Already a successful comedian and actor before his first album was released, Brian Posehn embraced his status as a metal comedian by signing with Relapse Records, who released Live In: Nerd Rage and Fart and Weiner Jokes. While he switched to New Wave Dynamics for his current DVD, The Fartist, he’s far from renouncing metal. We caught up with him to discuss why his latest album is the first to not have any music on it, his forthcoming collaboration with Anthrax’s Scott Ian, and his short stint as a wannabe drummer.
The Fartist is your first record not on Relapse. What made you sign with them in the first place, and why are you not with them for this release?
At the time, so many of my friends were signing with indie labels, and guys were doing comedy records for Sub Pop and places like that, and that made sense for them because that’s kind of their world. I’m lumped in with alternative comics, but my taste has never been alternative or indie, it’s always been metal. So it just made more sense to go to a metal label. Back when I did the first record, my manager and I just made a list of the indie/metal labels that were around at that time to see if they were interested, and before my manager could even approach any of those places, Relapse approached me and I had just put the CD out on my own and blew out of 1,000 copies, so we sold it to them. I had always wanted to; if I signed with a metal label, do some metal songs so we did this song that I had written for Mr. Show years ago, and then the original “Metal by Numbers.” They were great on the last album, and I’m friends with the guys at Relapse, so I might go back to them at some point, but what happened with this latest one is, again, a company approached us and wanted to do a special and a DVD which, Relapse didn’t seem like it was going to be the exact right place because this wasn’t going to have any metal elements to it.
Metal is always there in my standup act, even if I’m not doing jokes about Slayer, there’s certain references, and that kind of thing. It just made sense to go with a label that was more familiar with putting out hour specials on DVD, and that’s what New Wave does. They’ve done a lot of my friends. It worked for them, and it felt like a good fit. Then the Netflix thing happened, so it had life on Netflix first. It was available there for a couple of months, and it just came out of DVD and CD a week and a half ago. That said, I might end up doing stuff with Relapse again. I’m signed now with Megaforce for the next thing I’m doing. Scott Ian and I are doing an all metal comedy record. So it’ll be no stand up, it’ll just be 10 songs. We’re going to do about six originals and four covers. We just started the writing process of that, finally. We signed with Megaforce almost a year ago, but the Anthrax schedule got in the way, and then my schedule got in the way.
That’s a good problem to have.
We both really want to do it, so we just got serious lately about it. Scott wants to do it before he records the next Anthrax record, and they’re already starting to write stuff for Anthrax so we’ve got to kick ass in the next couple of months.
Is there a reason that there weren’t any songs on The Fartist? Did it have something to do with the fact that you’re going to be working with Scott?
No, it’s just the way it came about, and the fact that it was going to have life as a special first. I’m not burning Relapse by not doing another record with them, but I felt like if I did my formula that I did with them for a new company, that felt like that would be kind of uncool. Then there was the fact that we DID make this deal a year ago with Megaforce to do the full record, so that was all already on my plate.
How far along are you with this? Do you have actual songs written?
We do. We have two that he (Scott Ian) just did the guitar demos for, so we’re going to work on a couple of more demos, and then we’re gonna get the full band to record. We’ll probably do five or six songs, then break, then write five or six more, or figure out the covers. We have a list of covers that we want to do, and I can tell you a couple. We’re going to do the Riot song “Swords and Tequila,” and that we’re not gonna fuck with, really. We’re just going to have it be whoever else wants to get in the booth with me, or send screams in from wherever they live. I’m just going to fill it with guest vocals and guest guitars. I’ve already got some friends on board. Guys like the Death Angel guys, Testament, Rob Flynn, and maybe Phil of Vio-Lence and Machine Head. I’ll go to other friends and say “do you like that Riot song?” and if they say yes, ask if they want to sing or play guitar, and then just fill it with coolness. It’s a tribute to a band that, you, I’m sure, know about, but a lot of people don’t. I feel like they should get what Anvil’s gotten, even though one of their singers isn’t around anymore. I just feel like they were one of those bands that was overlooked when you talk about metal history. They influenced a ton of bands. Riot wasn’t a thrash band but all the thrash bands that followed were big Riot fans. That’s a fun one, and to kind of do what I covered by doing “The Gambler” on the last record, we’re gonna do another silly sound that COULD be metal. We’re going to do a-ha’s “Take on Me,” and I think it’ll just be really funny, fast, and heavy.
