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Director / CrewI'm Brendon Small, guy behind Metalocalypse, and my new live-action metal short film called NIGHTMARE is out now via FunnyorDie. AMA!

Mar 3rd 2018 by _BrendonSmall • 25 Questions • 972 Points

Hi everyone! I am Niall Ferguson. I am the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior fellow of the Center for European Studies, Harvard, where I served for twelve years as the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History. I am also a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation Distinguished Scholar at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. I have written fifteen books, including The Pity of War, The House of Rothschild, Empire, Civilization and Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist, which won the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Prize. I am an award-making filmmaker, too, having won an international Emmy for my PBS series The Ascent of Money. In addition to writing a weekly column for the Sunday Times (London) and the Boston Globe, I am the founder and managing director of Greenmantle LLC, an advisory firm. I also serve on the board of Affiliated Managers Group. My new book, The Square and the Tower, was published in the U.S. in January.

Proof: https://i.redd.it/3chnemwo7ni01.jpg

You can find me online here:

EDIT: And that's it folks. It's 11:02am in Stanford and I have to get back to my day job. Thanks to all of you for really great questions. My RSI is now killing me, but it was fun!

Q:

Hey buddy 🤘🏼

So how’s the tour coming along? Soon? Ish? Maybe?

Also are we gonna get any behind the scenes stuff from Nightmare? I want to see more of that badass whale 🐋

A:

In your recent interview with Sam Harris, you seemed to sidestep criticisms of Kissinger by saying that if he's a war criminal, then so is Obama, etc. Since this is not a political question but a legal one, and since many of us are perfectly willing to follow you on your point about Obama, what is an actual substantive argument for your lenient stance on Kissinger's actions?


Q:

Tour-wise I'll let you know when I know

however stay tuned because you will get some sweet BTS action from NIGHTMARE- I'm glad you're interested!

A:

I haven't begun writing vol. II, so I wasn't side-stepping Sam's question, just making sure I didn't preempt myself. My argument is for consistency. My hunch is that either there are a lot of war criminals who have led the State Department / U.S. government or none, depending on your definition. What seems highly implausible to me is that there is only one, and that is Kissinger. Remember, the main basis for this claim is a really shoddy little book by my old friend Chris Hitchens. He was many things, but a lawyer wasn't one of them.


Q:

we need a tour !!! make it happen!!!

A:

What is the weirdest thing you discovered in your research?


Q:

smiley face emoticon

A:

The strange truth about the Illuminati. After all the crazy conspiracy theories, it was really gripping to read about this weird little South German sect of radical Enlightenment thinkers in the 1770s who thought they could infiltrate the Freemasons and undermine Roman Catholicism.


Q:

Do you still have any of the movies you made as a kid?

A:

Can we expect some of he highlights in your new book?


Q:

that is a good question- Ill have to ask my parents

A:

And that's it folks. It's 11:02am in Stanford and I have to get back to my day job. Thanks to all of you for really great questions. My RSI is now killing me, but it was fun!


Q:

Hey Brendon, any chance of a Planet Piss album/EP in the future?

A:

It seems like so many of our problems and the rapid rise in political and ideological polarization in 2018 comes from a real lack of History in education. How can we make this a priority (in the west, I suppose) and give historians some confidence again?

Thanks!


Q:

isn't that what Im doing??

A:

I agree 100%. But academic history has to earn public respect, and most history departments seem intent on doing the opposite. That is why I am hosting a conference on Applied History at Stanford tomorrow.


Q:

Hey Brendon! I had a great time seeing Dethklok perform some years ago in Seattle. Is there any chance of another tour? Or does Adult Swim own the music rights too?

A:

With Dodd-Frank repeal or revision an increasing possibility, do you have any thoughts on the value of that legislation? It's hard to find reliably sensible commentary amid the political debate where reps on both sides may be pandering towards special interests in their arguments.


Q:

who knows? But I will say we loved touring and connecting with the fans. What a fun fucking show that was eh?

A:

I am writing an update to the Ascent of Money which will tear into Dodd-Frank as a really badly designed mess that didn't address more than a tenth of the causes of the financial crisis. Should be out in September.


