Our exclusive interview with "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" co-creator Dave Willis. He talks about the movie, its rating, the new videogame and not Boston.
His nammmmmmmme isssssssss...Dave Willis and along with writing partner Matt Maiellaro, he's created one of the most successful cartoon franchises about a crime-fighting-trio-of-food-that-doesn't-really-fight-crime-at-all-and-just-ends-up annoying-their-poor-neighbor-Carl ever.
Besides the usual hustle and bustle of creating a television show, the Aqua Teen guys have been busy lately. I dunno if you heard or not, but they have a feature length animated film coming out. It drops in theaters April 13.
Then, there was this other thing that happened and it was kind of bad and ended up being a little bit emotionally and monetarily expensive for some people and it happened in a town that rhymes with "tosstin."
But we couldn't talk about it, so my first question was...
Dana: Are you planning on doing any major marketing campaigns for the film?
Dave: Ahhh, meaning similar to the ones that were kicked off in...? No. I think maybe we will try something that is a little more inside the box, deep inside the box and not too far outside it. We might do a billboard and a poster. And yeah, sure we might do an ad, but probably not an ad on TV, and not on any networks that we don’t own because that would cost someone some money. There going to have us here all weekend with Xerox machine, making flyers and posting them around town. That’s how I imagine that marketing campaign to go down now.
(Click below for the rest of the interview!)
Dana: It’s good that you are not so Hollywood that you would be above the flyer making. The Aqua Teen movie…some people on the internet are speculating that it is never, ever going to come out, and that it’s actually made up. I want to know: why you have been lying to us? I always believe the Internet.
Dave: Well I always believe the ‘some people’ on the internet. I’m always aware of those people. I think it will be the ultimate punking of the internet when we actually put the movie out because they have grown to expect that we are the little boy who cries movie. They don’t expect us to put it out and we will totally own them when we actually put it out.
Dana: It’s true. The best revenge on the internet is when you actually do something.
Dave: As opposed to surfing the internet.
Dana: Yeah [imitates nerd voice] I am on my keyboard and I am telling you what I think.
Dave: And from the safety of my home and this avatar.
Dana: You guys do a lot of interesting things on the show. Is the movie a chance for you to branch out and do something a little more edgy?
Dave: Dealing with the romantic aspects of the characters relationships?
Dana: Sure or gratuitous use of language, anything that the constraints of TV wouldn’t let you do.
Dave: Yeah! We have six years of highly polished, well-honed d*ck jokes that we are waiting for the perfect vehicle to deliver those in and I think we have found it in this movie, just a 90-minute d*ck joke. And yeah, The Standards and Practices Department has limited our blood spray to two seconds [on television] because they feel like anything more than two seconds would be egregious. But, in the movie, that is deep into rated R territory as the NPAA said, we can have the blood spray be continuous, so we do.
Dana: Oh that’s good, well that’s always something to look forward to. So is the movie rated R?
Dave: It is deep into rated R territory. Yeah it is. I don’t know that it is officially rated yet, but yeah it’s going to be rated R. We had them look at it and I think in the back of our mind we were thinking PG-13, and it’s ironic that if we bleeped the cuss words we could show something at 10 o’clock on our network yet it would be rated R by the NPAA, but that’s the case oddly.
Dana: It is odd. It seems like a have gotten worse and worse in the last couple year.
Dave: Only recently did they post their rules on the internet, it’s pretty amazing. So no one could really point some standard, and say the standard changes depending on who you are probably and how much money you have I would imagine. And if they cut whatever they wanted us to cut it wouldn’t even be the show. So we didn’t and we made it worse.
Dana: Oh, that’s fantastic news. You guys really like to push the envelope, and I was wondering if you ever get tired pushing the envelope? And also what did the envelope ever do to you?
Dave: We decided to pull the envelope because pushing it has become such a standard for everyone that is what everyone expects, so we decided to go back and pull the envelope and that is where humor comes from- it’s the unexpected.
Dana: Do you think the 15 minute format of the show helps it be funnier because you don’t have to use a lot filler or does it limit you?
