Comedian Brian Posehn, fresh off the release of his new metal album, Grandpa Metal, sits in and talks about his lifelong passion for pro wrestling, and how it ran parallel to his passion for heavy metal. We talk about wrestling in the 70s, how Hulk Hogan got him out of wrestling, how he got back into it in the 90s, and his thoughts on WWE and AEW today.
Brian’s shows for March and April are being postponed due to the Corvid-19 situation. These dates are being rescheduled and we will post the new dates as soon as possible. Stay safe, healthy and wash those hands!
AN INTERVIEW WITH BRIAN POSEHN AND SCOTT IAN
BY JAMESON KETCHUM
Featured Photo by Tami Morrissey
“New music sucks, new music sucks, new music sucks.” That refrain cries out from every corner of Posehn’s new album, Grandpa Metal. The genius behind Grandpa Metal is comedian Brian Posehn, who’s enlisted the help of his famous and super talented friends to round out the best comedy/metal record of all time. Scott Ian, Corey Taylor, Joe Trohman and Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, need we go on? Jill Janiszewski from Huntress, Chuck Billy from Testament, and still we haven’t covered everybody who contributed to this hilarious and heartwarming piece of metal history. We gathered the figureheads of this triumph, Brian Posehn himself and Anthrax’s Scott Ian to discuss just what makes Grandpa Metal so darn special. Hint: it may be Ian’s love for Lady Gaga.
Grandpa Metal is just so much fun.
Fun is what I’m looking for. For me, it was just all these goofy ideas all on one record. I wanted it to be fun for metal fans, but fun for people who aren’t familiar with every genre of metal. What I really wanted to do for metal fans was write a record with a bunch of different types of funny songs on it. I hope I delivered that. It took me forever, but it was a lot of fun making.
Why the long gap between albums? I have to imagine it’s something that’s been stirring for a while.
The biggest reason is because Scott Ian and myself were really busy. We made this deal with Megaforce almost six years ago now, and we’d been calling it The Chinese Democracy of comedy metal records. It’s not like songs weren’t perfect and I was being Axl about them. It was just a long process. We were almost done about a year ago and realized we only had eight tracks at that point, and I wanted to fill out the record, so I wrote the last two songs with Joe Trohman of Fall Out Boy—he’s one of my closest friends and just a funny guy. He helped me get it done in time. My producer Jay Ruston kept checking in on me, saying, “Hey man, we should look at this at some point.”
What will catch people by surprise is that yes, the songs are hilarious, but they’re also great metal songs.
The songs that I’d done before with Scott, “More Metal Than You” and “Metal by Numbers,” I always felt good about them because they’re goofy and have funny lines, but they’re written by a guy who writes Anthrax songs (laughs). The songs are gonna deliver, the songs are gonna be structured and sound like legit metal songs plus all these guests that are playing on it. I’ve always said it’s really up to me to fuck this record up. The writing is there, so it’s all on me to deliver punch lines and funny performances.
Do you remember when and where you first heard metal as a kid? What do you think drew you to it?
For me, it was a bunch of bands that weren’t metal that got me into metal. I started off with Kiss, but I guess the first legit metal band I got crazy into was Iron Maiden around 1980 or 1981. It was similar to Kiss where it also delivered this visual thing with masks. I was still such a comic book nerd that it helped, having anything that goes along with this music that I hadn’t heard anything like before. They were the big ones and after that a melee of other bands.
There are a lot of theatrics in, as you said, nerd culture that could easily lend itself to the theatrics in metal.
Yeah, 40 years later I’m still a Maiden fan. That’s a big part of it. They’re a band that delivers on a lot of levels. As a nerd I loved that they read, too. They would write songs about books that they read. Other bands like Rush and Anthrax do that. Those are three of my all-time favorite bands that draw from different places for lyrics.
Do you think it’s just that new metal bands suck, or have we also softened or changed what the word metal means?
I think there is still good new metal. There’s not a ton on my playlist that’s new. I don’t think metal was ruined like Scott does. The lyric came from a real place. I think the last new band he liked was probably The Refused. When did they come out? 25 years ago? That was the last time Scott Ian was excited about new music (laughs). I’m trying to think of what I dig lately. Power Trip I really like. Havok I dig as far as newer bands. Red Fang isn’t new, but I love that kind of stuff. Some of the bands I made fun of with “Metal by Numbers” that have been around for 20 years are legit now. I wasn’t making fun of Unearth, but it’s funny because Unearth, who would be considered metalcore, now has roots. If you stick around long enough everything becomes old.
Yeah, I’ve been going to a lot of 20 year anniversary shows.
