Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Dave Willis(Creator of Squidbillies, Co-creator of Aqua Teen, and Barry Dylan on Archer) and he really is one of the nicest dudes out there. Reason being is because I talked to the poor buy for almost an hour and there’s no one that should have to talk with me for that long. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy! Alas, after the jump and check out part 1 of our interview where the focus is Aqua Teen and what its like to work on Archer.
You’re Barry Dylan on Archer and I just got to say you were absolutely incredible this season. It must be refreshing to not have to produce or write a show but still be a big part of it. What do you think it is that makes Archer tick?
It’s interesting. You know it’s funny you said that. I actually had some beers last night(Ed. Note this interview was recorded a few weeks ago) with Adam Reed and Matt Thompson(co-creators of Archer) and they—I think I love what we do at Adult Swim specifically like Aqua and Squidbillies and I got this other live action project that we’re actually slated to start shooting next week and but there is just a craziness to it and when it works it’s unbelievable. It’s great, but if it does—sometimes if it’s too overboard, if there is no sort of reality to it or make it even the slightest bit relatable then it becomes like crazy car chases and crazy characters and just like nobody you know. It’s like you have to have something to deviate from. If it’s all just deviation then there is nothing to hold onto. I think Adam understands that in a way and I feel like Archer was a way of him, for maybe an audience that wants it one step more relatable that is different than Adult Swim and just a little more—people that want a little more story and Adam is a genius. I mean he’s like every time a script is like written it’s like I’ve got to look half the words up in the dictionary and I’m sitting there thinking that I’m basically taking my college education in order to learn as much as Adam did.
It’s a learning experience.
But it’s kind of you know. With Aqua Teen it’s scripted. It’s very scripted and we’re—but we still mess around with it in the reads. We’ll still be a little freewheeling with it or if we cast somebody you know and I’ll be bored with a joke after you know. I’ll be in the booth and I’ll sit there and I’ll just try to make it funnier in the booth and make up stuff and when I got into—the times that I’ve read for those guys it’s pretty much like you do it as it written on the page and I’m not putting on a voice or an accent, just my voice, just trying to just like eight percent more of a dick you know and which is a sad comment on me, but yeah, I don’t know you know. I mean they’re doing a half hour. They’re doing stories and there are arcs to it. It’s a real step up I think. I think it’s a step up for what he’s—from what he’s written in the past and it’s impressive.
Why is the Aqua Teen franchise so popular and engaging still after so many years?
Loaded question. Why is it so engaging and popular? You sound like my mom! No, I don’t know. The characters are classic archetypes from literature. I actually did think it was kind of funny like that book, the Zombie Spaceship Wasteland he was talking about, these archetypes of a movie. I thought the characters are kind of archetypes. I mean Meatwad is kind of the sweet dummy and Shake is the jerk that you don’t get to see. You haven’t seen as much and well you’ve seen more of it I guess that antihero character the past ten years I guess, but before that everyone felt the need to make all the heroes likable and Frylock is the one that explains plot, so that’s it.
A little bit. The quarter hour format really lends itself to maybe taking something a little more off the rails and interestingly enough I think we started Aqua Teen over ten years ago and back then it was yeah, it was very fast paced and obviously it’s tied for the shortest show on television with many other Adult Swim things, but in the ten plus years that we’ve been doing it the internet is now such a huge presence, a huger presence in everyone’s life than it was ten years ago and the entertainment that you get on the internet is much shorter and much faster paced, a lot less story driven and it’s almost like the internet has passed us in that direction of things and Adult Swim is just kind of the closest thing that you know, that 30 second video that you find yourself fast forwarding 20 seconds to get to the you know part where the guy gets hit in the nuts with a house cat or something. So I think I clearly did not answer your question.
In a way you did. You kind of got industry specific, so it more or less did it for me anyway.