Dave: I would never say it limits us. We have been doing this for years, making 15 minute cartoons, and everyone points to that but then you look at all those Looney Toons and they were only 7 minutes. I think we’ve just gotten to the point that this is what we are really great at, writing these 11 minute shows. It’s almost like when we are writing we know we are approaching the 10 page mark because we start to subconsciously wrap it up. And by wrapping it up I mean the characters explode and then the credits.
I would never say it limits us. It’s great we never think about a three act structure because its just one long stupid act.
Dana: And the exploding of the characters always confuses adults, is that something that you set out to do? Because it seems like there is section of the population that gets’s it and then….
Dave: …then there’s this stupid part of the population that I don’t understand because they are uneducated or don’t have a brain, is that what you were going to say?
Dana: Well no, but like if my mom watched the show, and bless her heart, she would say it was just a bunch of floating food.
Dave: I didn’t mean to insult your mom.
Dana: No, of course, but what do your parents think of the show?
Dave: Well, many Thanksgivings ago my parents wanted to see it and show it to my Uncle. After a few minutes my Uncle started asking when the football game would be back on. They're pretty confused by it. I don’t know; it makes sense to us.
Dana: And that is all that matters. There is a distinct lack of female characters on the show, its kind of a big sausagefest, you care to comment on that?
Dave: I don’t think that is a concerted decision as much as it is our ability to write realistic woman.
Dana: Oh right, because the rest of the show is so realistic.
Dave: No really, our show depicts how men act. It’s very instructive that the one time we created a female character it was voiced by a man.
Dana: That is a real Freudian issue.
David: Well no, I thought it was really funny that we got the guy from Kids in the Hall, Scott Thompson the guy whose always basically in drag for most of Kids in the Hall. I just like you can do the voice in drag essentially. I mean no, I don’t know, man…I mean the fact that I called you "man" is absurd. I don’t know what is wrong there or what is wrong with us.
Dana: It’s ok. I work on a team with 17 other dudes, so I am used to it.
Dave: Well look at the other Adult Swim shows. I mean how many female characters are really good cross sections; think about it, that is either a whore or a harlot….
Dana: Or on for two seconds and then to...
Dave: To fill a void?
Dana: Where is feminism when you need it?
Dave: Well I think it’s instructive that all these characters would have trouble attracting females on their own or together. In their universe women are not within three miles of that house, and Carl is the grossest.
Dana: But he does have that great car!
Dave: Yeah but the ladies that show up for that, are probably not the one’s that you want.
Dana: And speaking of ladies, sort of, you do the voice of Meatwad, correct? Have you ever done the Meatwad voice to pick up a chick in a bar?
Dave: Not that my wife knows about.
Dana: Oh right. Well does your wife ever ask you to…
Dave: Do Meatwad in bed? Yeah, all the time. That’s how we had our two children. ‘Come on percolate for me baby.’ (Meatwad voice)
Dana: That is sexy; I’m not going to lie.
Dave: ‘Oh Baby’ Yeah, it went from a folly to her needing it to find me attractive in the dark.
Dana: Why doesn’t Carl just move away from them?
Dave: Good question. But then the show would be over, and then where would we be. We need him to stay there.
Dana: That is a good enough reason for him to stay. Are you guys planning in the marketing of the movie to sell a Master Shake doorframe at Home Depot?
Dave: That is an amazing idea. That never occurred to us. That would be an amazing thing to have.
Dana: I think so.
Dave: We will get right on it.
Dana: That is exciting news.
Dave: By the time our enterprises department figures it out we will be cancelled. We are still trying to get toys made, like if I send them an email about a door they will flip their lids.
Dana: Oh, we just got done with the toys, now we have to figure out a door.
Dave: Oh, we just got done with the toys, now you want a door?
Dana: Maybe in 20 years, an anniversary edition door.
Dave: When the internet people are saying they jumped the shark in season 18.
Dana: Speaking of things in development, we are the video game channel and is there ever any talk about an AquaTeen video game?
Dave: There is and we are making it. It went through some issues with the developers they hired, but we hired a new development team and its midway and there just doing it for PS2, and don’t ask me why it’s not PS3, but its extreme combat golf. It’s a golf game but it’s laced with violence.