It’s crazy. I was just hanging out with Unearth and Darkest Hour. It’s the same thing. Darkest Hour is doing a 20th anniversary, and I’m like, “You guys are kids, what are you doing?”
Does metal take itself too seriously?
Metal fans maybe do. I was guilty of that as a kid. I don’t think Grandpa Metal makes fun of metal at all, but it’s poking fun of different things in the genre. When I was younger, if you wanted to legitimately be metal you couldn’t make fun of heavy metal. I hated Spinal Tap as a teenager because I didn’t realize those guys were fans. I was thinking wait a minute, these guys are making fun of The Scorpions, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden—there were all these references in there and I was pissed about it. I thought, “Who are these assholes?” (laughs) Now I have way more of a sense of humor about the music I listen to, but as a kid I had zero. That said, part of the inspiration comes from bands that did have a sense of humor, like S.O.D. and Scatterbrain, because they did write funny lyrics and make fun of themselves and things within the genre.
Did you see the film Lords of Chaos?
I did. I read the book. I didn’t think the movie would be funny. It was amazing, and how taking such a bleak theme that they actually found humor in it. It had such great performances all the way around. I wish more people would have seen it and not just metal fans. That’s the thing, I feel like maybe it was hindered by its subject matter. People maybe said, “I don’t want to watch that. I don’t like that kind of music,” where it was just a really well made movie.
The “Take on Me” cover is great. What made you choose that song?
I feel like every song would be better if it was metal. If you do a metal version of any song, it’s an improvement. It’s such a song, that it’s engrained in everybody. If you’re my age, you’ve heard it your whole life. It just felt like it would be fun to do it with the people I did it with. Like if I could get Chuck Billy and Zetro from Exodus to sing this along with me, this will be amazing. To get those two and Jill from Huntress…every guest part on this record is just me reaching out to people I’ve known for years and asking if they’ll do this silly thing. Of all of them, that song is the one where I didn’t really have to convince people, but Chuck was like, “Really?” He asked me how I wanted him to sing it. I said, “Do Chuck Billy.” I had a picture in my head, and he did exactly what I said. Same with Zetro, I said, “Just be you. The song is already goofy, but you committing to it and going full metal with it is going to be fucking awesome.” And I was right.
I couldn’t believe how much “What Does the Fox Say” lent itself to being a metal song.
That was the other one! We recorded it a while ago. Corey Taylor was another guy who’s known for his sense of humor. I think he got it right away, like, “Don’t go in making fun of the song, but go in committing fully to it.” That’s what makes it great. He’s singing his ass off on it like he wrote it like it’s a Slipknot song. It’s perfect.
I can’t believe Weird Al didn’t sign off on letting you parody “Gump.”
We never even wrote it (laughs). It was just a basic idea. I love calling him Weird. I called Weird (laughs), and he was so cool about it. He said he’d do anything. I told him I didn’t want him to sing on anything, we were just going to do a sketch where I call you and you turn me down. I sent it to him, he laughed, and we recorded it.
As big as Weird Al is, I still feel like he’s underappreciated.
He is. I have a lot of comedy friends who aren’t Weird Al fans and I don’t understand that. For me, he’s so much a part of what I do. He is so smart. The originals that he wrote, the lyrics are really smart and funny. He gets respect, as much as someone who does song parodies, but he’s so much more than that.
Oh yeah, it’s gotta be a huge challenge to not only parody a song but make it funny.
Yeah, and to nail it the way he does, he has such an ear for it. Also, he’s not dirty. I tend to write jokes with curse words and I go blue, but I love that he’s made a career of being pretty clean.
Were there any guests you weren’t able to get for Grandpa Metal?
There was somebody in Metallica who couldn’t (laughs), but just because of schedules. John 5 was busy. I wanted to get some of the opposite of testosterone on the record for the guitar playing, so I asked Nita Strauss to do a solo, but she was crazy busy and couldn’t get to it. Other than that, everyone said yes.
You mentioned working with Joe Trohman. I love that you also rip on Fall Out Boy on the record. What was it like working with Joe?
