There aren’t a lot of metal heads that have broken into the mainstream without being in a huge band, but comedian, actor, writer and heavy metal fan Brian Posehn has done just that. He has appeared in too many movies and TV shows for me to list them all here but you can see him live at the Black Cat doing his stand up routine this Thursday, November 20th, 2014 (details here). You don’t have to be a metal head to enjoy his style of comedy but there’s usually some inside jokes for us in there too. I got the chance to talk to him on the phone recently and what started as an interview quickly turned into a conversation between two metal heads asking each other what bands they like and what they’re listening to lately. You can stream the 19 minute interview by clicking the orange play button below, download it as an mp3 here, or read the following transcription which is full of useful links. Bonus points for reading along as you listen! If you’ve ever wondered exactly what kind of a metal head Brian Posehn is then you’re going to love this interview.
Hello this is Metal Chris of DCHeavyMetal.com and I’ve got comedian Brian Posehn here on the phone with me right now. Brian will be doing stand up at the Black Cat in Washington, DC on Thursday, November 20th. He’s put out three albums of stand up comedy including The Fartist in 2013, has appeared in several movies and TV shows including Just Shoot Me! and [as] the heavy metal loving neighbor Brian Spukowski on The Sarah Silverman Program and he’s even been the full time writer for the Deadpool ongoing comic book series. He’s known as a metal head and often references metal bands in his stand up routine. To get things started here Brian, can you tell me what fans can expect from your stand up show on Thursday?
*Iron Man’s helmet*
Yeah my son is saying that Iron Man is a metal head because he has a metal helmet. Sorry you have a five year old chiming in helping me answer. What was the question? Sorry.
What can fans expect from your show this Thursday?
More of the same is a terrible answer but it’s me and the act right now is pretty self deprecating, but it has been. I’m transitioning out of The Fartist. I’ve retired most of those jokes. There might be one or two of those jokes left but I’m already working on the next album and it’s almost there. I have 45 minutes of new material I just need to kind of cap the hour off with some new stuff and then it’ll be ready to go. Metal Chris is his name, Rhoads.
Rhoads is named after a guitar player.
Rhoads you love Ozzy don’t you?
*Yeah I like Ozzy*
Is there an opener for your set this Thursday, and do you know who it is?
Yeah it’s a buddy of mine, Jeremy Essig. He’s kind of my regular– not kind of, he’s been my regular feature for the last couple of years. [I] met him in Saint Louis and he flies everywhere and he drives everywhere and is just a really funny dude and loves being on the road so, it’s nice.
So is there any reason you decided to perform at the Black Cat instead of a more traditional comedy venue? I think the last time I saw you here you were at the Arlington Cinema And Drafthouse which does a lot more stand up.
Yeah I love that spot and will probably go back there but I’ve done the Black Cat before with Comedians Of Comedy [a 2005 comedy tour featuring Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, Brian Posehn and Maria Bamford] and it’s a good rock club space for comedy. I had a couple of good experiences there. I’m looking forward to it. Mostly what I’m doing lately is rock clubs. I still have a handful of comedy clubs that I will forever do pretty much but I’m trying to do more of the one show or two shows in and out at a rock club and then go to the next city.
I heard that you’ve got a comedy album in the works that’s going to be all music, with Scott Ian of Anthrax, that you guys are putting together. Do you have a name for this band or this project?
Yeah we’re just calling it Posehn. That’s what we did for the songs that were on my two Relapse records that I did. It’s just kind of simple, just the last name. And then [I] don’t know what the record is called yet but we’re done with all the demos. We’re mostly done with the basic tracks and Scott’s got to come in and redo some guitars and then we’re filling up solos. Guys like Gary Holt [of Exodus and Slayer] just sent me a solo the other day. Alex Skolnick [of Testament] did one. Kim Thayil is going to do one, from Soundgarden, it’s crazy. It’s shaping up to be really funny and with actual amazing musicianship. Not me of course but all my friends.
Do you plan to tour to support this once it comes out?
Scott and I have talked about doing something. He and I want to do a spoken word tour and then maybe. It would be really hard to get a touring band behind one record too and I don’t know. I’d love to think about it at some point but what we might wind up doing is just doing acoustic versions of stuff, he and I. That [would] probably be easier to schedule.
You could always try to set up getting another band to open for you and then steal some of their members for your set later that night.
