VOICE ACTOR - BROCK POWELL
"Milo has had a really big place in my heart because the team has just been so collaborative, and very early on they would let me be in there and play around." Brock Powell, voice actor, Milo Murphy's Law
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ABOUT BROCK POWELL:
This week we welcome the "Voice of Death" himself, Brock Powell. Brock is the voice behind all the bumps on Fueled By Death Cast and he joins the show for the second time as a guest. We talk with Brock in Los Angeles about voice acting in cartoons versus video games, his favorite history surrounding the craft, and some of his tips on taking care of your voice and vocal cords. Plus, Brock discusses his love for Disney and specifically the show he works on, Milo Murphy's Law.
Jeff: This wild rollercoaster of a relationship that we have has been pretty fun.
Brock Powell: Ah, yes.
Dustin: That just makes it sound like it has its ups and its downs, Jeff.
Jeff: I don't think there's been a down yet.
Dustin: Yeah, then it's not a rollercoaster.
Jeff: That's true.
Dustin: What is it if it's just up?
Brock Powell: It's a rocket.
Jeff: We're a rocket ship of love. That's what we are.
Brock Powell: Definitely.
Jeff: End podcast. No, seriously though. We just finished up a week long out here in your neck of the woods, on the West Coast, which was great. Again, being able to talk with people in person always makes a better conversation, and the first time we met you was in Baltimore at Baltimore Comic Con. And we actually got to talk to you in person, and that seems like a million years ago.
Brock Powell: It feels like I was a different person.
Brock Powell: Seriously. How long, was that three years now?
Jeff: 2016 I believe it was. Yeah.
Brock Powell: Pre-Trump.
Brock Powell: Happier times.
Jeff: Yeah. Happier times. And since then, obviously you're the voice of this show, and you've been doing a lot of stuff out there in the world. And one of the things when we first met you that we didn't even talk about because I don't even think you could talk about it yet was the show that you're currently on on the Disney Channel.
Brock Powell: Yeah. Yeah.
Jeff: Can we talk about ...
Brock Powell: Yeah.
Jeff: ... about this show. Milo's Murphy's Law.
Brock Powell: Yes.
Jeff: Milo's Murphy's Law.
Brock Powell: I've got a friend who works on the show with me. I always say the name wrong because I'm like Milo's.
Jeff: Yeah. It's a tick, right? Yeah.
Brock Powell: If it's Milo's, then it would be Milo's Murphy's Law, but it's Milo Murphy's Law was on Disney XD and I believe now is going to be season one is going to be rerunning on Disney Channel starting in September, which is great.
Brock Powell: And I basically had the opportunity to work with Dan and Swampy Marsh who were the creators of Phineas and Ferb.
Jeff: Phineas and Ferb. One of the greatest shows Disney put out in the last couple years, for sure.
Brock Powell: Easily. Easily. And this show was something that if you like Phineas and Ferb and you like Doctor Who and you like sci-fi and comedy, it really leans very, very hard into like ... It feels like Phineas and Ferb meets Back To The Future is the best way that I can explain it. There is an over ... A narrative that is building throughout the whole season, but you don't necessarily know that as you're watching it because it feels like each episode is sort of standalone.
Brock Powell: But then they land this amazing story of like saving the whole planet and stuff that's sort of been going like underneath the whole time. And I get to do a lot of additional voices in that, which means in an episode, I could be anything from like a handful of monsters or aliens or even a kid that goes to school with the main character. So the main character's voiced by Weird Al Yankovic.
Jeff: Which is awesome.
Dustin: Which is amazing.
Jeff: How great is he? He seems like such a great guy.
Brock Powell: Yeah. He's absolutely just down ... Like the biggest kid. He's just always gregarious, and even if you talk to him about something that he's done, he gets excited about the excitement you have about the thing that he did.
Jeff: Which is awesome.
Brock Powell: But it isn't necessarily like a narcissistic, like, "Well, I'm glad you like it." He's like, "Oh, you really like that!" Like it's just really cool.
Jeff: That's so cool.
Brock Powell: And of all the shows that I've been working on like since we've started talking, I think Milo has had a really big place in my heart because the team has just been so collaborative, and very early on they would let me be in there and play around.
Jeff: That's awesome.
Brock Powell: And I remember one particular time where we were about to move on and I had done a couple voices on a thing, and Dan had grabbed the talk back. So when you're in a recording session, the guy on the other side of the glass is the performer, and then on the other side are the producers and the directors. And just like hit the talk back, and, "You've got a thousand voices in there. What else you got?" And just like the challenge and the constant collaboration.
Jeff: That's so cool.
Brock Powell: And season two, which is on it's way, and I'm really, really excited about it, and I can say it includes a Phineas and Ferb crossover episode.
Jeff: That's exciting.
Brock Powell: The first ...
Jeff: So they exist in the same universe then?
Brock Powell: You'll have to wait and see, but they will be appearing in the crossover episode next year, which is really, we're so thrilled because everybody's been working on this for the last couple years. It's just been watching this really cool narrative come together, and you get to play with these great characters.
Jeff: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Brock Powell: Tiny earthquake were in.
Jeff: Yeah, it's just kitty cat.
Brock Powell: Oh, it's the cat. Oh, good.
Jeff: Yes. Daniel needed to make his debut.
Brock Powell: Yes.
Jeff: But that sounds like such a great environment. There's an incredible cast of characters on Milo.
Brock Powell: Yeah, yeah.
Jeff: Like a ton of great voice actors and writers and directors and ...
