The Movie That Made Brendon Small Realize Music + Animation Go Together
Brendon Small, Metalocalypse co-creator and Dethklok visionary, was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program, chatting about the very big year ahead with a new Metalocalypse movie and soundtrack, as well as a brand new Dethklok album and joint tour with Babymetal. He also reveals what movie first made him realize that music and animation are a great match.
For Small and his legions of fans who have adored both the TV show and the band for over 15 years, it's an incredibly exciting time with so much in the works right now. It's a lot of creativity to demand for one person and even though it's quite the challenge, it's one Small is glad to be taking on.
There's no denying that Metalocalypse helped establish the merits of metal in the mainstream and certainly served as a gateway for countless people who likely became metal fans because of the show.
We've all got a lot to thank Small for in this community and in the interview below, he chats about what we can all expect as the year rolls on.
It's a pretty eventful year for Metalocalypse and Dethklok with a movie, soundtrack, album and tour. What is most challenging about coordinating multiple mediums that coincide?
We were doing the deal during the pandemic, [which is when I was] starting on this project.
The most difficult thing is the amount of work because what I'm saying yes to is writing a script, directing it, writing the music for it (the orchestral score itself) and a record at the same time. It's a good chunk of work, but it's something I've been wanting to do for a while, so I'm very happy to be doing it.
Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar features Kirk Hammett, Scott Ian, King Diamond, Jon Hamm and Mark Hamill. What is the main consideration when casting voice actors?
I always want to make sure that heavy metal is represented on the show. I want to make sure that people from the industry get to play with us and get to have fun in the way that we get to have fun. That's an important part to make sure it's an excuse for me to hang out with my heroes.
You've done a great job of representing heavy metal out there in everything that you do.
Thank you very much. It's always fun. King Diamond is one of the coolest people in the world. He is always so great and he's been on the show before.
We've had lots of different people from the heavy metal community — Corpsegrinder, Michael Amott from Arch Enemy, the folks from Enslaved and Emperor... so many different people have been on this show. We know how much of a sense of humor everyone has and they love to play with us, so it's fun to have them.
Brendon Small Plays His Favorite Riffs
Metalocalypse has been dormant since it last aired on Adult Swim. How does this revival position the series and its characters for possible future exploits?
That is a question I don't know the answer to.
The crazy thing about the last thing we've done, which was The Doomstar Requiem, is that it's been alive on HBO Max [now rebranded as Max] and on Adult Swim and the numbers kept on adding up even in its absence of being in production. The reason we put this whole thing together is because there was an audience that was waiting for something more.
The story of Army of the Doomstar is the wrap-up of the first and second episode from the beginning of the show. This is the ending of that story.
So, the question is, 'What's after this?' I don't know. I really have no idea.
What's great with the streaming platforms we have though is that there are people that discovered that they can stream Metalocalypse episodes that way.
Warner and Discovery and all that stuff merged and it made it very easy to see Metalocalypse. You, if you have Max, you'll be able to watch every single episode, including the one-hour Doomstar Requiem rock opera.
The BabyKlok tour puts Dethklok on the road with Babymetal. Why is the aesthetic of kawaii metal congruent with the music of an animated band?
For me, it all goes back to the movie Heavy Metal with the soundtrack where you've got [Black Sabbath's] "Mob Rules" and all kinds of really cool music inside the movie that Ivan Reitman directed. When I was a kid, I saw that and I lost my mind and I thought music and animation all works together really nicely.
BabyKlok is just a crazy big show. This is going to be an evening of bonkers entertainment if you come to our show. We're really excited about it.
Who came up with the name for the tour? It's brilliant.
I was on a phone call with the agents and they asked, "What should we call this tour?" And I said, "Why don't we just call it BabyKlok?"
I don't think I'm the first one who said it, it just seemed to make sense to everybody and everybody immediately said, "That's the name of the tour." That's fine with me because it represents both bands and it's easy to remember.
On paper, standup comedy and death metal are strange bedfellows. What made you first aware of similarities and how to combine them?
Back in 2005 or so I was doing a lot of performing. I had finished my earlier TV show Home Movies, which is a completely different show. You would never know that the same person made both of those shows. I knew that Adult Swim was trying to do crazier stuff and I just thought this would be a really interesting thing.
I don't think anyone else has explored heavy metal and on an animated TV show, and if they have, I I think we have an opportunity to make it funny and to make it for an audience that hasn't really been spoken to. The heavy metal audience doesn't always get a spotlight on it.
The idea was, "How can you do this? How can you have fun and how can you invent a bunch of lore in characters that can conclude in some big huge, explosive way?"
It wasn't terribly easy, but once we got the characters together and thought that if you really boil down the show, it's an office workplace comedy about an extreme metal band — what it's like having creative relationships, egos having to work together, all that crazy stuff that happens when you're unbridled and creative and idiotic at the same time, which is kind of like how we were when we were making this show.
I just have to tell you how grateful I am to have the "Dethklok Brutal Pick of the Week" in the radio show every week. It makes me laugh so hard. I've been secretly willing this comeback to happen. You're welcome. I did it with my mind.
I think you did help out, Jackie, I really do. I'm really happy that you kept Dethklok alive on the show for all these years. It's so funny. What people don't know is that either I come up with a list or you come up with a list, but there's some day of the week, usually a Sunday where I'm exhausted, where I go, "I've got to give Jackie these drops. I've got to give her Nathan Explosion and Pickles and Swisgaar talking to the audience." I have fun with band names and song names and stuff.
You and I were recently together at the Mastodon and Gojira show and Brann Dailor from Mastodon gets up after their set and was like, "Hey, thanks everybody for coming out. And, you know, us and Gojira are the only metal bands out there singing about whales." Brendon, you brought up a great point that is not true — Dethklok have been in the whale metal world for a long time.
You've been in the world of the deep sea since the second episode of Metalocalypse. They may have done stuff before I did, but I didn't really know about it back then.
We have the "Mermaider" cycle — there's "Mermaider" and "Mermaider II: The Water God"...will there be more? Check it out. I don't know. Maybe there will, maybe there won't. But Dethalbum IV is coming out soon and you'll be able to see if there's more deep sea lore.
Thanks to Brendon Small for the interview. Get your tickets to the BabyKlok tour here. Follow Dethklok on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Spotify. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.