For almost a decade, night owls have been tuning into Adult Swim, sometimes on a nightly basis, for the eleven-minute rush of absurdist humor that is Aqua Teen Hunger Force. After a feature film, video games and, more recently, a Christmas album, co-creator/writer Dave Willis (also the voice of Carl and Meatwad) and voice actor Dana Snyder (Master Shake, as well as Granny on Willis' other show, Squidbillies) have decided to hit the road. Aqua Teen Hunger Force Live, which also includes material from Squidbillies, began its cross-country jaunt on April 15 and lands in Los Angeles tonight at El Rey Theatre. We chatted with Willis and Snyder shortly before the tour began. (You can also read an interview with Carl and the gang from Drew Tewksbury in West Coast Sound.)
You've had some pretty amazing guest appearances on the show, like Glenn Danzig, Andrew W.K. and T-Pain. How do you work these out? Were they fans of the show?
Dave Willis: T-Pain lives in Atlanta and he is a fan of the show and he came by the office one day and I was introduced to him and he had his laptop and we sat in my office awkwardly for five minutes while he showed me a weird porno. The star of the porno had a big Master Shake tattoo on his torso. The joke being the fact that I know that guy.
Dana Snyder: Yeah, we met that guy.
DW: Dana knew him.
DS: My friend showed me probably the exact same thing you saw with the guy ripping off his shirt and there's a humungous, on the side of his torso, an Aqua Teen, Shake with chainsaws.
DW: The whole time I'm standing there, really awkwardly aware that I'm standing in my office next to T-Pain watching porno.
DS: Also thinking somehow you made it.
DW: That's how I knew that I had finally arrived.
DS: T-Pain requested an audience so that he can come in and show you porno.
After doing Aqua Teen for about ten years now, what do you do to keep it fresh?
DS: We kill off a character every year and add a new one. We've been able to cycle through three different sets of characters.
DW: They call it jumping the shark when you do it after eight years, but when you do it every season.
DS: Then it's just called stupidity. And in the marketing world, it's called destroying your brand.
But if you destroy your brand, don't you have to go back and rebrand it?
DW: Well, we do it and we intend to change the show completely, but then we get regret and remorse and we bring them back for the next episode. We realize that the new character, Meatwad's cousin Gristle, isn't quite taking off the way we had hoped.
DS: So it's back to the drawing board.
Now that you're going on a full tour, are you going to have a rock star van or anything?
DS: We're going to have a rock star passenger van in Los Angeles, but then we fly to Minneapolis and pick up a true rock star van.
DW: We'll pick up a rock star tour bus in Minneapolis, but in Los Angeles, I think we're driving a Fugazi style van.
DS: I thought it was a minivan.
DW: Doing it up like true indie rockers.
DS: We're doing it up like a large family on a horrible road trip that we all want to forget.
DW: A Chrysler Town & Country with stow-n-go seating. That's what we have in the contract.
DS: Except that one of the seats is permanently stowed because it no longer works.
DW: In the contract, they have to provide us with a turquoise, Chrysler Town & Country minivan.
DS: Turquoise, slightly faded.
DW: With stow-and-go seating.
DS: And masking tape on the door.
DW: And a built-in DVD player.
Dana, if you met Granny and Shake in person, who do you think you would get a long with better?
DS: I would probably immediately get along with Shake. Granny would probably disgust me in every way possible because she's a filthy old bag. She's an old, withered hornbag that would do nothing but creep me out.
DW: And then ultimately molest you.
DS: Yeah, or I'd end up marrying her.
DW: When you go to sleep.
DS: I would lose a lot of sleep if we were in the same house together.
[Switches to Granny's voice] Are you asleep yet, honey? Oh, you're still awake. I was just checkin' on you. Make sure you're going to sleep so that nothing happens to you.
[Normal voice] Could you get off my chest please?
[Granny again] Oh, you want to play coy, huh? Alright.
A lot of people hate L.A. for a lot of reasons. What would Carl hate about it?
DW: [As Carl] I don't know. I like L.A., that's where they got, Martin Lawrence lives out there, right? From Big Momma's House? Thats a good movie.
DS: Don't forget Carl, that's also where the Playboy Mansion is.
DW: [As Carl] That's true. That's true. Yeah, well, Playboy Mansion, but also the guy who did Hustler.
DS: The Hustler studio apartment is also there.