Brock Powell: Yeah. Oh, people that you've ... If you enjoyed Phineas and Ferb, a lot of the writers from that have moved over to that. But on the voice over side, it's always crazy to ... It's more like who isn't on Milo because they create characters and very early on will be like, "Oh, we want to get so and so." So a couple of the cast members from Agents of Shield are on.
Jeff: Oh, cool.
Brock Powell: Ming and the guy who plays ...
Jeff: You're blanking.
Brock Powell: I am totally blanking. I'm losing my nerd mojo.
Jeff: Does he play in Agents of Shield?
Brock Powell: He does. Dalton, Bret Dalton, does that sound good?
Jeff: Cool. Yes.
Brock Powell: Or are you just nodding like yeah, yeah?
Jeff: No. He was a major part of that show until spoilers, stuff happened to his character.
Brock Powell: What happened?
Dustin: When you're doing a day of work on a show like this, are you actually working with all the voice actors throughout the day? How's that look?
Brock Powell: That's a good question.
Dustin: Thank you.
Brock Powell: So typically they used to do that tandem recording.
Brock Powell: But it's I think from what I've been told from an engineering standpoint and makes sense, it's much easier to have the actors one at a time because you reduce like the chance of like another loud performer performance bleeding onto another mic and stuff like that. But you do lose that kind of spontaneity and the ability to like ... There's just this hot potato feeling when you're recording with other people that you guys experience when you do a podcast. It's the same thing when you're pretending to do these characters. I did have a chance. I can't talk about what it is.
Brock Powell: But I can tell you that Bill Farmer and I got a chance to ...
Jeff: Work together.
Brock Powell: Work together.
Jeff: And you were in the same room together.
Brock Powell: And surprised us by booking us together and having us record at the same time.
Jeff: And that's the first time that you guys have worked together as voice actors.
Brock Powell: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jeff: That's full circle because when we had you on the show to begin with, we talked about our journey. How you become a voice actor, how you wrote that original letter to Bill, and how he's taking you under his wing and has mentored you in this industry. And now, full circle, you guys get to be in a booth together. Was that surreal?
Brock Powell: It was crazy. What was so funny was we're going for like 30 minutes. We're doing voices, and about 30 minutes go by, and the engineers like, "Okay, guys. We should probably do the script now." Like it was just without even realizing we had done it, we had just eaten 30 minutes of time because you're just in there playing and just doing all sorts of crazy stuff. I think that day we were doing something related to creatures or animals or stuff, which is kind of a part of voice over I've been really digging and getting a little more into.
Jeff: The whole alien, monster.
Dustin: Somebody's got to make the monsters.
Brock Powell: Yeah. It's nuts because there is ... As freeing as voice acting is because you get to be just totally imaginative and come up with stuff, like you get ... When you do creature work, you get to voice things that don't exist or have mouths or have any sort of ...
Dustin: Do you get to see the creature before you make the noise?
Brock Powell: Yeah. Usually.
Dustin: You would need to see the shape of its face.
Jeff: What does its mouth look like and ...
Brock Powell: Yeah. Yeah.
Dustin: Is it full of liquid in it's mouth?
Jeff: Does it have a mouth.
Brock Powell: Does it have a mouth? Does it talk through its butt. I won't. I wanted to.
But so I've been doing more of that, and actually I had a chance. I'm in the latest God of War game.
Brock Powell: Released in April.
Jeff: Yeah. So cool.
Brock Powell: So I'm one of the bosses in that, and that was really ... That was a wild experience because we're getting to the point now where the things that i'm working on are things that I was a fan of when I was kid.
Brock Powell: Because in all short of it is cyclical. So all the auditions that I get that are coming in are things like they're bringing that back, they're doing this again. And there's just this ... It feels like Christmas because I got into this because I was a fan of it, and now as I'm moving ahead and auditioning and getting to work on things, I'm getting to work on things that I'm already a fan of.
Brock Powell: It's kind of a trippy thing.
Jeff: That is so cool, and that's one of the reasons why you get into the business to begin with because you want to work on the stuff you love. That's why you even thought probably one day I want to do this because the people that you're loving are doing the things that you love and you want to be like that.
Brock Powell: Well, and the quick history of voice over. Voice over used to be a very, very tiny group of people, not tiny people, but like ...
Jeff: Tiny people. They had to fashion mics like really tiny.
Brock Powell: Actually, they were tiny. June Foray and Daws Butler were little people.
Jeff: Yeah, they were kind of.
Brock Powell: So back when voice over ... obviously animation has only been around since 1928. The first talking cartoon was created by Walt Disney.
Jeff: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Brock Powell: So Walt Disney was the first voice actor. He did the voice of Mickey, and he created an industry. Because vaudeville existed and radio existed well before animated cartoons, they pulled in a lot of radio stars. But then they would get a core group of people, and when it first started, it was like Mel Blanc, June Foray, Daws Butler, Paul Frees, and a couple, a handful of others. And they were just used time and time again. So that takes you basically from like the '30s to the '50s. Then all of a sudden more voice actors started to get pulled in. More character actors, Sterling Holloway was a character actor, takes over for Winnie the Pooh. Disney starts bringing more people in. Phil Harris, who was a big band leader, gets brought in to the voice Baloo.
