The name Brendon Small means a lot not only in the world of comedy but also within the realm of rock music. As a producer, writer, animator, stand-up comedian, voice actor, and musician, he is both critically-acclaimed and commercially-successful. Although he is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, Small first experienced notoriety as the co-creator of Home Movies, a series which started on the UPN television network and later moved to Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.
Small’s next television series, Metalocalypse, premiered on Adult Swim in 2006. Focused on the fictional death metal band Dethklok, the animated program featured a new song from Dethklok every episode. Beyond composing a lot of the show’s music, Small was also a co-producer and a principal voice actor for Metalocalypse. Dethklok also yielded tremendous success off-air as its four full-length albums all charted within the Billboard 200 — Dethalbum III is reportedly the highest charting death metal album in the history of Billboard — and multiple tours were staged.
Small recently announced the forthcoming release of Galaktikon II: Become The Storm, as slated for an August 25 release via Megaforce Records. When conducting Q&A with Small — who has directed music videos for Soundgarden and The Damned Things — I decided to ask whether “Could This Be the End” from Galaktikon II was some sort of statement regarding the future of Dethklok. Future projects and plenty more on Small can be found at www.brendonsmall.com.
How would you describe Galaktikon II to someone who is a fan of your work but hasn’t yet heard it?
Brendon Small: That’s a good question. I couldn’t find a suitable genre that would successfully encapsulate what I’m doing so I made one up. Galaktikon is a “high stakes intergalactic extreme rock/metal project.” That sounds good, right?
Indeed. Do you have a favorite song on the album?
Brendon Small: I have a couple that I personally like the most; the songs I like the most are not necessarily the most popular, historically. One is “The Ocean Galaktik.” It’s my favorite kind of metal, which is heavy, medium tempo, melodic, and anthemic. I’m always trying to beat my more epic songs I’ve written in the past, and for me this one does it. There’s a lot of sonic landscape on this song that was fun to experiment with. The other song I really enjoy listening to is, “Could This Be The End,” It’s a faster-paced genre blending song with a lot of twists and turns. It has moments inspired by — yes — metal, but also Billy Joel and Duran Duran. How the hell does that work, right?
Any plans to play these songs live?
Brendon Small: My goal is that if I take it out live, then it has to beat my live Dethklok show, and that was a fun, memorable live show. So if I can find the resources, then expect an insane, dynamic, visual, outer-spacey live show.
“Could This Be the End,” one of the album’s closing tracks, seems to hint at the end of Dethklok. Is there any truth in that?
Brendon Small: The song lives in its own universe and is part of the “Become The Storm” story. There are hundreds of thousands of Dethklok fans who truly care about the music, which is what pushed me to make a special record specifically for them. That’s really the driving force behind Galaktikon II.
Aside from Galaktikon II, what is coming up for you professionally?
Brendon Small: I have spent the last two years making this record, but also producing TV shows for some friends of mine, musicians and comedians. I have several projects in different stages of development. It’s been very fun and I’ve learned so much about production in the last 18 years — yup, 18 — of working in TV. I thought it would be fun to spread it around a little and expand my universe at the same time. When/if the TV shows pass the final stage you’ll hear about them more, but until they’re actually ON TV I keep my fat mouth shut. I’ve also been doing a lot of stand-up, which is how I got into this whole business in the first place. I’m also releasing the Galaktikon COMIC BOOK, available at your local comic book store August 2nd. It’s really been fun working in that medium and collaborating with Eric Powell who you may know from The Goon.
— Metal Hammer (@MetalHammer) August 1, 2017
You have been successful in multiple creative areas, but is there something you’re still hoping to accomplish professionally?
Brendon Small: That’s nice of you to say. I’ve been really excited about using practical effects in live-action. Galaktikon has been a fun experiment in taking the 2-D into the tactile world. You’ll see that part of this project is me partnering with my brother Jeff who is an incredibly talented working makeup FX artist — monsters, fabrications, etc. We started working together to build out this Galaktikon universe. If you look at the back of the album cover, you will see the “Triton” helmet — something that existed only as a drawing and grew into real tactile wearable thing. I’d love to direct live action more and become more of an expert in blending in practical effects. There’s nothing cooler than building things, especially after years of animation.
You were involved with the They Might Be Giants release Venue Songs. How did that relationship come about?
Brendon Small: I was? And this is how I find out? (laughs) I really dig them and we worked together on Home Movies years ago. We got along really well and I have a lot of respect for their songwriting. I remember we improvised some music together on the Home Movies episode so maybe that’s what this is? Who knows? Now I wanna go listen to, “Birdhouse In Your Soul.”
Do you have plans to direct any more music videos?
Brendon Small: I do. I will talk about them more when they are finalized but I’ll be directing some stuff for Galaktikon II and for another band soon. I really like directing live-action a lot.
When not busy with work, how do you like to spend your free time?
Brendon Small: I really like playing guitar with no goal in mind — just to get better at improvising, it’s therapeutic. I love being in a dark movie theatre, don’t even care what movie is playing, it’s just calming. I love doing stand-up. I like hanging out with Gilda, my dog. I love hanging out with people with fast brains, a.k.a. comedians. But the truth is I’m at my happiest in the middle of a big project with lots of people and lots of moving parts.
Is there something you wish more people knew about Brendon Small?
Brendon Small: If you know who I am then you probably know that I really like having one foot planted firmly in music and the other in comedy and storytelling. I don’t need anybody to know any more than that, maybe that I really enjoy acting and the whole process. I don’t do it that often, except for my own projects, so people may not know that I actually like it.
Finally, Brendon, any last words for the kids?
Brendon Small: Hmm… make sure to give a f**k about stuff. Make sure to get out of your houses. Make sure to be around people even people you disagree with. Oh, and don’t let being online be a surrogate for life experiences.
There, I just changed the world…I really did…where’s my Nobel Peace Prize?
[Featured Image by Jim Donnelly]