Book Review: Barney Hoskyns “Small Town Talk”

“Small Town Talk Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and friends in the Wild Years of Woodstock”

Author: Barney Hoskyns
Publisher: Da Capo
Hardcover: 402 pages

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

In the 1960’s when musicians in the New York City folk scene decided to “get it together in the country,” they headed to Woodstock. There manager Alan Grossman established his personal fiefdom of studios and restaurants where the likes of Bob Dylan, Paul Butterfield and Todd Rundgren mixed and mingled with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. “Small Town Talk” tells Woodstock’s story from its earliest days as a bohemian arts colony to its ongoing life as a cultural satellite of New York City.

Author Barney Hoskyns delves deep into a period of time when some of the period’s biggest singer/songwriters were leaving the crowded cities for the peaceful wooded areas which lay waiting just a few hours away. Tons of great stories are heard here for the first time as the book evolves just as the scene in the Catskills did. As you read page after page you never know who you are going to bump into from that time period which was something I found kept me looking forward to that next page. Hoskyns doesn’t only include just the big players of the time but does a great job of incorporating the community that this scene engulfed and how that era shaped what the town became and how it still remains to this day. “Small Town Talk” is simply not just a book for fans of the 60’s or its accompanying soundtrack as it has a little something for everyone. Woodstock was and is more than just a mud filled 3 day music fest and Barney Hoskyns latest book proves that.

Brendon Small talks about “Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem- A Klok Opera”

Brendon Small is the mastermind behind Adult Swim’s hit TV series “Metalocalypse” and the virtual band that has spawned from it Dethklok. It has been 15 months since the close of the fourth season for “Metalocalypse”. With fans wanting more after the cliffhanger from the finale, we finally get “Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem- A Klok Opera”. The special is a one-hour rock opera featuring a fifty-piece orchestra. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Brendon again to discuss the music behind “The Doomstar Requiem” and the future of “Metalocalypse”.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your decision to turn “Metalocalpyse” into a one-hour rock opera featuring a fifty-piece orchestra?
Brendon Small: I had been toying with the idea of a rock opera going back to season three. You can see there is an episode called “Rehabklok”. It is what we called a troubled episode. We have one every once in a while were the humor isn’t working or the story isn’t tracking. So usually what I will do is go in and up root the story and try and fix it and sometimes that is done through music. So for this case I decided to write everything that this character was going through with the subtext and text and make it into a miniature rock opera. So I really like that. I grew up on musical theatre. Two of my two favorite things are music and stories. So if you can combine the two of them then for me that is a really fun place to play around in. This is part comedy, part super drama and part action, which is what “Metalocalpyse” is, so I thought it was be fun to make to really dark and really stupid and tell the story of the rescue of Toki Wartooth.

MG: How did you end up collaborating with Emmy winning composer Bear McCreary?
BS: I met Bear at a dinner a few years ago at the dinner with Scott Ian of Anthrax. I was familiar with Bear from his work on “Battlestar Galactica”. I studied a little bit of film scoring back when I was in school, so it was something that I always wanted to do. I do a ton of scoring with “Metalocalpyse” but nothing with string or bass stuff. So I always wished that I could make it sound better. Bear had liked the music from “Metalocalpyse” a lot. He usually has big budgets to play with so he can conduct a 90 piece orchestra on an NBC show. I work in cable cartoons and there is no budget for orchestral stuff. TV shows are weird since you are not in complete control of how long they are on which is up to the network. But I knew I had a shot to this one thing and I wanted to do it right and find a way to afford an orchestra. So I called up Bear and tried to get some price quotes and find out the cheapest way to do this in order to make it sound like a movie. So we went back and forth but ended up finding a way to do it. For the first time ever, I put my own money up for a TV special because I thought that it was important for me musically and that it would be an interesting project. I am not sure if I am going to make the money back but I think it was worth a shot.

MG: Give us an idea about your development process?
BS: The most important part for me is the writing and discussion behind what is going to happen on the show. In this case, it is a one-hour long special. So what I did was that I sat with Mark Brooks and Janine Ditullio, the co-writers, in a room for about two weeks. I came to the table with a bunch of the story already planned out including the big flashback for Toki. I wanted to pick up where Dethklok left off but make them have a story of selfishness, selflessness and the feeling of being brothers. After those two weeks, we developed on that and came out with a 15-page outline. I had an idea of what I wanted to music to sound like. In one part, I related to “Jesus Christ Superstar” and then the next part I was thinking about “Les Miz”. There was even a part where I thought about Annie when she went to live with Daddy Warbucks and that was energy and emotional behind that part. I took that and went into my own studio and figured by April 15th I had to have an hour long opera written and I did. In fact, it was much easier than I thought it would be. It was the easiest music to write since I knew what was the emotional center was of each piece and that indicates what the tempo is and so on. I just wanted to keep your ear excited the whole time you were listening. The other thing I like to do when I write music is that when it is over you want to listen to it again. I want to be an audience of the audience as well. I want to be able to enjoy it myself as if I am listening to somebody else’s music.

