In our last installment of our “Adult Swim Summer” feature we talk to the great Jim Fortier about the new season of Squidbillies and what would happen if we crossed squids with the film Prometheus??
The fans are really behind Squidbillies as its a real quality show on Adult Swim. Why do YOU think its done so well and the fact that its a very popular show, is there a certain formula to its success?
You know, I don’t know. It’s rough to say. I mean, Dave and I, when we sit together and work on these things, we just do stuff that – this is sort of – sorry if this sounds like a crap answer, but just do stuff that makes us laugh. We do stuff that’s funny. We don’t try to pander it to anybody. We work on things that make each other laugh and we’re trying to build a good show. I mean, hopefully that’s what’s doing it, you know.
I don’t know that there’s a formula, you know what I mean. We think we’ve sort of developed these characters that we like a lot and that they’re pretty good characters and I think it’s interesting to see ‘em. You drop them in to situations and see how they react to those things and see how they treat each other horribly or not.
I don’t know the formula, but I’m glad people seem to be into it.
How did the concept of Squidbillies come about?? Is the original idea just to be completely original or unique from the start??
I don’t think so. The show – I don’t know if Dave covered this with you or if you just know it from reading these previous interviews, but they pretty much come out of the name Squidbillies. I think with Mike Lasso was talking to a couple people years ago and they were talking about Squiddly Diddly or something. The word Squidbillies popped up, which was just a word that made them laugh. A few years later, a couple of guys wrote a draft of the script. So and it was really just sort of thick with redneck’ery and Mike liked it enough that we all tried to develop the things. So I don’t know. It developed a lot more sort of gradually then saying, “Hey, let’s look at what’s on the schedule and let’s do something completely different or let’s appeal to a particular audience.” It was a lot more of just like, wow, this is really stupid and it’s based on something someone just had a word for and let’s see what we can make of it.
It’s nice, in my opinion, that it happens to be different from everything else. Some people think it’s also to our detriment that it seems to want to appeal to the southern crowd more. There are elements of the audience that just don’t want to watch it because of the characters that are in the south, you know. They turn it off.
We don’t really – I don’t know. I think we write things that are universal. I think the south is a setting and the characters are informed by being southern but I don’t think that themes are strange, first of all, but the ones that are more universal could be set anywhere.
How did you discover Unknown Hinson to be Early?
When we were first developing this thing, we might have heard, I’m not kidding you, like 400 voice actors doing auditions. We’re not a SAG show, we’re not a union show, so we were having to file through a lot of local talent and just non-union actors. Nothing against them, but we weren’t finding what we were looking for. We were finding people who were faking accents. We would get to the point where we would just listen to a hundred auditions in a day and sometimes you’d only need the first three seconds before you knew and go to the next one. During that painful process, Ben Prisk, who is our background artist, he was coming in just to visit a friend of his, Pete Smith, who is a producer and does all the promos for us. They were friends and anyway, then brought Pete a disk of Unknown Hinsen’s music and basically was saying, look, I wish I could have gone and seen this guy last night at the Star Bar, but check him out. It was just sort of; he wasn’t coming in to pitch him for anything. He was just like here’s some music I like. Pete and I were listening to it and he was talking during some of the songs, Unknown, and we were just in the right place where we were like, “This guy. Let’s get this guy to audition for us.” We did and his audition was Early. He does the character Unknown Hinson and a lot of what he brings to the show is Unknown Hinson, too. And over time we’ve sort of written to the strengths in that area and he’s gotten more comfortable just offering stuff. Again, it wasn’t by design and **** bring in the disk and us kind of thinking this guy sounds great, you know. Try him out.
And it’s working, right??
I think so, yeah. He’s just sort of the embodiment of the thing, isn’t he?
I was told by Dave Willis to go see him live…evidently he puts on a great show!
He has guitar chops that you wouldn’t expect.
He’s a road warrior, that dude. Yeah. But he’s doing the Unknown Hinsen thing, which I find to be awesome and interesting and funny. He’s also – he gets up on stage and he just shreds, yeah. It’s amazing.
Talk about some of the plot points we can expect on the upcoming season of Squidbillies
We did an episode last year where Rusty finds a girlfriend and she gets pregnant. Early kind of likes the girl as well regardless of the fact that she’s pregnant.
And we revisit that story. They have the baby and we see how that all goes down. Rusty and Tammy what their relationship will turn in to. And Early spent some time in prison for something he did at the end of that previous episode. So he gets out to complicate stuff. We have a murder mystery show where the sheriff has to go to Granny and her skills talking to the dead in order to get help with the mystery. We have a Lil who usually is cooking meth or face down in her own vomit and she decides to get clean. So we follow her for that and a couple others. They go hillbilly hand fishing at the lake. That turns into a strange adventure and then there’s another one, too, where Rusty has taken the blame for a lot of Early’s crimes because Rusty’s a miner so he’s in and out of jail quickly. Eventually Rusty builds an impressive wrap sheet and Early becomes really jealous and decides he has to do something extreme to have that popularity for himself.
So in the past you guys have toyed with longer run times for Squidbillies. I think you guys like experimented with 30-minute episodes. Is that something you guys want to try again? You know, maybe longer specials, something like a feature film maybe down the road? Have you guys talked about maybe doing something to that end?
Well as hard as it’s probably for everyone to believe, there’s been no interest in a Squidbillies movie for the network. But you know, they don’t do – they’re not in the movie business. They did the Aqua Team movie a few years ago and I noticed things like – I could be wrong here – but when Family Guy or Futurama and these other places, when they do a feature length piece it’s usually direct to DVD or something. It’s not theatrical released. I don’t know. We’d be interested I think if we were going to do a long form thing but I doubt it would be a theatrical release situation.
What about maybe something a little shorter like a 30 min special??
I think we would – yeah, yeah, man. We would do that again. We did the musical a couple seasons ago I think and that was a full 30 minutes. We’ve done two parters that could easily be heeled together to be one-half hour but I also think that the craziness of the kind of shots we do, the Aqua Teens and the Squidbillies and stuff, they sort of lend themselves more to an 11-minute format.
If the story holds up and it’s enough – there are enough things changing throughout the 22 minutes I think we could do it again.
Alright, well thanks Jim…
Thanks, man. Thanks for your time. Do you think the people would be interested in the Squidbillie movie if they traveled to a distant planet to meet their makers and find out the origins of their ability to talk and…?(Ed. Note, Prometheus had JUST come out in theaters)
Oh, man. I think nowadays people will buy anything.
Yeah. I think I just saw this thing, you know. I thought, hey, what if we just plug Squids into this and – I don’t know.
Squidbillies is all new this Sunday Night Late Night on Adult Swim, check your local listings!Tweet