Q:

Who do I have to blow to hear you perform Under The Apple Tree live ( including the five minutes of gratuitous Apple chewing)?

A:

Who’s been the most influential historian in your career? Most overrated? Most underrated?

And why is Cambridge better than Oxford?


Q:

ha ha ha- to me the sound of an apple being eaten is the worst thing in the world which is why I did that

A:
  1. A.J.P. Taylor. He could write.
  2. Richard J. Evans.
  3. Maurice Cowling. With Oxford it was like marriage. With Cambridge it was a passionate affair.

Q:

Thanks! And for some stupid reason, I couldn't bring myself to fast forward through it.

A:

Thank you for doing the AMA! I wrote a term paper on The Pity of War in college and thoroughly enjoyed your challenges to the conventional wisdom about WWI—I’ve even read the book a second time independent of any course work.

Do you consider yourself to be a historical contrarian? If so, at what point in your education and/ or career do you think you realized this? What do you think has led you to view many historical events and phenomena differently from other historians and commentators?


Q:

allright- I'm all done! hope I answered your questions- thanks for hanging out guys- again if you haven't seen the NIGHTMARE Short its right here: https://youtu.be/bgMHbwB3_PQ

also check out the Galaktikon comic book at galaktikon.com I really think you'll like it

I'll give you updates as I get em in the future- thanks for sticking with me, the shows, & the music throughout the years!

A:

Worth reading / seeing The History Boys by Alan Bennett on this. I was always taught to challenge conventional wisdom when writing history essays. Otherwise, why bother? So the conventional wisdom on the First World War was just sitting there waiting to be challenged: that the war was a tragedy, but somehow inevitable. The Pity of War is a direct assault on that. Probably teaching the subject at Oxford pushed me further along the contrarian path. Students would come in with essays that said the same old thing, and my job was to ask: "Are you sure about that? What if Britain had simply stayed out?"


Q:

Brendon, what's the weirdest thing you've ever done high?

Also, any advice for someone also trying to become something of a one-man band?

A:

Will you eventually write about the 7th killer app for the book Civilisation's next edition?


Q:

I went to Cirque du Soliel really high once and was afraid somebody's taint was going to land on my face, That was scary.

I'd say for band stuff- write all the time, write a ton of riffs- record yourself and be willing to change your stuff according to the logic that the song presents you- listen to yourself and don't be afraid to critique yourself harshly- but not so harshly that you never let anybody listen to your stuff!

A:

Yes, but I can reveal now that it's alcohol.


Q:

Hi Brendon, thanks for coming back!

Nightmare was pretty cool, especially with the practical effects. How intentional was it to draw so many parallels to The Galaxy and Metalocalypse/Dethok in general?

I’m really digging the comic and I can’t wait for the next issue. After you finish up this series, can we expect to see more? And can we expect to see more shorts like Nightmare for Galaktikon tracks?

Love your work man, keep it up!

A:

What do you think about the networks formed by media companies such as Disney? It seems that these networks have quite a bit of power (maybe even a sinister amount of power). How does this form of network fit into the overall premise of your book?


Q:

the parallels you see are motifs that will most likely follow me forever. I have been drawn to the water and sea creatures for a long time- I like the look of certain shots- I like scale and bigness. I also love Ralph BAkshi and rip him off mercilessly- so what you're seeing is a collection of what I like to look at.

I'm having such a blast in the comic book world with Eric Powell and Steve Mannion that I could easily see myself continuing. I'm also really happy with how the series finished- I hope you all check it out. I love it.

A:

Disney is quite an old kind of network: a centralized content producer, with roots in the golden age of Hollywood. I think the future of content will be different, because the Internet creates a Darwinian environment of constant innovation and experimentation, with obscure people becoming stars by going viral online. Disney will still churn out its musical cartoons, but I think it's share of total entertainment diminishes.


Q:

I have 3 small questions: 1. Can official tabs for galaktikon 2 be expected?I'm tearible at learning by ear. 2. Is Beastblade involved in the story of Galaktikon 2? because it looked like he was in the Icarus video 3. If you were to do another comic series would it be Galaktikon 2 or a Triton spin- off?