MG: Where you concerned about delivering this different kind of sound for the series?
BS: That is the thing, I think that people that are familiar enough with the show. They know that Dethklok music is not the only music that shows up in the show. There is Toki’s world, Snakes N’ Barrels, Dr. Rockzo and just stuff that has nothing to do with heavy metal at all. I love metal but I also have an iPod that is always on shuffle. The way that I have always worked with the music on the show is that when Dethklok doesn’t have a song playing it is something that is contradicting to metal, so that the metal sounds heavier when it is on. So if I were to make a full rock opera with a full piece metal band the ear will get fatigued and it wouldn’t work. What I need was a little demarcation end points, a little rest and a few different styles of music to keep your ear excited and for you to keep it on a loop. I wanted to write an album that you leave in your CD player for month. So I think that contradicting stylistically or tempo-wise has always been the easiest thing to do and has always worked when I was writing. So no, this might not be what Dethklok sounds like but it is what “Metalocalpyse” sounds like. I wanted to make sure that people know that this is not a Dethklok album, this is a “Metalocalpyse” rock opera with a 50-piece orchestra.

MG: How was it working with special musical guests like Jack Black?
BS: When I did this thing I didn’t want to be limited by anybody’s range, so you will notice that I did about 95% of the whole thing myself. I wrote for my range of vocals. I can make a lot of different sounds with my voice. So I did everybody from Ishnifus Meaddle to Magnus Hammersmith to Nathan Explosion, Skwisgaar Skwigelf, Pickles and William Murderface. I did all their voices and sang all their songs. I wanted to make sure I had some other voices here and there like Raya Yarbrough, who did Abigail’s voice. Malcolm McDowell and Mark Hamill were in there since I wanted to populate it with a couple of other people. I am able to mask my voice pretty well but at some points you can hear that it is the same guy, which is fine though. Jack Black is an insanely talented superstar. He has got one of the coolest rock voices out there. He really does. I think Tenacious D’s music is some of the best. He was really cool and just completely got the idea of this project. That is also what I love about Tenacious D is that they have this sort of rock opera mixed style with classic rock. I gave him a clip of what he would be doing and I thought it was cool because it reminded me of Andrew Lloyd Webber and classic rock on the vocals. After listening, he drove right over and went into the studio and just belted it out his part and was just super fun to work with.

MG: Many people were speculation this would be the end of “Metalocalyse” but we got left with a cliffhanger, so is it safe to assume we have more to come?
BS: It is funny because I have a Twitter account and I was just laughing watching people say how sad that this was going to be the last episode. I was sitting there thinking that maybe they knew something that I didn’t [laughs]. This is not the last episode of the show. It does have the word “requiem” in it, which is like the end of something. It is very much the end of a few characters since there are a few important deaths in this special. It is “The Doomstar Requiem”, which is a big part of where the story continues from this point and I needed to introduce that. Basically this whole one hour special was to address how we ended things with season four and this was the solution. The whole story was to take these narcissistic assholes and have them care about each other and that was the whole show from the very beginning. You watch from the first episode, they claim to not care about anything and slowly started to in season three and four. They are constantly fighting themselves. It’s their head vs. their heart, the whole time. So it is funny that people made up that scenario online. I am lucky always if I get another season and as that is not always up to me. All I can do is back the project that I have sold and in this case it was “The Doomstar Requiem” and of course I have more story to tell but I couldn’t fit it all in there. But there is still more to come! So if you want to support Dethklok and want more in the future, be sure to purchase the album on iTunes and spread the word!

DVD Review "Small Apartments"

Actors: Matt Lucas, Billy Crystal, Juno Temple, James Marsden, Peter Stormare, Amanda Plummer, Dolph Lundgren, Rosie Perez, Rebel Wilson, James Caan and Johnny Knoxville
Directors: Jonas Åkerlund
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: February 19, 2013
Run Time: 96 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

If you are familiar with award-winning film and music video director Jonas Åkerlund known best for films like “Spun” and
Lady Gaga’’s “Paparazzi”” music video. “Small Apartments” is a real trip to say the least. Having known Jonas’ work, I had an idea what to expect but still didn’t see this film coming. When I say Matt Lucas was starring, I expected laugh out loud comedy. What we got here is more of a black comedy murder cover-up. It has its funny moments but the best part has to be this film’s collection of talent who pop in and out. Not sure if I could watch this again but one viewing was manageable.