And it starts to become a celebrity field and then also a field of just voice over professionals into Saturday morning cartoons when all of a sudden what used to be a couple channels on television and maybe some commercials. Like once in a while Tony the Tiger would come up and go, "They're great." But now, the '70s and the '80s, when cartoons started being a thing that's every day, and a whole day once a week, they had to blow open the field and get as many voice actors in. And so a bunch of people got into the business in the '70s and '80s. A lot of them were musicians. A lot of them were standup. A lot of them were actors who were doing on camera. And voice over was not a thing that they wanted to do.
Brock Powell: But now we're getting into the place where the people that grew up in the '70s and '80s are old enough to get into the business. And they are getting into it because they know the job.
Brock Powell: They want to be voice actors. This is the first ... I think one of the first generations of like actors that are specifically like, "That's what I want to do."
Brock Powell: Partly because of the I know that voice.
Jeff: Oh my god. Yeah.
Brock Powell: Right? It brought a lot of things into the main frame. And just with the internet and special features being out there, you have the ability to like ... People become aware of it. And it's like you're pseudo aware of it. There's this Reddit meme that I love that's like going through the credits of the Lion King, and the bottom it's like, "Additional lion voices, Frank Wilker," and someone on Reddit's like, "All the lions in the Lion King were voiced by some guy named Frank. Never stop dreaming." And then under that, some guy who's just a super fan is like, "Frank Wilker's the voice of Megatron, Scooby Doo, Cujo. Have some respect. He's your childhood." It's like people take a real serious stance on it. I think it's a really cool time because this is the time that everyone is just like so passionate about being a fan and being somebody who's a fan, and I guess also providing things to have fans of has been a real trip.
Jeff: Yeah. Speaking on as a kid from the '80s too, animation, like you said, it was the Saturday morning cartoons or it was the weekly show. We live in this age now where animation is everything. It's on primetime.
Brock Powell: It's our highest selling movies.
Jeff: It's our highest selling movies, and it's everything. And we get a lot more of the insight of this industry thanks to this boom of animation. Like I want to say thank you to Disney because as a Disney fan, when they've went back into their vaults and have released some of these movies again on BluRay, the special features are amazing.
Brock Powell: Yeah.
Jeff: Being able to see the voice actors working on like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty and seeing that behind the scenes that you've never seen these nuggets of information before. And Disney's so great at dusting off all these old things and like putting them into BluRays.
Brock Powell: This is why I love talking to Jeff because he's like on the same level when it comes to the voice over nerdier. On behalf of both of us, I need to apologize.
Dustin: Oh, it's okay. I'm used it. I learn every day.
Jeff: I love it.
Dustin: No, I remember even being a little kid and being so curious as to who is behind the voice of that character, and when you've got to see it, it was always such a treat.
Dustin: And see them do it was always like, "Wow. It doesn't even look right."
Jeff: Oh my god. Yeah.
Brock Powell: Can you grab that Funko right there. Can you grab that?
Jeff: Yeah, sure.
Brock Powell: So this, I keep this in my booth. This is Al's first wish from Aladdin. This was the first time I ever became aware of ...
Jeff: With Robin.
Brock Powell: ... an actor.
Jeff: It was Robin doing it. Yeah.
Brock Powell: Because this is the first time that it was like that performance was magic. I mean, it was just pure magic, and I remember when he passed, the released some of the unused footage.
Jeff: Oh wow.
Brock Powell: Of him doing the characters and the impressions that didn't make it into the move.
Brock Powell: And Eric Goldberg came in and I guess did some pencil sketches over it just as like a tribute. It wasn't fully animated, but just like an anmatic. I have to say that was the first time that I ever really noticed impressions and what you can do with your voice with the kind of flexibility you have to jump from character to character. But it's that energy. It's that kind of like the feeling that you could be really small, be really big, go over here, do that, oh. That whole kind of thing that Robin had, I think just really stuck with me.
Jeff: Totally. Totally. I'll tell you one of my earliest memories, and this is where the curtain was pulled back for me. My parents were very big Carson fans, and I mean it was after my bedtime, but they would tape it a lot on VHS and stuff. So sometimes I would sit with my dad and watch Carson from the night before, whatever. And I remember watching Mel Blanc on Carson, and he just effortless went into Bugs and Daffy and did them all just in a conversation. And it, as a small kid, blew my mind.
Dustin: I remember that.
Jeff: I was like, "Oh my god. This man is my favorite things. Bugs Bunny is this man."
Dustin: You never know it was one person either. It's such a strange like mysterious, magical skill. It's so weird.
Brock Powell: So Mel's a great example, kind of like bringing it all together with the narrative through line there. Mel started in radio on the Jack Benny Show.
Brock Powell: And I think the thing is I'm just such a student of comedy. I was raised by my granddad and my dad raised me on like The Jerk and a lot of Rob Reiner.
Jeff: Yeah. Yeah.
Brock Powell: The Stooges and all this stuff. So I'm a student of like comedic timing, and the Warner Brother shorts from the '30s and the '40s are still to this day some of the most ... And I think it's because of the music because they used actual like orchestrated music from Warner Brothers catalog.
Brock Powell: And incorporated that into the animation that the timing is just so perfect.
Brock Powell: But Mel was on Jack Benny's Radio Show.
Jeff: And he was also on when it went to television, right?
Brock Powell: Yeah.
Jeff: He was part of ...
Brock Powell: Yeah, he did the whole like, "Next stop," "Cocamunga," he done the whole train guy. Then he did this sketch that I don't know if people would still consider it funny because he plays this guy who's like sort of that lazy Hispanic stereotype.
Jeff: Right, right.
