SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — With its surreal collision of fast-food iconography and twisted versions of 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 four 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, who strangely sounds a bit like Osbourne without the British accent) 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 become a popular live act with its warped versions of Black Sabbath gems like “Frying Pan” (“Iron Man”), “Pair-a-Buns” (“Paranoid”) and “Sweet Beef” (“Sweet Leaf”). While the group has yet to release a collection of recorded parody takes on the Sabbath catalog, last year Mac Sabbath put out a flexi single of “Pair-a-Buns” that was packaged with a special coloring book (the band also released a collaborative claymation video for the tune).
CBS SF recently spoke with band manager Odd by phone to get details on the quartet’s upcoming “Grill of It All Tour” that stops in San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall next week with the Bay Area’s own twisted metal favorite Captured! By Robots, just in time for Halloween. The band also performs at the Ritz in San Jose on November 1st with tour partners Franks & Deans, noted South Bay stoner-doom crew Kook — who are gearing up to release their anticipated sophomore album early next year — and opening local thrash metal act Ethnocide.
CBS SF: We last spoke about Mac Sabbath a couple of years ago. Since then the band has been touring pretty steadily, playing festivals and headlining gigs across the globe. What have been some of the highlights of the past two years for the band?
Mike Odd: Whoo! That’s fuzzy! [laughs] When you do these tours, your brain gets a little mushy and it all kind of melds together. The last year is very fuzzy. The big thing that we did this year was we went out on a tour called the “I Got a Bad Feeling About This Tour” — which happens more often than not. But we went out with this band called Galactic Empire, which is all the bad guys from Star Wars playing the John Williams score heavy metal style. So that was an incredible experience. You can imagine that cavalcade of characters traveling together and sharing the stage together. That was a highlight in itself.
The year before in 2017, we did “The Mockstrosity Tour.” That was with Metalachi, which is the world’s only heavy metal mariachi band, and Okilly Dokilly, which is a Ned Flanders-themed heavy metal band. So there’s been no lack of strange, amazing shows ever night with a mix of characters. It’s really been something. What we’re preparing to do now is “The Grill of It All Tour,” which is Mac Sabbath with a band called Franks & Deans, which is a punk rock Rat Pack tribute band. So it’s kind of backyard barbecue meets drive-thru metal [laughs].
And the thing I’m super looking forward to is the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on Halloween night. That is like a dream venue to play. That place is absolutely amazing. Also that night, we’ll be joined by Captured! By Robots. If you live in the San Francisco area and you don’t know who Captured! By Robots is, you need to drop all your Halloween plans and come out and see this because it is so amazing!
You’ve got these two very sophisticated robots — one that plays the drums and one that plays guitar — and I’m talking about technical heavy metal; really hard, complicated stuff. And they’ve imprisoned this guy with a shock collar who is the singer. So it’s two robots and a human who is being controlled and screaming these amazing metal songs as the robots torture him and make fun of him onstage.
CBS SF: I was actually thinking Mac Sabbath and Captured! By Robots would be an excellent pairing. Have you ever played with JBOT and his cyber overlords before?
Mike Odd: Mac Sabbath has never played with them, but I have a band that I sing in called Rosemary’s Billygoat. We performed with JBOT I’d say at least 20 years ago…
CBS SF:Yeah, the robots have been flogging JBOT for a long time. I actually just saw him play recently with another band who would work well with Mac Sabbath, this theatrical, cannibalistic thrash band from Creepsylvania called Ghoul. Captured! By Robots has sort of taken a more serious turn with the pending apocalypse. It was still really entertaining; less laughs maybe, but probably the most intense Captured! By Robots show I’ve seen.
Mike Odd: I’m looking forward to it! We’re also going to have a food-themed costume contest on Halloween with a big Mac Sabbath merch prize.
CBS SF: There was one thing I wanted to ask about Okilly Dokilly. I know they’re all dressed as Ned Flanders onstage. Offstage do they go totally apesh-t, drink and smoking and swearing like the opposite of the character they’re dressed like?
Mike Odd: To my recollection, it was a lot like hanging out with a bunch of Ned Flanderses.
CBS SF: So they stay pretty true to their stage character then?
Mike Odd: Absolutely. Mac Sabbath is a pretty family friendly band, and so is Okilly Dokilly, so it got pretty serene. I hate to disappoint [laughs]. But then we had Metalachi sandwiched between these two family friendly acts on that tour, so it got pretty interesting…
CBS SF: The band has added a few newer tunes like “Chickens for the Slaves,” “GMO Blind” and “Supersize” over the past few tours. Is the band planning to continue expanding the setlist with more tunes and deeper cuts? Maybe songs off of later Sabbath albums like Sabotage or even Techinical Ecstasy and Never Say Die?
