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Interview: Mac Sabbath

If you don’t already know Mac Sabbath, there’s not a lot that can be done to describe it, because if I tell you that it’s a bunch of mutant fast food mascots performing “drive-thru metal” versions of Black Sabbath songs, including the “Iron Man”-esque “Frying Pan,” it exactly describes what’s going on, but in no way actually impresses upon you what it’s like. So, when I caught up with Mike Odd, the band’s affable and digressive manager, for a recent telephone interview before the band’s upcoming show at The Woodward Theater, it became clear that there were no straight answers to be had. The one thing that became clear is really the only thing you need to know – the only way to understand is to see them live.

BW: We’ll start with the nice general question – what’s this tour like, going out with (Ned Flanders metalcore band) Okilly Dokilly and Playboy Manbaby? Seems like an interesting bill.

MO: Absolutely. It should be really amazing. I think it’s really great timing because both bands have something in common right now and that is that they have been kind of acknowledged by their – by the thing that created them. And because what happened was, Okilly Dokilly got their song actually on The Simpsonswhich is an amazing accomplishment and legitimizer for them. There was press about that in Rolling Stone. And then Mac Sabbath is going out with the most recent press that they were observed and acknowledged and approved by Ozzy Osbourne. And that was covered by Rolling Stone. So I think it’s a real good time for both bands to go out together. And everybody’s also really excited about Playboy Manbaby, which is just a wonderful, weird – and one of my new favorite bands – a wonderful, weird band that’s not like either of these two bands at all. Except for in kindred spirit. It’s going to be a really weird show.

BW: I can’t wait. So, what would you say is, in your opinion, Mac Sabbath’s “special sauce”?

MO: Well, that’s a funny question, because what’s special about Mac Sabbath is really hard to explain, and therefore, hard to market. It’s something that really has to be seen live to appreciate. It’s 100% a live show, where the interaction with the band and the brand of humor and kind of theatrical rock that happens, you can’t really experience it through YouTube or something. It’s so much more than a band, it’s such a strange experience, that it’s really hard to nail down. And the more you try to nail it down, the more there’s spoiler alerts, and I just really don’t even want to do that. Unlike a modern preview for a film that spoils the whole film for you and unfolds the entire plot before you go and see it, and then there’s no surprises, I’m willing to risk the people who won’t show up for me to tell them everything for the people who do show up to give them a special experience. It’s like a giant theatrical arena rock show squished into a tiny stage, and then there’s the strange kind of humor and plot that goes throughout the whole thing, and you’re witnessing actual definite madness, and on top of all of that is the social message is something you don’t get in something that has such comedic value and entertainment value. So that is very special in its way. And also the fact that you’re watching something that’s so kind of gnarly and scary and metal, and at the same time it’s totally kid-friendly. So that’s another thing that makes it kind of interesting and different from other bands.

BW: That’s a pretty good description, I would say, having been there for it once already. So, I guess about that, talking about a band like this in the social media age, because you sort of brought up nuggets of information online, and how that can sort of –

MO: I like how you mentioned “nuggets” of information.

BW: I’m not going to lie, I spent a lot of time trying to come up with some good fast food puns.

MO: You appreciate such things in the world that I live in.

BW: I just wanted to confirm the madness, that’s all.

MO: Well, my madness is mostly caused by dealing with the real madness. Ronald is the one that is convinced that he, uh, that he is teleporting here, traveling through a wormhole in the time-space continuum from the 1970s to save us all from the current state of sustenance and music. So that is the constant madness that I have to deal with, and be the conduit from past to future or present, or fantasy and reality, however you want to look at it. So that’s where my madness is engineered. So, I have to deal with him, and the fact that he’s not acceptable for human consumption. 

BW: And all of this makes perfect sense in context.

MO: Right! Problem is, if you haven’t seen the show, you don’t know what I’m talking about! So, I let the mystery unfold, and choose your own adventure.

BW: Back to my initial question – what it’s like trying to get the word out for something like this in an age where people can think they can sort of distill this down into a YouTube clip. I mean, obviously social media helps spread the word of something like this, but then, how do you keep it from ruining it?

MO: That’s it! That’s the challenge of my life.

