Brian Posehn is one of those guys that doesn’t like to be confined to one area of show business. On any given day, you can see him onstage telling jokes. The next, you can see him signing copies of a comic book he just wrote or appearing within the Star Wars universe. Whatever you see him doing, though, one thing is for certain. It is always authentically him.
His latest venture shows off another side of him and his love for metal. Metal Grandpa is a new album that just came out, and though there are parts that are definitely funny on there (the Weird Al track comes to mind), more than anything else, it takes itself just as seriously as it should. This isn’t a comedy novelty record. This is a kickass f*cking metal album written by a guy that also happens to be a kickass f*cking comedian on other days.
We recently spoke to Brian Posehn a few weeks ago about all things metal, Elton John turning down his parody of Rocketman, why he likes to spin multiple plates, being in the Star Wars universe, and what he’d like to do next. And while we’re all sheltered away currently, make sure you check out Grandpa Metal.
Walk me through the process of how this came together. It took 6 years, I understand?
Yeah. Well Scott Ian says it’s been longer. He’s been my partner in the whole thing. He says we took 7 years. I’d have to look when we wrote the first song. The first song we wrote was Satan’s Kind Of a Dick. We made that deal with Mega Force. But the real reason it took so long is we’re both crazy busy and then everybody else we work with is really busy, too. We had Brendon Small helping out when he could. It was a priority for all of us but probably not our first priority. The big thing was, for me, I wanted it to be the kind of record you sit down with, and people don’t normally do this anymore, but you sit down with and listen from front to back and have it be this cohesive, heavy experience. And that took a lot of time. And some things happened like we changed the name of the album and we couldn’t get the cover art we originally had. I had written a parody and Elton John said “Nope”. There were things like that that. But I’m so happy with the way it went down and it couldn’t have gone any faster, really. Because some of the best parts for me are the best songs I wrote in the last year and a half and the songs I wound up being most stoked about. Big Fat Rock was one of the last songs we wrote and it filled this hole the record had because there wasn’t really… There were a lot of jokes on the record but that one I felt was just the silliest. What I was really going for was “Let’s just make the dumbest song about a wiener ever written.”
What was the Elton John parody? Are you allowed to say?
Oh yeah. I wrote a song called “Rocker Dad” that was just about my life, me taking my kids to school in the mini van but keep cranking thrash metal. Getting made fun of in the line at my kids’ private school by the other parents that like Katy Perry and that kind of thing. We wrote the song, Brendan Small wrote the arrangement. I thought we did a cool thing and Elton John was like “Nope”. That was like 3 or 4 years ago now. There is no parody. I originally planned to have at least one parody song on the record. But everything’s original and then it’s just 2 covers.
So you never considered parodying another song once that one fell through? Or were you just over it by that point?
Not over it but I just kind of moved on and by then I just had other ideas that I was more stoked on.
I do love the track with Weird Al, though, where you’re asking to parody his parody. That was a brilliant idea, not the idea of the Trump parody, but trying to parody a parody.
Well that was the whole thing. The Trump song is the dumbest. I would never, ever do that. For one you’re going to divide people. And it’s not that I care really that much about upsetting anybody but it’s also not a great idea. It was too low hanging fruit for me to actually do. And that was the gag of the sketch to call him and act all stoked about this great idea I had and then to get mad at Weird Al. And I feel like the public knows this and that’s probably why he’s as popular and as beloved as he is. I think people know he’s a good guy. He’s one of the coolest, nicest people I’ve ever met. And just to make him get irritated with me was just where I thought the comedy would come from. To be kind of a dick to Weird Al and then have him be frustrated.
And I think the coolest thing about the whole album is the timing. 15 years ago, this would’ve been headlined as “Comedian Makes Metal Album”. People wouldn’t have taken it as seriously. I love that we’re in that place now.
Yeah, I agree that we’re in that place. But it’s also, I feel like, the fact that I did get the people I got lent so much legitimacy already. Getting these guys. Scott Ian has been making music since I was in high school. And he’s earned his cred. So I felt like it was really up to me to screw this up. It was always gonna be good with the amount of people that I’m calling in favors from. So the quality was always gonna be there. The guy who produced my record is a great producer and has producer a bunch of other records. So it was really up to me to f*ck it up.
You’re someone who is known for doing all sorts of stuff, not staying confined to one area of show business. At what point did you realize that you could do this, do a bunch of different things and not have to just be a comedian?
When I moved here, I was like that. So when I moved to L.A., a lot of guys are like that. “Well I’m here for stand-up” or you know. I came to write and so stand-up because I came from San Francisco and the comedy scene was really tanking at that point, in the early 90’s. And I moved here to do both. And I remember even having meetings with agents in the very beginning. And I fell into acting and once that happened I was like “Well, I like this, too. So I’m gonna do all three of these things.” And not even thinking then about “I also want to direct and write comic books.” Those things came after I started doing the main three I still do. My schedule is constantly juggling stand-up, writing projects, and acting things. And I had an agent very early on go “Hey man, you’ve got to pick one.” And I’m like “No. That sounds terrible. I’m not gonna pick one thing to focus on.” It felt so misguided. And also you’ll work a third as much. Or at least that’s the way it felt to me. There’s so many people that just act. I know guys that just act and they starve a lot or they don’t work a lot. But for me, I’m never not working on something.
You’re not at the mercy of someone else and waiting as much.
No. Even with my book that I did a couple years back, I didn’t want to go out and pitch it to a bunch of people. I went to one guy that I had talked to before and I had it all worked out. I didn’t even involve my agents. I was like “Look, I want to do this” and let them deal with it. Instead of waiting for somebody to come to me and go “Will you write a book?” I just kind of do whatever I want to anyway most of the time. And it works out.
And as someone who’s been closely identified with the whole geek culture, how surreal is it to now say you’re in the Star Wars universe?
Oh yeah. It’s only been a couple of months since it first aired, but it’s been a while since I did it. And it’s still surreal to me. That wasn’t even a bucket list thing. I’ve got people say to me “That must be another thing off your bucket list.” Like no, not really. I never even thought it was a possibility. How many comedians do you see in that universe? I just felt like it wasn’t even a thing I ever thought of.
There’s other things. Like to be in a Rob Zombie movie. I wanted to be in a Rob Zombie movie. And I love Star Wars, but I was never like “One day.” And then when it happened, when it was pitched to me, I freaked. And then to get there, I just nerded out everywhere over the props. And then also to see the way they shot the thing, I don’t know if you know that but they didn’t used green screen. It’s all this new technology that was just insane that you only get from being on the highest level of Disney and Star Wars combined. And then to see the episode, I couldn’t be more stoked. Sure I die, spoiler! But I die in Star Wars. It’s a pretty cool death, it’s a Star Wars death. My son thinks it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, which is huge.
Of course. And after everything you’ve gotten to do, is there anything still on a bucket list that you’d like to do with your career?
Yeah. I mean I want to do more sitcom stuff. And I have a horror project that I’m working on and I’d still love to do more in the horror world and possibly even direct before I’m done. I’ve directed rock videos and that was one of those things where eventually I could get somebody to give me a low budget to go out and shoot a comedy horror film. And I have the idea, I have this thing that I’m pushing towards. I just want to do it in the comic book first and maybe show somebody that the idea is there and then try to get somebody give me some money.
I love how everything you do feels like all your childhood ambitions come to life.
It does. It’s not lost on me how things have lined up and how I can continue to making money doing things I love. And work on things that mean something to me.
Grandpa Metal is available now.