That’s a great idea too. Yeah, I’ve never really thought out the logistics because honestly it’s not really a dream. Touring as a stand up is so much easier, from what I’m told, than touring as a band guy.
You don’t have to tear down all the drum kits every night either.
Who would you tour with, do you think, if you could? I could see you with Tenacious D or Gwar or something like that.
Yeah those guys are funny but I’m talking about going out with bands that I’m friends with that I actually like that wouldn’t be funny. Somebody like Red Fang might be a good fit. Go out with them and just do the straight metal and then I do the goofy metal and then maybe do a stand up routine. I think if you went out with Steel Panther or something like that it would just be… I don’t know… almost too much, you know, too much comedy. I like breaking it up with a regular metal band because I have no problem performing in front of, or after, really heavy bands.
Do you have any favorite metal bands from the DC area?
Not metal but probably one of the best shows all time still for me is seeing Bad Brains [on their] Quickness tour which is their crossover record. Well yeah that is a metal record.
Yeah I saw them [on] that tour with the band Leeway in San Francisco and it’s still one of the craziest shows I’ve ever seen in my life. Kids were hitting the ceiling from stage diving and crowd surfing and then, because it’s Bad Brains, they would transition from like a really heavy, fast, crazy song to a reggae song and then people were still going off and going nuts and hitting the ceiling. It was insane. Twenty-five years ago [and it still] holds up as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Maybe almost thirty, ugh, god I’m old.
Have you ever seen the Heavy Metal Parking Lot documentary movie?
Yes! Love it. And that takes place out there right? Yeah.
Yeah it’s from DC. So have you ever thought about coming out to Baltimore for the Maryland Deathfest we have out here every year?
Yeah I’ve been wanting to it’s just never worked out. It’s kind of hard to justify and plus once you’re a dad, like, hey honey I’ve got to fly across the country just to go to a metal show. And if I was performing or bringing people up that might work, that would be awesome. I just did Phil Anselmo’s festival. The Housecore [Horror Festival] thing. Yeah if it was something like that situation that would be perfect because there I got to perform and then I got to hang out for two days and watch a bunch of bands. It was awesome.
So what would you say your favorite metal band to see live is?
Still… I mean the best show ever is still [Iron] Maiden. You can’t beat that. [You] can’t beat that band and those songs and their live performances are insane. Newer bands… not that Lamb Of God is new but I love Lamb Of God shows, I love Mastodon shows, I love Down.
So are there any metal bands you’ve always wanted to see but you haven’t had the chance to yet?
Not really. No there’s not a lot of bands out there that I haven’t seen yet.
So you go out to a lot of shows, that’s good.
I do man. I try to. Like I said it gets tough with me being on the road and then sometimes you know I’ll be in a place like Maryland and then I’ll see that Lamb Of God was just there and then of course I don’t get to see Lamb Of God when I’m in LA cause I’ve got something else or I’m on the road but that said, I make as much of an effort as I can to see bands.
Well on DC Heavy Metal here, next time you’re coming through this area, which will be on November 20th, you know we do have a calendar on here that shows all the metal shows from Maryland, DC and Virginia with links to where to buy tickets, all the venues, all that stuff on there so.
Yeah. So, what are exactly your favorite genres of metal? I know you like some different bands from kind of across the spectrum but what are your favorite genres?
Well traditional and I love a lot of new wave of British heavy metal stuff. I was into that before thrash came. And then thrash. But I also love death [metal]. I love a lot of Florida death [metal] bands. I’m probably more versed in Florida death [metal] than any of the other versions just because I was working at a record store when those first couple Obituary and Cannibal Corpse records came out and bands like Exhorder and stuff like that. I really like that stuff.
You grew up like in Sacramento right? Like in the 80s I think.
Sacramento and Sonoma. Sonoma is where I went to high school and then I went to college in Sacramento.
So that’s around when the early thrash scene was starting there too right? So you were probably into some of that weren’t you?
Oh absolutely, yeah. I was reading fanzines and going to San Francisco to see shows, when I could. I was a little young and then 45 minutes away so it was hard to get my mom to let me go to as many as I wanted to but I got to go to some key ones. I saw Death Angel quite a bit when they were really young and I was young and I saw Vio-lence and all those bands. Saw Metallica a couple of times before they were massive and then even after they were massive they came back and did shows in Petaluma when the black album came out so I’ve seen a million great shows being up in that area.
