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Brian Posehn is a man of many talents. He has a wide-ranging career spanning stand-up comic performances on stage with some of the biggest names in comedy, writing for countless shows from sketch comedy to cartoons, and authoring comic book stories for the Marvel Comics character Deadpool. Posehn’s acting has given him his largest public profile, with a select offering of his work including a role on “Mr. Show with Bob and David,” co-starring on “The Sarah Silverman Program,” being a murder victim in Rob Zombie’s classic “The Devil’s Rejects,” playing the recurring role of Bert on “The Big Bang Theory,” and, most recently, taking on a small part within the Star Wars Universe in Disney’s “The Mandalorian.” However, something truly near and dear to Posehn that has occasionally broken through his work has been his near lifelong passion for... heavy metal. After six years of hard work, he finally has a full metal (comedy) album on shelves to make ears bleed and lungs howl with laughter. While this isn’t Posehn’s first venture into being a metal singer -- on some previous comedy albums, he’s penned funnybone thrashers like "More Metal Than You" and "Metal by Numbers" -- it’s certainly his first front-to-back metal album.

It's called Grandpa Metal, and it's a rapturous riot perfectly blending Posehn’s sense of humor and ironic observation with genuine metal fury.

Under the guidance of producer Jay Rustin (Posehn’s main collaborator from his previous metal work), plus Scott Ian of Anthrax and S.O.D. alongside Fall Out Boy/The Damned Things Joe Trohman and Dethklok’s own comedic mastermind Brendon Small, Grandpa Metal enjoys a large cohort of artists. Also joining are: Jonathan Donais (Anthrax, ex-Shadows Fall), Corey Taylor (Slipknot), Gary Holt (Slayer, Exodus), Jeff Pilson (Dokken), Alex Skolnick and Chuck Billy (Testament), Weird Al Yankovic, Pearl Aday, Johan Hegg (Amon Amarth), Patrick Stump (Fall Out Boy), Michael Starr (Steel Panther), Jacob Bunton (Mars Electric), Rob and Aiden Cavestany (Death Angel), Steve "Zetro" Souza (Exodus), Kim Thayil (Soundgarden), Phil Demmel (Machine Head), Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (Guns N' Roses, Asia), and the late Jill Janus (Huntress).

Even though Posehn and I live within ten miles of each other, it was hard to peg down the man for an interview --understandable given his hectic schedule between stand-up gigs, acting, and further promoting the new album. That said, time was found and I was able to ring him up on a Thursday morning, not too long before he was about to fly off to a signing with Scott Ian at Amoeba Records’ San Francisco location. We chatted about the work it took to put this album together over six years, the finer, less-discussed points of eternal damnation, and what it was like to participate in one of the holy grail fictional universes of nerdom.

-- Joseph Aprill

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First, I just want to say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the album. It really is a perfect blend of being fucking hilarious with just great riffs, solos and songwriting. It really does stand up just as much as a metal album as it does a comedy album.

Oh man, yeah, that was what I was going for and it makes me really happy to hear that from you. I thought the metal would come easy just with using my resources and calling in all the favors I wound up doing. Still, you hope people are going to see it the same way you do, so it’s nice to get feedback like that.

The press release mentioned the album was six years in the making, so how far back did you first think about doing something like this and how did it actually begin outside from just being an idea?

The fact that I had done songs with Scott [Ian] before on my stand-up records, and I had always talked about doing a version of this. Once we signed with Megaforce, then it became this real thing, but it’s changed over the last six years, like it was going to be called something different originally, and I wasn’t allowed to legally get something I wanted to parody. So the album took some moving around, but I’m glad I got to take the time I did with it because I’m really happy with the results. I’m glad I landed on Grandpa Metal because the original concept to me now isn’t as funny as this is so it’s all kind of worked out.

You’ve got quite the roster of collaborators and guest artists on this album. Who was the most difficult to get to participate or alternatively was anyone a surprise that you were able to actually get for the album?

