Masters of UNREALITY

What do you get when you mix McDonald’s-inspired costumes, Black Sabbath covers, and tirades against the industrial commoditization of fast-food? Pretty much just one thing: Southern California-born novelty metal band Mac Sabbath. Risen from the secret underground of restaurant basements and flashing an outlandishly theatrical performance style replete with menacing clown figurines, inflatable cheeseburgers and demonic-looking ketchup and mustard bottles, Mac Sabbath satisfies a yearning for recognizable pop-culture tropes chopped and screwed for our ironic 21st-century age.

But the layers of meta-fiction surrounding Mac Sabbath run deep. The four band members — Ronald Osbourne, Slayer MacCheeze, Grimalice and Catburglar — remain hidden behind a cloak of animatronic anonymity. Band manager Mike Odd handles all press and publicity for the band, speaking of the members in mythic terms that mix performance art aesthetics and heavy metal flamboyance with Orwellian commentary on GMOs and Monsanto. “When you go see a Mac Sabbath, it’s super-fun,” Odd tells Folio Weekly. “It’s not heavy or preachy — you’re just watching a clown that’s having fun. But if you dig deep into the lyrics, which flip real Black Sabbath lyrics, it can get heavy. In that way, Mac Sabbath is kind of a two-fer.”

Folio Weekly: Where the hell did this crazy vision for Mac Sabbath come from?
Mike Odd: Crazy is the way to describe Ronald and his vision. I used to run this freak museum in East Hollywood called Rosemary’s Billygoat Oddatorium. And when you get involved in something like that, you really open yourself up to the weirdness of the world. After enough time, you can stop chasing it all you want, but it doesn’t matter — it starts chasing you. So I get this weird, anonymous phone call telling me to come down to this burger place in Chatsworth, California, and that it’s going to change my life. I thought I was going to see a hamburger bun with the Virgin Mary on it, but I go down there and this manic hurricane of a clown just buzzes in and starts spewing concepts all over everybody’s lunch, telling me my destiny is to manage this band Mac Sabbath. I thought I was on a hidden-camera show or something. Ronald said I was to come back again at 3 a.m., and when I came back and went down into the basement of this little turnkey restaurant, I saw these mutated fast-food mascots playing Black Sabbath songs and screaming about GMOs and Monsanto amongst freeze-dried condiments and bleached hamburger buns. It was like nothing that’s ever happened to … well, anyone … as far as I know!

Did Mac Sabbath already have a following at that point?
No, it was all a secret. They hadn’t done anything above-ground, and Ronald said, “You’re going to be the one to bring this above-ground.” They were all scared and weird about it, though. So I started booking them wherever — at an art show in Santa Monica, at the Long Beach Zombie Walk, at a Silver Lake elementary school’s Halloween festival. They were playing for kids, and this lady comes up to me and says, “Are you responsible for this?” I said, “I’m so sorry, should I shut it down?” And she said, “No, it’s amazing — you should do this more often at schools!”

Which might be the first time in history that someone advocated for kids to hear Black Sabbath songs.
That’s what’s so interesting: What Mac Sabbath does is so dark and heavy and metal, but at same time, there’s really nothing that’s not family-friendly about it. It’s almost kinda cute. Ronald’s not into cussing or talking about inappropriate things, aside from the occasional subtle innuendo. He keeps it clean, like a clown should. But even my dealings with him are weird. He’s 100 percent in character, every time I’ve seen him. He’s a mystery — he still insists that he traveled through a time-space continuum from the 1970s to save us from the current state of music and food. So he has issues with anything technological: When I tried to talk about people holding up their phones during the show, he was confused. I could see his wheels turning thinking about people holding up rotary phones. [Laughs.]

Sounds like a challenging client for a manager.
It is difficult, because it’s my job to be the conduit between this and that, which isn’t always easy. But that’s Ronald’s whole vision — to try to get people to see what was happening before this Orwellian nightmare of government-controlled brainwashing, mind control, food corporatization, Monsanto took over.

You’ve been playing hard rock and heavy metal for decades. What is it about Black Sabbath that still holds us in its sway?
I think that’s why Ronald picked me — I’ve always raved about Black Sabbath. Yes, they invented heavy metal, but they were also hard rock, punk rock, gothic rock … everything us weirdos hold near and dear today. In 1970, when “Paranoid” came out, the spell that song cast with its tempo and structure … It was the closest thing to modern punk rock you could find at that time. And Black Sabbath’s heavy, scary, spooky, off-putting side influenced everything spooky, scary, gothic and death-inspired to come. So I think they’re responsible for this whole counterculture movement, and sometimes we need to go back and explore it at its root more. There’s nothing scarier than fast food either!

Weird shit happens in Hollywood — have you seen any Mac Sabbath-inspired bands appearing?
I don’t know — there’s really nothing else like it. Ronald goes on and on and on about all these bands that are stealing the food out of his mouth, but I just tend to write it off with a lot of his other ramblings. Although Burger King Diamond, Ronald’s nemesis, has started popping up in different cities, even making his way on stage during one Mac Sabbath performance. He even has a video now! So maybe Ronald was right. Just when I think I have things figured out with this weirdness … [Laughs.]