Musician, comedian, writer and voice actor, Brendon Small, is one of my heroes. That’s no lie. He’s a Gen-Xer (like me), living his dreams (like I’d love to) of creating music, cartoons and comedy. An absolute creative genius, Small has produced –or been involved in– some of my favorite cartoons, music and experiences.
The list is incredible. Small was the co-creator, writer, voice actor, composer and musician for Home Movies. In the series, he voiced the show’s protagonist, 8-year-old aspiring filmmaker Brendon Small, as well as a number of other characters. I absolutely adored the fact the main character is a young Brendon!
Small has lent his voice to a number of other animated shows. He co-starred in the BET animated sit-com, Hey Monie!, and has voiced supporting characters in The Venture Bros., Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Squidbillies, Reno 911!, Frisky Dingo, Bob’s Burgers, and Lucy: The Daughter of the Devil.
But, if you know the name Brendon Small, it’s likely because of his biggest success, Metalocalypse. The cartoon about the fictional Death Metal band Dethklok, which pokes fun at the very genre it’s part of. Small writes all the music for the show, and with the cartoons success, Small, along with Gene Hoglan, Mike Keneally and Bryan Beller began playing real shows as Dethklok.
How successful have they become as a fictional band? Their second album, released in 2009, debuted at No. 21 on the Billboard 200 in 2009, making it the highest-rated death metal album on the Billboard at that time. The same year, Small’s virtual band co-headlined a tour with metal masters Mastodon, and appeared, via video, at the 2009 Golden Gods Awards, where it won the award for Best International Band! I think that answers the question.
Since then, the Berkley educated Small has worked with the likes of Soundgarden, Exodus, The Damned Things, Zimmers Hole, Sylencer, Jon Benjamin, Brian Posehn, (many of which deserve their own posts!) and more. He has released guitars designed to his specs, based on Dethklok character’s instruments, released a solo Prog Metal album (Galaktikon), launched his own personal music label (BS Records), and even launched an educational guitar video series called “Shred-ucation.”
Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up an important aspect of Small’s cartoon/metal empire. It’s his effort to change the metal culture for the better. Here is part of a live show review I wrote for cutluremob.com highlighting this effort.
“In many ways, he has the kind of freedom a comedian has when it comes to subject matter. Songs like Dethsupport, Symmetry, Crush The Industry and others, take on soaring medical costs, women’s body issues and other big social issues. Yes, Small’s views come wrapped in cartoon skulls, absurd graphic violence and moments of hilarious idiocy, but I’d argue this approach is much more successful than others with the metal community. Hard line stands and preaching inevitably lead to predictable ‘fuck off’ responses with this crowd. Small’s approach has a chance to get through to the masses and bring change to a stubborn, ornery crowd.
“The most obvious of these moments was the ‘Public Service Announcement’ by “Facebones”, Dethklok’s mascot, proclaiming the average metal show has 27 males for every 1/3 female. Yes, this is how it was stated, this is still Dethklok after all. The message was simple and straight to the point, if guys wanted to see that change they needed to change as well. The “PSA” shamed male asshole behavior with wit and comedy, all the while trying to make the metal community a better place for it. Any band that will call out its own community in an effort to make it more inclusive, has my praise, support and utmost respect.”
If you’d like to read the whole review of the show, go here: Dethklok Delivering Both Killer Shows And A New Metal Culture.
Brendon Small is a man I think we can all look up to creatively. He’s been able to take the things he loves and forged a career out of doing them. To me, there is nothing better in this world. So, Brendon Small, for showing us dreams CAN come true, Give Us Art salutes you!
You. Fucking. Rule.
Art the World!