Cult of Ned Flanders
Okilly Dokilly makes metalcore inspired by the “Simpsons” character
Puns are 30 percent of the workload for Okilly Dokilly, a heavy Nedal band centered around Homer Simpson’s friendly neighbor Ned Flanders.
“I feel like we need to just hire three of four people to sit there and write puns for us; it’s pretty exhausting,” says the Phoenix, Arizona-based band’s frontman, Head Ned.
All of the members perform as different Neds, and The Simpsons references abound, including an inflatable sprinkle-donut that is tossed into the crowd and a T-shirt cannon, a reference to an episode in which Ned’s wife Maude is killed by one. Lyrics are usually a Flanders one-liners that, when taken out of context, can be goofy, dark or creepy when put to metalcore.
If you’re wondering, no, Okilly Dokilly hasn’t been sued for copyright infringement. Yet. They avoid mentioning The Simpsons on their website and social media, and even omit Flanders’ full name.
“When we first started the band, we kind of assumed we would get a cease-and-desist letter,” Ned says. “So far, nothing from the legal department at Fox, but I just really hope we don’t do anything to step over the line.”
On February 10, the five will unload their gear from their tour van—Ned Vanders, of course—and into Harlow’s, in hopes of bringing “Reneducation” to the masses.
“Reneducation,” a new single for the band’s upcoming second record, Howdilly Twodilly, is based on an older Tree House of Horror Halloween episode in which Homer Simpson travels between alternate universes and lands in one where Flanders rules, and humanity is training to be more like him. The tune itself is punk with death growls, contrasted by a moment of tranquil, beachside indie rock.
To prep for writing the second album, Ned watched the first 10 seasons of The Simpsons over the course of a month. “It was the best songwriting work I ever had to do,” he says.
The entire idea started as a running joke in 2015: The band enters a stage to Ramstein-style pyrotechnics and other heavy-metal tropes. But when they introduce themselves, the group’s name wouldn’t fit the vibe.
“Someone mentioned ’Okilly Dokilly,’” Ned says. “And then it was, ’What if the lead singer dressed like Ned Flanders?’ ’Well, what if everyone in the band dressed like Ned Flanders?’”
A former stand-up comedian who usually played in indie bands, Ned says he never thought he fit the role of a metal front-man. With Okilly Dokilly, he didn’t have to try.
“There’s a lot of people who like metal and they’re all about it. Tattoos, the long hair. It definitely becomes part of a lifestyle, which we weren’t really living,” he says.
Aside from making fun of serious metal, there’s also a cult of personality concept going on, with five Neds onstage doing Flanders impressions, asking the crowd to consider converting to left-handedness.
“You see people picking their soldiers more than their battles these days … and just following brainlessly,” Ned said. “We’re kind of doing that with Ned Flanders, because I think if there’s anybody you’re going to brainlessly follow, he’s not the worst.”