Matt Lucas is the star of this film but it also packs some fun appearances from actors Billy Crystal (“When Harry Met Sally”), Juno Temple (“The Dark Knight Rises”), James Marsden (“X-Men: The Last Stand”), Peter Stormare (“Fargo”), Amanda Plummer (“Pulp Fiction”), Dolph Lundgren (“The Expendables”), Rosie Perez (“White Men Can’t Jump”), Rebel Wilson (“Pitch Perfect”), DJ Qualls (The New Guy”), James Caan (“The Godfather”) and Johnny Knoxville (“Jackass: The Movie”). This is a zany cast for a zany film for sure.

Official Synopsis: Trapped in a seedy LA apartment, Franklin Franklin (Matt Lucas) has a dead landlord on the kitchen floor and is surrounded by eccentric neighbors: the stoner (Johnny Knoxville) and girlfriend (Rebel Wilson), the wanna-be stripper (Juno Temple) and the artist (James Caan). To add to his chaos, a drunk investigator (Billy Crystal) is questioning him about his landlord. But none of this fazes Franklin. He dreams of Switzerland, and waits each day for an envelope from his institutionalized brother (James Marsden). Then, one day the envelope doesn’t come and Franklin becomes unhinged. Little does he know…his crazy brother has the secret that will set him free.

When it comes to special features there is nothing really going on here besides two pretty useless featurettes.  The first featurette is  “How to Build A Gravity Bong” with Johnny Knoxville.  He gives instructions on how to craft the ideal smoking device…real charming. The other feature is a short behind-the-scenes look into the production. Even though I wasn’t completely in love with this film, I would have loved to have a commentary track with the director and maybe a few of the cast members.

Brendon Small talks about Season Four of Adult Swim’s “Metalocalypse”

Brendon Small is a God among metal fans. He is the guy behind Adult Swim’s hit show “Metalocalypse” and the virtual band Dethklok. He has even went on tour with the band across the country. “Metalocalypse” is currently beginning its fourth season on Adult Swim on April 29th. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Brendon about what we can expect this season and also get a glimpse into the show/band’s future.

Check out our interview with Brendon Small about his new solo album “Galaktikon”.

Mike Gencarelli: Since you started “Metalocalypse” almost seven years ago, did you think this show was going to be as successfully as it has even spawning the virtual band Dethklok?
Brendon Small: Well the whole idea of the show, or any show, is to make it gets made. Then you want to keep it on the air and that is your job and your way to pay rent, feed you dog etc. What I realized what that after doing “Home Movies”, making the show costs a lot of money but making music doesn’t cost as much money. When you start including animators and a huge team of 40-50 people, it starts getting expensive. I thought wouldn’t it be cool to create a show that if it ever got canceled or ended, that it would continue on through music. I studied music forever and have been crunched over a guitar for the better back of 20 years. I always wanted to put music and comedy together but I didn’t want to be like a guitar-parody act on stage. I figured if I could talk the studio into doing 20 episodes, I could also get them into doing a record, tour and etc.

MG: The show hasn’t aired since October 2010, why the major gap? How long does each episode take to complete?
BS: It takes a lot time. We have been in production actually since early 2011 and we are in still in the same production cycle, just to give you an idea of time. I have 12 quarter hour episodes that I am doing this season and have spent well over a year in production. It takes a long time. Animation is like hurry up and wait [laughs]. All the writing has been done now. I am currently in post-production and have been writing a lot of the music. After this, I still have like one more voice to record. It takes about 3-4 months per episodes but we have them staggered, so a few are in the works at the same time.

MG: With season four, the show returns back to the 11-minute format, why was that decision?
BS: This show is huge amount of work between the music and the animation and as I get through the years I ask myself “How can I make my job easier? How can I take the weekends off?” [laughs]. So, that is what I am trying to do. This season has been plotted out more in advance than any other season. The network gave us the option of doing quarter or half hours. The quarter hours are much easier but I think the show also functioned really well in the half hour format. I thought for the story in this season, that we should do it in quarter hours. So that was the reason and I am really happy with it.

MG: What crazy brutal shit can we expect Dethklok to get into this season?
BS: [laughs] I think you will notice that we upped the brutality in a real fun and clever way. I think some people were missing the brutality a little bit in season three. Our main issue was that we didn’t just want to kill people…we wanted to find a clever way to kill people and have fun with that. I think we have a whole bunch of that put into this season. In addition to that, what I think you will also notice when you see season four is that there is a bigger “Metalocalypse” story. There is something dramatic going on, of course, also laced with tons of jokes and stupidity. The idea is to start telling the bigger story and start involving the band more and then moving on from there.