What bands have you been listening to lately?
A bunch of the old stuff. I love the new Carcass record. I love the new Overkill record and then I’m trying to think of newer bands. I love some of the Swedish kind of melodic throwback stuff where it’s more traditional stuff like Graveyard and some of those bands. God who else? Who should I be listening to?
Well let’s see I’m a big fan of Pallbearer. Their new album I’ve really liked a lot.
Yeah I picked it up but I haven’t played it much but I should check that out. I’ve got it.
Windhand out of Richmond, I really like them a lot too.
Say that again.
Windhand. No I don’t know them.
If you like that doomy stuff check them out. They just put out an album on Relapse last year, their first album on Relapse. It’s really good.
It’s female vocals but it’s doom. There’s not a lot of bands that sound like that I don’t think but they pull it off really well.
I have a few just straight up metal head questions that I wanted to ask you like, do you prefer Ozzy [Osbourne] or [Ronnie James] Dio in [Black] Sabbath?
Well now the answer is Ozzy but as a kid I didn’t get into Sabbath until Dio. I wasn’t really that well versed because it was a little before my time but I was in junior high and high school when Ozzy left and did the [Randy] Rhoads records and then when Dio joined up with Sabbath so Heaven And Hell and Mob Rules were my two favorites but now I’ve done my homework and I go a little deeper. I love the early Ozzy stuff. I listen to Sabbath non stop pretty much so.
It’s all amazing. And like you heard with my kid I’m trying to… I’m not playing crazy metal for him yet. He hasn’t heard the really brutal or nuts stuff.
Haven’t gotten him into Cryptopsy yet?
The basics. I’ve got him on Sabbath and he knows both singers and I haven’t played any Ian Gillian for him or any of the other records. I’m starting him with the basics. I think it’s super important you know?
Yeah, definitely. Are you more of the Metallica fan or the Megadeth fan?
I love a bunch of Megadeth records but no at the time it was Metallica for sure and still. Those first four records are pretty perfect. But I was also, and still am, at the time a bigger Anthrax fan than Megadeth or Slayer. It was kind of Metallica one and Anthrax two for me.
So have you seen this Baby Metal thing that everybody has been talking about? Do you have any opinions on them?
Of course. Yeah man. Am I going to go see them? Probably not unless it was easy for me. If it was at some festival thing I would walk over and check it out but I think it’s funny and I don’t know why they didn’t come out 20 years ago. It just seems like something the Japanese would have already done, combining cute school girls with metal. I can’t believe they didn’t tour with Loudness 20 years ago.
You know Marty Friedman finally comes back to metal and then this stuff blows up.
Do you listen to much black metal?
Not the really brutal kvlt stuff or you know, K-V-L-T version of that word. No, and I’ll tell you why. I’ll probably lose some metal cred for this but I’ve always had a problem with… can I cuss?
I haven’t yet.
Nah this is on the internet man you can say whatever the fuck you want.
Oh right on. Well my son was in the car earlier now he’s out or we’re at the house but anyway, yeah man shitty production always bothered the fuck out of me. I bought those Venom records as a kid. Didn’t love them. Never loved them. [I] bought them because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do and then when I put them on… You know even the early Slayer, like I love Hell Awaits but the stuff before that… not produced well and if it’s not I just can’t get into it so that’s my problem with a lot of the original black metal. You know Mayhem and that early stuff, it hurts my ears. My precious, precious ears. But then I got into the probably false version. I like some Dimmu Borgir. I like some black but I feel like that’s not my area of expertise.
Have you heard of the band Liturgy?
Only by name. Are they one of the ones worth checking out?
Haha, uhh, well they’re sort of divisive. They are a bunch of kids from Brooklyn you know they ride bicycles and that kind of thing and they’re basically Brooklyn hipsters from Williamsburg. Well they’ve started a black metal band so I always like to ask people who they think is more trve in the black metal sense, Liturgy or Cradle Of Filth?
Hahaha. I uh, I don’t know. I think that Cradle Of Filth guy would have trouble getting on a bike with all the props and his make up and it would be hard to see with those crazy contact lenses in so maybe Liturgy is more metal.
Haha. Do you have any favorite albums of 2014 because the year’s wrapping up here?
Well, the new Exodus.
The return of [the late Exodus vocalist Paul] Baloff. [Ed. note: I knew I said the wrong name as soon as it came out of my mouth but his answer was too good to edit this part out.]
