One of my favorite parts of running this blog has been meeting some pretty awesome people working within the metal community. Finding people that can quote The Simpsons along with you from metal has been completely satisfying and fun. Ben Handelman from Black Metal & Brews turned me on to Cormorant earlier in the year and informed me that Matt was a huge Simpsons fan. Matt plays guitar and sings for Cormorant and appears on their three full lengths (Metazoa, Dwellings, & Earth Diver). Cormorant are beautiful and heavy and progressive and write some of the best black metal happening today. Check them out at the links after the interview. Thanks so much to Matt for taking the time to answer these questions!
What is your history with The Simpsons? Do you remember the first time you saw the show?
I’ve been on board since the beginning. When I was six years old, my mom came in my room and told me there was a Christmas cartoon on TV that she thought I might like. I ventured into the living room and there it was, the original 1989 Christmas Special in all its glory. It was unlike any cartoon I’d ever seen, and I loved everything about it. About six months later, the regular series premiere aired and I was once again transfixed by this crazy yellow family and their hellraising son. Those early episodes focus a lot on Bart as a catalyst for conflict, and I remember my mom being concerned that I was being influenced by his bad behavior…even though she was the one who introduced me to the show in the first place! But I turned out fine. No cherry bombs in the toilet, at least.
Who is your favorite character?
My favorite member of the family is Maggie—I even have a tattoo of her on my leg. I just think the writers use her brilliantly, particularly in the Golden Era episodes. She’s so much smarter than Homer and Bart, and it creates this hilarious dynamic where she’s always doing something that calls attention to their stupidity. My all-time favorite Maggie bit is in “Lisa on Ice” when she jumps up and catches a beer bottle that’s rocketing toward Homer’s head. Kills me every time.
My favorite non-family member is probably Mr. Burns. I love the running joke of how insanely old he is, like when he’s putting together a softball team full of ringers and all the players he wants have been dead for like 100 years. His old- timey vocabulary, infant-level strength and cartoonishly evil motivations are also constant sources of hilarity. Whether he’s blocking out the sun or stealing Marge’s mom away from Grandpa, he’s always up to something entertaining.
Do you have a favorite episode(s)?
There are probably 50 that are in the conversation for Top 10, but my all-time favorite episode is “Bart of Darkness.” I think it’s a perfect representation of how good the writing in The Simpsons can be, and it has the best film parody they’ve ever done (Rear Window in the third act). One of my favorite bits ever is the “Can we have a pool, dad?” scene; I can’t even count how many times I’ve recited that one.
“Homie the Clown” is a close second—that might have the best first act in the show’s history. “Itchy & Scratchy Land” is also right up there. “We need more BORT license plates!” Basically, anything from Season 6 is untouchably brilliant.
The Simpsons has a wide array of guest stars. Do you have a favorite?
Albert Brooks as Hank Scorpio immediately comes to mind—that performance is unbelievably funny (“Homer, if you want to kill someone on your way out, it would help me a lot.”). James Woods in “Homer and Apu” is also absolutely classic. When he’s on the phone with his agent while he’s cleaning the Kwik-E-Mart microwave…it doesn’t get much funnier. Both of those guys ad-libbed most of their dialogue, too, so maybe that’s why they’re so great. And of course, who doesn’t love Cypress Hill’s appearance? “Come on, people, somebody ordered the London Symphony Orchestra…possible while high.”
Who from the world of metal would you love to see guest on the show?
Before he passed away, I always thought Dio would be a good fit. Maybe Abbath? The Simpsons are going to Norway!
What character would you be most excited to find out was a fan of your work?
I think Otto would have an appreciation for our shredding guitar solos and general acceptance of the Dark Lord. Maybe he could even drive the bus on our next tour!
Do you have a favorite musical number from The Simpsons? Also, what band would you love to see cover said song?
I love “The Stonecutters’ Song”—it has some really clever lyrics that work well with the all-male vocal melodies. That one needs to be covered by a really epic band, like Blind Guardian or Sonata Arctica. The entire “Planet of the Apes: The Musical” sequence is great; I could see Between the Buried and Me doing that one.
“Who Needs the Kwik-E-Mart?” is another classic with some hilarious lyrics. I’ll go with Neurosis to cover that one, just so I can hear Scott Kelly scream out, “I doooooooooooo…”
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?
Lisa would definitely be way into L7, Babes in Toyland, Sleater-Kinney and Bikini Kill. Obviously Jimbo, Kearny, and Dolph would get way into the thrash/skateboard culture and listen to stuff like Municipal Waste and Iron Reagan.
I could see Ralph getting into some seriously avant-garde shit like Arcturus or Sebkha-Chott. And then there’s Baby Gerald…a future grindcore enthusiast without a doubt.
Do you still watch new episodes of the show? If not, do you remember what made you stop watching?
I haven’t watched any new episodes in probably 10 years. I did enjoy The Simpsons Movie; it was smart to bring in a lot of the best writers from the series’ history, and they did a pretty decent job. I started realizing that the show’s quality was rapidly declining around 1999 or so…there were still some funny episodes here and there, but the consistency was nowhere to be found. The writing went from this sharp, outside-the-box satire to “herp a derp, look how stupid Homer is!” and I just totally lost interest. I wish they would just put it out of its misery already, but on the other hand, it’s crazy to think about how long it’s been on the air now.
Regardless, no one can take those Golden Years away from us (Seasons 2-9 in my opinion), and those episodes alone make any later shittiness well worth it.
How would you like to see the series end? Any ideas on where you would like to see the family end up?
I definitely don’t want to see it end too wacky, like something from Treehouse of Horror where they end up in space or some shit. Maybe an episode where they move out of Springfield for good this time (sorry, Cypress Creek!) and spend time with characters that have impacted the show throughout the years, like what they did in “22 Short Films About Springfield.”
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