A conversation with Mike Odd talk about Mac Sabbath, the band he manages, can veer from believable to surreal pretty quickly. Yet, when you’re the spokesman for a group of guys as mysterious as their image is, that’s to be expected. As the lead singer of Rosemary’s Billygoat, Odd laughs at his involvement as the group’s spokesman and says there’s a reason why he’s adopted that last name moniker. However, when it gets down to talking about anything Mac Sabbath related, he takes his role seriously.
Recalling the day he was summoned into the deepest, darkest part of Chatsworth two years ago, Odd’s vivid description of the band’s origins falls in line with the mythical nature of the band’s ethos.
“I got an anonymous phone call to go meet someone at a burger place in Chatsworth, Calif.,” Odd says. “I’ve always been surrounded by a lot of weirdness, so the more outlandish the thing is, the bigger the payoff. Then this abomination of a clown stumbles into this place skull-faced clown, makeup dripping, wearing a dirty fringed, dragging-the-ground outfit and just starts barking all of this nonsense at me that I’ve found my new destiny is to be the manager of his new entity that is Mac Sabbath. I thought I was on a hidden camera show and didn’t know what was going on. By the time we got thrown out of there, the clown had invited me to come back to another one these things at a very odd hour in the basement for this secret thing and it was one of the most amazing things I’d ever seen.”
Odd won’t giveaway any member’s real names or background or get into much detail about the guys in the band, only revealing that they’re inspired by Black Sabbath and a fast food joint. Yet, strangely, in the case of Mac Sabbath, less is more. Any information about the band’s background would take away from the aura they’ve built up over the past few years.
Listening to Odd talk about the group, he seamlessly weaves between reality and fiction without wasting a breath. But no matter how you look at the theatrical nature of the band, it’s been working.
“This clown has informed me he’s traveled here in a time-space continuum from the 1970s to save us from our modern ways and to warn us about government control and how things have changed since the ‘70s. That was the last time he says there was real food and music. He goes on and on about how the government uses caffeine and cable for mind control to poison and enslave us. People come to the shows and think it’s funny and goofy, but this guy has some intensity and a message behind it.”
Mac Sabbath’s tunes, like “Frying Pan” and “Chicken for the Slaves” address heavier subject matter, as Odd says, like fast food's negative health effects and lack of nutritional value as well as GMOs and the problems that go along with that. Once you get past the gimmick — and it’s a doozy — the band can actually play. The group’s background, judging by the lyrics and how strong the songs are in a live setting, showcase that it’s safe to assume that these guys are at minimum longtime musicians, if not a group of guys who have played in some prominent bands in the past.
In terms of cover bands, and perhaps bands as a whole, Mac Sabbath is easily the most original to emerge in the past year. It’s caught the attention of many due to the bizarre nature of the band.
Following a Black Sabbath Facebook and Twitter post to a LAist article on New Year’s Day 2015, the band become a viral sensation. Though the post didn’t endorse or put down the quartet, the word was out. Despite the band’s progressive lyrical message, one of the first places to pick up the story was Fox News before a number of other outlets reported on what was an underground sensation.
“Not that I’m trying to give all the credit to Fox, but boy it was funny reading that article,” Odd recalls.
When Odd first got involved with Ronald Osbourne and company, he thought it was a funny gimmick. Soon enough, Mac Sabbath was on its way. The band hit the road and has spent the better part of 2015 performing at a number of notable venues.
Over the summer, Mac Sabbath went on their first international tour, heading to the UK. There, the band performed at the Download Festival with the likes of KISS, Judas Priest, Motley Crue, Slipknot and others. This performance not only cemented their status as the Black Sabbath cover band, but also proved to a legion of curious on-lookers that the men behind these mysterious costumes could actually rock as well. They also played at Outside Lands at a prominent time.
Like Wu-Tang Clan once proclaimed that they’re for the children, so are Mac Sabbath, at least that’s what their manager says. Since bringing them “above ground,” Odd says the band’s wants to perform for everyone. That includes performing for kids during the day, and at rock clubs at night.
“It’s the most good intentioned family-friendly thing in heavy rock right now,” Odd says. “That’s the crazy thing about Ronald and what he does is that it’s scary and gnarly with the skulls with lasers coming out and this intense wicked metal show. But he’s not cursing or using any sex or drug references. One of the first things I organized for them for an above ground show was at a grammar school in Silver Lake and it went great. If we can get those guys up early enough, they could get something going with Michelle Obama (laughs). At this point it seems so limitless.”
The big question surrounding the band is what the next step will be. Mac Sabbath is somewhat limited what they can do because after all, how many Black Sabbath songs are there to parody?
“That’s a huge controversy right now within the set that we’re trying to figure out,” Odd explains. “It’s really hard to figure out with this clown in particular. He is very anti-technology so if it was to happen, he’d probably want to make an 8-track tape. Hopefully we can make some sort of balance to make some sort of a release.”
Mac Sabbath performs with Them Evils and Radioactive Chickenheads at The Constellation Room, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600. Fri. Dec. 18, 8 p.m. $15, all ages.
Daniel Kohn is a writer based in Southern California. With bylines in an assortment of outlets, Kohn primarily specializes in music with other interests ranging from sports to food. As a transplant, Kohn loves the beautiful weather and is glad he no longer has to deal with brutal winters. If you see him, say hi and of course, he’s always willing to down a beer or two…if you’re paying.