A:

Are all Freemasons the same or are there imitators and different types of Freemasonry?


Q:

thats a good question- we are so independent over here that I hadn't really put thought into TAB book- don't people just rip them and put them up online for free anyway? I know that happened to Dethklok- but i also know that people buy them and are really interested in learning the parts- what do i do??

I'd love to continue in the comic world with Galaktikon- I'd like to take the story in fun unexpected directions related or not related to the music

A:

All shapes and sizes, but every formally constituted lodge has some connection to the masonic tradition as it evolved in the British Isles between the 16th and 18th centuries.


Q:

Hey Brendon any chance we are going to see any more guitars through Gibson or epiphone in the future?

A:

I had the chance to drive through the ChangBai mountains, on the border of China and North Korea. The rate of development was surprising; massive powerlines intersect the border and the roads are flooded with freight trucks. The trip got me expelled from a department of state program, but was illuminating nonetheless.

In your mind what would be the 'Kissinger method' for countering China's geopolitical leverage wrt North Korea? And given his recent visits with the Trump administration, do you see any meaningful action taken?


Q:

I truly do not know- Gibson has been incredibly generous with me over the years but we'll see what happens

I do think one way or another I'm going to be making guitars though!

A:

I can't say more than that he's offered his advice and they're more receptive than the Obama people, who thought they were so smart they didn't need his advice. Clearly, pressure on Beijing has led to much tougher sanctions on Pyongyang and they are being squeezed as never before. But the US will get nowhere by saying: "You be tough with NK and we'll be lenient on trade with you." That's been Trump's approach and it's wrong.


Q:

Hey Brendon! Big fan of the new album, show, comics and Nightmare short!

I had heard somewhere before that you had pulled from many sources of inspiration for the making of Galaktikon 2, but what were the major influences you pulled from for this album?

Do you have any visions in terms of a next project after Galaktikon 2, be it more music or another potential show?

A:

What does Russia want with the Trump administration and vice versa? I keep hearing that they’re both populist but Putin is a strongman from the top down and Trump’s policies seem to favor the very very rich. Neither seems particularly “populist” to me.


Q:

Yes my thoughts are that though this is a contemporary metal record I'd rather be inspired by things NOT CURRENT. so I go to my usual place the 70's I listened to everything from ELO (vocoders)to Paul Simon- post simon and garfunkle he started experimenting with song form and that inspired me to make MY NAME IS MURDER believe it or not!

But I'm working on a lot of narrative TV/movie ideas right now- that's my focus after having finished the Galaktikon short- I'd like to continue in the world of live action practical effects with big scale

A:

Oligarchy is the key word here. Trump campaigned as a populist, governs like an oligarch. Each relates to the other. Putin however has a goal beyond making money: he wants to weaken the West and restore Russian power. I'm against that.


Q:

Hey Brendon, I fucking love everything Galaktikon and Triton is a serious badass, that helmet is so cool.

The live action Nightmare video is amazing and I love the way the story plays out. Im wondering if youre planning to make more live action videos? Id love to see Some Days Are For Dying and Could This Be The End in live action form and see your vision for their stories as well.

Also the Galakticomic is insane, do you think that youll make another comic series for Galaktikon 2?

Thanks for doing this AmA today, cant wait to see everything you have in store for Triton!

A:

What's the wrongest pronunciation of your name you've ever heard?


Q:

I think that I'd like to skip music videos and try for something bigger with galaktikon- live action, with a lot of cool music- that to me is incredibly fun and new feeling

A:

Nigel.


Q:

Any chance of more live Dethklok in the future or is the stage a no go along with the cartoon etc?

A:

What is the most important truth that very few people agree with you on?


Q:

listen to Galaktikon II is all I can say

A:
  1. Recently: That Angela Merkel has been a disaster for Germany.
  2. For many years: That the benefits of the British Empire outweighed the costs.

Q:

Thanks for doing this, I've been a huge fan for years and always appreciated having a show that actually revolved around metal. Which is so overlooked in culture in general, at least in my opinion.

That being said, how would feel about living in the world of Dethklok where they basically drive the world's economy and are megastars?

A:

Hi Niall, just got introduced to your work on Sam Harris podcast and I've got a few books in the mail as a result of it. Cheers to that.