Have you been in bands before? Did you want to be an actual musician at one point?
I was a wanna-be, but I just could never play. Do you play?
Yeah, not well. I play keyboards, which is not very metal, but I can play drums and bass kind of okay.
I had a drum set as a kid, maybe when I was 19 or 20, I bought it, but regardless, I sucked. I was listening to Hell Awaits at the time, and I couldn’t play anything off Hell Awaits.
Not too many average drummers can.
Right. That made me just quit. That was always part of my personality of like, ‘nah, that’s too hard. How do they do that?’ I’d much rather listen to it, and not even try.
What made you decide to say “fuck it, I’m going to do this?”
Well, with this stuff, coming from Mr. Show, I had written lyrics before for funny songs, and so, I knew I had that in me, and then, Weird Al is one of my biggest influences, and although I haven’t done parody stuff like he does, he’s also known for doing originals. But it’s all novelty. I love bands like Scatterbrain, and love the idea of kind of doing novelty metal. I felt like that was something I could get away with without a decent singer at all.
Have you actually played out with people?
We did “More Metal than You” at not last year’s Golden Gods, but the year before. That was the one time. That was super intimidating to be in front of a big crowd, and then, Rob Zombie’s playing later, and real bands are playing later. And I had a real band, but I had no business being up there singing. But I can fake it! I can do the fake anger and fake intensity.
Yeah, I mean, Jim Breuer can do it. So I imagine if this album comes out, you’re going to have to get up there and play a little bit more.
Yeah, I think we would need to figure it out. You don’t want to do an acoustic thing for really heavy songs, so I’d have to find guys that can go out and also do it around Scott Ian’s schedule. Then, I think we’ll first do stuff in town. Stuff in LA. It’s easy for us.
And you’re saying that you have a band. Are there other people of note in the band?
Yeah, well, the guys who performed on the last two records. It’s Joey Vera on bass and John Tempesta, who is a friend and also a great drummer. But there’s other guys. If those guys can’t play, on this next record, I think Gene Hoglan’s going to do some stuff.
Talk about a drummer that would make you want to give up.
We’re writing one song that needs blast beats. At LEAST one song. We’re doing a song called “Satan’s Kind of a Dick,” which is playing on the whole thing of everyone worshipping Satan in heavy metal, but if you really think about it, he’s probably not that good of a guy. So that’s got black metal parts to it and Slayer parts to it, and we might need Gene on that one. Then there’s a couple of other things that really make us laugh. There’s a viking song that we’re going to do that will need some pretty crazy drums on it.
This year at Mayhem Fest, Amon Amarth come out in a viking ship, that’s their stage this year.
I love them. I could not be a bigger fan of them. They’re awesome. That song is inspired by them. I’m actually a quarter Swedish, and that’s what the joke is about. I’m one quarter viking and three quarters pussy. I’ve got this viking blood in me, but then I’ve got this pussy useless other blood in me. All the lyrics are just about like…how I’ve never swung a sword or a battle axe, but I’ve gotten a pedicure with my wife. It’s all self-deprecating stuff, which is easy for me. Scott wasn’t that familiar with Amon Amarth.
No. I call him grandpa metal, and we joke about it. We’re even going to do a song on the record about how he doesn’t like any music that’s post 1991 or so. It’s just really hard to get him to listen to anything new. For that, I had to go “hey, can you listen to this?” and he gets it right away because he’s one of the best guitarists out there.