No one was… difficult. Bumblefoot wound up being a last minute guy, but I love what he did. He crushed it and he was on one of the last things we got done right before mixing of the album started. No big disappointments really. There was a cover we weren’t allowed to do and some stuff with the album cover we couldn’t use either. That cover song I wanted to do was a parody of “Rocket Man” as “Rocker Dad” and just have it be about a dude rocking out in his minivan taking a kid to school. I’m kind of glad we didn’t get to do it because I don’t think it’s as funny as we wound up doing out of necessity. As for surprises, no one surprised me as I knew everyone would be killer, but stuff like Kim Thayil’s solo: I mean you ask a guy from Soundgarden to be on the record, so you know it’s going to be good, but then you hear it and it’s like other level good! Things like that I wouldn’t say were a surprise, but I’m really happy they happened.

It seems like a major theme of the humor on the album is poking fun at the bravado and sometimes bloated ego of metal. From songs about Satan and Hell maybe not being as fun as metal lyrics make them seem, to hardly anyone today likely surviving actually living like a viking warrior, and then metalheads stubbornly not liking new things. Do you think metal has a problem taking itself too seriously or do you think bands and fans alike usually can laugh at themselves?

I think they can now. I mean, I know I couldn’t when I was young and I’m sure there are some young metalheads who love it so much they don’t see anything funny about it but I think as you get older you start to see it. With me and humor in the early days, I was super serious about it until I saw bands like Anthrax and S.O.D. actually be funny and have a sense of humor. I mean, you still don’t want outsiders making fun of it. When I was young, especially back then, if you made fun of it and you weren’t a metalhead [laughs], well you weren’t respected. Only metalheads could make fun of their own music really.

Speaking of being able to take a joke, I imagine Scott Ian took no issue with being the subject for the title track of Grandpa Metal. How did that song and the idea to lyrically make it about him come about?

Originally I came upon the name Grandpa Metal by calling myself that and it more in general just about older guys of my age who have been metalheads for so long being kind of crusty about it in not liking new music or not being open minded. That’s where the idea came from, but I was also calling Scott “Grandpa Metal” as a friend and joking around. It had been a running gag between him and I that he does not like new music [laughs]. I mean, it’s not a joke as I don’t think he’s liked a band since Refused came out. Once I landed on him as the subject, the song wrote itself. To be honest, well, what’s the word for it… I had writer’s block and I couldn’t really figure out “Grandpa Metal." I had the title but it just wasn't funny even when trying different takes. Once I landed on him, it pretty much being an old man insult song specifically about Scott Ian, it really came together quickly.

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“Satan’s Kind of a Dick” is the song that deals with the subject I mentioned before about hell being no fun clearly from the title of it. You even mentioned in it Huey Lewis probably playing in hell to torment metalheads. Besides that sounding like heaven to Patrick Batman from American Psycho, do you think if hell is personal torment then all the pop bands mentioned in “New Music Sucks” would be the soundtrack for a metalhead’s hell?

Yeah, I think so, because hell is whatever you hate or it would be basically a personal torture session. So whatever you like the least is going to be what they force in your ears. So I guess you could lie about it and go like, “God, I love Post Malone” so they don’t play Post Malone to you forever [laughs].

Hopefully they don’t have mind reading abilities.

Right [laughs].

Were you raised with any religious background?

I was, actually. I say that in the song, that I was a Christian kid. Not crazy Christian but more like California Christian. So it was never brutal but there was Sunday school, Christian ski trip, camp, and all that growing up.

Do you remember at that time anyone saying you’d “go to hell” for listening to heavy metal?

Oh yeah. I got in trouble for having a Kiss poster and all sorts of things like that. It wasn’t as intense as it was with some people I knew who I grew up with because it was California. Most of the guys at my church, like youth group leaders, were kind of hippies in being sweet rather than mean, but there was for sure that side of Christianity. A couple of things I was into got me in trouble like Dungeons & Dragons and then in the 1980’s when metal got even heavier it got scarier. So there was more moral warnings from people but by then I was not going to church… because of Satan [laughs].

Going back to the same song, “Satan’s Kind of Dick,” it makes reference to Slayer not being played in hell and I noticed a riff in the song near the end sounds pretty much like the opening riff of their song “Jesus Saves." So I take that was a little tribute to Slayer there?