As a result of the congressional deadlock of this decade and increasing unpopularity of the American congress, do you think we'll see a major shift in the structure of American politics in our lifetime? Will America ever shift away from the deeply unpopular two parties and is there a historical precedent for that?

And I guess tying that all together, do you think major political change can happen in a prosperous country without a war or major economic disaster?


Q:

i think I'm living in a that world right now- I made a show about celebrityism (just so happened to be a metal band) and now a celebrity is in charge. However the Dethklok world is cooler because it celebrates metal

A:

Can a new party ever arise in the US? History says yes and I expect to see it in my lifetime. The Independents are out there. They just lack leadership and resources. The good news is that change can come without war, though it generally needs an economic shock to happen. The better news is that we've already had both. I think Trump may prove to be a gateway to the kind of change many of us would welcome. I think that's more likely than the "American Tyranny" scenario of Tim Snyder et al.


Q:

Hey Brendon, always enjoyed your shows and music.
Both with Dethklok and your Galaktikon albums you have produced what most would consider melodic death metal, but have you ever experimented with making a different subgenre of metal such as black, thrash, etc. that didn't make it on to an album?

A:

On the immigration front, you have Japan, whose birth rate is as low as some European nations, yet decided it would rather shrink its population than open itself to more immigration and with it the risk of losing its identity. Do you think Japan’s policy is suicidal or could it be a model for countries in Europe?


Q:

I get to do a lot of heavy genres inside of Dethklok and Galaktikon- to me there are tiny black metal moments and trashy moments but built around modern metal- old hard rock

i think in the future I'd like to keep experimenting and doing electric stuff like the intro score of the NIGHTMARE short

A:

In effect, Hungary is going down the Japanese road, Germany is taking the opposite course. These may prove to be alternative methods of suicide. The way to happiness is to have five children. People in wealthy countries can afford this. They should get on with it.


Q:

Hey Brendon. Thank you for everything you’ve done, especially Metalocalypse. It continues to be one of my favourite shows. To this day I still refer to my acoustics as “grampas guitars”.

If a person were looking for bands very similar to Dethklok who would you recommend checking out?

A:

In a previous answer, you said you believe the benefits of the British Empire outweighed its costs for a long time. Can you talk more about this? Benefits/costs for whom?


Q:

Dont know if I sound like them but here is a short list of metal influences for DK in no particular order:

Amon Amarth, Dimmu Borger, In Flames, Enslaved, Cannibal Corpse, Metallica, Anthrax, Gojira, Maiden. . . I could go on and on. . .

A:

For humanity. The argument is there in Empire, as well as in other works (The Cash Nexus, Colossus, Civilization -- also War of the World). I have a paper that I never published that pulls the economics together, but I decided it was futile as the post-colonial types aren't interested in quantifying welfare or considering counterfactuals (which you have to do).


Q:

HELLO AGAIN BRENDON YOURE THE FUCKING BEST!!!!

QUESTION: WILL THERE BE ANY GALAKTIKON GUITAR TABLATURES??? THERE'S LITERALLY A MILLION GUITARS GOING ON IN EVERY SONG MY EARS CAN ONLY GO SO FAR

YOU'RE THE FUCKING BEST GOODBYE GOTTA GO TO WORK!!!!!!!!

A:

Hi Niall, many thanks for doing this AMA.

What do you think will cause the next recession? (In the UK)


Q:

ha ha- noted. I'll bring it up at the next galaktikon shareholders meeting

A:

The Fed. Or the People's Bank of China.


Q:

Not only do you make some of my favorite music & television, but you’re also one of my favorite voice actors. How did you grow such a wide variety of character voices? Are they inspired by people you know, or are they just of your own creation?

A:

Hi Niall What historians/historical works have shaped your historical thinking?


Q:

You are nice to say that- Skwisgaar from Dethklok is a combo of three or four people: a german kid who went to music school with me, a comedy friend's buddy, Yngwie, the swedish dude from fargo.. . . I guess that what I do- compile a lot of influences and hopefully cover my tracks so the vote feels unique

A:

And that's it folks. It's 11:02am in Stanford and I have to get back to my day job. Thanks to all of you for really great questions. My RSI is now killing me, but it was fun.


