Interview by Nic Gerbode | contributor
Transcribed by Marlan Moore | staff editor
Anyone that knows voice actors knows the name Steve Blum. He’s seemingly been in everything — from Cowboy Bebop to Naruto, and American cartoons like Young Justice and Ultimate Spider-Man. If you’ve watched anime, or cartoons, or play video games, chances are, you’ve heard the voice of Steve Blum.
Inside AX was lucky enough to get a chance to speak with the veteran voice actor at AX 2012, who talked to us about his script work, his inspiration, his role in Toonami’s return, and more.
Inside AX: Steve, it’s nice to finally meet you in person.
Steve Blum: It’s nice to meet you.
IAX: Thank you. So, first question – you did some scripting for Digimon when that show was first getting localized. Have you thought about doing more script writing?
SB: I have, and the answer would be no.
IAX: Why is that?
SB: Well, I did that A, for the experience, and B, for the money because I was a starving actor and it was really fun writing for that show specifically. I have a very fond affection for Digimon. But time-wise, I just don’t have a schedule that allows that anymore. It took me 40 hours to write a 20 minute script. And I just can’t allot that kind of time to do that anymore. So I have no aspirations to trying to be a writer anytime in my near future.
IAX: Totally comprehensible. Have you ever played a character that you thought no one would recognize?
SB: Maybe in the beginning, until I realized how good the fans were at that. Through the years I’ve realized they’re going to pick up pretty much anything I do no matter how I tweak the voice. So I kind of gave up on that dream of kind of hiding anything anymore. Unless they tweak it electronically.
IAX: It took me a while to figure out that you were Grunt in Mass Effect 2, but I eventually kind of picked up that inflection of you and figured they probably just edited it on the computer or something.
SB: That one they did pitch down. That’s one of the few characters they pitched down. That one and I think maybe Rytlock Brimstone from Guild Wars 2, which is coming out soon. I believe they’re pitching that one down also. And maybe something for Diablo, the Blizzard game. That character I believe they pitched down a little bit too. Most of my other ones they don’t.
IAX: For your video game, Bulletstorm, was all of the vulgarity written by a professional writer or did they just let you wing it on some of it?
SB: They’re a sick bunch of people, and a lot of that was scripted. I, uh, sweetened it a little, shall we say. I did come up with my own naughty words throughout and sprinkled them in as much as they allowed me to. And they were actually very generous in allowing me to vulgar it up as much as I could. So that was just a cuss-fest. It was awesome.
My favorite part of that, in fact, was in the original promo campaign, where I got to abuse the players into buying the game online. That was unprecedented, I think.
IAX: Awesome. Can you give me a percentage of characters you’ve played that don’t eventually die somewhere in the series?
SB: [laughs] I don’t know. I have no idea. We’ll have to ask the fans.
IAX: I’m just noticing your tattoo on your arm looks like a soundwave file.
SB: It is.
IAX: Is it a particular soundwave file?
SB: It is actually a soundwave of Spike saying “Bang.” in the last episode of Cowboy Bebop.
IAX: I had my suspicions. All right, that’s awesome.
SB: That’s the exact file. I ripped it from the video and put it into Pro Tools and took a snapshot of it and brought it to a tattoo guy.
If there were a way to play this, you could. I’m thinking of implanting a chip at some point.
IAX: Are there any voice actors that have really inspired you, like Peter Cullen or Mark Hamill?
SB: All of them. And, well, something that a lot of people don’t talk about is the people who don’t have as big a name. There’s a lot of people in the anime industry that inspired me from day one. And I’m continued to be inspired by all of my colleagues.
Sitting on that panel yesterday with Lounge 21, every one of those people are amazing and top of the cream voice talent. It’s amazing. I’m literally inspired every time I walk into a studio and see my friends working.
As for the more recognizable names, people like Mark Hamill, people like Rob Paulson, I always talk about Frank Welker, who is a personal hero of mine just because of the kind of human being he is. Besides being one of the most ridiculously inhuman talents I’ve ever known with a gigantic human heart underneath all that. The people that I’m most drawn to and most inspired by are really the people that can back it up by being a really solid, decent human being as well.
Check out Part II of our interview, where Blum gives an in-depth look at the return of Toonami.
Also, check out our other interviews.