The sitcom trope of “annoying next-door neighbor” is often the character audiences love to hate. Bewitched had busybody Gladys Kravitz, Everybody Loves Raymond introduced sharp-tongued mother-in-law Marie Barone, and perpetual do-gooder Ned Flanders was the butt of Homer’s jokes on The Simpsons.
Next to Sideshow Bob, Flanders might be the most loathed character in creator Matt Groening’s fictional Springfield. He drinks Shirley Temples, owns The Leftorium shop for southpaws and has ultimate respect for The Beatles. “They were bigger than Jesus,” Flanders quips of the Brit band in Season 14.
In 2015, five Phoenix-area musicians came together to form Okilly Dokilly, a heavy metal Simpsons tribute band named for one of Flanders’ popular catch phrases. “The irony of it is what made us choose Ned,” says lead singer Head Ned (yes, that’s a pseudonym). “He's such a friendly character, and to imagine him screaming in a metal band was hilarious.” Members sport Flanders’ signature look of green sweater, collared shirt, khakis and bushy caterpillar moustache.
Okilly Dokilly plays the kind of devil’s music Flanders wouldn’t be caught hi-doodly-dead listening to, with tongue-in-cheek songs including “They Warned Me” and “All That is Left.” Head Ned describes the sound as Nedal – a “synthy, chunky, raw interpretation of metal” similar in style to Japanese band Maximum the Hormone.
The quintet’s tunes went viral in August, drawing international fans and mentions on BBC and MTV’s websites. Though it’s been more than a quarter-century since the first Simpsons episode aired, Head Ned believes Okilly Dokilly’s early success is proof of the TV cartoon’s continued appeal. “[The show has] been on for a long time,” he says. “I think it's just been really well-written, with enough weird in it to be unique, but enough reality to hit close to home.” Head Ned strives for a similarly distinctive, yet down-to-earth dynamic in the group’s music.
Okilly Dokilly will make its Phoenix debut at 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 5, at The Trunk Space. Future tour dates have yet to be announced. “We hardly had plans past our first show,” says Head Ned. “We're working toward it, though. I'd like to tour with Dethklok… I think that would be really fun.”
If you go:
The Trunk Space
1506 Grand Ave., Phoenix
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