Brock Powell: Which back at that time, was just ...
Brock Powell: Prevalent.
Brock Powell: But he does a really fun bit with like the guy could only say, "Si."
Jeff: I remember that bit.
Brock Powell: Right.
Jeff: Yeah, yeah.
Brock Powell: Si, sigh, sue. The comedy rhythm. But he got started in doing vocalization full time on the Jack Benny Show, and the story that he tells or told ... Come on in, Mel. But the story that he would tell is they'd be in a studio, they'd be recording, and at that time, they had sound effects on phonographs.
Jeff: Oh, wow.
Brock Powell: That's where they would have a guy, if it was something the fully guy couldn't make, they would have a phonograph of certain sounds. So Jack Benny had this old Maxwell card that was like, "Rochester, bring around the old Maxwell." "Okay, Mr. Benny." And the car sounds supposed to happen, and Mel was there ... It was like his first or second time recording there, and he noticed that the phonograph was unplugged. They were recording essentially live, like they could not go back and fix this. So he jumps up to a mic ...
Dustin: Real to real at that point.
Brock Powell: It was just a nightmare. Yeah. And this would have been probably like the early '30s. He notices that the phonograph is not ready, and he hears the cue. He sees it in the script, and he just jumps up and like (car sounds) and makes the car sounds, which he later used for like speed buggies ...
Jeff: Totally, totally. Yeah.
Brock Powell: But that was the time that like he got up there, Jack Benny is like, "We're never doing a show without this guy again." Fast forward to he moved on to obviously voice almost all of the Looney Tunes, and the only time he worked for Disney was on Pinocchio.
Jeff: I didn't know that.
Brock Powell: And he played a drunk character that was ... I think it was the Gentle John, Honest John is the fox, and then there was Giddeon, the little drunk cat on Pinocchio who doesn't talk because after the bulk of the movie had been recorded, Mel Blanc was very famous for doing like a really great, (drunk words) kind of drunk. That's an actual drunk cat. But it's not a real bird, don't worry. They ended up cutting all of the dialogue out and leaving in one hiccup that was Mel Blanc, and that was the only time Mel got to work with Disney. So it's hard to know if something happened behind the scenes.
Jeff: Yeah because I wonder ... because I know like it's not common in voice acting industry that you guys are like ... What's the word? Exclusive, right? I mean, you work on a Disney Channel show, but you're not exclusive to Disney.
Brock Powell: Right.
Jeff: Like if Warner Brothers ... You could go out to an audition for a Warner Brothers thing or something, right?
Brock Powell: Yeah, yeah. Well, so case and point, like I work on a show on Disney and I've worked on a couple of other projects with them that are coming out and I'm excited about that. But I get to audition for Dreamworks. I get to audition for Nickelodeon. And I've worked on projects that are on competing streaming platforms.
Jeff: And that's the same even with like Bill. Like the voice of Goofy since '87, yet he's done voices for everybody.
Brock Powell: I mean, he was in the same year that Goofy Movie came out, I think, what? A year after that, Space Jam came out.
Brock Powell: Which he was in.
Brock Powell: I mean, he was recording those most likely in tandem. And yeah, there's no exclusivity. So I work the most with Disney. I love Disney the most.
Brock Powell: But then I've also had a chance to work with Sony on their Hotel Transylvania game.
Brock Powell: So I do the voice of Drac in the new Hotel Transylvania 3 game, Monster Overboard.
Jeff: Let's talk about that. Like, I mean, that's a different side of voice acting because that is technically what in the business they call voice matching.
Brock Powell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jeff: And you're literally matching the voice that Adam Sandler is doing in the movies.
Brock Powell: Yeah.
Jeff: For that game. What is that like? Is that a different aspect to the career? Is it a lot of the same? Do you kind of draw from the same kind of thing?
Dustin: How deep do you go? Do you dress like Adam Sandler for a couple weeks?
Brock Powell: Well, what's funny ... Like we were talking before we recorded, we were doing Little Nickey impressions.
Jeff: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Brock Powell: Need some Popeyes. Like I always loved Sandler comedies growing up.
Jeff: Oh, totally.
Brock Powell: And funny enough, you'll hear my cat running around and crying. This particular character voice was a voice that I would use to talk to my cat. I had ...
Brock Powell: Yeah. So this is true.
Jeff: This version of Sandler.
Brock Powell: This particular voice just has a really weird cadence, and I would often talk to my cat like, "Danny, what's wrong, Danny. Oh, don't do that, Danny." And I didn't necessarily know what it was from. I had picked it up. It's called an ear worm, like a piece of music.
Jeff: Yeah. Yeah.
Brock Powell: A piece of music or like vocal tick, like Trump's like, "Fabulous. Wonderful."
Jeff: Yeah, just sits there and you're like, "Where is that from?
Brock Powell: Where's that from? So I had heard the voice and had picked it up and when I had a chance to audition for it. I realized like, "Oh, wow. I already do that." And then it's really just about layering the timing in there, and you really want to perform it. This is where the extra step comes in. You're not just doing an impression, you're impersonating the choices that actor would make.
Brock Powell: For example, in the game, in the cinematic stuff, when there are moments with like Dracula's talking to his daughter and he's trying to be consoling, there's a different way that I would act that beat as Brock doing the character, and there's a different way that Adam would do it.