That was Patrick Stump who made that joke. It wasn’t written. They threw themselves under the bus. They’re so funny that they totally get it. I asked Joe if Patrick would make fun of them and he said, “Absolutely,” and he went even further by throwing in that reference. Joe and I have been friends for about 12 years, and they had done The Dammed Things with the guys from Every Time I Die. Scott brought him to a dinner once that I wasn’t even at. My wife was like, “Oh, you’re in Fall Out Boy? My husband is really going to make fun of you.” Then I met him and I didn’t, and we’ve been friends ever since. He’s such a nice guy. We have a ton in common. I don’t know a bunch of their music, but the music he listens to we have in common. When I was getting close to wrapping up the album I knew I needed help on the lyrics for “Grandpa Metal” and I was a few songs short. I didn’t have writer’s block, but I couldn’t figure out how to crack the song and find the funniest version. He and I sat down and decided just to make fun of Scott full bore—the rest of the lyrics came together. I told him I was two songs short, so he wrote the music for “Monster Mosh” and “Big Fat ROCK?” and that was just us saying, “Let’s write a Rob Zombie type horror song, and let’s write something too dumb for Steel Panther.” (laughs) The idea was let’s write the dumbest song about a guy’s wiener that’s not even innuendo. The idea was like let’s do what Mötley Crüe, Aerosmith, and Kiss have done and talk about our dong, but let’s go even dumber. It’s so dumb. I feel like if anyone ever tells me that the song is dumb I’ll say, “Yeah, no shit. That’s what we were going for.” (laughs)
And it’s so catchy.
You’re writing a song with the guitar player from Fall Out Boy. He knows catchy, he can’t help it. He writes catchy shit.
You recently appeared in the first episode of The Mandalorian. You’re a huge Star Wars fan, so how incredible was that honor?
Oh man, I’m still giddy about that. To be part of the Star Wars universe and a good representation of Star Wars…I’m in a Marvel movie, but I’m in a shitty one. I’m in The Silver Surfer, so I can’t really brag about that, but to be a part of Star Wars and a part of something I really like and that my son really likes has been extra cool. He went to school the week it came out and he’s 10, every other boy in his class had already seen it and loved it. It’s the first time I’m his hero where I’ve done something where he’s like, “All my friends love this too and that’s my dad!”
Comedian and Grandpa Metal vocalist Brian Posehn is poking fun at metal’s silliest stuff once again. We invited the “Metal By Numbers” comic to Loudwire Studios and dared him to watch the dumbest metal videos on YouTube, filming his flabbergasted reactions.
One video we played for Posehn is the one that turned Vince Neil into a living meme. The Motley Crue singer’s less-than-stellar performance of “Dr. Feelgood” at Rock in Rio 2015 has been decimated online by commenters, so we gave Posehn the chance to offer his own opinions on the clip
He’s not even trying!” Posehn hilariously points out. “He’s full of dough. It seriously sounds like that Eddie Murphy character when he would do the guy from Little Rascals — Buckwheat. I wish they panned to the audience to people going, ‘What? We know this song and we still don’t know what you’re saying.’ Nikki Sixx is like, ‘I hate you, Vince. Learn the lyrics to a 35-year-old song.’”
Posehn’s “favorite” clip was “In the Blood of a Thousand Virgins Rises Chevy Chase” by Detsorgsekalf. Brian’s brain was burst by a computer playing drums, the band killing their friend in the woods and a heavy-set gentleman playing air guitar on a sword. “I wanna be a bored kid in the 2020s making videos in my friends’ field. Looks kickass,” Posehn says. “That’s the thing; when people make a band, like, ‘I’m going to get my friends together…’ Most of your friends suck and your band’s gonna be shitty.”
Brian Posehn’s Grandpa Metal album is out now, featuring guest appearances by Anthrax’s Scott Ian, Dethklok’s Brendon Small, Weird Al Yankovic and more. To grab the album, click here.
Brian Posehn figures that his new album, Grandpa Metal, took about six years to become reality. And it was the title track, premiering exclusively today on Billboard.com, that helped the actor-comedian-writer bring the project into focus.
“We had the title,” explains Posehn, who wrote the song with longtime friend and collaborator Scott Ian of Anthrax. “The idea is that all guys my age  are kind of grandpa metal, stuck in the ’80s or whenever they liked heavy metal. Their opinions have not changed since then.”
At first, the idea didn’t seem that funny to him. But then, “I came on the idea of just making fun of Scott, ’cause he literally hasn’t liked a new band since Refused, and I find that funny,” says Posehn. “Once I decided it would just be me busting his balls, I started filling the song with as many old-guy jokes as I could.” After that happened, Posehn “got onto this thread commenting on all the different things I love about heavy metal and having a sense of humor about all these different genres of music and commenting on them.”
Once he found that path, he saw that Grandpa Metal (arriving Feb. 14 on Megaforce Records) could be more than just the “funny metal record” he initially envisioned. “I started to realize how cool it could be,” says Posehn, whose credits include TV series Mission Hill and The Big Bang Theory, Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects,Deadpool comics and voices for the animated films Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo and Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. “I really wanted to make a record where people could sit down and listen to the whole thing from front to back — and if you don’t, that’s fine, too. The songs can work by themselves. But they’re even better together, back to back, I think.”
