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MC Chris: Nerd Herder

Nerdcore rap artist MC Chris, best known among animation fans as the voice of Hesh on Sealab 2021 and the voice of MC Pee Pants on “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”, is currently concentrating on his musical career. Toon Zone had a chance to catch up with him after his performance at Mojo’s in Columbia, Missouri on April 18th and ask a few questions about his music and his time with Adult Swim.

ImageToon Zone: When recording your lines is everything fully scripted or do you ever have the opportunity to ad lib?

MC Chris: I do, I mean, more so I improvise on Aqua Teen Hunger Force than I do on Sealab. Sealab, y’know, is canceled, so I won’t be doing that any more, but I did get to improvise on Sealab a little bit. Um, MC Pee Pants (Aqua Teen Hunger Force), they every time ask me to make stuff up. I write all the songs. They give me a script and then I write a song based around the script. Aqua Teen is a very free experience where even as an artist that used to draw for them or anything they just let me go hog wild and have a lot of fun. Watching Dave Willis perform or Dana Snyder, who does Master Shake, they all wing it. A lot of that show is almost completely improvised. Basically, they stick to the script pretty strongly but they just try and figure out different ways to say the lines.

TZ: You mentioned that Sealab is canceled, so I’ll skip that question.

MC: Sealab (the team) is working on a new show, though, so they’re going to try a different kind of show. I don’t know anything about it really. I don’t know if I am going to be involved, but I assume not. They just got a new office, so they are going to start up something new right away.

TZ: How does preparing for a large gig such as the Penny Arcade Expo (Mojo’s) coming up this August compare to performing in smaller clubs such as Mojos?

MC: I kind of just close my eyes and just do it. I just try to do one show for everybody. I’m excited for the PAX event because it’ll be totally geeked out, and like, if everyone’s a nerd rather than just like a TV fan or something, if it’s just about being nerds and like that whole culture, then usually I’ll get a great response. I’ve met MC Frontalot; I know he’s also playing and I’m excited because he lives in New York, I think, and I live in New York, so it’d be great to, like, group up with him and maybe do something together. I don’t know what it is going to be like, but I know I am totally looking forward to it. Penny Arcade hooked me up with a signing at a comic book store in Seattle last fall. They’re really cool people. It was my first signing, and it was a great experience, so I can’t wait to work with them again.

TZ: What is your ideal type of place to perform in?

MC: I like about 300 people. We used to have problems with sound, but we got a wireless mic and in-ear monitors so now we control like how the sound is going to be released in my ears. I can control what I’m hearing, so I don’t lose my voice or scream. I like it to not be too drunk or too smoky, because I just get jealous. I like it when everyone’s like into the show and then not talking over me, stuff like that because there is a lot of stand up that goes in between songs. Basically, if just the vibe is good. Every show is like going on a date. You either click with the girl or you don’t click with the girl. Like, tonight I really clicked with everybody, everybody was really cool. Basically, I just hope that everybody’s into it and it helps if they know the music more than the shows, because if they are into the music, then they can kind of sing along, and it is more of a celebration of my existence, whereas sometimes it is just a celebration of the shows’ existence, which I’m very proud to be a part of Adult Swim, so I don’t mind that either but, y’know, it’s cool when it’s a little more so about, like, the music that we’ve made, and it is a little bit more congratulatory in that regard.

TZ: What influences you the most when creating your music?

MC: Mainly my life. I also pay very close attention to my fans: What they’re into, what games they’re playing, what movies they’re watching, what they’re talking about. Mainly, it’s like me and my life and what I’m going through. If a girl doesn’t like me I’ll write about that. If nothing’s going on I’ll just make stuff up. I’m influenced by rap and pop-punk and pop culture. Basically, everything’s an influence.

TZ: A conspiracy theory circulates online about how people who work on Sealab 2021 don’t like anime. I was wondering what are your views on anime?