Jeff: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Brock Powell: So a lot of times you just have to kind of play around with explaining your choices because you'll go through with the director and you'll record it and go a couple takes and go, "I think Adam would do. Here's what I would do just as an option." And it was interesting to see it all get finished out. Because basically the game follows a very picaresque strategy and it's a lot of me just, "Go here. Go there. Stop." The movie came out this year. Everyone seemed to ...
Jeff: Did great. Did great. It was number one for like a couple days there, which is awesome.
Brock Powell: Yeah, which was really cool, and I guess a lot of kids enjoyed the game. It was so fun to be able to work on that.
Brock Powell: Games have been ... I've got two more games coming out this year that I can't talk about til they're out.
Jeff: Right, right.
Brock Powell: But games are ... I mean, I'm a nerd. I love video games. That's such a different realm of voice over.
Jeff: Is it a large ... It's got to be, just from what I know about video games, it has to be such a larger like job because ...
Dustin: It's like every movement of the character. It has to ...
Jeff: You're doing a lot of (grunt noises).
Brock Powell: So case and point, Milo, most of those episodes are 11 minutes long.
Brock Powell: A video game, a good video game ...
Jeff: Like God of War.
Brock Powell: ... needs to run 20 to 40 hours of narrative gameplay.
Brock Powell: Like not just the 80 hours it would take to collect all the whatever's. But they have to have just tons and tons of options, and especially because full circle with the creature stuff. Because when I end up doing creatures or villains or things, I'm having to provide specific sounds for whatever the character chooses. So if you've ever played Shadow of Mordor, I know a bunch of guys who work on that who were like afterwards were just like, "Okay, bye." Because they had to be orcs in character and doing an orc getting shot with an arrow through your left eye, now the right eye, now the stomach.
Dustin: Oh my god.
Brock Powell: And all those sounds have to have a sound bed variation, and that was why for a while, the SAG was on strike against video games because the vocal health has become a really big concern because as these games are getting more cinematic and longer, the tendency is to push the actor to get it all done in one session.
Brock Powell: And the pressure on an actor can be really, really tough, and a lot of actors don't feel comfortable saying, "Hey. I got to break this up." Because inherently, actors are there because they're enjoying it and they want to push themselves.
Dustin: They want to perform well, just like anybody else, and they want to get another job after this. They probably want to be hired by this giant video game company again.
Brock Powell: Yeah. But the cool thing is a lot of these places have started to be proactive about it. Blizzard's one of the best examples.
Brock Powell: They will break up the takes, they have a little room that they call like the ...
Dustin: How smart if you want longevity, you know?
Brock Powell: Well, you sit in that chair, you don't get on your phone, you don't talk to anybody because one of the things in voice over is typically like after a session, your sessions can last ... Like yesterday, I won't say for what. I went in and I did one line.
Brock Powell: But I was booked for four hours. So you just go hang out because you're just there and you know all the other actors coming in, and you like everybody. But if you're doing a video game and you're talking on your breaks and doing stuff like that, it sounds so silly. Your voice isn't getting a chance to rest.
Dustin: No, I used to deal with the same thing singing for a band, especially on tour and stuff like that, especially in a loud room, and you're talking loud to everybody everywhere you go and you talk like this and you're really exciting and talking about the next show and everything. And then by the time you get on stage and your voice is dead, let alone the next day and the next day and the next day. And that's usually why you don't see singers doing interviews is ...
Brock Powell: Oh, interesting.
Jeff: More often than not, like if you're ever looking for band interviews, it's almost never the singer unless it's like prestigious like a Rolling Stone or something like that.
Brock Powell: That's really interesting.
Jeff: Because there's no reason for it, or if they're not on tour, that's the best time to talk to a singer. But it's the truth.
Brock Powell: Yeah.
Dustin: Yeah. No, that's pretty common practice as far as I know. But it would surprise people how much you wear out your vocal chords talking in a loud room.
Brock Powell: Well, they're little muscles and you're pushing a lot of air through, and when you're making sounds that aren't necessarily sounds your body makes, right?
Brock Powell: So I'll get asked to make a pig sound, like (pig sounds), I'm doing something to my body that it's not meant to do.
Brock Powell: And there are certain numbers of voices like ... There's certain numbers like I can't do that more than 15 times, and I'll tell someone. If we need this sound, you need ...
Dustin: You practice and then make tally marks, and be like, "I can make the pig noise 26 times without it faulting."
Brock Powell: You just know. You just know. Like I can't do that. There's certain ones. Like I'm a little hoarse right now actually. (horse noise). But I'm a little raw from a session I had last week working on a video game that I can't talk about and I'm really excited about. That just shredded my chords. I mean, because what happens a lot of times, and this is what caused a lot of tension with actors and video game companies for a little bit, was these projects are so high profile that you'll get like Shadow Warrior 2 script. You're like oh, "Shadow Warrior." He's a ninja warrior and he's protecting his city and he wants to avenge his parents death. Like, "Okay." Then you show up and you're Batman. It's a Batman game.
Jeff: Oh my god.
Brock Powell: The don't tell you. No.
Jeff: Oh my god.
Brock Powell: So like for God of War, I had no idea I was going in for God of War. I had no idea what it was.
Jeff: But you know day of, like you walk in and then ...
Brock Powell: Well, it's hard to keep it a secret at that point because it's like, "Oh, that's Kratos." Or you guys are going to get sued because that looks a lot like Kratos. Hey, you guys know that looks like another game?
Jeff: Deity of violence.
