MetalocalypseNow! How Series Creator Brendon Small is Partnering with Fans to Deliver the Series Finale

By in Music Creation

Over the course of it’s 10 year run on Cartoon Networks’ Adult Swim, Metalocalypse has been a massive hit since it premiered. Still, the series has yet to be renewed for a final season, leaving fans to wonder why Metalocalypse’s future remains in limbo since the end of its’ 4th season in 2013. Investing a decade into a show you love can be irritating if it ends abruptly, which is why the creators of the show have gotten together with the fans to start a grassroots campaign with the intention of bringing the series the grand finale it deserves on a new home – Hulu.

For the uninitiated, the animated series documents the life and times of the extreme metal band Dethklok. They’re not only the most brutal metal group of all time, but also the “world’s greatest cultural force” and 7th largest economy. Which is to say, they’re popular. While the show is incredibly funny, it takes the music seriously. Every episode features original Deathklok songs that are all composed and performed by series creator Brendon Small, a graduate of Berklee and a world-class shedder. Imagine if Glee starred Cannibal Corpse instead of a bunch of 30 year-olds pretending to be in high school, but with more jokes. It’s sort of like that.

Metalocalypse creator Brendon Small may be a goofball, but he’s serious about guitar

Amazingly, this goofy show has transcended its success on television despite the fact that it’s an incredibly violent cartoon about death metal. Small has released 4 full-length Dethklok albums that have all been hits—their first record, The Dethalbum, was the highest charting death metal album in history. That was until The Dethalbum II came out. And that album was bested by their third release, the unsurprisingly named Deathalbum III…In your face, previous albums!

Their highest charting, and therefore best album.

Following the shows’ successful 4th season, Small set his ambitions on creating a rock opera for the band, The Doomstar Requiem, which was released both as a one-hour special and soundtrack album. When he put together a band to play the songs live, they featured animated videos synced to the bands performance, which is no easy feat for a group playing speed metal. Go ahead and try it. I’ll give you a minute.

Behind The Scenes of Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem

I caught up with Brendon to talk about the future of Metalocalypse, what makes for a great series finale and how the fans can get involved to get the finale they deserve.

Brendon Small looking toward the future of Metalocalypse

AG: Metalocalypse is coming to an end after 10 years on the air. Are you ready to see it go or is there anything you’d like to see resolved before it finally goes off the air?

BS: Yes, absolutely. We’d really like to end the show with a mini series to finish the story. There’s an arc that has run throughout the series that should come to a conclusion.

 

AG: The show has been a success for Adult Swim for a decade now. I would imagine they would want to finish big with the series. What’s been the holdup?

BS: We’ve been in this holding pattern for the last two years since we released the Metalocalypse rock opera after season 4. I pitched the network on the miniseries idea and ultimately they said they were having a hard time affording to do what I wanted to do. I just shrugged and was like, yeah, ok. That’s show business. It happens. I get it.

 

AG: But the fans don’t seem to want to let it go.

BS: The really don’t. They’ve have been asking me consistently, literally every day, “When are we getting the final conclusion to the show?”

 

AG: How have you responded to being asked that question every day for two years?

BS: I’ve told them that we pitched the miniseries to Adult Swim and that it was up to them. We also considered doing it as a comic book, but when the fans started chiming in they made it pretty clear they didn’t want that they wanted to experience it the same way they did the show.

 

AG: After waiting for two years, what’s changed that made you decide to make a last push to bring the show back for a finale?

BS: So a few weeks ago I was doing an interview on air for a fan site and the only thing everyone wanted to know about was how we were going to end it. So I said, “listen—here’s what I know. The network doesn’t have enough money to produce the show. But I see all these shows getting a second life on these streaming services like Hulu and Netflix. Maybe there’s something there.”

The fans love Dethklok. The feeling is not mutual.

BS: Well it turns out that Hulu recently acquired the license to stream all of the Metalocalypse episodes as well as few other Adult Swim shows. So I thought this sounds a match made in heaven—Hulu should co-finance the final miniseries with Adult Swim since they’ve got the streaming rights now. So I I asked fans of the show to Tweet to Hulu and Adult swim and tell them they want this. I said that a couple of weeks ago and since then it’s been really amazing to see how many people have been tweeting to Hulu asking for their support.

AG: One of the cool things about these streaming media providers is that it appears they do listen to fans when they’re really vocal about what they want. For instance, Arrested Development got a new season after fans of the show launched a campaign to bring it to Netflix.