The comic had plenty of help in the endeavor besides Ian. The 14-track set features appearances by members of Soundgarden, Slayer, Dethklok, Amon Amarth, Machine Head, Dokken and more. The album was introduced in November 2019 with a cover of a-ha’s synth-pop classic “Take On Me” that includes performances by Death Angel’s Rob Cavestany and his son, Aiden; Testament’s Chuck Billy; Exodus’ Steve “Zetro” Souza; and the late Jill Janus of Huntress. Steel Panther’s Michael Starr and Slipknot’s/Stone Sour’s Corey Taylor lend a hand on another cover, Ylvis’ “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?).” The rest of the material is original, including the surreal conversation Posehn has with “Weird Al” Yankovic on “My Phone Call With Weird Al.”
“Working with those people really elevated it,” says Posehn. “I always wanted to fill it with guests — that was always my intention. I was always going to fill the songs with my favorite guitar players, and the singers … well, there’s a reason I tell jokes and haven’t been a singer my whole life, and some of these songs needed real singers. Now that it’s all done and I’m sitting back and looking at it, that all these people said yes is mind-blowing. And the fact that it took as long as it did makes sense because it had so many moving parts.”
Grandpa Metal also contains barbs about artists and genres Posehn doesn’t like — with Fall Out Boy’s Joe Trohman and Patrick Stump gleefully playing along with the diss. However, Posehn does feel bad about taking shots at Huey Lewis in the track “Scary Nightmare” after learning about the Meniere’s disease that has forced Lewis to cease performing live. “I had no idea,” he says. “I’m not that guy; I’m the comic who’s accidentally mean. I don’t enjoy some of his music from back in the ’80s, but I’ve worked with the man. He’s a Bay Area man and so am I. That makes me sad. That’ll be my one regret — ‘Why did I have to go so hard on Huey?’”
Posehn is planning to make videos for the title song and the track “New Music Sucks,” and he’ll take Grandpa Metal on the road via joint spoken-word and music shows with Ian. “The idea of me singing more than one or two songs terrifies me,” says Posehn, who recently sold the pilot for an animated series to Nickelodeon and has “some comic books in the pipe” as well. “[Singing] is really not my wheelhouse. So Scott and I plan on doing these limited tours where we do spoken word and standup, and at the end of the show, I bring him back out and we do ‘Grandpa Metal’ and one or two other songs, striped-down versions of ’em. That’s about the most you’ll get out of me. I didn’t do this record to get out there for two years of touring.”
Featuring Corey Taylor, Johan Hegg, and even the late Jill Janus, Brian Posehn’s Grandpa Metal is a gut-busting magnum opus.
Given his pedigree, it’s unsurprising that Brian Posehn is both hilarious to interview and the kind of guy with whom you can talk about metal for hours. The actor and comedian — whose credits include Mr. Show, Reno 911, and Rob Zombie’s infamous The Devil’s Rejects — has been known as one of Hollywood’s true metalhead ever since he joked that it wasn’t gay for men to give each other blowjobs as long as one of them was screaming ‘SLAYER!’ While discussing the massive guest stars included on his new album — among them Corey Taylor, Scott Ian, Dethklok’s Brendon Small and Exodus’ Steve — one can hear the awkward metalhead teenager in Posehn’s voice, wondering how he got any of these musicians to work with him.
“Dude, [I feel that way about] so many of them!” says Brian. “Weird Al, Gary Holt, Phil Demmel — and Jill Janus! I mean, the fact that I get to share the last music Jill Janus did with the world… I don’t think she had anything else this close to being done. I know she was working on a new record with her band, and had some other concepts, but I don’t think they recorded. The fact that I wrote this Goblin Love thing for her, as a silly take on Muskrat Love, which was this terrible song I grew up with, I’m really proud and really stoked that I got to that.”
Listening to Brian’s new album Grandpa Metal, one imagines Brian’s musical guests will be equally proud to work with him. Co-written by Anthrax’s Scott Ian and Fall Out Boy’s Joe Trohman, the record is a barrage of old-school metal that’ll make you snicker like the teenage creep you secretly are inside. Whether it’s the extreme metal-ribbing Satan Is Kind Of A Dick, the Nordic head-shaking of One Quarter Viking, Three Quarter’s Pussy, or his unstoppable penis anthem Big Fat Rock (“A long boulder with two smaller boulders!” shouts Posehn among lyrics that’ll make Jesus weep), the songs on Grandpa Metal manage to poke fun at every aspect of heavy metal culture. Even the covers — of A-ha’s Take On Me and Ylvis’ What Does The Fox Say — display that to Brian, not even his own record should be taken seriously.