Brock Powell: Write that down. Deity of violence. I love that. That's funny. So that happens a lot because you go into a video game session, and you don't know what you're doing. Like you know the type of game. This is a military game. This is a game, but also I always laugh because they're like, "Well, you knew it was an action game." I'm like, "First of all, unless it's like super busta move or like the weird monkey catching game that PlayStation had, they're all action games."
Brock Powell: So the difference is I just have to know am I the guy that's the villain that's talking like this a lot or am I the dude that's like, "Get down. Watch out." And they won't ... Sometimes they won't tell you.
Brock Powell: So this last session that I had, I walked in, and I was one of the leads. And they didn't mention to me that I was a lead in Mortal Peril the whole time. So all of the lines are called out over all this violence and chaos. So a normal script, I'm going through a normal script of like, I don't know, 150 lines or something. But they're all at this volume with this level of intensity.
Brock Powell: And then add in the like, "Come on, we got to go." And that's just your instrument gets really tried.
Brock Powell: I haven't recovered.
Dustin: Is there certain things that you do to recover?
Brock Powell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). You want to see? This is like Mr. Rogers. Stay right there.
Dustin: He said talk, not make stupid sounds, Jeff.
Jeff: So, anyway, Dustin, what fuels you to hate me so much?
Dustin: Your presence.
Brock Powell: I'm super serious about vocal health. So because I used to loose my voice a lot, and part of it is just because you're playing around with sounds, fresh honey is amazing and local honey. Yeah, helpful in tea and hot water. Throat coat tea, everyone will tell you about it. Your key is to steep it. I like to let it not be super hot. I don't have any right now, but there's this loquat syrup called Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa, which is a ... You can look it up. If you look up Chinese loquat syrup, you can get it on Amazon. But a lot of metalheads use it, and Blizzard actually stocks in it what they call the orc self care kit, which is ...
Jeff: That's hilarious.
Brock Powell: So for all those guys ...
Jeff: Because they have so many orcs.
Brock Powell: Yeah. All their guys, they have like this syrup, and it's like a menthol. And it just takes the swelling out. Billy Holiday's old method, pineapple juice. So if I'm shredding my voice ... Yeah, absolutely. She used to go nuts, and then she'd get up and she'd have some ... because there's enzymes in the pineapple juice that reduce the swelling in the throat tissue. Your voice, your vocal chords look like this, and they ... Liquid does not touch them unless you're a mutant. So drinking tea and those sort of things only help to alleviate the muscles around the vocal chords to allow them to sort of relax. So there's very little you do that actually touches the vocal chords. But the pineapple juice reduces the inflammation.
This is the silliest thing ever, and this is a ...
Jeff: Is that just a straw?
Brock Powell: It's just a straw. This is like a straw you get from a donut store unless your in California.
Dustin: Like a cocktail straw. Yeah.
Brock Powell: Really small. Really small in diameter.
Jeff: Super illegal in California.
Brock Powell: Super illegal. This is actually I think ATF is outside right now. So what you do is you push air through on ... We did not talk about doing this, by the way. We're just jumping in.
Jeff: No. I'm so curious. I'm so curious.
Brock Powell: No. Seriously, because you have all sorts of people that watch the show.
Jeff: Of course. Of course.
Brock Powell: This is something that like if you do any kind of public speaking, I don't care if you're doing like a folk rock cover band or a Toastmasters, this is a thing that if you're ever feeling like ... And it happens. We're in different climates, especially out here, the weather changes a lot.
Dustin: Or you get weird sleep or ...
Brock Powell: Sleep or like for me, what happens is my voice doesn't get a chance to rest because I work ... If I work a couple times a week, every day I'm not working, I'm auditioning for other work.
Brock Powell: So the voice isn't resting.
Brock Powell: Just because I'm not getting paid, doesn't mean that these puppies are sitting cool.
Jeff: Right. Right.
Brock Powell: And then the natural, local honey's really good because if you have any allergies, they say that local honeys the best because it collects the pollen that's causing the allergies, and you're basically like ...
Brock Powell: Your building a tolerance, kind of a like a Princess Bride. So what we're going to do is this is just lip trills is a thing that you use. (lip trills). Make a cooing sound, make yourself look like an idiot, and what that does is vocal warmups allow your voice to just get settled to true zero so you can start doing weird things with it. When your voice is tired like this, my voice right now has a lot of extra air going through. There's some swelling. There's all that stuff that happens, and this was developed my a doctor, I forget the name, but for people with Parkinson's because what happens with Parkinson's, they get very shaky. The vocal chords can't really connect. So pushing a lot of air through and letting the vocal folds, you're actually pushing air over your vocal chords, and it's cool and reducing the swelling. And I forget what they call this, but it's basically the straw trick, and you make this sound. You don't have to roll your tongue if you can't. You can even just do a woo, woo, woo, and you put it into this little straw.
The doctor invented it does this song like ... And after that, about, I don't know, two minutes after a session, your voice should feel just very like ...
Brock Powell: Yeah. I cannot explain it aside from the air goes over the vocal chords, reduces the swelling, and you just feel like that's not so bad.
Dustin: Oh, that's so interesting.
Brock Powell: So if I'm feeling soft like today and I've got to go record some auditions later, I will keep this straw in my car, and I have a bunch of them. I have 100 of them. And yeah, I just got to take care of it.
Jeff: That's incredible. That's really, really interesting because it is a thing. It's, like you said, like even when you're not working, you're working. Out of curiosity, how many auditions do you do in a week would you say?
Brock Powell: Honestly, it really depends.
Brock Powell: No, no. I mean, sometimes it's on average like 20 a week usually.
