I didn’t ask the guy’s real name, and honestly, I didn’t really wanna know. Nor does it really matter. After all, Head Ned admits that his alter-ego is far more entertaining than his real-life persona.
He was an accountant by day until his band experienced enough success that a day job was no longer necessary. His voice is very understated. He dons a mustache. He’s left-handed. By all accounts, he’s a very pleasant, mild-mannered guy.
In short, he is akin to the fictional cartoon character from whom his band was spawned. He is Head Ned of Okilly Dokilly, a metal – actually, “Nedal” – band that takes its cues, lyrics and look from Ned Flanders, the God-fearing, inoffensive next-door neighbor of the Simpson family on their eponymous television show, which has aired more than 600 episodes since its debut on Fox in 1989.
“I was an accountant before this, so it’s been quite a career change,” front man Head Ned says in a recent phone conversation. “To go from a regular day job, where you’re screaming internally, to a job where you’re screaming externally, it’s very Ned Flanders.”
It also falls in line with Head Ned’s favorite Simpsons episode of all time, 1996’s “Hurricane Neddy,” in which the normally mild-mannered Flanders finally cracks after internalizing his emotions for far too long.
Head Ned and his crew of Flanders-inspired bandmates, who play White Oak Music Hall on Saturday, don’t have such a problem. After all, every Okilly Dokilly song is a living, breathing exercise in a bunch of mild-mannered guys maintaining that disposition by literally screaming their asses off while banging drums and slamming guitars in the background.
They all happen to do so while dressed up as Ned Flanders.
“We grew up with the show; our first purchase as a band were all the existing DVDs of the show,” said the 26-year-old Head Ned, who is technically younger than the show from which his band was birthed. “It all kinda started with the name, trying to think of the goofiest name for the heaviest band you can think of. Okilly Dokilly came up, and then we had the idea to bring in the Flanders part. From there, it just became so funny with the puns.”
Ah, yes, the puns. Every Okilly Dokilly song is inspired by something Flanders-related. There’s “White Wine Spritzer,” a drink that Ned orders when he’s feeling daring. There’s “All That is Left,” an ode to Flanders, his Leftorium store, and of course, left-handed people everywhere. And there’s “Flanderdoodles,” Ned’s pet name for his, um, package.
But here’s the thing – for all its comedy, and Okilly Dokilly songs certainly fall on the comedic spectrum, they’re pretty damn decent as metal songs go.
“Well, we’re having fun with it, but we’re also not the types to do anything halfway,” says Head Ned. “We make sure the songs sound how we want them to, and we put the effort in to make the songs great, then we throw the Flanders deal over it. Keeping it fun helps us make better music. That’s the core of it. If you’re super-serious about it and are all about making the most technical song ever, that’s not a lot of fun.”
It’s hard to argue with the band’s approach, as the results certainly justify the strategy. Okilly Dokilly only formed two years ago and during that time has released a four-song demo and a proper 13-track album (Howdilly Doodilly is available on most major music-streaming services, and it’s pretty entertaining).
Despite minimal output, Okilly Dokilly can safely be labeled an overnight success of sorts. The quintet has nearly 50,000 fans on Facebook, and “White Wine Spritzer” has been viewed more than 2 million times on YouTube. They’re even in the midst of a nationwide tour that runs through next month.
“We figured the demographics and crossover between metal fans and Simpsons fans would be too small, like it was too obscure an idea to go very far,” Head Ned says. “We thought it would be fun to do, play some local bars, jump on stage and play metal songs. When it did explode, it caught us completely off guard.”
So what exactly does an Okilly Dokilly concert look like? Well, at larger venues, you’ll see an array of Simpsons characters, mostly those dressed like the band they came to see in homage of the character Homer Simpson loves to hate. Inflatable donuts are even bandied about in the crowd. Smaller shows, meanwhile, tend to cater more to devoted metal fans. These are the type who come ready to mosh and bang heads.
“Ned Flanders has them all riled up,” Head Ned says. “I guess he just has that effect on people.”
Okilly Dokilly and special guests Beatallica perform Saturday, May 20 at White Oak Music Hall (upstairs), 2915 N. Main. Doors open at 8 p.m.; tickets are $15.
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