Dana: That sounds amazing!
Dave: Yeah, Frylock is emitted to Jersey Pines, the very prestigious golf course in Jersey, and Shake wants to play and goes about ruining the course. You actually do play golf but you’re also battling the villains and some of your clubs might be a sawed off shotgun and things from the history of the show are in there like Carl’s gigantic crabs are lurking in the sand traps and the brownie monster and the mooninites.
Dana: Do you have any idea when that is going to come out?
Dave: This year definitely. I think either the summer or the third quarter of the year.
Dana: Well that’s very nice, so something to look forward to.
Dave: Yes, well we wrote the script so I hope they can do everything we want to do with it. But yeah, we are looking forward to it.
Dana: Do you play video games?
Dave: I don’t, but only for the reason that I know it’s a wormhole to divorce for me, first to unemployment and then to divorce. It’s like a gateway drug for me. I just know how I was as a kid and I know it would consume me like no other. Still everyone here has Xbox Gears of War and they talk about us getting together one night and I just don’t know if I can do it.
Dana: You have to stay away.
Dave: I just have to stay away. I think we are trying to do something with Xbox around the movie but I haven’t heard anything about that, but we are hoping.
Dana: What kind of stuff are you looking to do?
Dave: Well I don’t know. We haven’t heard anything but an idea was pitched where the characters would play different games the week of the movie. So if you know anyone who works for Xbox tell them to send us one and we will do it.
Dana: Do your fans scare the shit out of you?
Dave: No, I love each and every one of them. I love how they hang out in my bushes at night and wait for me to turn off my lights and scratch at the door. No, it’s really cool. I think it’s neat. There’s a lot of anonymity in what we do you know. People might know a name but they mostly just know the characters. It’s nice to be able to lurk around, you know at a Best Buy and people pick up a DVD and makes a hopefully a positive comment. There was a time when I was at a record store where someone said “someone told me that it’s the jam but I think it sucks.” I think it’s cool.
Dana: Do you ever offer fight the people who say it sucks?
Dave: Yeah, I immediately tell them that I am responsible for it and they can read on the back of my t-shirt because I got one that said “I’m Meatwad.” It’s cool I love doing answering machine messages for people. It’s fun. Years ago we interviewed Mike Judge for Space Ghost and I got to admit I wasn’t so ashamed that I didn’t get him to do my little answering machine message and yeah. It’s cool to do that, to give back to the community in answering machine messages.
Dana: Oh that’s nice. What are some of your favorite websites?
Dave: Well let me pull up safari, pull up favorites, bookmarks!
Dana: Make it official.
Dave: I like I love the AV Club…The Onion AV Club. I read that even more religiously then The Onion. I actually picked up every album they recommended last year because I am so hopelessly out of touch now and they did not let me down with a single one. It’s a good site. I like Dead Spin, Defamer; those are pretty great blogs. And I am really into Slate right now. And banjo.com, dead serious, for all your banjo needs…Banjo.com! I got a banjo a few months ago and I bought all my strap, picks, and strings from banjo.com.
Dana: So are you learning to play the Banjo? Can we expect to hear the banjo on an upcoming episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force?
Dave: Very likely will, very likely will. I also like Turner Web Mail, and Comcast Web Mail. I am a big fan of those.
Dana: Yeah I am sure Turner Web Mail is awesome. But, speaking of the internet does Meat Wad wish to start an internet feud with anyone?
Dave: Justin Timberlake because he hasn’t been calling him back. But I think it’s mostly because Meat Wad went to the white pages section of Wifee.com and looked up every Justin Timberlake in the country and is calling each and everyone of them, even the J. Timberlake’s. And he is pissed off because he hasn’t heard back from any him.
Dana: Does Meatwad maybe have a standard message that he leaves for a Justin Timberlake or a J. Timberlake?
Dave: Yeah something about “ This is Meatwad and I have been trying to get a hold of you man, I know you have been doing your solo album and all that and you broke up with Cameron and everything but I want to schedule that pizza party boy, so give me a call back. Bring your sleeping bag.”