SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — With its surreal collision of fast-food iconography and bizarre takes on classic Black Sabbath songs, Mac Sabbath has established itself as one of the most diabolically clever metal parody/tribute bands to come down the pike in many moons.
In the short space of two years, the Los Angeles-based outfit fronted by clown-painted singer Ronald Osbourne and featuring elaborately costumed members Slayer MacCheeze on guitar, Grimalice on bass and the Catburglar on drums has risen from playing underground shows in fast-food restaurant basements (at least according to band manager and spokesman Mike Odd) to headlining clubs and playing major music celebrations like England’s Download Festival and San Francisco’s own Outside Lands Festival.
Armed with an arsenal of well-crafted props — including a smoke-belching onstage “grill,” inflatable cheeseburgers and Osbourne’s giant striped straws that the singer uses to slurp unsuspecting audience members’ drinks — the band has been performing its warped versions of Black Sabbath gems like “Frying Pan” (“Iron Man”), “Pair-a-buns” (“Paranoid”) and “Sweet Beef” (“Sweet Leaf”) to packed houses on its current “West Roast Tour.” CBS SF spoke with manager Odd by phone as the band headed towards the Bay Area for three concerts this weekend in Santa Cruz, San Jose and on Sunday night in San Francisco at Slim’s with support from Oakland’s apocalyptic carnival cabaret band Thee Hobo Gobbelins and local all-female rockabilly outfit Thee Merry Widows.
CBS SF: Tonight is the first of three Bay Area shows for Mac Sabbath. Does the local scene have the appetite to support that much drive-thru metal in one weekend?
Mike Odd: That remains to be seen my friend. I hear they’re pretty hungry up there, so we’ll see what we can do to satisfy.
CBS SF: The one time I caught the band was at Outside Lands, when they were one of the last bands on Sunday night. I have to say as a metal fan, it was great to see such a heavy and hilarious performance at a festival that had way too much bland indie rock…
Mike Odd: You have to admit, it was nice to see Mac Sabbath play right before Elton John…
CBS SF: Absolutely! The band was playing the culinary Gastro Magic Stage and had Richie Nakano throwing scorching hot fries and chicken nuggets out into the crowd. Has the band incorporated serving food during performances before or since?
Mike Odd: We are not a food-throwing band! I want to make it clear! [laughs] Sometimes we will pull into venues and they will be very concerned about that, but that’s not our schtick.
CBS SF: So you’re not drive-thru Gwar is what you’re saying?
Mike Odd: Well, there is a grill onstage, so that’s something to look forward to. There is food involved. And it looks and smells delicious, but whether or not you can taste it is up to you and your current state of mind.
CBS SF: From what I understand, Mac Sabbath was already fairly established when you started working with them. Was the band already operating as such a big multi-media stage production at that point?
Mike Odd: No, it was quite the opposite. As a matter of fact, when I got involved, they had only done secret shows in basements of fast-food establishments. It was not open to the public. It was a very strange thing that I got turned onto. I used to run this freak museum in East Hollywood called the Rosemary’s Billygoat Odditorium — which is why they call me Mike Odd. So I kind of lived this lifestyle where I chased down strange oddities and things, and sometimes they’d chase me.
I got this anonymous phone call to come down to this burger joint in Chatsworth, California, in the San Fernando Valley and it changed my life. I’m the type of guy who will follow that kind of lead. So I was sitting there in this booth and this crazed clown burst through the door dripping in red and yellow with dirty tassles scrapping the ground and caked-on Skeletor make-up. He just enveloped this booth and started spewing these concepts all over everybody’s lunch and telling me I was destined to manage Mac Sabbath.
At that time, this was a very secret project. He’s a very paranoid clown and was not comfortable with anything above ground and public. He told me that he traveled through the time-space continuum from the 1970s to save us all from the current state of sustenance and get us back to when music and food was genuine in the 1970s. That’s his whole thing.
So my job is to be this conduit between him and the people. That’s why you’re talking to me instead of talking to him. I’m not going to put you in a room with this crazed clown. You’ll get seltzer water in your cameras and a pie in your face. It’s just not going to work. But that being said, it was the most amazing thing that I’d ever seen. And it has grown a lot since then and he’s become a lot more comfortable with an actual stage setting. He’s built this arena-sized rock show that fits into the clubs. It’s really something to experience. He never stops surprising audiences and me for that matter [laughs].