Yeah, there is. I don’t know if that was intentional on Scott’s part, but there’s a lot of Slayer riffage going on in that song, and the fact we got Gary Holt to do the solo when that lined up, it was like, “oh man!” Now it sounds like a Slayer song and really it was always meant to be an homage to them. They’re one of the first for me, as a Christian kid when I got into them... like Hell Awaits was genuinely scary. It felt forbidden like something I wasn’t supposed to be listening to. Whereas with Motley Crue it didn’t. Shout at the Devil wasn’t scary as it just felt like four jackasses from LA doing this thing dressed up all Mad Max-y while talking about the devil but they’re not really talking about the devil. With Hell Awaits you hear it and you’re like, “Oh my god! I might go to hell for listening to this!”

Speaking of Slayer I think the first time I saw you speak live at a public event was introducing Slayer at the Gibson Amphitheatre [long ago demolished for Universal Studios’ Harry Potter World]. You of course also had a joke on a comedy album about it “not being gay” if you shout Slayer while doing anything clearly not hetero. Slayer of course retired last year, at least from touring and I guess we’ll all wait and see what happens there, but what was your reaction when you heard it was maybe the real end to Slayer?

I feel like they’re not going to tour, but they’re not done. I haven’t asked anybody who would know for sure. but that’s just my gut feeling. But yeah, it’s weird. Like, it makes sense when bands older than you, speaking for myself, are retiring, but Slayer is not. Slayer is my age so I’m like, “wait, should I be wrapping it up? Why are they stopping?”

Did you attend any of their final shows?

I didn’t get to make any of them. I was really bummed I missed the LA one with Primus as that would have been amazing, but I’ve seen them so many times. This last year I was crazy busy and just wasn’t able to make it out. I miss a lot of good shows, really. The funny thing is when you’re friends with these touring bands and I’ll play a comedy show at a city the day after they were there so I’m like, “oh man, Slayer was just in D.C.” So that happens all the time where I not only miss them playing in LA but then I just barely miss them around the country.

That sucks.

Yep [laughs].

Monster Mash was a later addition to the album as mentioned in the press release but that said I find it just as enjoyable as the rest of the album. You go through a whole list of classic monsters and horror movie antagonists including Chucky and the Cenobites. I’ve discussed before in some of my writing, as it’s a subject I geek out over, but for you why does metal and horror movies go together so well?

Why do they fit together? I don’t know, but it feels organic. Just the fact that there are so many metalheads who are also into horror and I meet them at conventions and other things. Then you’ve got some horror movies with metal soundtracks. So I don’t know why it fits together, but it certainly does.

Of course when it comes to horror you had a part in Rob Zombie’s “The Devil’s Rejects” which I have to say is one of the best horror movies of this century. What was it like to work on that set especially since you had a pretty startling death scene?

I knew it was going to be pretty brutal because his first movie “House of 1,000 Corpses” I was a fan of. I was a bit jealous that a few of my comic friends were in it, I didn’t know Rainn Wilson, but the fact Chris Hardwick was in it made me go, “hey man... I like Rob Zombie and horror films. I’d totally do that.” Once I became friends with Rob shortly after that I knew that his next one was going to be a part of something cool just because the first one was so good and then I read the script which made me think it was even better. In retrospect I think it is a better movie and "...Rejects...” is probably his best movie. It’s so brutal but on the set we were laughing a lot which was crazy. We were going on to these grim sets, I got shot in the face, and you witnessed all this terrible stuff going on… like I had to pretend to be dead while the woman from “Three’s Company” [Priscilla Anne Barnes] was being… well you know what happened [laughs]. It was pretty rough.

Moving back to the new album, you’ve got a cover of A-ha’s “Take On Me,” which is a great and fun cover, but it’s also not totally surprising as some bands have done metal covers of pop songs. Like I remember even Children of Bodom made a Brittney Spears cover pretty entertaining. That said, the cover of “What Does the Fox Say?” by Ylvis definitely feels out of left field. So how exactly did that come about?

For “Take On Me” I wasn’t trying to shock anybody but just do a cool version of that song. But with “What Does the Fox say?"... well, I think now it’s the perfect time because people have kind of forgotten about that song, but when I recorded it a couple years back it was the hugest thing and such an earworm that you couldn’t escape that song. So I thought it would be funny and to get the guys I got to sing on it too; I got Corey Taylor to play it straight and Michael Starr from Steel Panther to sing his balls off.

You’ve done quite a lot of both live acting and voice acting roles which I have to ask about a few of them. In Steven Universe you played a character named Sour Cream who is a DJ and into electronic music. Did that take some artistic stretching to play that character or was it just fun to do something different?

