Dethklok is, without a doubt, the most popular heavy metal cartoon band in the universe, and Brendon Small, the man behind the band and the Adult Swim show that spawned them, Metalocalypse, is the undisputed king of comedy-fueled heavy metal fretboard fury.
Fresh off the success of the new animated one-hour special, METALOCALYPSE: the DOOMSTAR REQUIEM A KLOK OPERA, and the release of an accompanying soundtrack album, Brendon took a few moments out of his busy schedule to answer questions from fans, delivered via the Dunlop Facebook page…
Misha M. asks: Are any of the main Dethklok characters based on you specifically, or your life experiences in any way?
Hmm… Good question. The Dethklok dynamic has echoed a lot of creative relationships that we’ve lived through. There are the hard workers, and of course the Murderfaces. It is always funny how the Murderfaces slow down creativity and beg for all the credit after they’ve added nothing but confusion and crazy ego. I think a lot of people laugh and relate to that part of that creativity. It happens often, not just in music but in any creative relationship. And unfortunately we have all been on both sides.
Kevin M. asks: When Metalocalypse is over, will you consider making a soundtrack album of the non-Dethklok songs? (Toki’s songs, “Planet Piss,” “Rehab Suite,” etc.)
I’ve been asked this before, and my half-assed answer is that if I had all the time in the world I’d love to explore all of that stuff. But I think you’ll hear an eclectic group of styles in the Doomstar Requiem that reflect the aforementioned styles, and thus has it been the most creatively satisfying experience of Metalocalypse for me.
João M. asks: What’s your approach to writing songs? How much do you improvise in the studio, and how much of it is already written when you go into record an album or audio for a show?
Here’s what I do when I write anything: I try to write as quickly as possible and then leave it alone and come back later with a little objectivity. Then I’ll listen and I’ll think, ‘Is this moving forward energy-wise?’ ‘Am I losing interest? If so, where?’ and then I try to either contradict these sections or build from them. And it’s that simple—loud/quiet, fast/slow, simple/complex—and then hack away sections or extend some. I consider it a big logic puzzle that, in ProTools, I can move around and rearrange until I’m satisfied. But I’ll listen to a song well over 100 times, and if I feel some weird emotional pull—be it anger, joy, whatever—then I’m getting close to being finished, because if a song doesn’t excite you in some way then what’s the point, right?
Seth B. asks: When the day comes that Metalocalypse ends as a show, do you think you’ll keep Dethklok going as a band with more albums and tours?
I hope so. That’s why I took over the label personally. You’ll notice that I’m personally putting out the Doomstar Requiem, otherwise we wouldn’t have heard from Dethklok again (after Dethalbum III). It costs a lot but I think it’s a risk worth taking at least once, even if it’s a disaster!
Doug W. asks: Do you use different picks for different applications? Like do you use a different pick for acoustic for instance? Maybe a different pick for recording certain parts? Or a different pick all together for live shows?
Yes. Mostly I’m using the Ultex 1.14 for all loud crazy guitar etc. But I’ll use really thin Dunlop Nylon picks for acoustic. Occasionally I’ll go to my Jazz III‘s but usually I’m playing with the Ultex.
Joe A. asks: Do the worlds of Galaktikon and Metalocalypse have a connection in their stories? Could they?
Not really. And mainly because I wanted to mess around creatively in a different world. It’s nice sometimes to play in a world with different rules, laws, etc. musically and character-wise. And I’ll leave the crossovers to the fan fiction makers!
Cory S. asks: What gave you the idea to create a cartoon series to represent your music?
Well, I had already been working in TV for a while before Metalocalypse, and when my previous series—Home Movies—finished, I just found myself playing my guitar more and more, and I was reconnecting to the music I was listening to before music school. I had no idea that it was going to be this specific musically until I pitched the show because I found myself taking a few months to figure out what the band would sound like. And I hadn’t written music like this before, I just took what I liked about songwriting and metal and combined them.
Victor E. asks: When you write the guitar parts for Toki and Skwisgaar, do you consider them as individual guitarists first, or do you consider of the overall Dethklok sound and write their parts from that perspective?
Sometimes I think about them individually and sometimes I just want a guitar part to sound cool. At their best they sound similar which is important when harmonizing—you want similar bending styles and vibrato. But on some of the DETHALBUMS, I allow for Skwisgaar to have a more complex understanding of scales and modes and playing over changes, while I think of Toki being more comfortable using pentatonics. But check out “THE DUEL” on the DOOMSTAR soundtrack and listen to their first musical interaction—it ends up being somewhat Baroque in nature, which I really dig.
Malenah H. asks: If you could choose any deceased music legend to magically come back to life and voice a character on the show, who would it be, and why?
Freddy Mercury. Because he had the coolest voice on the planet.