Jeff: Wow. What's like a big week?
Brock Powell: Right before Christmas, right before a holiday, last minute stuff.
Jeff: And then you're doing 30?
Brock Powell: Yeah. The one that's killer is when a video game comes out and they just send you all the characters or all the things.
Jeff: Oh my gosh. So you're auditioning for multiple characters.
Brock Powell: It's one project, but you're auditioning for multiple things.
Jeff: Holy crap.
Brock Powell: And then you're doing multiple takes of that.
Jeff: Holy crap.
Brock Powell: Because a lot of times, I don't know if Bill shared this with you, but he has this thing that he would always tell me, which is really helpful because it helps take ego out of it. When you're an actor, especially a voice actor, you're a plumber. You go in, you want to fix their problem. They've got a problem.
Brock Powell: You have a toolkit with things that can fix their problem. So all you have to do is show up, be confident, and do the best you can to fix their problem and give them some options. So when you audition, this is what it sounds like if I use this. This is what it sounds like if I do that. And you just ... All you're doing is like here you go, I want to fix your problem. Here. And you ...
Brock Powell: You offer the best you can, and then you leave it at the door. That's it. Let it go.
Dustin: That's very egoless.
Brock Powell: Right. But do plumbers ever walk around? I always think about like if plumbers acted like actors.
Dustin: Let me tell you about the sink that I fixed.
Brock Powell: Right?
Brock Powell: If they had that like, "Ah, man. There was this double stuffer down in Tucson that you wouldn't believe." No, never. They never, ever, ever have any sort of ego, and they also never have the confidence of like, "Hey, I fixed your toilet. Was that good? Did I do that okay?"
Jeff: Right. Is your toilet working all right?
Brock Powell: Do you like me?
Dustin: That's very interesting.
Brock Powell: Yeah.
Dustin: So I've heard of a lot of rock singers end up having to get like vocal surgery.
Brock Powell: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Dustin: Does that happen with voice actors as well?
Brock Powell: It does, but there actually is a doctor that SAG is working in tandem with now that she works at the ... Like Osborne Neck and Throat Clinic. It's up the street from the union. They go in and they actually sonically scope your vocal chords. There's certain things like that if you have like a nodule, which is like a hard polyp. Like a soft polyp is basically like a blister or a rug burn. You talk too much and you wear your vocal folds out. You rest, you could be okay. If you did something really strenuous and caused like a hard node, that could require surgery.
Brock Powell: But for a lot of actors, that can ... Because then you get into the risk of like vocal paralysis and stuff like that.
Dustin: Is that what gives you a gravely voice is ...
Brock Powell: Me?
Dustin: Anybody. Any person.
Brock Powell: No, I definitely have like ... I don't have polyps or nodes or anything, but I have a lot of like husk to my voice because when I was a kid, I would talk a lot when I was sick. So it gives ... It just adds a lot of texture.
Brock Powell: But there are actors like I always think of Richard Horvitz, who I love. He has a really naturally textured voice that he uses for the characters that he builds. So for someone like that or even someone like me, I accept where my voice is at, and I don't necessarily want to change it. But I also don't want to do something, which is why games and stuff can be dangerous, is that takes away my ability to do certain voices ever again. So it's like how many singers have to transpose their songs down after time.
Dustin: A lot. Almost all of them.
Brock Powell: So the problem is when you're a voice actor, you don't have that luxury because characters can sound different.
Jeff: And they can't age sometimes.
Brock Powell: They can't age. Like Tom Kenny does the voice of SpongeBob, has to still.
Jeff: And he's been doing it for 15 years now or whatever. Yeah.
Brock Powell: And you know what, it cannot ... Side by side, it's incredible like how he's been able to sustain that because it sounds ...
Jeff: Exactly the same.
Brock Powell: Exactly the same.
Jeff: Yeah. That's a professional right there. For sure. And you've gotten ... That's what's cool is like since we've talked to you, your career has taken you to all different aspects, games and shows and you've done stuff for amusement park rides and things.
Brock Powell: Yeah.
Jeff: So you've gotten to work not only in this industry but with obviously some of the people that you idolize and like love, right?
Brock Powell: It has been ...
Jeff: Being able to work alongside that, that must be vindicating for you, right?
Brock Powell: Yeah. It's so weird because I don't think of it as like, "Yes, I did it. I'm awesome." I think of it more like, "What is my life? This is so ridiculous."
Jeff: As a nerd, I have to bring it up because we've actually brought it up on the show when you posted about it, but, I mean, you got to work with freaking Mark Hamill. I don't think we can talk about the project that you worked on yet, but, I mean, what was that like being in a room with Luke Skywalker. Come on. Your as big a nerd as I am. Come on.
Brock Powell: It's ridiculous. I mean, it's ... And he's a giant nerd. I mean, he is ...
Brock Powell: Oh my god. Well, he had ...
Jeff: Has he ever seen Star Wars? No.
Brock Powell: But he has a ton of like ... Like he's really into like Batman. Before he was on Batman, he'd always been into like comic books and has a huge collection.
Brock Powell: And he's just so easy to talk to. But what's so weird is being able to be in a room with someone and the generosity that comes from an actor who has done way more than I've done. Like it would take me two lifetimes of average work to catch up to his ...
Jeff: Oh my gosh, yeah.
Brock Powell: And he is so generous and kind and just like gives you the time of day. And voice over, because most voice actors don't get seen a lot.
Jeff: Right. Yeah.
