Mac Sabbath may or may not be the weirdest band in L.A., but when it comes to tribute bands, nobody comes close to the McMadness they bring live. We even said so right here. The local Black Sabbath cover band are thematically driven by a certain fast food chain they don’t really want anyone to mention due to legal concerns. But golden arches are involved. And a clown. Named Ronald.
Ever since they first started to sizzle on the music scene, we’ve been trying to go beyond the gimmick and find out more about the players: Grimalice, the Catburglar, Slayer McCheeze and of course, Ron Osbourne. The red-haired singer is particularly alluring, possessing a sort of Joker-meets-Ozzy (no relation) impishness that always makes us wonder — surely as KISS fans did decades ago — just who’s behind the makeup?
Many have theorized that it might be the band’s manager, rocker/horror host/accessories designer Mike Odd. It’s not, and we’ve got a picture of the terror-ific twosome together right here to prove it. But Odd, who’s best known for his own amazing prop-rock group Rosemary’s Billygoat, does function as the band’s spokesperson, albeit a somewhat reluctant one. Apparently these dirty Mac's don’t do interviews and Odd thinks that's a good thing, as it helps retain the “mystery meat” of the experience.
However, in advance of their big Whisky a Go-Go show tonight, he agreed to chat a little about his friends and clients Ronnie and the happy maulers for this rare interview.
How did you get your first taste of Mac Sabbath?
Well, I’d heard the rumors about bomb shelters underneath certain fast food restaurants. I got this anonymous phone call that said if I went to a certain location and had a burger it would change my life. The band had been playing secret shows in the basement there amidst the food storage for years. Ronald said he wanted me to help finally bring his movement up from the undergound. So I did.
You’re a musician yourself. What made you take a managerial role with Mac Sabbath? How are you compensated for your work with the band?
In French fries… Actually, we made a deal through my company monsterbuckles.com. They allow me to sell my belt buckles at the shows. I’m also making other stuff like “Burger-fix” necklaces. They look like crucifixes but they have a burger design within the cross part.
The band calls its music “drive-thu metal,” but they're actually anti-fast food lyrically. Do you eat the stuff? Would it be hypocritical to do so?
I try to eat healthy. But I think you can warn people of the danger of things and still dabble. That makes you more of an afficianado on a topic, more than people who avoid it all together.
Are you a carnivore or vegetarian, Mike?
I'm not gonna get into that. Either answer makes me lose fans.
What about Ronald? Is he vegan? Gluten-free? Lactose-intolerant perhaps?
I don’t even know if Ronald's human.
The band is very immersed in retro culture right? They're sort of anti-technology and don’t even record their music. What do you actually know about them?
Let's just say that they’re aliens to me. Ronald's like a superhero in some ways. He even has a nemesis: this guy named Burger King Diamond.
You’ve always had Black Sabbath influences in your own music, too.
Yes! They were the first punks in my opinion. People say they're heavy metal. But they invented punk, and goth and hard rock. I feel like “Paranoid” is the first punk rock song. Everything I like has a Black Sabbath influence, so this made sense.
Tell me about Mac Sabbath’s songs and how they parody the band's originals.
“Flying Pan” is take on “Iron Man.” “N.I.B.” is “N.I.B.-ble.” “Paranoid” is “Pair-a-Buns.” “Supernaut” is “Supersize.” “Children of the Grave” is “Chicken for the Slaves.” Theres a line in that I really like that sort of reps what it's all about: “Slaves drive thru in SUVs and eat their deep-fried starch.“ Most all the lyrics are about the evils of fast food. Sabbath sang a lot about evil as well. Let's face it, there's a part of all of us that embraces evil and it can be a lot of fun. That seems to be a focal point of both bands.
So does Mac Sabbath party?
There's not like, carousing, or strippers or whatever. It's not that type of thing. They party, like, at a kid's birthday party. The band is actually very child-friendly.
I know that! Thanks for getting them to play my kid’s school fundraiser at Micheltorena Elementary in Silver Lake.
It’s the only time I’ve ever seen those guys in daylight. That was great for me. The “Frying Guy” robot was out there zooming around. And they liked it. At first, I wasn’t sure it would go over well. When the principal introduced herself and said, “Who's responsible for this?”, I was about to go, “Um, I'm really sorry.” But she cut me off and said, “This is so amazing.” Maybe it’s more likely to go over in Silver Lake than like Alabama or something. We'll see.
So is the younger audience something the band is pursuing?
There's no elements of the band that are inappropriate… no bad language. Compare it to what all the kids are seeing in the rest of their lives these days; it’s fine. What I think would be amazing is if they book a tour connected with Michelle Obama. Since she is promoting healthy eating. Get her to sponsor a tour of schools where they do kid-friendly sets and lessons about organic foods. And then they can go play for the drunks at night.
But some kids might be scared. Clowns can be very creepy.
I have not seen one negative reaction from a child yet… I can't say the same for adults.
What about the Juggalo crowd? That could be a potential new fan base.
I've been asked that. There's been some talk about that Gathering of the Juggalos thing. Don't know how I feel about that. I'd advise the band against it I think. It's on a different path and we're all happy with where it's going.
Both Rosemary’s Billygoat and Mac Sabbath feature food elements in the live show and lots of cool props.
Yeah. A dream of mine that hasn’t come to fruition is to have a ball pit. You know where the kids jump into multi-colored balls? It’d be like a slam pit that’s a ball pit. It’s not in the budget yet though.
Right now, Ronald brings out a grill. He’s cooking hamburgers on stage while singing. There's amazing videos with psychedelic stuff blending burgers and chicken and stuff. Giant clown heads that spew stuff out of their mouths with laser eyes.
Rosemary’s Billygoat did pentagram pizzas… Is there chance to get fed at a Mac Sabbath show?
Well I have seen Ronald squirt ketchup and mustard in fans' mouths. There was pepperoni communion thing with Billygoat, but it got messy when we used real food… all the grease and set up. I just got disgusted with pizza for a while, so I use a fake pizza now.
Incorporating food into a performance has its challenges?
Yeah and I guess that's a pattern for me that I wasn't completely aware of until this second. People probably think, damn this guy must have an eating disorder.
So what else do you have planned, shows and touring-wise?
Well, there's a lot of touring coming up. A Pacific Northwest thing is happening. We're going to England to play nine shows and the last one is a fest called the Download Festival with KISS, Slipknot, Motley Crue, Judas Priest and Marilyn Manson. I'm gonna guess that Mac Sabbath is one of the first bands to go play England before they’ve ever even left California. Not to mention the only band playing Download Festival that you can't download anywhere.
I know there's a video, which Black Sabbath themselves shared on YouTube. But there's no recorded music from the band?
No, and if it goes Ronald's way, I don't know if there ever will be.
So what should people do if they want to experience Mac Sabbath at home then?
I would say listen to Black Sabbath and go eat a cheeseburger.
Mac Sabbath play the Whisky with The Dread Crew of Oddwood, Wednesday, April 15. More info.