Q:

Hey Brendon Have you ever considered doing a music based video game with a company ?

A:

Niall! Former history undergrad here. (USMA '99.) I really enjoyed The Pity of War and felt it was very sound; I also really really enjoyed The Ascent of Money, especially the part about insurance and nationalizing the risk pool. What would you change about the U.S. healthcare/health insurance system if you were in charge? And what realistic changes do you think we should shoot for?


Q:

i have had those conversations and we tried once with dethklok and it was squashed by the network -

I'm a rainy day gamer in that I suck at all games but enjoy them

what are some games I should be playing

A:

The whole system is a ghastly mess. Insurance based on employment makes no sense, it's a complete anomaly. But revolutionary change won't work. So we need to use technology (including blockchain) to disintermediate or at least weaken the rent-seekers (the big insurers) and cost-raisers (big pharma).


Q:

Hey Brendon, I really love the first Galaktikon album and the comics. I just really want to know, what is the inspiration for Triton's personality? I want to love him so much, I love how he talks, and how funny and real he is for being set in space. He's such an asshole at the same time though, I can't stand the things he's done, especially to Liz. It's quite the dilemma.

Also, keep doing what you're doing! Long time fan of Dethklok, (even got a tattoo it means so much) and honestly I really love Galaktikon. Also T1 is absolutely adorable <3

A:

What have you previously written about that you have since changed your mind about?

Love your work by the way.


Q:

To me Triton is like a 1970's anti hero comedy character. I think he's like a perturbed charles Grodin or Albert Brooks in space, he's constantly irritated and when we meet him he's in a dark place- that to me is incredibly fun because I love that era of movie making- also I think this comic feels like its from the 70's Steve Mannion (G artist) fleshed out the world with a 70's take on sci fi. like an analogue universe in space- I live his aesthetic.

thanks for digging the stuff!!

A:

I got the US macro trends wrong in 2009-10. I quite quickly corrected myself, but wrote a couple of pieces that were wrong about the direction of interest rates and inflation, and my enemies will never let me forget it, nor will they ever acknowledge how quickly and openly I changed my mind.


A:

Hello Niall. I really enjoyed your biography on Kissinger. How’s volume two coming along?


Q:

I haven't ever done it. I'm sure I'd like it. But I'm not going to do it.

A:

Research is 85% done. Book should be done inside three years. But it's an historiographical Everest in terms of the volume of material, not to mention the harsh climate at the top. The conventional wisdom on Kissinger (that he is an evil war criminal) is an article of religious faith for a generation of liberals.


Q:

Hi, Brendon! I just want to say thank you because your music helped me to lead myself out of depression There will be more videos like Nightmare so we can have a little live action Galaktikon movie series? I love the big words you use for the lyrics, sounds like a strong protest, is there any kind of message that you want to send to us? Anything that can change our minds? What is it about? Greetings from Argentina!

A:

Hi Niall,

Im a big fan of your work and it’s great to see you here spending your time answering questions.

What do you make of the UKs Brexit strategy or lack thereof? If you were in charge of negotiations what level of engagement would you like to see with the EU. Or are you in favour of dropping out to WTO rules.


Q:

I'm glad to have helped!

Yes I want to do more galaktikon live action but not in short-form, much bigger- I guess that's kind of why we worked so hard to make the NIGHTMARE look cool

A:

I've written a lot on this for the UK Sunday Times / Boston Globe. I was against Brexit, but I see why people voted for it. The ultimate relationship is probably going to be Swiss-style, but without Schengen. The transition will need to be protracted, however, as leaving the Single Market will be costly. Going to WTO rules would be an economic hammer blow, as those who advocate must be aware. Pursuing "hard" Brexit is the shortest road available to a Corbyn government.


Q:

I have been a fan for many years, Brendon. Please keep making great music and shows!

  1. How likely is a European tour? And if it were to happen, would it be Dethklok, Galaktikon, or a mix of both?

  2. For the past year or so I've had this itch to start making music, but I literally have zero musical background, and my musical tastes also vary wildly, from death metal to electros wing to synthwave... Have you got any tips for starting from absolute zero? I've been considering either starting from pure software or buying myself a very basic synthesizer to mess around with, it seems like an instrument with a lot of range in terms of genres.