“It came together organically that both songs are European pop songs that we made European metal,” says Brian. “I wanted to do covers — I didn’t want to do parodies, so I didn’t want to change the songs. I wanted them to sound like a Swedish or Norwegian cover of these songs. I’ve always thought that any song you hear would be better if it was heavy metal. Think of any song you grew up with, and it’s not metal — if you make it metal, it’s going to be better.”
Grandpa Metal was six years in the making — when’d you first start getting these guest stars recorded?
Some of the songs started around that time. The first guests I got were for What Does The Fox Say? I got Corey Taylor. He recorded that stuff at least five years ago. Scott and I always wanted to do something like this, so we brought it around to other labels, and Megaforce, when they made the offer, made total sense. For me, as a metal nerd, just to be on that label was insane.
I wish we would’ve whipped it out in two years, but I don’t think it would be as fun as it is. Some of the stuff came together organically, because last year, I was short on a couple of songs when the label wanted it, so that fired me up to get finished, and it came together really well.
Were there any songs that only came together at the very last minute?
For one, the title-track, Grandpa Metal, was one of the last songs that we worked on. We had the name and were originally calling it something else. We were calling it Grandpa Metal but as a general thing — like, guys my age who still listen to metal, but are crusty about it, who only listen to stuff from 1984 through 1991, that kinda guy — which I’m definitely guilty of doing sometimes. But once I decided to go after Scott, because I call Scott that all the time, that song kind of just wrote itself. Then me and Joe Trohman who wrote that wrote Monster Mosh and Big Fat Rock in a matter of days — which I think is how you’re supposed to write records!
Is Scott Ian really as salty and dismissive of new metal bands as you make him out to be?
No, man — well, yes, for music that’s true. But he’s not salty. We’re pals! He’s a funny dude. He lets me make fun of him for four minutes, and he loves performing that — we performed it live on the Megacruise, though we added more jokes to it. We’re funny together, we’re a funny team. Partly it’s our size difference, like when I worked with Patton [Oswalt] — any time you put me with a small person, it’s funny. But it’s true, he hasn’t heard any new music since 1992, and that’s around when the Refused came out. I think that’s the last band he liked.
As someone who’s been writing songs about metal for over a decade now, have there been any developments in the metal scene that you find absolutely hilarious?
The fact that I made fun of metal by numbers — and it stuck around! I didn’t think that song was going to make that music go away, but the fact that I made fun of some of those bands and they’re now doing their 20-year anniversary tours, the fact that that kind of style I don’t love are still here. There are some metalcore bands I do love, but the fact that this thing that I’d hoped would go away with my help didn’t.
You might’ve even given it a second wind.
Maybe. Yeah, blame me!
You’re 53 now — are there any metal songs that make you feel old to listen to? Like, you’re raging to a track, and then think, ‘Jesus, I’m old as balls’?
There’s a lot of it. It’s funny — I know what you mean exactly, but listening to Black Sabbath, I don’t feel like that, because it doesn’t feel dated. Black Sabbath was already old when I was a kid. When I was a teenager, Ozzy was out solo. But anything that came out that I found, like it was me finding a new band, NOW I feel old listening to that, because those guys are old now. Ratt’s Out Of The Cellar would make me feel old. Dokken would make me feel old.
I don’t know why, but the cooler stuff like Metallica, I don’t feel ancient when I listen to it — maybe it’s the stuff that just feels more dated. The hair metal stuff — I hate using that phrase, but the Sunset Strip stuff. I didn’t too much into those bands after that whose bands had two names, Danger Danger or whatever, but that first wave. Twisted Sister would make me feel old, but Armored Saint and Anthrax and the cool stuff doesn’t!
On the other side of that, are there any bands you consider new who have been around for over a decade?
Lamb of God and Mastodon I still think of is new. But the newer bands I’m listening to aren’t even that hip or cool. Havok, Power Trip, and He Is Legend — they’re not that new, but they’re new to me. They’ve all been putting it in, but I still think of them as the new kids. With He Is Legend, I loved [that new record], and I really got behind it, and I put it on the Internet saying, ‘I love this band!’ And people were like, ‘Yeah, nice job, Grampa! Late to the table!’
Brian Posehn’s Grandpa Metal comes out February 14 on Megaforce Records, and is available for pre-order.
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