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Interview

A Neighbourly Chat With Okilly Dokilly Frontman Head Ned

Many of us have areas of pop culture, history or science which we become obsessed with. For most of us on this site, heavy metal music would be one of them of course, but there are many bands which focus on specific areas such as Ex Deo singing exclusively about the Roman culture and empire, Nile and their focus on Egyptian history or the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and their unhealthy feelings for California. One band which has grabbed the attention of people across the spectrum in recent years though, is Okilly Dokilly, the metal outfit from Phoenix, Arizona who focus solely on the friendliest neighbour in the world, Ned Flanders of The Simpsons fame.

Being a Simpsons fanatic myself (a true one that hates everything after a certain point,) I jumped at the opportunity to meet up with the band's frontman and founder, Head Ned, where we discussed the concept behind the band, as well as his feelings on more recent episodes, Futurama, Disenchantment and what we can expect from the band's second album, which currently goes by the working title, "Howdilly Twodilly." You can watch it in full below.

Diamond Oz: Well, straight into it then, I suppose the question that's on everybody's minds is; Out of the vast cast of Simpsons characters, why Ned Flanders?

Head Ned: The whole band idea actually started with the name first. Me and the original drummer were trying to imagine a Rammstein/Metallica kind of band stepping on stage with fireworks and everything but then introducing themselves with a really goofy name and Okilly Dokilly was the one that we settled on. From then on it just kind of snowballed as we thought, "What if they dressed like Ned Flanders and had pink guitars?" and eventually we found ourselves with the time and resources to do it so we thought, "Let's go for it!" We're all big Simpsons fans so it was a case of gathering quotes together.

Oz: Sweet. There's certainly no shortage of things to go on, Ned's been there since the very first episode, mixing up the Christmas presents. When you write the songs, do you tend to go for the most friendliest of his quotes?

Ned: Yeah, there's a duality. I'll go the friendliest sounding things, that wouldn't really be expected from a metal band but it's screamed out for a sense of irony. I'll also find some things that Ned's said which out of context can seem pretty dark. Songs like, "They Warned Me," which comes from the line, "They warned me Satan would be attractive." It came up all the time when we were in Canada! I'll also take some of the goofy lines and make them the most aggressive songs.

Oz: One song which I know gets requested a lot is "God Speed Little Doodle," which of course if you're not a Simpsons fan seems too random to make sense.

Ned: We love doing a mixture of the very deep cuts. Weird facts about Ned like how he worked in the pharmaceutical industry before opening up the Leftorium but at the same time we've got songs like "Nothing At All" and "White Wine Spritzer." Most of our material does come from the earlier seasons, a couple of things I'll pull from later or more recent seasons. For the record we're working on right now, I'm focusing on seasons 1-10 so it'll be focused on earlier episodes.

Oz: I was going to ask about the later episodes. A lot of Simpsons fans feel it's lost its way and I find Flanders in particular has been changed.

Ned: Yeah, I've met a lot of Simpsons purists who tend to have dropped off after season 10, maybe season 12. I honestly do think that's the golden age of The Simpsons but in all honesty I still watch the show as it's coming out and I enjoy some of the later seasons.

Oz: Yeah and that way you keep updated with Ned himself, who of course was married to (Bart Simpson's teacher) Mrs. Krabappel before Marcia Wallace passed away, so now Ned's a two time widower.

Ned: Flanders doesn't do so good with wives!

Oz: But then it gives him the angst to work out in metal songs! I know one of your favourite episodes is "Hurricane Neddy," so I was wondering if on the next album we'll see a song called, "Hell Diddly Ding Dong Crap"?

Ned: (Laughs) We have used that phrase in a song. But we did the song, "You're A Jerk" which uses it, which comes from the point where he snaps at everybody.

Oz: Well, one of the questions that I was asked to pass on to you is, Have you ever wound down the van window to sing, "God Said To Noah" to the car next to you?

Ned: (Laughs) No, we haven't but we've got a van so I know what I'm doing tomorrow!

Oz: I know when you first started you didn't expect it go to past a few shows. Was there a point when you were recording the album when you kind of stopped and thought, "What am I doing here?"

Ned: Yeah, usually at three o'clock everyday! It's weird when we're tracking the drums and noting how heavy it is and then the lyrics come in. It's still kind of weird to us!

Oz: I also know that you're a big Futurama fan, so I was wondering if you've got any plans in the future to do another band based on a character from that show?

Ned: I think after we start going grey, I'd love to do a punk band based on Scruffy The Janitor called Boilers & Toilets. We don't have to change much, just get some jumpsuits. But hopefully that won't be for a few years, but we've kicked around different ideas for a Futurama metal band, which would obviously have to be called, Bite My Shiny Death Metal Ass, but then most of the material would have to be focused on Bender but then a Dr. Zoidberg band would be great too.

Oz: Have you got around to checking out (Matt Groening's new show) Disenchantment yet?

Ned: Yes. I actually enjoy it. I said it's my third favourite Matt Groening show, which I didn't mean as an insult because I really enjoyed it. A lot of the voice actors they have on there are favourites of mine. I was really excited by it and I wasn't disappointed. It's different enough, it seems kind of updated, which is funny for something set in medieval times.

Oz: Cool! You played Montreal Comic Con last year. How did that go?

Ned: Good. I'd been to the Phoenix Comic Con and it kind of felt at home because it's set out the same way. It was cool to see all the fans going around in cosplay. There was a perfect Ace Ventura who was going around messing with people, plus the show was really awesome and there was some other cool bands like Captain Moustache who are like a French Aquabats. It's hard to stand out at a Comic Con but when there's five guys dressed as Ned Flanders you start getting some looks!

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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