BW: So not to ask you about your existence exactly, but…

MO: But? Everyone I know has a big “but”? I borrowed that from… boy there is an interesting aircraft in the sky right now. I’m sorry, go ahead.

BW: No, that’s fine, I’m sure they’re just monitoring everything.

MO: I have never seen anything like that before, I don’t know. Yeah, wow, uh, never mind.

BW: Okay, well if you suddenly drop off, I know why.

MO: The time machines are here!

BW: Well, and that would explain Ronald’s time travel.

MO: Exactly!

BW: Speaking of that, man where does this come from? What combination of mind-altering substances and fryer grease came together to spawn this?

MO: I don’t know, there’s some force where they created some sort of – I guess he’s a man – some clown that is going to interrupt my life and make my life very challenging and awkward, and sometimes fun, and usually just completely and totally maddening. I can’t help but think it was specially designed for me because it is ruining my life, as well as making it very fulfilling.

BW: That’s an interesting dichotomy.

MO: But that’s his whole thing, and it started with an anonymous phone call for me. I used to run this oddities museum in East Hollywood. I got this call – when you do something like that, you get these calls, like, “Oh, come down to my shed and I’m going to show you my glow in the dark two-headed mongoose skeleton,” you know what I mean? And so you go and you see these things, and I get this call and it says to come down to this burger place in Chatsworth, California, and it’s going to change your life. And I’m thinking I’m going to go see a toasted Virgin Mary on a hamburger bun, or something like that, and even though I’ve closed this shop, it’s still online, and I’m a collector, so maybe I’ll make an offer for it. That’s the kind of normal thing that happens. And instead it’s this weird ambush of this clown that tells me I’m supposed to manage his rock band. We get kicked out of this place, and all this weird drama happens, and he invites me back in the middle of the night when it’s closed and there’s this secret thing going on with these shady employees. And this is what they’re doing! They’re doing this sort of weird, secret fight club that nobody knows about, no phones are allowed, no technology, and you go down in the basement, and you’re leaning against big packages of hamburger buns, and ketchup packets and stuff. And there’s these huge fast food mascots playing these Black Sabbath riffs and screaming about GMOs and Monsanto. It was more like performance art at that point, like it was really this weird thing that I felt like, like I said, like it was catered to me and my interests of, like, my love for Black Sabbath and Sid and Marty Krofft and stuff like that. It was almost like… and then he had these things to say about things that I had said in the press about Black Sabbath and things, and he was like, “Well, you’re the perfect guy for this.” And I’m like, “I am not the perfect guy to manage any rock band, that’s ridiculous.” Since I had booked some stuff for my own LA band that was kind of a horror theatrical band, I’m like, okay, I get it. He just wants a little help getting into some of the places we used to play and introducing him to some of the people. It won’t be a big deal, because no one’s going to think this is as amazing as I do, you know? Because I’m a total weirdo! But when I did start trying to do that, it just took off immediately, and I just couldn’t believe how fast it happened. And they were all scared about coming above ground, and it was this weird thing that felt like they weren’t sure it was going to work. And he’s like worried about throwing off this time-space thing, because of technology or something. It was a very strange thing, and I didn’t realize the reach that it was going to have when I filmed some of the song “Frying Pan” and put the lyrics up and put it on YouTube, and it just went crazy – like, Fox News picked it up first, I think, and said all these horrible, slanderous, derogatory things, and everybody just loved that! Then MTV picked it up, and then Black Sabbath posted it. The next thing I knew, before I had taken the band out of California, we went to England, and toured England and played at the Download Festival with Mötley Crüe and Kiss and Judas Priest. Then it became – everything was happening so fast. We played at a festival called Outside Lands in San Francisco, where the band went on right before Elton John. So then I realized that this was actually going to be a career, and it ended up being a life-changing thing for me. It’s very strange. But I still don’t know who this guy is. He doesn’t travel with us, and he shows up at the last second and makes my life hell. I mean, I see what you see?

BW: So would you say that the short version is that this all kind of super-sized, and you’ve just been playing ketchup? Yes, I worked on that pun all night.

MO: Sure, yeah, that’s pretty nice. I like that.

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“The American Cheese Tour 2019” featuring Mac SabbathOkilly Dokilly, and Playboy Manbaby comes to The Woodward Theater on Saturday, August 3rd.

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