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|Adult Swim's "Metalocalypse" mastermind Brendon Small
continues overwhelming lifestyle with death-metal Dethklok tour
Dethklok has emerged as the greatest band in the world—100 times
more influential than the Beatles—with an impact that makes followers
commit suicide when an album is delayed, and a loyal fan base willing
to sign an injury-death waiver before watching them perform.
Such an imaginative plot is credited to Adult Swim’s late night
animated series “Metalocalypse,” which revolves around the fictional,
yet real, American-Scandinavian death metal band Dethklok.
The cartoon band was created in 2006 by Brendon Small with metal
music friend Tommy Blacha, who writes for “Late Nite with Conan O’
Brien,” “Da Ali G Show.” The live band is now touring in support of its
late-September release of Deathalbum II, which debuted at No. 15 on
the Billboard 200.
“Having the second album out it’ll be some new music with the same
kind of thing, kind of, but it’s ultimately a little story with some comedy
and switching instruments,” Small said in a phone interview from a
Holiday Inn in Alberta, Canada. “It’s built to be like a big stupid
Universal theme park ride, but it’s ultimately about the audience and
they’ll hear music that’s designed to sound like the record.”
Learning guitar at 13, graduating from Berklee College of Music in
1997 and taking comedic writing courses at Emerson College has
equipped Small with multifarious skills.
In conjunction with “Metalocalypse,” the jack-of-all-trades is the voice
behind Dethklok’s lead guitarist (Skwisgaar Skwigelf), drummer
(Pickles), and vocalist (Nathan Explosion). When touring, Small is the
band’s live vocalist/guitarist; and he composes and arranges all of the
“I start writing songs immediately after one script is done for the next
script,” Small said. “If the last song was at a fast tempo, then the next
will usually be slow. Then I’ll write 45 seconds of a riff to dress it up in
the studio with rhythm and bass parts. Then I take’em home and it’s
me behind a computer with my guitar in my lap. I do the keys, vocals
and guitar solos there.”
Writing a number of songs for the show, now in its third-season, Small
said he picks out what feels right for final arrangements.
“If it sucks, I’ll scratch it or spend more time on it and plow through. I
often make decisions on the fly and it becomes a bag of tricks. But,
after music school I’m able to develop variations and feel the range of
what Dethklok is.”
Deathalbum I, released in 2007, has 21-songs and the recent
Deathalbum II release has only 12-songs. Small said he took some
different approaches to record the new album with producer Ulrich
Wild (Pantera, Deftones, Breaking Benjamin).
“What was I thinking? Twenty-one songs! Why did I work so hard?,”
Small said. “The newer songs were longer, they took trajectories and
that made them cool. They encompass and take it to a place where it’s
fun to listen to and function as logic on its own time. I wanted to make
sure there was enough energy with faster, more difficult to play songs.”
While wrapping himself up in Swedish and Finnish death metal bands
with a heavy influence of King Diamond, Small said he sometimes
takes a break and listens to lighter rock.
“I’ll do the opposite and cleanse my palette with bands like Van Halen
and Jeff Beck, and sometimes venture into the Steely Dan world,” he
With his 1999-2004 UPN television network and Adult Swim series
“Home Movies” cancelled after four seasons, Small said he now feels
more secure with “Metalocalypse” through touring live as Dethklok.
“TV is volatile and precarious when your show can be taken away
from you,” Small said. “The cost of a TV show is much more than
doing a record, four or five times more. If the show is ever cancelled,
maybe the band would continue. It’s not a brand new formula, I’m
just doing it again. For a guy who likes to play guitar in front of
thousands of screaming people, it wouldn’t be bad.”
Small said he is excited to be co-headling the current tour alongside
Mastodon with supporting bands High On Fire and Converge.
“There’s a reason all these bands are on the same bill,” he said.
“Mastodon sticks out as a sore thumb because they’re doing something
different. They can sound that cool and write songs where the first
three chords stick out where you can say ‘oh, that’s Mastodon.’”
Between working on his own projects, Small has performed cameo
roles in a number of shows: “Let’s Fish,” “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,”
“Frisky Dingo,” “The Venture Bros.,” “Ergo Proxy,” “Reno 911,”
“Hey Monie,” and “New Apartment.”
Small said he plans to continue the nonstop work of composing, writing
and acting for “Metalocalypse” while on the bus during Dethklok’s
“All day I’ll download animations and write from the road, and when I
step off the bus I’ll be right back in the studio to manhandle the TV
show,” Small said.
“What I’d like to do is take half a year off before I pull a Dave
Chappell and go to Africa. Although the concentrated work is
rewarding, in the future my ultimate project would be a vacation.”
Dethklok will turn their fictional fury into virtual reality in over 30 cities
this fall including a stop on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at Lifestyles Community
Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio. (Images Courtesy Adrenaline PR)
|N. SHUMATE, OUT OF THE BLUE posted: Oct. 17, 2009
This article posted on www.thelantern.com on 10.15.09 in "Arts" CLICK !