MC: I don’t know the guys too well, but I think that they make anime joke because Toonami and Miguzi are right there in the same building. Thundercleese was a kind of riff on anime and so there is always like an anime diss. Comedy and anime are always kind of at each other, they’re always nipping at each other’s heels. I think it is a friendly kind of exchange. I don’t think anyone’s really angry about it. And you have to give it up, anime is pretty easy to make fun of.

ImageTZ: How did the idea originate for April Fool’s Day 2004 to draw mustaches all over Adult Swim?

MC: I don’t think I came up with the idea, I don’t quite recall. I know that everybody went to New York to go to some party; I think it was the Upfront. I was left in Williams Street to draw about 860-something mustaches. It was very difficult to do, but y’know, it was a lot of fun to do and I thought it looked great when it played. I think it screwed with everyone’s heads that night. It was a great April Fool’s joke. I don’t think they did anything this year, right? Maybe they switched around the schedule a little bit.

TZ: They showed Squidbillies.

MC: Oh, right right right. I worked in on air for a little while, and I said Halloween and April Fool’s are the big Adult Swim holidays and we should own those holidays. Now I’m not really involved with them any more because I’m trying all this music stuff out, but even though I was kind of left behind that weekend with a lot of work, it still was very satisfactory and everyone seemed to get a real big kick out of it.

TZ: Did the distributors of the shows have any reaction to the mustache stunt?

MC: I think we were at Comic-Con, and I told everybody that I did that and there were some people that were there that were kind of frowning upon it, but they just need to loosen up.

TZ: Since you did some different things for Williams Street, working with on air and what not, did you ever work with the Toonami division?

MC: No, but I’m friends with them all and they are in the same building as Williams Street, so I would always look into their office and see what video games they were playing, because they would always, like, be playing the latest console, the latest game. I could find out what was worth playing, what was cool. Basically, they are a great influence on me, just in terms of video games because I’m not that big of an anime fan. I like Miyazaki and Akira and stuff like that, but I really don’t watch serials or anything that’s, like, a repeated episodic adventures and like that. So, mainly Toonami was just, like, they’re just a bunch of cool guys. They are kind of on the jock side, but they were a great influence on me, and I was always dipping my head in their office and they were always cool guys. We’d all go out and drink and hang out. They’re very cool.

TZ: Is there anything else you would like to say?

MC: I’m just having a lot of fun on tour and a lot of fun meeting everybody. I’m really happy to have been involved with what I’m involved in, like the shows, being involved in Sealab was a great experience. Being involved with Aqua Teen is a great experience. I look forward to my toy coming out. MC Pee Pants is going to come out, I think, Wave 3 Toyfare announced. Comes out at Christmas; it’s Carl and MC Pee Pants. I’ve heard a lots of different things. I heard first it was Frylock and MC Pee Pants, but I think it is Carl and MC Pee Pants. It comes out at Christmas, right when the movie does. That’s going to be exciting. This summer I’m making a DVD of my tour. We are videotaping every single show. We do a west coast tour in May. This summer we’re just doing comic book conventions and then some shows around those conventions. I think we are doing Boston, Indianapolis, Chicago, Atlanta. We won’t be doing Comic-Con. In the fall we are going to do a college tour. We haven’t picked who we are going to tour with yet. We are trying to get Todd Barry, but I think it might fall through. I’m not quite sure what’s going on with that. And then fall/winter we might do Europe. And then right around the end of the year I get to make my big album, which will probably be released by a major label. I mean it will be released on DC Flag, but it’ll have major label funding, which DC Flag is a subsidiary of Sony. 2006 is going to be the big year for me where we have music videos and all sorts of stuff. Lots of things are cookin’; I’m definitely busy. I thank you so much and I read Toon Zone all the time and I really appreciate your guy’s support, you guys always seem to have a link up every once in awhile about me and I really appreciate it.

TZ: Thank you so much. We appreciate the interview.

MC: Hi to all of your fans. Peace.

MC Chris will be on tour throughout most of the year. A list of tour dates can be found on his website.

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