Mike Odd: You know, I’m not allowed to say anything, but it’s like you’re psychic! [laughs] That’s all I can say, but if you’re a Magic 8-Ball, you’re really doing well!
CBS SF: I figure you have to keep mixing it up…
Mike Odd: Yeah, but you specifically have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on behind the scenes that no one knows about…
CBS SF: Has the band given any thought to possibly doing a full Sabbath album converted into drive-thru metal parodies? I mean, if you have three or four songs from a couple of the classic albums already, it’s not too much to do the rest of the record…
Mike Odd: Yeah, I suppose every album could be done. We could probably get four or five of them out before people would get sick of it [laughs]. But getting these guys into the studio is no easy feat, let me tell you. The industry has been knocking on us for a while about not having a proper release. But we put out a coloring book with a flexi disc! What else do you want?
CBS SF: Does that come with a download code for the 90 percent of the population that doesn’t have turntables?
Mike Odd: Absolutely not! [laughs] Ronald Osbourne is from the past. He claims to have time traveled here through the time-space continuum to save everybody from the current state of music and food; to bring everyone back to a time when music and food were still organic. He has no concept of modern technology.
That’s part of the reason nobody gets to talk to him and you have to go through me. He’ll just freak out and get really mad and spray seltzer water in your camera or your microphone and throw a pie in your face. So there’s no conversation or concept of MP3s or downloads. We’ve moved up to 8-track tapes. That’s as far as we’ve gotten.
CBS SF:You know, if you guys put out a Mac Sabbath 8-track tape, I’ll bet you’d find some takers. I don’t have a player, but I know there are still some people out there who do….
Mike Odd: I’m trying, but it’s hard to be the conduit between fantasy and reality. So we’ve got the coloring book and the flexi disc. We’ll see where we go from there. One new thing that just came out is the new video for “Sweet Beef.” Have you seen that?
CBS SF: I have. I did have a couple of questions about that. It’s very entertaining. This follows the claymation treatment the band got for the “Pair-a-Buns” video. How did you end up working with the artists who made and operated the puppets of the band members?
Mike Odd: Well, Matt Scott and Rasputin’s Marionettes I’ve known for a long time. I used to own this freakshow museum in East Hollywood.called Rosemary Billy Goat’s Odditorium and Rasputin’s Marionettes did one of their first shows there. And Matt Scott has been a friend of mine and he used to promote shows and Mac Sabbath did one of their first shows with him. So I’ve always been involved with them. And as far as selling Ronald Osbourne on a concept for a video, marionettes are in his wheelhouse. So it all worked out. We’re really happy with it.
CBS SF: There are a couple of points in the video where the marionettes of the band are running across the screen that completely reminded me of Scooby Doo. I was wondering, given as visually oriented as Mac Sabbath is between the live show and the couple of videos that you’ve done, has the band ever pursued the idea of a demented H.R. Pufnstuf style television show or other visual media as a creative outlet?
Mike Odd: That sounds real good! I’d like to see an episode where the Scooby Doo gang teams up with the Mac Sabbath gang. That would be great!
CBS SF: In a lot of ways, I think the look of Slayer MacCheeze and Grimalice has always reminded me of characters from childhood shows like New Zoo Revue or H.R. Pufnstuf, which could be part of why Mac Sabbath resonates with me besides my love of Black Sabbath. It is sort of like this alternate universe version of those shows, only appearing live on stage.
Mike Odd: We’re on the same page brother. I actually have met Freddy the Frog, so I know exactly what you’re saying.
CBS SF: Was the spoken word part of “Black Sandwich” more inspired by Hawkwind’s “Sonic Attack” or “Shut Up Be Happy” that sampled “Black Sabbath” and Jello Biafra’s “Now a Word from our Sponsor” from Ice-T’s album The Iceberg?
Mike Odd: It was absolutely inspired by Ice-T. That came out really interesting. I don’t know how many people catch that reference. I’m glad you did.
CBS SF: You’re also playing a San Jose show at the Ritz the following night. Are you familiar with Kook or the other local band you’re playing with there? Kook are this heavy blues/doom band who have a bit of a theatrical element with their singer…
Mike Odd: I’m not! But I’m excited to find out about them.
Mac Sabbath plays the Great American Music Hall on Wednesday, October 31, with Captured! By Robots and the Ritz in San Jose on Thursday, November 1, with Kook and Ethnocide. Franks & Deans also performs at both shows.