BS: That’s right. There’s one thing I know about this business and that is that numbers matter. The show is in reruns right now and it’s still getting around 800,000 to 900,000 viewers a week. We’ve got a huge audience and we know that fans of the show would subscribe to Hulu just to see this finale. It’s amazing to see that pretty much the entire metal community is really behind making this happen. That’s why we launched MetalocalypseNow.

MetalocalypseNow!

AG: What’s the story behind MetalocalypseNow?

BS: A few weeks passed since I asked the fans to start tweeting to Hulu and we just kept getting a bigger and bigger response. That’s when this management company Outerloop reached out to me and said, “Listen – we want to help. What would it take to make this a serious campaign?” So we got together, made a plan and launched MetalacolpyseNow.

 

AG: Are you trying to do any crowd funding to cover the costs of producing the finale?

BS: No, not at all. We don’t want your money—we just want your interest. We’re only asking the fans to sign a petition and share the message on social media if they feel like it. We want to let Hulu and Adult Swim know t there’s a huge and loyal audience who want to see the finale. You just go to the website, sign the petition and that’s it.

 

AG: The fans have invested so much in the show that it only seems fair to wrap it up properly for them.

BS: Exactly. I feel like we owe it to them.

 

AG: What makes a great series finale to you? And what makes a bad one?

BS: First of all, when you’re working in television you’re lucky to do be able to do one at all. We got to make a final episode with my first series, Home Movies. At the time we knew our last episode was going to be our last episode so we were able to write towards it and really conclude the story.

Home Movies: The Final Scene

BS: As for my favorite series finale, I was one of those guys who on board with how the Sopranos ended. I thought it was perfect. To me it’s the ultimate TV show.

 

AG: What do you think was great about that ending?

BS: That it wasn’t just a haphazard thought. Basically what happens is that Tony dies—he gets assassinated. He had a choice earlier in the show to not become a demon—to change his ways‑—and he chose not to. He basically becomes Lucifer and is eventually taken out by his own people.

It was foreshadowed beautifully. There were a lot of way to make that happen and they did it in the most artistic way possible. The people who don’t get it I don’t think understood it. And the people who do get it realize its one of the best endings ever on TV.

 

AG: I remember being glued to the TV during that last season. I also remember seeing Metalocalypse playing on the TV in the show toward the end of the season.

BS: That’s right. Metalocalypse actually appeared on the second to last episode—AJ is seen watching it in the living room. {Series producer) Matthew Wiener was at our office when he saw the show. He said “We’re always looking for stuff to put on TV” and it ended up on the show. Which is incredibly cool to me. It’s my favorite show—there’s nothing like The Sopranos. TV is good, but nothing is beating the Sopranos.

 

AG: The ending you don’t want to do is what they did on Alf.

BS: How did that go?

 

AG: It ended abruptly. Alf spends the entire series trying to avoid being captured by the government who are planning on torturing and dissecting him if they got him. In the final episode the military just captures him and takes him away. That’s it.

BS: Really?!

Yes, really. The grim and somber ending to “Alf”

BS: I gotta say that’s actually a pretty good ending!

AG: Maybe not a bad ending for Metalocalypse.

BS: Well, you know Alf is a character you kind of like to see getting an autopsy or some kind of dissection. I think he’s one of the guys you want to see get hurt just a little…

What’s fun about making our show is that it has a long story trajectory, as opposed to resetting itself every episode. The really fun part of that is putting in a lot of clues in early episodes that maybe didn’t resonate at the time, but are all part of a bigger picture. They’ve been scattered throughout the whole series and they all play into this one final thing. I don’t think the audience really knows, but there are a lot of little tiny secrets in the show that will become apparent in this finale.

One of the clues can be gleaned from the title, which you can see only on Metalocalypsenow.com. The name will give the fans a hint at what’s to come. I wont give away too much, but it’s going to be a big final battle.

Dethklok: Fansong

With the rise of services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime, it’s a great time for anybody who loves TV. They’ve given great shows deemed too risky for broadcast TV (such as Transparent and Orange is the New Black) a place to find an audience. Just as importantly, they’ve also kept a finger on the pulse of what audiences really want, and they’ve listened to them. If you’re one of the millions of Klokateers who wants to see a proper ending to the epic saga of Dethklok, you can make your voice heard and with any luck, we’ll be seeing the band going off loudly, viciously, and brutally into the sunset.

I’d like to extend a special thanks to Brendon Small for the taking the time to give us this exclusive interview. Keep an eye on Avid Blogs to see the extended version of our discussion where we talk about everything from his origins in comedy to designing his signature model guitars for Gibson.

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  • Sarah

    Brendon Small is the best. I signed the petition and will most definitely be signing up for hulu if they pick up the final season.