Yet another glorious Portland summer music festival season draws to a close this weekend with …
Last year I met up with one of my friends to indulge in some fast food rock. It was a McDonald’s-themed Black Sabbath cover band called Mac Sabbath. It was their first visit to Portland, and it was Portland Burger Week.
As we waited in front of a large curtain while the band set up, my friend was talking to me about kids meals:
“When I was a kid, my parents would take me to get a ‘happy meal.’ I didn’t like them. I hated clowns. They didn’t make me feel happy.’
Then, sirens started blaring and vintage Ronald McDonald heads placed on each side of the stage began spewing smoke. Once the curtain dropped, we were introduced to an insane group of characters that melded my memories of commercials and lunches in playlands from childhood to later finding Master Of Reality in an old vinyl bin when I was 12.
The discussion on fast food corporations and marketing attempts to brainwash the public, especially children, has been been around for a while. When I first found this band, it brought to mind Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me and the insanely scary renditions of Ronald McDonald by artists like Ron English. Mac Sabbath is voicing those concerns of health and corrupt food industry practices in the best way possible, by parodying “Iron Man” and “Sweet Leaf” into “Frying Pan” and “Sweet Beef.”
They play heavy renditions of Sabbath tunes that get into cow torture and pink slime. Grimalice and Slayer Mac Cheeze are killing it inside huge suits, and there’s a fry guy zipping about. The “Catburglar” drummer is cuter than the new Hamburglar. And the guy in the big red shoes, Ronald Osbourne, is pretty spot on with his Ozzy impression, except that he might squirt you with mustard and ketchup. The props are crazy, the riffs are hard, and the whole show is just weird — in a good way.
I got to catch up with the Mac Sabbath’s manager Mike Odd, to ask what it’s all about. Mac Sabbath plays Dante’s with Spazztic Blurr this Thursday.
11: You have been a part of LA’s metal scene for some time; how did you come to work with Mac Sabbath?
Mike Odd: Yes, apparently my band Rosemary’s Billygoat has more reach than I thought. I started receiving strange secret messages. Finally I agreed to meet up and solve the mystery at a fast food franchise in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. In walks an abomination. Dripping with smeared face paint and dirty red and yellow tassels scraping the ground. I was shocked horrified and delighted at the same time. He sat down in the booth with me and I listened to the clown pitch, by the time we were thrown out, I had a new purpose in life.
11: What is the alternate universe reality of this band? How did they get here?
MO: Ronald informs me that they traveled here from some sort of wormhole though time-space from the 1970s when times were simpler, music was better, our food supply was not corrupted by our government and cheeseburgers and cherry pies grew on trees in an enchanted forest.
11: These guys are obviously a parody of some things.
MO: With song titles like “Brand of Doom,” “Sweet Beef,” and “Pair-A-Buns,” I’m sure you can figure it out. They even keep with in the “Pigs” theme in the song “More Ribs,” a song about a man driven mad by the fact that a certain BBQ mock rib sandwich is only available seasonally.
11: How about some gluttony details about the members. What kind of guitar does Slayer Mac Cheeze play, and how about those tusks?
MO: He makes his own guitars for the most part, the guitar you have likely been seeing is called “the Cheese Shredder.” It’s a one-of-a-kind original.
11: Have you ever had to bail out the drummer, Catburglar? What for?
MO: Catburglar is fully reformed. With the support groups we have lined up on this tour, he has a hold on his kleptomania and beating the tar out of that drum kit every night is also quite therapeutic for the little kitty.
11: What are Grimalice’s hobbies, other than shredding bass?
MO: Way to address the elephant in the room. “Literally.” Yes, the old fella does have a bit of an eating obsession. Fortunately with the exercise he has been getting on stage each night he can barely fit in the van and no longer has to jog alongside.
11: What does Ronald Osborne bite the heads off of?
MO: Every night I watch Ronald bite the head off a bat burger during the song “Frying Pan.” You can see the video on YouTube. Black Sabbath even posted it on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you, Black Sabbath!
11: Shouldn’t there be a Radioactive Chicken Lady? Like a Birdie/Lita Ford hybrid?
MO: Haha! Interesting phrasing. There is a band called Radioactive Chicken Heads that is friends with the group. So many chickens, so little time.
11: Is there a playland at their house?
MO: I am not permitted to disclose any information about the dwelling in which these Monsanto mutants reside. But I will say Ronald does have ideas to bring more of that element into the show. I have heard him talk about touring with an actual ball pit. As in slam pit in the ball bin. I think he really wants the fans to have a ball.
11: Do you ever go through certain drive-thrus on tour for fun?
MO: Ronald is here to warn us all about the evils of fast food. He literally is trying to get us all to slow down. That’s why he screams things on stage like, “Let’s have a quiet” and “Let’s get Lazy!” So Mac Sabbath, the creators of Drive Thru Metal, don’t actually condone the lifestyle they might seem to.
11: Why are the members anonymous?
MO: Every time I think I have the motivations behind the anonymity figured out there seems to be a new and better reason why the public knows as little about Ronald as possible. It might be important for public safety.
11: Do you think Mac Sabbath will record soon or release an official video?
MO: There are plans for that. I’m thinking the beginning of next year. Ronald really seems to want eight-track tapes. So I’m trying to figure that out. See what I deal with?
11: How do Slayer MacCheeze and Grimalice manage so well in those costumes?
MO: What costumes?
11: What are some of the real messages behind the satire, such as corporate takeover, the food industry, and marketing aimed at children?
MO: Ronald talks a lot about Orwellian concepts and seems to believe that 1984 really did happen in 1984 but none of us noticed. This illuminati-type takeover government we are dealing with seems to have appointed a food czar that’s from the very company that is poisoning us. Therefore the 1970s were the last time that we could eat freely and not end up victims of population control unless you are filthy rich. So there is definitely an awareness they are trying to spread. He makes some valid points about the current climate of brainwashing. Remember we were all worried we were going to get those 666 chips installed in our wrists that we would use for legal tender and the government could track us at all times. Well instead we all bought them pay rent on them and keep them in our pockets.
11: So where can I get my burger fix?
MO: You can get your burgerfix from the good people at www.monsterbuckles.com. There are key chains and even necklaces in brass and sterling silver in the jewelry section.