By Daniel Jaramillo
CALGARY – To pay homage to a classic rock band is nothing new; there are more tribute acts out there than ever before as the canon of classic rock keeps increasing. However, there aren’t too many acts that dare to take on the guise of Happy Meal characters from McDonald’s whilst covering the music of Black Sabbath. Mac Sabbath may very well be the first parody band to combine the incongruous worlds of fast food and heavy metal. They’ve even come up with their own subgenre: Drive Thru Metal.
Although the musical compositions the group chooses to cover remain the same, the lyrics are reinterpreted to fit the band’s critique of the meat industry and the perils of consuming fast food. Waging war on McDonaldland from La La Land, the Los Angeles-based outfit consists of drummer Catburglar, bassist Grimalice, guitarist Slayer MacCheeze and vocalist Ronald Osbourne. Their intention is to start a dinnertime revolution! While the musicians themselves are shrouded in mystery, Mac Sabbath’s manager, Mike Odd, was eager to discuss the genesis of the band and how he became their gatekeeper.
“It was all the brainchild of a clown named Ronald Osbourne. I use to run an Ozzy Osbourne museum in East Hollywood and when you do something like that you put yourself in a position of hunting down things that are odd and strange and these things start following you. Long after the place closed down I would get these phone calls. One was to do with me coming to a hamburger joint and I thought I was going to see the Virgin Mary toasted on a hamburger bun. When I got there, I’m sitting in a booth and there’s an abomination of a clown wearing a red and yellow tornado outfit disturbing everyone there. We were told to leave the place, and then I was told to go back there at 3 a.m. when they were closed. At the back of the basement, I saw these fast food mutants playing Black Sabbath riffs and screaming about Monsanto. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen! No one had seen these guys play unless you were at one of these strange meetings. So the band decided to pick me to manage their band.”
In the time Odd has managed the band, they have rigorously kept their anonymity, even to the point of claiming he has never actually met the real people behind the costumes and has no idea who they really are.
“Ronald Osbourne insists he is travelling back and fourth from the ‘70s in some warp-hole or time space continuum. He has no concept of anything modern or any technology past 1979. He gets confused and angry and I have to be a conduit between him and the music industry.”
As bizarre as Mac Sabbath’s story is, they continue to garner media attention and have now developed a growing following. Their unique sense of satire delivered by a charismatic frontman makes for a compelling live show that combines arena-size antics with a club stage sound. Bring on the paper hats!
“You’re watching birthday party magic being performed by this clown while he brings you this positive message about eating healthy, as well as critiquing fast food!” explains Odd.
Audiences are divided on the issue, some see it as pure entertainment and gleefully post Mac Sabbath photos on their Instagram pages, yet there are those fans who actually listen to the band’s words and explore their verbal attacks on the ills of the junk food industry.
“There are two sides of the coin, when you go see them live,” Odd confirms. “They’re not preaching at you, there’s an amazing amount of fun, comedy and music. But if you delve into the lyrics, there’s a message.”
Due to the hype surrounding the band’s true identities, it is unclear if they have ever been in other regular Black Sabbath tribute groups or even in bands that played music in a similar style. The one common thread that ties Mac with Black, other than the music itself, is a warning about what is evil in the world and Mac Sabbath are clearly cautioning us about the evils of the meat industry. Kick out the Mac jams!
Without a single album under their pleather belt, Mac Sabbath have managed to boost their profile with the live shows and YouTube music videos, as well as live performance clips. Recently on their Facebook page, they shared a group photo with Ozzy Osbourne and it begged the question as to whether the founding fathers of Black Sabbath had ever listened to Mac Sabbath’s music. Manager Odd offers another anecdote.
“It was New Year’s Day of 2015 and on Black Sabbath’s Twitter and Facebook page they posted a live video of one of our very early performances of ‘Frying Pan.’ That caused the video to go viral to the right people, well over a million hits. Because of that, (although) the band hadn’t even left California yet, we got an opportunity to tour the U.K and play the Download Festival with KISS, Mötley Crüe, Slipknot, Judas Priest and Marilyn Manson! So, it’s thanks to Black Sabbath’s post that the band’s success went as hard and fast as it did!”
From their unlikely beginnings in the cellar of a Californian hamburger joint to being recognized by their idols, the slow-food vigilantes Mac Sabbath continue to gain momentum. Their sizzling live shows are a feeding frenzy for those looking to have a great time and for those curious to investigate the beat-pounding quartet’s ideology and cult-like existence.
For Ronald Osbourne and company, the ‘special sauce’ they most crave lies in the joyful exuberance of performing live, as they have no plans to release a debut album. Fear not, Mac Sabbath’s first-ever Canadian tour will give fans a chance to love these larger than life characters. Supported by fellow mischiefs Frank & Deans, a Las Vegas ensemble who pay homage to the Rat Pack in punk rock style, Mac Sabbath’s next road trip pledges to supersize your listening pleasure.
Mac Sabbath perform Nov. 7 at Dickens (Calgary), Nov. 8 at Starlite Room (Edmonton), Nov. 9 at Amigos Cantina (Saskatoon).Amigo's Cantina, Dickens, Golden Archs, Mac Sabbath, Starlite Room