Brendon Small Sets The Stakes High With New Intergalactic Extreme Rock Project "Galaktikon"
Band Photo: Dethklok (?)
Creator of such shows as Home Movies and Metalocalypse, and mastermind behind the "pretend" band Dethklok, Brendon Small is now stepping away from the brutality and towards the melody with his upcoming new project Galaktikon. Described as "high stakes intergalactic extreme rock," the over the top new album is set to drop this coming April.
To find out more about the project, I got ahold of Brendon to chat about how Galaktikon came to be, and to hear his thoughts on the upcoming new season of Metalocalypse. Below you can read Brendon's explanation of how Galaktikon arose due to problems with the recording of the second Dethklok album, and find his assurances that the new Metalocalypse episodes will be crammed with more of the metallic, gory mayhem fans crave.
xFiruath: What prompted the creation of this new project Galaktikon and what musical ideas do you explore here that we wouldn’t hear with Dethklok?
Brendon: I was about to start the second Dethklok record. It’s sort of a tricky dance trying to do a T.V. show and have a pretend band at the same time. There are usually a lot of scheduling conflicts, there’s a lot of contractual conflicts and all kinds of stuff like that. So it takes a long time to get the Dethklok records up and running. I had hired Gene Hoglan and rented a big studio for us to record drums in, and just as we were about to go in on that Friday I heard the contract hadn’t gone through, so there was no money on the table for the next record. So I said, you know what, I’ve got this place booked and I told these guys they would have a job, so I’m going to record something on Monday. I don’t know what it is just yet, but I’ll pay for it myself, and since I can’t do Dethklok I’ll do something else. I wanted to do something that sounded more melodic. When I was developing the show my natural tendency was to go melodic, so I have to force myself to go heavier. So this is not as heavy as Dethklok, but it’s still kind of dramatic. I think you’ll find I gravitate towards some melodic guitar choices and stuff like that, it’s a little trashier sounding.
xFiruath: How did the impromptu recording go and where did the sessions take place?
Brendon: All the drums were recorded at a place called the Bombshelter, which is where we recorded the two Dethklok records. By the way, I finished doing the drums and I didn’t even know what these songs were going to be. We finished those in a week and then got back on schedule with the next Dethklok record. So all this stuff sat on a hard drive for like a year and a half until I got back to it. So the recording with drums was Gene Hoglan, and we recorded those in the Bombshelter, which is the guy from Stone Temple Pilots, he has a huge warehouse so you can get a lot of cool room like sounds. So I took that and went to my home studio, where is where I record all the music for the T.V. show. I have a little isolation booth so I can turn guitars on really loud and so on. Basically I was trying to figure out what the songs were as the project went along. It ended up going into those ridiculous outer space theme.
xFiruath: I haven’t had a chance to hear any advance tracks from the release yet, but from the themes and the artwork it kind of looks like a power metal record. Is that the sort of direction you’re going?
Brendon: It’s kind of funny, I think it may be that. I’m not really sure of the genre, so I sort of invented one. It’s not as heavy as Dethklok, and I want to make sure people know that. It’s not that, I call it “high stakes intergalactic extreme rock.” That means basically its power rock with double kicks, but I don’t like the phrase power rock really, it sounds kind of stupid, so I’m trying to come up with a better term for it. It all pertains to outer space and there’s sweep arpeggios and there are heavy moments, but there are a lot of melodic moments on top of it. So that’s what it is. It all goes back to me loving Flash Gordon and Queen and stuff like that, so you’re going to hear a lot of that in the project. It comes from the same kind of logic, all the tunes have layered guitars, kind of dramatic vocals, and it takes itself way too seriously all the way.
xFiruath: Will this project be taken on the road for live shows?
Brendon: It may just be a studio album. I can kind of put one of these records out while I’m still at work with Dethklok and everything. So I’m in production right now and I won’t really have a chance to tour with it. I’ll let the project kind of reveal itself to me. I’ll put it out there and see what people like or don’t like and based on that I’ll make the next move. Right now it exists solely as this ridiculous outer space story that has this whole world and characters. I could make it into a T.V. show if I wanted or a Broadway musical or whatever, but right now it’s a record.
xFiruath: I missed that fan chat you did online the other day. Did you get any unusual questions and what are fans wanting to know about the project?
Brendon: I don’t think I got anything really unexpected. With anything I do, whether it’s Metalocalypse or my old show Home Movies or Dethklok or whatever, normally when you sit behind a project for awhile you make your mind up about it. You decide what you like about it and what you think you could have done better, you try to figure out why all that happened. So by the time you release it to an audience you’ve made peace with it in one way or another. So I already know how I feel about this project, and what I wish I could have changed if I’d had more time, but I wouldn’t have released it if I didn’t think people would dig it. I did have a lot of people in the chat who were excited fans, I think a couple of them got a little nervous. It was the kind of questions I would probably ask a person who plays guitar, like equipment and what’s going on with Metalocalypse and what’s in the season, when’s the next Dethklok record coming out.
xFiruath: On that note, what is happening with the deadbeat metal heads in the next season?
Brendon: I don’t tell too much about what you are going to see, so all I can say is that you are going to be really happy about it and it’s moving the story forward a little more. There’s some really cool shit that goes down this season.
xFiruath: When we spoke for an interview back in 2010 about season three, you had mentioned how the network kind of wanted you to tone down the over the top gore, and I’m wondering what have you been able to work in this time around, and was it a situation where you were trying to top yourself from previous seasons?
Brendon: It’s funny, that was a consensus with season three, and I guess it’s too late for them to take anything away, but we’ve definitely gone back to more gory shit. It really needed it and I missed it, and I think the fans missed it too. We’ve been cramming it back in there and no one said anything. You’re going to see what I think is some of the better executed gore on the show happen this season. My rule personally is that gore gets boring at some point, but if you can be clever with it it’s really satisfying. It ends up being this strange slapstick bloodbath, and that can be really fun. I think we tapped into more this season and we got better with it.
xFiruath: What guest musicians will be appearing on this season?
Brendon: We’ve got a whole bunch of different people from 3 Inches of Blood to Cannibal Corpse. Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top. Some people metal and some people who are just amazing musicians, although I suppose only people who are amazing musicians. Members from Sound Garden. There are more but I can’t remember off the top of my head. We have some interesting actors as well like John Hamm from Mad Men. Andy Richter and so many more. They’re all really great.
xFiruath: Is the new Dethklok album actually started yet?
Brendon: We haven’t started yet but we’re pretty optimistic it will be starting soon. I’ll probably turn to the fans for this but between season 3 and what will be the music of season 4, which I’ve written a lot of the music for season 4, we’re going to have to pick what songs. There are some songs that haven’t gotten made from season 1 and season 2. There’s a nice pool and grab bag of music I can put on this record. I always like to put a couple of surprises on there that no one has heard.
xFiruath: What are you looking forward to this year as far as metal goes?
Brendon: Well Meshuggah’s record, anything from Gojira, Cannibal Corpse’s new record. Those would be my top three. Between brutality and monster musicianship, it’s cool to have a band like Gojira out there that’s incredibly heavy and incredibly musical at the same time.
xFiruath: What else would you like to say about Galaktikon?
Brendon: If you follow my Twitter, I’ll show you guys where you can check out some sample tracks from the new project in the near future so you can get an idea of the flavor of this project. If I did it right it should be energetic and melodic and ridiculous and dramatic but fun. Although it sounds vaguely serious there’s nothing serious about it. Ultimately if I do everything right it will come out the same day as the new season of Metalocalypse.
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