Back at the end of 2005, after the success of How To Sell… I decided I wanted to take Sir Millard Mulch to the next level.
I came up with the name Dr. Zoltan Øbelisk (named after the Zebulon Obelisk in downtown Asheville, NC) and bought www.drzoltan.com.
I experimented with the concept for the next year, trying to make him into an animated Flash character, or just me in an elaborate costume with a giant beard. I went back and forth and couldn’t get anywhere because I had no resources. I was miserable and poor. Zoltan was to be “a mighty demon” who possessed Sir Millard Mulch (as explained in a 90-minute documentary Matt DeJonge and I shot in 2005 and never finished) manifesting as a time-traveling, inter-dimensional alien anti-pop-culture TV show host / cult leader that orbited the Earth in a space station. Maybe a little too complicated.
I hoped to play a separate “character.” I was having a lot of personality problems and wanted to stop being Sir Millard Mulch, because it was too close to really being me. I had a split life of Carl and Millard, and it was really messing me up. I figured inventing a third one that even I knew was fake would help. That’s a long story.
In late 2006 I moved to Los Angeles (Culver City to be exact) where I rented a room from a guy named Eric. Eric was never home (none of his many housemates ever were, except the unemployed me) so I went into his back yard with my laptop and recorded several cheap webcam videos as Dr. Zoltan. It was a lame attempt — I had no money to buy a costume (the best I could do at one point was a long haired wig), knew nothing about video, and ended up just making a lot of people mad on YouTube by making fun of popular bands. I would start each “broadcast” with “Attention, All Humans” and referred to the viewer from an alien standpoint. I tried to talk in a deep voice, but I’ve never been good at it, so in later versions I just pitched it down digitally.
In Early 2007, I auditioned for Steve Vai and failed. Out of sour grapes, I moved into John La Grou’s studio for a month (thank you again, John) and set out to record the debut album. I found out about software called Drumkit From Hell and decided to feature it on the album, hoping to be the first to show off its capabilities with my complex sci-fi rock programming.
While in the process of recording, I came across Devin Townsend’s first press release about something he was calling Ziltoid — an alien TV show host alter-ego making an album featuring Drumkit From Hell.
Punch me in the brain.
I was, of course, horrified that Devin had come up with a parallel idea (I make no petty or delusional accusation that he copied me), and would no doubt beat me to it publicly. He even created a mock radio show hosted by Ziltoid, making fun of popular bands! But I didn’t let it stop me.
When I returned to my room in Culver City, I borrowed a camera from Zeke Piestrup and shot 3 video episodes of The Dr. Zoltan Show, with a rotation Ø in the corner. I was trying to do a V From Vendetta “reveal-the-truth political broadcast” and continue to make fun of some bands while I was at it. More negative reactions from the internet. I was getting so much hate mail, I eventually just deleted the videos. I was afraid the anger I was channeling was doing physical damage to myself and others.
Seven years later, I’ve only sold 50 copies of the Zoltan CD (I gave the other 50 away at the Toontrack booth in NAMM 2010) — and Devin has just released Ziltoid The Omniscient Episode 2 — which is everything I had hoped Dr. Zoltan would become.
Congratulations to Devin for the excellent work and making it happen!