Yeah, it wasn’t really a stretch at all and I thought it was funny when I first read the script like, “whoa, yeah this guy couldn’t be any more different than me.” With my voice, they knew what they wanted, as that was a thing I didn’t audition for. They brought me in and the creator of the show [Rebecca Sugar] was like, “I know your voice, so do that, but kind of young it up." So try to sound like the youngest Posehn I could do. I love Sour Cream and doing the baby version of him where I had to young it up even more.

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You’ve certainly never been shy about your complicated relationship with Star Wars but it must have been a lifetime dream come true to finally be in the Star Wars Universe now, as you played a character from the first episode of Disney Plus’ The Mandalorian -- who, I might add, gets eaten alive by a giant alien creature. How was it getting to participate on that show?

Well, you know, it actually wasn’t a dream. I never thought… Star Wars is such a thing where it never even crossed my mind that I could possibly be in it or involved in any way. So it wasn’t like a bucket list thing at all so when it came about I freaked. I still think it’s really cool and I’m really proud of it… and the fact I’m in good Star Wars and not some of the stuff I refuse to recognize as canon. But this one, winding up in a show that people really like is great. My kid likes it, and he got to go to school where all the kids in his school were freaking out that I got eaten by this creature. Spoiler! [laughs] It was a blast and getting to be on the set was totally fun. They knew, the director [Dave Filoni] and a couple other people, knew I’m a huge fan so they showed me around and showed me things in scenes I’m not even in and that kind of thing. It was an absolute blast.

I’d also be remiss to not ask about this especially since some older friends of mine were big fans of Mr Show, unfortunately I missed it back in the day, but said friends showed me the Titannica sketch which has to be one of the best metal related comedy bits I’ve ever seen. Any memories particularly stand out from that time either from the writing or the shooting of that sketch?

Well, that was my idea, and I wrote it way meaner in the original version. It was pretty vicious and just uglier. It got softened, but I’m glad. The sketch never would have worked the way I had wrote it originally. The rubber body was not my original idea. The sketch came together with [Bob] Odenkirk, Dino Stamatopoulos, and me sitting down and working it out. What was great about working with Bob was he let ideas live that would have been shot down. People didn’t love the version I wrote so it would have died if he hadn’t gone, “hey man, what do you really like about this and talk to me about it.” So he tried to get in my head of what I hadn’t gotten down on paper and trying to look at it from a different angle. Once we landed on David [Cross] with this puppet body we knew it was just going to crush live and it became one of the best live scenes we ever did I think. It really came to be because Bob is so patient, and he’s the smartest writer I’ve ever worked with. It’s been hard to not work with him after that because you wish every boss was just like him.

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Last question here, you mentioned earlier about his reaction to you in Star Wars, but in other interviews you’ve mentioned your son and slowly trying to introduce him into metal music. What’s the current status of that? Has he gone full blown yet or has it fallen apart?

We don’t dress him metal or force it on him, but I think I’ve laid a good foundation. He saw Iron Maiden last year with me and his mom. He’ll now tell anyone Iron Maiden is his favorite band. We started off with Kiss and the bands that are going to appeal to a nine or a ten year old with a big stage show and it’s stuck. In the car he’ll hear other bands, he likes Pantera, he loves hearing curse words in songs [laughs]. He also enjoys Anthrax, Metallica… so the good stuff. In the early years we didn’t play for him any of the really heavy stuff so it was like [Black] Sabbath and AC/DC. In the last couple of years I started to go, “hey man, here’s this other thing I dig.” That was how I showed him Pantera which the first time he heard he was like, “Oh my god!” It was so much heavier than anything he had heard at that point.

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Grandpa Metal is out now via Megaforce Records. Catch Brian Posehn performing stand-up at any of the following dates:

February 23 @ Orange Studios - Orlando, FL
March 12-14 @ Spokane Comedy Club - Spokane WA
March 19-21 @ Goodnights Comedy Club - Raleigh NC
March 26-28 @ Capitol City Comedy Club - Austin, TX
April 16-18 @ Helium Comedy Club - Philadelphia, PA
April 23-25 @ Cobb's Comedy Club - San Francisco, CA
May 14 @ High Dive - Gainesville, FL
May 15 @ The Wilbury - Tallahassee, FL
May 16 @ Highland Inn - Atlanta, GA

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