Brock Powell: We're just getting into a time where they get recognized a little bit.
Brock Powell: But it's mostly at conventions or context where people know who they are. But it's a business that most everyone does not have an ego. It's just about like ... Oh, and I have heard this, and this is true. There are times that people have gone in for jobs and recommended other voice actors. Hey, if I didn't get you want you needed, call so and so. They do this.
Dustin: That's really cool.
Brock Powell: That's insane, right?
Brock Powell: That's a real thing.
Jeff: Going back to the music industry, that doesn't happen. It's like, "Oh, we can't play this show. Get this band." It's like no, never.
Brock Powell: No.
Jeff: It's everybody for themselves.
Brock Powell: Yeah. I've gotten jobs because other performers have mentioned me during a recording.
Brock Powell: They're like, "Oh, you should get Brock for this." Just that kind of kindness and generosity. It's also just weird because like back to Milo ... Always back to Milo.
Jeff: Always back to Milo.
Brock Powell: I'm on a show with like Christian Slater and like, right?
Brock Powell: It's nuts. It's just crazy. Thomas Lennon, who was ...
Jeff: Oh my god. Yeah.
Brock Powell: And it's fun because now because we don't record together, everyone has this common experience. So when I run into these people, I go, "Oh, we worked on Milo together." And like I got to meet Peter Stormare who he and I were at the Radio Disney Music Awards together, and Peter Stormare is a super famous character actor. He was in a lot of Cohen Brother movies.
Brock Powell: If you saw Fargo, he was the guy who was like, "We must go to pancake house."
Brock Powell: I think he gets thrown into the wood chipper.
Jeff: I think so.
Brock Powell: But he is such a character. He works on Milo. Clancy Brown works on Milo.
Brock Powell: So I've gotten to know all these actors that I love just as an actor.
Brock Powell: And yeah, I just think in general my acting's gotten better because like I don't care anymore. Like in terms of like there's no fear. It's just like all very like, "Did you get what you need? Okay, if not, we'll just keep going or get someone else."
Jeff: That's awesome.
Brock Powell: And I think to have that as an artist is a really ... That's just where the power is.
Brock Powell: Because so much living in Las Angeles is you're constantly giving your power away. You are. You're waking up, you're not sure who's going to need you where. You're on hold for stuff. A lot of times there's windows for things like, "Hey, we'll back to you in the next six hours or 60 days. Okay, bye."
Jeff: I feel like probably everybody gets back to you all at once, right?
Brock Powell: Yeah. The joke is if you want to book work, book a trip. If you go on a trip, nine times out of 10, an actor will tell you they got work when they come back or they need to move their trip because they have a job that records as they're going to the airport.
Brock Powell: I've had auditions where I had to audition in an airport in like an abandoned Southwest kiosk. I took a blanket out of my carry on and had to make like a little recording booth to audition for this thing. I mean, sometimes it's just that last minute.
Jeff: Well, it's awesome to hear from someone like you because, I mean, we've been kind of following your journey as you've broken into this business and now you're in that point ...
Dustin: We've been with you on your journey.
Brock Powell: I mean, you guys literally have like ... The amount of support you guys have ... Just to have people that you can talk to about like ... Because I will, I'll call you. I'll tell you when I book stuff.
Jeff: We talk all the time.
Brock Powell: I'll tell you, "Hey, I got this thing," because I know that you guys ... The support is real. It's not just this like, "Hey, so you put out another record. Neat." There's like this real, like ... Because I feel like we're in this together.
Jeff: We are.
Brock Powell: But like whatever it is that we're trying to accomplish, you have to have people that are on your team and supporting each other because there are so many times that like if you don't take every moment you can to celebrate something, you're just going to get down.
Brock Powell: There's just so much to celebrate. So it's nice to be able to share something.
Jeff: Well, we can't appreciate you enough for everything that you do for us for the show, for the company. And I'll tell you right now, it's already to the point where like we'll go to events or something like that, and with the way that this show has like built momentum and people are ... Especially that enjoy Death Wish Coffee and then also either watch or listen to our show. One of the things I get a lot now is people coming up and just they'll look at me and go, "Gah. Science." It's great because it just warms my heart because it's like even though they're like, "Oh, I like this show." And that's kind of like what they're saying to me.
Brock Powell: Yeah.
Jeff: In my mind, it's like they're fans of Brock.
Brock Powell: Oh.
Jeff: That's really cool. I can't wait to do more stuff with you.
Brock Powell: Guys, right?
Jeff: Yeah. Skies the limit with what we're going to do.
Brock Powell: Absolutely. Excuse me. You shut up. You're making dad look silly.
Shame. Shame. Okay. Do we toast now?
Jeff: Yeah. Yeah. We toast now.
Brock Powell: Cheers.
Brock Powell: To Brock.
Dustin: To Brock.
Jeff: Thank you so much, man. It was really great to talk to you in person and thank you so much for having us here in LA for a week.
Brock Powell: Of course.
Jeff: It was amazing.
Brock Powell: Yeah, we didn't even confess that. You guys have been staying with me for a week, right?
Jeff: Yeah. Yeah. It's been crazy.
Brock Powell: We picked one part of the mansion. We can't have everyone ...
Jeff: Yeah, yeah. No. All the butlers are back there.
Brock Powell: All the butlers are back there on their break. They just need to sleep. I find it if they get six minutes of sleep, that normally they try to poison me less. So that's nice.
Jeff: That's good. That's good. Awesome. Well, cheers.
Brock Powell: Cheers.