song. If it doesn't do that then it needs to be sent back or thrown away or something. But its actually got to function like the song would in the world. But there are still things where we collaborate. Gene Hoglan is an amazing technician in the studio and helps me plot it all out and collaborates on all of that stuff. So it's not so ascetic or one-minded.
GN: I guess I was trying to move towards talking about your new outside musical project, Galaktikon. What kind of different function does that serve for you musically?
BS: Spending money was the motivation. Finishing a project was the motivation. Beyond that I didn't know what it was going to be other than a place for me to experiment with having music and melody, which, Dethklok doesn't have in the vocals. So, so the fun would be to experiment as a vocalist, which I've never really been, and try to make sense of all of that and try to make the songs sound reasonable, hopefully.I guess ultimately i still ended up telling an elaborate story with characters too.
GN:I'm amused by the genre you've coined.
BS: Haha. Yes it is high-stakes intergalactic extreme rock.That's the story part.