Yeah or no, of [Steve] Souza.
Haha yeah I wish it was the return of Baloff but that’s not going to happen.
That would be super metal man if he came back from the grave. An undead singer is the most metal singer you can have. That record was great. Fuck, you kind of caught me off guard. I should have been thinking about what my favorite shit is from this year. But like I said that last Carcass record I was listening to a lot.
Did you hear the new At The Gates?
Yeah, well no I bought it but I haven’t checked it out yet. I just got it. I love them but I hope it’s good. Is it good?
It’s not terrible.
Haha you’re selling the shit out of that.
Well it sounds like old At The Gates. It’s not going to be as good as Slaughter Of The Soul. You’ve got to just accept that. It’s not going to be that album. But at the same time it’s not a terrible album. It’s kind of like the new Black Sabbath album with Ozzy. It’s not horrible it’s just…
It’s not going to hold up to those classics but it’s not bad.
I think a lot you know, for doing comparable work, I think Carcass’s new record is comparable to Heartwork. It’s probably not classic status yet like that but I don’t know. It’s so hard. And then I’m working on that Scott Ian record, he and I we call ourselves grandpa metal. We make fun of each other for being kind of so set in our ways and you judge these bands on the classic albums and a ton of people think that Anthrax hasn’t ever done anything past Among The Living and [it] depends on your opinion. I do.
Like I said you’ve got to understand what it is going in. When people think it’s just going to be this…
The new At The Gates isn’t Slaughter Of The Soul but it’s still a good album. It’s got some great riffs on it.
Cool. Yeah I want to check it out. You know what I like is that new Slipknot record and again I’m probably losing cred for not loving Venom and liking Slipknot but whatever. It’s good man. If you like that band there’s some good stuff on there.
So do you really have anything on your iPod besides “Two Princes” by the Spin Doctors?
I actually don’t have “Two Princes” on my iPod.
So now in addition to being a metal head you’re also a big video game fan and I was kind of curious what you’re thinking about this whole #GamerGate thing that’s been going on.
I don’t even know what it is.
This whole reaction to feminism that’s going on in the video gaming world right now.
Oh man… I don’t know. Oh man no I’m not even going to get into it. The whole internet… haha “the whole internet,” I’m a grandpa for sure… Eh I don’t have time for any of that shit. I don’t know what #GamerGate is. Feminism in video games… I don’t know.
It’s a bunch of guys at like 4chan and Reddit [that] have been attacking a bunch of people that have been commenting about sexist things going on in video games and stuff and they’ve been publishing these women’s addresses on the internet and things like that to scare them.
Oh that’s not good.
But then they say they’re doing it all to try to make it so there’s more honesty in journalism or something. I don’t know it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me either but I’m not the biggest gamer but it’s been all over Twitter.
Yeah I just try not to spend too much time on Twitter or getting into online fights. [There is] not enough hours in the day to care about that shit.
Yeah it’s gotten to the point where Intel I think was pulling ads off of sites. It’s snowballed out of control. At this point I’m not even sure what it’s really about any more.
Anyways, so moving on… hahaha So you’ve stopped smoking pot and I was wondering do you still drink beer because there’s a whole craft beer revolution going on right now and there’s a lot of breweries in DC that have ties to metal as well like DC Brau, Port City, Adroit Theory, and in Baltimore their Oliver Ales makes a beer for The Sword and Brewer’s Art makes an Ozzy beer so I’m just curious, are you into craft beer at all?
Yeah but it’s like asking me about new black metal. I’ll drink it but really I really am not that knowledgeable about it. It’s not something I follow or care about but I enjoy beer and will try ones that are recommended to me and that kind of thing. Boring answer but it’s the truth I just kind of don’t give a fuck haha.
I mean it’s just like music, sometimes you have to start somewhere and have someone push you in the right direction ya know?
Right, right, right.
Anyway thanks so much for your time Brian. It’s been a lot of fun and I can’t wait to see you…
Yeah man sorry. Sorry my son was on the phone in the beginning it’s just timing wise he was in the car.
Nah it’s all good man. [It] sounds like you’re raising him to be a hell raiser already so that’s pretty cool.
Haha yeah, [I’m] working on it man.
Alright man well I can’t wait to see you this Thursday, November 20th at the Black Cat.
Yep, thanks man.
Alright take it easy. Stay metal man.