Brendon Small, creator of “Metalocalypse,” Dethklok and Home Movies, and writer for Aqua Teen Hunger Force, among other things, has a lot of guitars. How many? “Thirteen. Twenty, if you include the acoustic ones,” he said. His favorite is the Black Gibson Explorer, which lead guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf plays on the show.
If you’ve been following the show, you’d know that Small is a pretty good shredder as well; he writes and plays all the music on the show. That’s aside from writing the scripts and doing voices for three of the characters: drummer Pickles, lead singer Nathan Explosion and guitarist Skwigelf.
Bringing the live show on tour (Dethklok performed in Madison, and not Milwaukee as previously reported), seemed pretty much a no brainer — especially since Small has played guitar since he was 14. In the beginning it was bands such as Metallica and Guns ‘n’ Roses that got him into playing guitar; “I was 14-years old and it excited me a lot,” he said.
As Small got better, he started learning to shred. Guitar masters such as Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Paul Gilbert (of Mr. Big) became big names for him; he looked up to music for guitar-playing virtuosos. — “those were epic thrash players,” he explained.
These days, Small cites Queen and the Who as influences, but he also likes a lot of guitar-driven songs. “As long as the song is good, I like all styles,” he said over the phone.
The idea for “Metalocalypse” came about after co-creator Tommy Bacha and Small started going to amazing heavy metal shows around Los Angeles. “(After its heyday) metal is not only more popular, heavier and better,” he said. “It seemed like it went away for a while, but people kept working on it, producing great songs with more intense musicianship.”
One such inspiration was the band Cannibal Collection, which had incredible energy. He described their music as death metal; listening to their music, he said, “was like listening to a splatter film on your way to work.” With metal, Small said, you either “learn to listen to it or just get it.”
Small just got it — and in an un-ironic way. “I’m sick of irony; I definitely think metal is cool. I lose my social life (to it); you have to like it to make it work.” “I love metal, and the fact that it’s cool again. I think the show is hyperslapstick.”
Oh, and one obvious fact: Small is also a big fan of horror movies.
The live show was deliberately set up to make sure Dethklok — and not Small — was in the forefront. A big screen shows all the animated action, and the band performs in all black, like stagehands. “It was an option to see people play. Even if you’re just standing there, it’s cool to see a shredder,” he explained.
So how similar are the three members of the band to Small? “I’m dumber than most of them!” he said, laughing. “Actually, I hope not. They’re narccissists and chaotic, but it’s lots of fun to play self-centered jerks. But as a voice I have the most fun with Nathan, and it will be interesting to make him more expressive.”
Coincidentally, Pickles is from Tomahawk,Wisconsin. Is that a nod to all the metal aficionados in this region? “We just wanted a good metal representation, and cover all bases,” he said. Small is from Illinois, and Bacha is from Detroit, Michigan — but Nathan Explosion is from Florida, and metal from Scandinavia is represented in the show via Toki and Skwisgaar.
Small also talked about future storylines — including how the band got together and Murderface’s history. “There’s stuff we talk about that we’ll reveal at the right time,” he said.