Brendon Small is a musician and the co-creator of two popular animated series, Home Movies and Metalocalypse. As a guitarist/musician, Brendon melded his comedic and voiceover talent with his musical ability in Metalocalypse, creating the virtual death metal band Dethklok, for which he has written albums and toured. He also fronts the “intergalactic extreme rock/metal” outfit, Galaktikon, alongside drummer Gene Hoglan (Testament, Death) and bassist Bryan Beller (The Aristocrats, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani). We had the pleasure of visiting him at his home studio and having an incredible conversation!
Guitar Utopia in Brendon Small’s home studio
Brendon is, first and foremost, a guitarist. Having graduated from Berklee in the late ’90s, he’s a versatile and accomplished player through and through. His “one-man” studio space, designed for tracking guitars, keyboards, and vocals/voiceover, doubles as a guitar paradise.
Brendon’s eclectic collection includes a Satriani signature Ibanez gifted from the man himself, and his own signature Gibson models, the Thunderhorse Explorer and Snow Falcon Flying V (of which there is an Epiphone flavor as well) and a Strat. He also owns a Strandberg (stylized .strandberg*), which is the epitome of a hyper-functional modern guitar. Its headless design incorporates fanned frets, light weight, and an asymmetrical square neck carve for ergonomics and playability. It’s quite a stark contrast to the Thunderhorse, for example, which was consciously designed to be a classic piece which “could have existed in 1970.” There’s certainly a time and place for all kinds of guitars, even if it’s just a “bell and whistle” embellishment on a track.
He runs his guitars through a variety of amplifiers, including Marshall and Friedman heads. Brendon’s Marshall speaker cabinet is miked with an SM57 and Sennheiser 421 which he runs through BAE 1073 preamps, blending the two signals to create his tone.
Galaktikon II: Become the Storm
We had a chance to discuss Brendon’s latest Galaktikon project, II: Become the Storm, in which I noted a distinct Queen influence! He recalled pouring over Queen records as a kid and being as curious about and enamored by the band as so many of us were. Despite being most known for his work in the metal world, Brendon will be the first to tell you his major influences are Queen, ELO, and most Beatles-inspired British bands of the ’70s and early ’80s.
In Galaktikon, Brendon utilizes Queen-inspired, Baroque-style stacked guitar harmonies that you don’t often hear these days. Of course, he has the Brian May signature guitar, Vox AC30 and Brian May Special amps, and a sixpence piece: May’s plectrum of choice. Brendon’s very much a fan and has beautifully worked the influence into his own voice with both Dethklok and Galaktikon.
We hope you’ll enjoy this chat with the wonderful Brendon Small.
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Have a marvelous time recording and mixing,