MG: How does the music in season four compare to the past seasons?
BS: I don’t really know. I really trying to do something that we haven’t done and/or keep that sound alive. That sort of changes from season to season. I still think it sounds like Dethklok and I am still using the same element. I think we have a great couple of cool musically highlights in this season.

MG: Can we ever expect “The Dethalbum III” consisting of season three’s songs? Should I start begging?
BS: You can beg. I love people are begging for me to do more [laughs]. All I can say right now is stay tuned. We hopefully will have some really cool news in the very near future.

MG: What do see in the card for the future of “Metalocalypse”?
BS: We are living in an amazing era of cable TV right now. With all cable stations like AMC, HBO and, of course, Adult Swim, you see that people are utilize the format and still able to tell a story. The way that this show works is that in order for this to be a story, it will have to have an ending. And the ending is in sight for this show. It doesn’t mean the show will be totally done but the story I want to tell has a finish to it. I don’t want to sit around and vamp for 15 years instead of telling a cool story.

CD Review “Brendon Small’s Galaktikon”

Brendon Small
“Galaktikon”
Producer: Ulrich Wild
Tracks: 9

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Galaktikon” is the first solo release from “Metalocalypse” master mind Brendon Small. Produced by Ulrich Wild “Galaktikon” is a concept album based around a superhero’s divorce and the subsequent kidnapping of his ex-wife. Each of the nine tracks are arranged so that the listener can follow along on this space themed musical adventure.

Being a fan of Brendon’s work in Dethklok I was very anxious to hear this album. Along with Small are Dethklok alums Gene Hoglan and Bryan Beller. Together the three provide some very in-depth and technical arrangements that are quite a bit different than the ear splitting, guttural tracks the group is primarily know for. Each of the album’s 9 tracks feature some really great melodic elements that I feel will help the album appeal to a broader audience. Tracks such as “Beastblade” feature heavy instrumentation with a unique blend of echo infused vocals. While the track “You Can’t Run Away” feels like a metal infused psychedelic odyssey cranked way beyond 11.

Brendon Small’s album “Galaktikon” will surely feel right at home next to your “Dethklok” and other metal albums. However you do not need to be a fan of Small’s previous work to appreciate this album. Personally I would have liked to have heard a duet with Small and his character Nathan Explosion as that I think would have put this album over the top. One can only hope that we will be privy to something of that magnitude in the near future. If you are looking for something heavy but without the cookie cutter layout of modern metal bands then do yourself a favor and pick up this album.

Track Listing:
1.) Triton
2.) Prophecy of the Lazer Witch
3.) Beastblade
4.) Deathwaltz
5.) Truth Orb and the Kill Pool
6.) You Can’t Run Away
7.) Arena War of the Immortal Masters
8.) Dangertits
9.) On My Way

Blu-ray Review “Lindsey Buckingham: Songs From the Small Machine- Live in L.A.”

Starring: Lindsey Buckingham
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Running Time: 125 mins

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Who does know and love Fleetwood Mac? Growing up I remember listening to them with my father, who still has a thing for Stevie Nicks. This concert was filmed in high-definition at The Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, California in April 2011 and is packed with amazing DTS Surround-Sound track. The sound was great and delivers some great new and old tunes. The video resolution was really great and very clear. It is hard when watching a concert on the TV then watching it live. This does a pretty good job and pulling you into the show and right into the action.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Famer Lindsey Buckingham, male lead singer for Fleetwood Mac, delivers a fun concert and a great presentation on Blu-ray. Since he is solo, it is not unexpected that he performs his new songs (some which kick some ass) and he plays some hits from Fleetwood Mac days. The guy really knows how to play the guitar, both acoustic and electric. The concert was almost split into two different shows with Lindsey and his guitar alone for the first couple of songs then he brings in the the rest of the band. They definitely kick up the energy and deliver a fun show. Picking up this release is a real no brainer for fans of Fleetwood Mac and Lindsey Buckingham.

The concerts set list includes the following songs:
“Shut Us Down”
“Go Insane”
“Trouble”
“Never Going Back Again”
“Big Love”
“Under the Skin”
“All My Sorrows”
“In Our Own Time”
“Illumination”
“Second Hand News”
“Tusk”
“Stars Are Crazy”
“End of Time”
“That’s the Way Love Goes”
“I’m So Afraid”
“Go Your Own Way”
“Turn It On”
“Treason”
“Seeds We Sow”