Titan Maximum Interview with Matt Senreich

Matt is an old friend of AdultSwim.com, the kind that doesn't even need a reason to call but usually he has one. Don't let his natural friendliness and modesty fool you, this guy means business. We talked to Matt about Titan, how it's different working on a show with set characters and a plot, and possible future projects.

You've been super busy this year with two shows, a new baby, the Robot Chicken Skate tour, an Emmy nomination. How are you keeping up the pace?

I don't sleep. I don't know. I don't know how I keep up the pace. I don't exercise. I eat bad food. That's pretty much it. I don't know how I do it.

This is your second show as a creator. Is it easier the second time around or is it a whole different set of issues?

In some ways it's easier, in some ways it's harder. You have to create a whole new universe and you start from scratch. That's where all the work kicks in, with what could potentially happen five years from now if this thing ends up a success. How every character is going to interact with each other and how they're going to look at each other. It makes for a lot more conversations and a lot more pen-to-paper kind of stuff.

And then, there's the whole look and design. Trying to come up with the feel of the show. So all at the head, it's a lot harder. Once we get into production, it's a lot easier, for me at least, not necessarily for our crew. Only because I know how to do everything. We've done four seasons of Robot Chicken.

Have you guys thought about how you're going to expand the universe over the next couple of seasons?

Yeah, Tom Root and I have a very specific plan for a five-season arc of what we want to do. But the trick is, and what we're learning is that fifteen-minute shows, and ten of them, don't allow for us to even get to that place. We pretty much only get to the half-way point. So now we have enough for maybe ten seasons.

So, hopefully, Lazzo will greenlight us for all of that and we know where we're going. Plus, we keep falling in love with characters that we're introducing that we weren't expecting to love. There's a character named Sumner, who will show up in episode six, who was supposed to be a couple-line character. Actually, he shows up in episode four first, and he's voiced by Hugh Davidson. We kind of fell in love with him and we're going to try to bring him back more often, if possible.

Some of our other shows, like Delocated and Metalocalypse, are going from 11 minutes to 22 minutes. Is there a chance that you guys would do that?

If Lazzo allows it, we'd do it in a heartbeat. I personally think the pilot works better as a 22-minute and it gives us a little more room to breathe. In all the episodes that you see, we kind of over-wrote, so it's very fast paced. We worry that the story may get lost in some of it because we probably wrote for 22 minutes and then made an 11-minute show.

If everyone likes it, tell Mike Lazzo that you want 22 minutes.

The show is less than a week away from premiering right now. What's going through your mind this week as we lead up to the premiere?

It's one of those things where I'm excited for it. I look forward to everyone getting to see it. Because we're still working on the last couple episodes of the show, I haven't fully immersed myself in promotion mode. I hope people are going to watch it. I'm relying on people telling other people that it's coming out. My fingers are crossed. It's nerve-wracking.

As a creator, you never know how people are going to react and you just hope for the best. We put our souls into this thing and we think it's funny and we just hope that everyone else does.

You've been doing more voices on this show and Robot Chicken. We know you like to be more of a behind-the-scenes guys, are you enjoying it more?

You know, it's one of these things where I get talked into doing voices more than I want to do voices. It's one of these situations where for some reason Seth or Tom or someone thinks I have a very specific tone or personality to my voice and they will cast me as a certain character. Usually, they're one-liners and they think it's funny the way I say them.

Unlike Tom Root, who wasn't a voice talent and ends up doing a spectacular job. I'm the opposite and I think they just laugh when I do my voice in a certain way because it sounds awkward.

Would you ever take a big role?

I will avoid taking a big role as often as I can. But then again, there was that voice in Robot Chicken of that evil pen, and I do think that my voice made it funnier. Even though I hate listening to it.

So, obviously Titan Maximum is more story-oriented than Robot Chicken. Is that harder or easier for you?

Tom and I love it more. It's nice to not always be investing yourself in characters for four minutes, or even two minutes or less, and then having to go, "Okay, I don't care about these characters anymore. Let me jump to the next one."

For this, it's great because we get to actually follow these characters and watch them evolve. I always come back to The Simpsons and they did this "138 Simpsons Spectacular" episode with viewer mail and someone said, "Did you ever notice how Homer Simpson gets dumber over time through the seasons?" And you watch this progression of Homer getting dumber over time as he evolves to the writers. And that's how I feel with these characters as I'm watching them evolve.

You know, Palmer started as a very specific character, but over time he's just becoming this cocky, arrogant dick that I just find hysterical. Jodi is becoming this sympathetic... I feel bad every time we write something for her. She's pretty much the smartest one on the team and yet, everything goes wrong for her in some capacity. It's just watching these characters evolve and I love that thing where we can do anything to them. Or we could take it for a curveball at any specific time, which is what I think we do with Gibbs as the season progresses.

Is there one of the characters that you identify with more than the others?

We were actually talking in the writers' room about who we like best. I think I like Sasha the best. She's just a bitch and funny. And Eden Espinosa's voice read on that is spectacular. It's definitely a toss-up between Sasha and Palmer on who I like the most. But everyone has somebody different.

If you could magically have extra time and money, what other creative project would you want to do?

Oh my God! I would do anything superhero or 80s property and it would be awesome. I would kill to write an amazing Thundercats movie or Voltron or something.

Would it be a straight-ahead story or a parody?

The first things I wrote in this quote unquote Hollywood world were dramas, and I love that people now consider me a comedy writer when I don't find myself very funny. I always go back...It all starts with character. And making sure you understand why those characters are doing what they do. And even with our parodies, like in our Star Wars parodies, the Emperor is just misunderstood. Here's a guy that's in charge of running the Galactic Empire and he's got to deal with the day-to-day bulls*** of running any company. And it's understanding that personality before you jump in to any jokes and that's where those jokes come from.

And that's pretty much what we're doing on this show. Everyone has their personality and what their role is on the team. And then we kind of play it into that for the story.

I would love to write a straightforward take on any of those properties.

I would really love to do a Pixar-type movie through our stop-motion facility. If we could write something original that we could produce through here as a feature, that would be awesome. Again, it's just the time.

Did you go back and look at any of those old shows as you were prepping Titan Maximum?

We did and then we regretted it.

Going back and watching what you loved as a kid always ruins it. It's never as good as you remember. There's a reason those shows were kids' shows. You just smile and enjoy.

Is there something else you want to say about Titan Maximum?

I would just say, we already have a Titan Twitter page, it's @TitanMaximum. We have a Titan Maximum fan page on Facebook. A fan has already created a Jodi page on Facebook, which I find fascinating.

It's one of those things that if we do this right, I want to be talked about like how The Venture Bros. guys are. They have such a great following of fans and that show is so well done and the characters are so specific to who they are... I can only hope we have that kind of success.

Titan Maximum premieres Sunday, Sept. 27 at 11:30p ET/PT on [adult swim]