In case you’ve been living under a rock in Springfield for the past five years, there’s a quintet of metal maniacs from Phoenix who take as their artistic inspiration the appearance and psyche of one Nedward Flanders Jr., otherwise known as Ned Flanders, the eerily cheerful evangelist of The Simpsons. The band — founder, singer and guitarist Head Ned, bassist Bed Ned, drummer Dread Ned, guitarist Shred Ned and synths player Zed Ned — recently put the finishing touches on its latest single, “ReNeducation.” You’ll hear it along with other examples of its signature heavy Nedal sound, as well as songs on the soon-to-be-released album, Howdilly Twodilly, when the band comes to Discovery Ventura on Feb. 6. Head Ned explains the allure of Flanders Consciousness and how seriously they take their responsibilities as the metal manifestation of everyone’s favorite cartoon scold.
DC: Of all the characters in pop culture for you to emulate, why Flanders?
Ned: The things that define Ned, and the things often associated with heavy metal, are very much opposites. Ned is churchgoing, while metal often assumes a level of Satanism. Ned is friendly to the extreme, while metal is aggressive to the extreme. Putting them together sounded fun — like mixing acids and bases. It was an idea that we thought had a really pure kind of irony to it.
How deeply do you find yourself slipping into Flanders consciousness when you perform?
I definitely try to channel as much Flanders as possible. There’s a 1997 episode called “Hurricane Neddy” during which Ned snaps and yells at everyone in town. That’s the Ned I go for, mid-song. At the end of the episode, he politely threatens to run people down with his car. That’s the “between songs” Ned I go for.
Is anyone from The Simpsons aware of Okilly Dokilly?
[Showrunner and Executive Producer] Al Jean responded to a tweet about us a few years ago, so I know he’s at least aware of it. I’m not sure how far into The Simpsons camp that awareness goes.
Does a pop culture concept/tribute band community exist?
I think there is a little bit of a community — even just because of the fact that there aren’t a lot of bands like ours, so the few that exist often tour together. That’s how we know the guys from Mac Sabbath and [heavy metal mariachi band] Metalachi. There’s a Simpsons-themed band in Australia called Dr. Colossus; I keep in touch with their frontman as well.
Is there any appeal in covering songs that have been on The Simpsons, such as “The Monorail Song,” in the style of Okilly Dokilly, or is that just taking things too far?
It’s definitely an idea we’ve toyed with. There’s a great 2003 episode (“Dude, Where’s My Ranch?”) with David Byrne where Homer writes a hit song about everyone hating Ned Flanders. I’d like to open a set with that.
Was there one defining, shining moment you realized that this was the band for you?
Definitely. There’s a band in Toronto called The Be Sharps that exclusively covers Simpsons tunes; they play “Talkin’ Softball” (“Homer at the Bat,” 1999) at their sound checks. We played a show with them once and they were excellent. It was just something we did for fun after that. But a week after we had put everything online, it went pretty viral and we suddenly had 20,000 Facebook fans and a million listens on the demo. Before that, I didn’t think this kind of band would interest anyone. I’m convinced that I was incorrect.
Are there lyrics for Okilly Dokilly that are off-limits when it comes to Flanders?
The lyrics are nearly all direct Ned quotes, which really limits our ability to say anything off-limits. Ned himself was appalled at once having drunkenly said that Ann Landers was a “boring old biddy.” We, of course, used that lyric in a song called “More Animal Than Flan.”
Would you ever do a power ballad in memory of Ned’s late wives Maude or Edna?
I don’t think so. We do have T-shirt cannons at shows, though, and we fire a few T-shirts in salute of Maude.
Okilly Dokilly appears on Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. at Discovery, 1888 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura. For tickets and more information, call 805-856-2695 or visit www.discoveryventura.com.