CBS SF: In another interview I watched on YouTube that I think was shot in Austin, you mentioned having a love/hate relationship with Mac Sabbath. Does the hate come from having to cart all the props around or the personalities you’re dealing with as manager?
Mike Odd: Yeah, carting all the props around and rebuilding the show every day is a challenge. All of the other guys in the band are a delight. They’re all just magical and wonderful. Not that Ronald isn’t magical and wonderful, but he’s just complicated. He complicates my life on a daily basis and I’m never ready for what he’s throwing at me [laughs]. But I’m the conduit between the fantasy and reality, so nobody else really has that cross to bear.
CBS SF: Much as Black Sabbath often sings about the evils of man and the devil, Mac Sabbath’s songs warn about the evils of fast food. Does the band have any concerns their songs could in fact be turned around and used for marketing purposes?
Mike Odd: That’s an interesting question. That’s a new one. I’d have to run that by the clown. But I’m sure he’d have some sort of master plan if it ever came up. But if you look at the lyrics to the songs, like “Organic Funeral,” I don’t think it’s humanly possible to use them as a marketing tool. But who knows? Remember Death Cigarettes? Maybe it could become that cool [laughs]!
CBS SF: Do you know if Black Sabbath is aware of the band and what their opinion might be?
Mike Odd: I absolutely know about that! On New Year’s Day in 2015, Black Sabbath posted the video “Frying Pan” — which is a parody of “Iron Man” — on their Facebook and Twitter. And that immediately launched it into being a viral sensation. That video is at over one million served now on YouTube, and it was a huge reason why the band has gotten as huge as it is.
That’s why we got invited to England to play the Download Festival with Motley Crue, Kiss, Slipknot, Judas Priest and Marilyn Manson. I don’t think any of that would have happened without Black Sabbath giving us that push. It was hugely step in this project. And it’s important in terms of understanding the sense of humor of Black Sabbath themselves.
CBS SF: So far the band has just been a live act. Any plans to release any recorded material, either studio recordings or live documentation beyond the clips that have ended up on YouTube?
Mike Odd: I’m trying to work on some secret surprises, but there’s still that one difficult hurdle, and that’s the clown and his technological disabilities. But I’m working on it.
CBS SF: What exactly does the Catburglar burgle?
Mike Odd: Well, we’re still trying to put our finger on that [laughs]. I think he steals cats, doesn’t he?
CBS SF: I was thinking that was a possibility, but then that begs the question what does he do with the cats? Is he eating them, like some cannibalistic cat?
Mike Odd: Catburgers perhaps? Yeah, that’s possible. He’s on parole, so we should be good. He’s just a kleptomaniac. We keep him in stripes just to keep him in check.
CBS SF: What do the band members eat on the road?
Mike Odd: It’s actually very healthy, organic style fare. People assume there’s all this drive-thru lifestyle happening here, but it’s quite the contrary. The kings of drive-thru metal do no support a drive-thru lifestyle. It’s kind of a dichotomy. We recommend healthy, organic, real food, which can be hard these days. We realize that. The struggle is real.
CBS SF: I guess the last question I have is what’s the story behind the reported beef, if you will, between Ronald and Burger King Diamond?
Mike Odd: You know, that’s a funny thing. He would rant on and on about his nemesis Burger King Diamond. I just assumed it was one of his many delusions like when he talks about Cinna-Bon Jovi or Iron Maid-Denny’s or whatever else he goes on about. He brings these things up and I just go, “Oh, this doesn’t exist. He’s just delusional.”
And then, before my very eyes, on tour this Burger King Diamond pops up in these random towns and even makes his way onto stages and sings with the opening bands during their sets. Ronald just loses his mind and it all comes down on me. It’s a big problem and I get into a lot of trouble. He’s yelling at at the security guards and one of them says, “I never saw that guy! I didn’t let him in!” And Ronald singles that security guard out and says, “I think he’s telling me a whopper!”
And then I’m just totally confused and right back into not knowing if it’s fantasy or reality. But I’ve seen him and heard the guy in random towns. But they have this whole thing going on. Somebody told me that Burger King Diamond has a video now. So I’ve got that to deal with.