A:

Are you familiar with Jordan Peterson? He claims Universities have been taken over by social justice, particularly the humanities, and that History is one of the diciplines that has been corrupted by post modern neo-marxist. Do you have any thoughts on the state of universities and/or predictions for the future?


Q:
  1. someday i would love to tour all the music I wrote in europe

  2. I think if you're drawn to an instrument- guitar, keys, whatever save your money and buy one- get a good teacher- I wouldn't be anywhere if I didn't have great teachers in my youth in Salinas- John Sherry and Dennis Murphy- they helped open my eyes up to ear training, technique and theory- teachers are crucial to getting good and exploring

A:

I don't know Jordan Peterson, but I admire what he is doing. Along with Jonathan Haidt and a growing number of courageous professors, he is part of a fightback against academic illiberalism with which I would also identify myself. Last week, I welcomed Charles Murray to Stanford just to make the point that free speech is real here. I may not agree with all he says, but I'll defend to the death his right to air his views, which are deeply researched. The same goes for people on the left. Cornel West is coming to speak at the same series in October. We don't agree on a whole range of issues, but that's not the point. I want to hear views I think I disagree with.


Q:

Hey Brendon! Any chance we will be getting official lyrics for Galaktikon 2 anytime soon?

A:

Would you consider your histories factual?


Q:

ha ha ha

A:

Yes.


Q:

Hi Brendon,

Have you considered doing a tour/festival in Europe as Dethklok?

We miss you!!

A:

yes but not with name dethklok


Q:

Thanks for all the amazing music, episodes, and podcast appearances! Are you planning on releasing the lyrics for the second galaktikon album?

A:

I heard they're up somewhere. aren't they???


Q:

Hey man, love your music! Galaktikon 2 is a great record but I do miss the clean vocals from the first one, any plans for more music with clean vocals? The snow falcon is a beautiful guitar btw.

A:

I'm glad you like the clean vocals- there are a lot on G2 but I hear you. I like doing clean vocals and they're way harder to do than the growl but I think melody is king and I'm glad you dig

and thanks!


Q:

Hey Brandon, so glad you're doing an AMA. I've been a fan for a long time. When I saw that you released an album I didn't realize it was part of a larger project. Are you planning on releasing a stand alone album that's more "absolute music"?

Also, are you thinking of doing any more tv shows? I love your writing and would watch just about anything you're part of.

A:

absolute music? Whats that???

you are nice to say that!


Q:

Hey Brendon! Do you plan on dong another Canadian tour at some point in the future?

A:

not sure but I'll let you know. I love canada!


Q:

Hey man, what's your favorite kind of bean?

A:

Black


Q:

any tips on rhythm guitar practicing? how did you get your speed up on songs like "the gears"?

A:

for rhythm- get a metronome of go on youtube and play to drum beats or even better yet record yourself- you'll hear where all the problems are.

and I have found some way to not have my hand get fatigued when playing songs like THE GEARS- I discuss it with Troy Grady in a future video- often times its about relaxing your rt hand and moving as little as possible


Q:

Hello!

When you were first starting out how did you deal with building a name for yourself? I want to create content myself someday and I guess I wanted to know about your personal experiences getting your stuff out there. (Apologies if this question has been asked a billion times.)

A:

its a good question- if you're interested in music and or comedy (as i was inserted in both) theres a point where we have to leave the comfort of our rooms and get in front of people- this does a few things - it tells people "I'm Here" and it forces us to have to deliver. If you wanna do comedy- get out and preform, bomb- work it out- nobody cares if you fail but you- with music- play out, bomb, nobody cares if you fail but you


Q:

Would you work with the five nights at Freddy creators and make a TV show?

A:

I'll do it when I finish this- deal?


Q:

Do you plan on making more albums as Galaktikon since you arent allowed to use Dethklok or will your music career take some other turn?

A:

who knows where time will take us my friend- I have not plotted any of what got me here out- I'm just here to be creative and hopefully bring something new to the table