I mean you know Matt and I get together and it’s fun for us to write and it’s sort of it’s part of our baby and we’ve worked very hard, very, very, very hard and risked quite a bit through the beginning of the show to sort of make this show happen. So it’s fun ten years later to sort of keep reeling them out. I’m very proud of these new ones. I think they’re great. People forget. After you’ve been on the air for awhile people sort of lose interest.
Is that when conversations come up when you guys want to do stuff, something like a name change or maybe a different plot device? Would that be the inspiration for Aqua Something, You Know Whatever?
Well we love the idea of from here on out just rebranding it every year. I mean we’re going to do a new Spiderman with a new guy. I mean it’s insane. Everything in the entertainment world is just accelerated so why not just completely change the name of the show and change the plot and change the character’s names? We had a period there where we weren’t sure what we were doing with their show. At one point we thought wouldn’t it be funny if they didn’t—if they weren’t even in one whole season and the star of the show was a house and new people moved into the house and over the course of the season they slowly evolved into—so anyone who lives there eventually becomes Master Shake, Meatwad and Frylock, but telling you we just did not have the pure balls that it would have taken to do that. You’re basically hitting a big red button that says—just explodes your show and all you’d see is blood and shrapnel, a little gooey stuff and that’s it. Your show is cancelled, but I think I relish the idea that we work at a network that applaud us completely destroying our brand yet again and changing the title and having them to get another domain name and next year we’ll change it to Aqua Man and we will deal with that legal battle when that happens, but until then yes, we’re rebranding the show yet again to Aqua Something You know Whatever.
What can we expect in this upcoming season for Aqua Teen?
The season is ten more episodes of insanity and I love them. I think they’re just great, really, really great and I say that with the upmost sincerity. Even though the title seems nailed in the shows are really good. They’re sort of bookended by two heavy metal shows. I think we start the season with Shirt Herpes, which is a—it’s not an ode to Heavy Metal the movie, but it is probably the most animated an episode of Aqua Teen has ever been, I’m sorry, Aqua Something has ever been, just a full on just heavy metal fantasy. Carl buys this shirt for this heavy metal thing called the Interplanetary Insanitarium and if you wear the shirt you can sort of live in that world and we have these demons that are voiced by the members of Mastodon and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone age and we got the band Queensryche to actually score the episodes. It’s a very different big departure for us and we do another—and we end of the season is probably one of my favorite episodes we’ve ever done. It’s called Totem Pole and Carl is just a big fan of this German metal band called Totem Pole and all their albums and all their songs are basically the “human centipede” only turned up vertically and there is towers of heads forming the antennae called the Skeletons of the Underworld , so basically sees them perform high school gym and it’s just like one of my favorite episodes of recent years and let’s see.
There is ‘Big Bro’ where Carl and Frylock compete for the love of a woman by joining the Big Brother program to be sort of a step dad to her son and that’s really funny. I think we start the season off with that one. Yeah, so there is like ten just sort of crazy, insane episodes. There is Chicken and Beans where Meatwad performs at a mic night and he’s so nervous that he throws up and it gets really popular and it becomes an internet sensation, so now he’s—and he gets a little too big for his britches. Fighting Titan, that’s an episode where they have—this massive joining robot to attack this creature named Paul who is just down—who is just destroying downtown because his girlfriend left him.
We are currently in preproduction on Death Fighter as we speak. As we speak we got the bulk of the script approved and yes, we are rolling. The thing is that when we made the last movie we made like two episodes in two years you know and it’s like we were plus I was making Squidbillies at the same time. I think Matt was making something else at the same time, so we had a full plate and it was really I don’t know if the movie suffered, but I think the show suffered and the fact that we were sort of pretty much off the air for last few years, so there has got to be like a time where we can make it work, but the movie was you know. We were generally happy with it and it was pretty profitable, so you know. If we could figure out a way to do it and not cripple the show you know yeah. We like to script. It’s funny.
Part 2 of the interview with Dave Willis will go up in a few weeks. Aqua Something You Know Whatever is all new this Sunday Night on Adult Swim, check your local listings!Tweet