Ben Haneldman, creator of the Black Metal & Brews website, is the last of the handful of people I first reached out to when coming up with the idea for this blog. His writing and videos have turned me on to some amazing black metal and noise. He’s an amazing guy and everyone should check out his work. After some set backs, he was finally able to get some time to answer some questions and I’m really excited to have him be a part of this finally. You should absolutely check out/follow his blog. He always posts about excellent bands and is a pretty phenomenal writer. Look into his Patreon as well. Links as always after the interview.
What is your history with The Simpsons? Do you remember the first time you saw the show?
My history with The Simpsons begins as a small child. The overtly heavy branding and selling of Bart as a counterculture icon hit when I was a kid. “Don’t have a cow, man” was everywhere and I remember I had this massive sticker that said “Radical Road” with a picture of Bart skateboarding on it. It was the same size as a street sign and I remember my parents taking it away from me because I told them I was going to improve our neighborhood. I was six and I didn’t really understand what vandalism was or that the neighbors wouldn’t be happy. I’m sure I’d seen snippets of the show but it wasn’t so much a thing I watched as something that was just culturally ingrained in me through immersion. I know that by around age nine or ten I was regularly watching reruns after school but even then they felt like old friends I was revisiting. Strange how these things work, isn’t it?
Who is your favorite character?
Having a single favorite character in The Simpsons is something I can’t conceive. If somebody easily picked one, they’d either be far deeper into their infatuation with the series or not nearly knowledgeable enough. I’m in a strange middle ground where there’s so much to love but I can’t sit down and say “oh hell yes, this is what I connect with the most.” I lived in a poor neighborhood for a long time and 7-11 was the only food around. I was always into friendly conversation with the family who ran it, so Apu’s a really lovable character for me. I’m also into Otto for his acid casualty vibes, Lisa for her musical passion and feminist leanings, Ned Flanders for being stupid sexy, and Homer for being the everyman none of us would ever admit to being yet secretly know we harbor inside. Also Dr. Nick. Hi everybody.
Do you have a favorite episode(s)?
There are some episodes I revisit more frequently than others, but I couldn’t just pick an episode as my favorite. As a not so secret goth kid at heart, I’m always into Treehouse of Horror episodes. They’re just the cutest and most absurd things to me. Another obvious one is El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer because it took a grounded base, went into some Yellow Submarine level insanity, and brought it all back home by the end. Really clever writing and brilliant animation there. Still, the more I think, the more inclined I am to pick from dozens and dozens of episodes. Get back to me next week and I’ll have an entirely different response.
The Simpsons has a wide array of guest stars. Do you have a favorite?
I’m a curmudgeon and guest appearances often feel really weird to me. Like, The Simpsons (to me) exists in a vacuum of sorts. Adding folks from outside of Springfield feels strange and forced. With that in mind, having Mulder and Scully appear makes the most sense. For some reason I can accept and suspend disbelief when fictional characters hop from one world to another like that. I should also indicate here that I was brought up on The X-Files and it’s another favorite show, so I’m sure that’s a big part of it too. Having Leonard Nimoy in there didn’t hurt either.
Who from the world of metal would you love to see guest on the show?
God, I feel like my last answer makes this one pretty weird and challenging. I’d feel far more inclined to see a group like The Residents make an appearance than a metal musician, but let’s see. I could really get into heavy metal band mascots coming into the show somehow. That just feels right to me. I’d say Abbath from Immortal, but I often feel like the in-joke for those of us who love the genre has become the only thing many fans of metal as a whole know about black metal, so perhaps the corpsepaint pageantry wouldn’t translate so well. It’s hard to say.
Who do you think would be the most fun to drink with from the show?
You know, despite the broad array of folks I could have fun with from the show, I’d still have to pick grabbing a drink (or ten) with Homer over anything else. He’s simple, he wants to get drunk, and he’ll have fun doing it. It’s not how I typically roll, but there’s something so honest and charming about his approach to socialization and alcohol’s role in it. No pretentious conversation, no thinly veiled insults or snipes, just drinks with somebody who speaks his mind, no matter how inane it may be. I’m sure the night would end with chanting out lyrics to awful seventies arena rock anthems and I’m totally okay with that.
Do you have a favorite musical number from The Simpsons? Also, what band would you love to see cover said song?
There are too many songs from The Simpsons that I love and cherish, but few come close to “Can I Borrow a Feeling?” I’m also really into the Planet of the Apes musical with its “Dr. Zaius” play on “Rock Me Amadeus” because I’m totally into pop music from the 1980s. As far as covers, I’m not sure about that. Again, I feel like this would be best handled by somebody outside the world of heavy metal as a whole. Maybe something with Mike Patton to drive up the cheese of Kirk’s desperate attempts at rekindling a failed marriage? I’m honestly content with the songs as they are.
I’ve always thought Lisa Simpson would be the one character to end up getting into punk or metal. Who do you think will grow up and discover metal or punk?
Oh man, I’ve always imagined Lisa to grow up and get into stuff like Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever. Maybe if she got into heavier stuff it’d be the proggy bands like Between the Buried and Me or just weird art collective metal like Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, but I can’t imagine her being front row at a Bolt Thrower gig, ya know? I feel like Milhouse would grow up to get into metal. He’s sensitive, picked on, and spends a lot of time alone with his thoughts. While this could make him the poster child for a lifetime fandom of Linkin Park, I can also see him growing up and finding comfort in more extreme sounds.
Do you still watch new episodes of the show? If not, do you remember what made you stop watching?
I haven’t seen anything past about season fourteen or fifteen save for the occasional blip on the radar when I’m with friends. I haven’t had cable television since about 2004 when I still lived at home, so it’s more unintentional than anything else. I’ve heard the series has changed greatly in the last number of years but I’d still give it my time. It’s just like sitting down with an old friend. I still replay the video games I loved when I was a kid and often wish they were longer just so I could experience something new. I imagine that new Simpsons episodes would feel much the same way.
How would you like to see the series end? Any ideas on where you would like to see the family end up?
I don’t want the series to end, to be honest. Still, I guess I’d love to see a really weird artsy fucked up breakdown of the series with full episodes meant to be transmitted from the future, like a mini-season consisting of about five full episodes that were hinted at in that bizarre couch gag last year. Just complete futuristic nonsense as the show sabotages itself and leaves everybody baffled. It’d be so up my alley to watch them just push it to the limit before an inevitable cancellation. I’m sure they’ll have some sort of sentimental or obvious closing, but I’d rather see the whole thing go up in flames rather than wrap itself up nicely. Perhaps that’s just me though. I’m not too keen on goodbyes.
In all of the emails I send with interview questions, I always ask if they have anything specific they would like to promote. Ben’s response was too good not to post:
“As far as things to promote, here’s an image of the famous grammatically accurate robot, Linguo. Linguo claims to like beer but malfunctions after only a sip or two.