Interview & Photography by Felix Bartlett
Ned Flanders and heavy metal. Two words you’d never expect to hear when describing a metalcore band from Phoenix, Arizona. Nonetheless Okilly Dokilly have defied the odds and rose to unexpected fame. I caught up with the band on Halloween night before their performance at the Camden Underworld, London to talk about the world’s first Nedal band.
Felix: So, first question, the real elephant in the room, how did you come up with a Ned Flanders themed metal band?
OD: It started out with my original drummer and myself in line at a grocery store talking about what’s the worst possible name for a death metal band. Imagine a band walks out on stage, Rammstein style pyrotechnics mixed with the deathcore theme and the band goes ‘Hi we are the big stack of blueberry flapjacks. This eventually got us thinking about going ‘Hi we are Okilly Dokilly’. From there we went; wouldn’t it be funny if the lead singer was Ned Flanders, then what if they were all Ned Flanders and then after some crazy unexpected viral attention here we are.
Felix: With two studio albums currently released I wondered if you could give me an insight into how you write the songs? What goes on behind the lyrics of Okilly Dokilly?
OD: Almost all of our lyrics are direct Ned quotes. The first record was stuff I had just catalogued whilst watching the show as a kid all the way up until now. Oh yes, the ‘stupid sexy Flanders’ scene, that’ll make a good metal Flanders song. There’s a little bit of research and that comprised most of the first record, for the second record I actually sat down and over the course of a month and watched every single episode of the first ten seasons. With my notebook I wrote down what would sound like a metal song out of context and what shouldn’t sound like a metal song. What shouldn’t be screamed. Out of context songs became songs like’ Murdiddlyurdeler’ and ‘Murder House’. The should not be screamed songs became “I Can’t, It’s a Geo”.
Felix: What made you decide to follow down the route of deathcore for your music?
OD: It was just the heaviest and polar opposite of the Ned personality we could go to, because Ned is the most friendliest character on television. We asked ourselves what kind of music would be a complete juxtaposition of that. At the time, my friend who was the drummer wanted to do something really heavy and I learned a couple of different instruments, and the next instrument I wanted to test out was death growls and screams. This was a way to experiment with it in a lighter way as none of us lived the common lifestyle when you think of heavy metal. It was very much experimenting with new instruments in a way, we wanted to go with what we had, which was a standard rock band set up and then go with the heaviest most extreme genre we could.
Listen to ‘White Wine Spritzer’ here:
Felix: Were there any bands in the industry that you found influenced or inspired you to become the first Nedal band?
OD: The influences are very different, they aren’t all bands I listened to, I think ‘Thrice’ was the first band I listened to, but when talking about screaming vocals there were bands like ‘August Burns Red’ that influenced the heavier stuff. That and watching the show ‘Metalocalypse’ which included a combination of comedy and metal. Other obscure bands like ‘Maximum the Hormone’ from Japan and their style of music is very punchy and grindy, whilst also being really heavy and they bounce between that and very clean K-pop within the same song. That was really influential in the style we approached, we wanted to have a sound that was really heavy then nice and friendly, a sort of metal mix.
Felix: In 2016 you released your debut single “White Whine Spritzer”, with the song even being played on the Simpson’s did you think the song would become as big as it is now?
OD: No, totally, definitely not. When we first started the band, we said we’d play like two gigs in a pub, have seven people there and be on the bill for an eight band show on a Wednesday night and we’d be number six on the bill. It then took off on the internet, which was a great surprise. It opened the door to touring, where we met some very cool people and bands, with everyone being incredibly supportive. This was far beyond our original plan of performing a couple of shows to five or six people and then having the records coming as far as they have. Having our music video end up on the ‘Simpsons’ was incredible and we had no intention of it ever coming this far. Every day and every step forward are pretty unexpected and we’re incredibly humbled.
Felix: Having toured in the UK before how does it feel to be returning to play at one of London’s most iconic venues?
OD: It’s awesome, this is show number two on the tour. We played Milton Keynes on the tour last night and we received a warm welcome coming over here. There was just so much energy, a guy came dressed in a full Homer costume and gave me a doughnut. It feels great to have so much appreciation over here in the UK. We see a lot of this sort of stuff in the states, but the dial really gets cranked up a little bit over here, it’s intense and we love it. Coming over here playing the Underworld in London is so awesome and we’re super excited as it is Halloween night tonight!
Felix: Seeing as it’s Halloween tonight can we expect any surprises for your set tonight?
OD: As far as surprises go we try and make a lot of stuff a surprise on the night. There will definitely be a couple of things we’ve had in shows before like the inflatable doughnut that we’ll hand to the fans. What’s always a surprise is how the doughnut looks at the end of the night, most of the time it’s between two and seven pieces, scattered about. Every show is different, and we try and play off the crowd a lot. Hopefully the equipment doesn’t pull any surprises tonight, as long as we can keep pumping out the Nedal then it should be a good show.
Felix: Earlier this year you released ‘Howdilly Twodilly’, I was wondering if you could tell me about your favourite song on the record and why?
OD: Gheez, there’s a couple. One of my favourites came after playing it live which was ‘I can’t, It’s a Geo’. That song was designed to be played live. We get everyone to shout ‘faster’ making everyone keep pushing and pushing the pace of the song. ‘Murder house’ has been a favourite on the record because it goes to a couple of different places we haven’t usually gone. Then ‘Reneducation’ has been a good one. It’s such a fun song to play live, it was fun to do the music video and a lot of aspects of that one has been really heavy nedal.
Felix: As for the future of Okilly Dokilly can we expect to hear more music from you in the near future?
OD: Well we got one record out of ten seasons and there are thirty seasons, so we’ve got a lot of material to work with. We do actually have some extra songs; during the recording process we went into the studio with about twenty tracks. We didn’t come out with twenty, but we came out with a couple more that ended up on the record. We’re going to try and go back and refine those and hopefully within the next few months or so, kick out a couple of new nedal tunes. Our old van on the last tour broke down, but our new van has a DVD player in it, so we’ve been able to watch a lot of the ‘Simpsons’, and I’ve been listening to quotes whilst driving between shows.
Full Gallery From Their Halloween Show
By Felix Bartlett
Catch Okilly Dokilly on the following: