A conversation with Mike Odd, the frontman of shock-metal/punk troupe Rosemary’s Billygoat, is an experience that is both enjoyable and weirdly disconcerting. While there are still people out there who fall for the schtick and believe that Odd and his bandmates are genuine, real-deal Satanists, the man is hilarious and friendly, to the point where he’ll let out a bellowing belly-laugh when you least expect one. There's nothing evil about it; in fact, the laughter is unexpectedly warm.
Yeah, this guy is no more Satanic than Stryper. That said, Odd and his bandmates do love to play with the imagery. For 26 years, Rosemary’s Billygoat has been developing a sound that sits somewhere between Twisted Sister, GWAR, and Motorhead. Meanwhile they’ve also been developing an image that sits between those very same bands.
Everyone in the band wears goat horns, regardless of the variety of hat they’re sporting. It’s all part of the visual impact of the group, and Odd can barely believe that, more than a decade and a half after forming, he’s still pulling this nonsense with his buddies.
“It’s so ridiculous,” Odd says. “To think that I would be doing this most of my life is just so amazing. That being said, I started the band in 1991 with Neil Gargantua, the guitar player, and the other two guys (Paul Bearer and Pat Trick) came along just a couple of years later. So really, I’ve been playing with the same four guys for like 24 years, and I just don’t think there are many bands that can say that. The Beatles certainly can’t.”
When asked how the band has grown over the 26 years, Odd lets out one of his deafening belly-laughs. This thing really grumbles from the pit of his stomach until it escapes with a flourish.
“Well, it started out as this cross-dressing drunk rock band and evolved into something vary different,” Odd says. “One thing that has stayed consistent is it’s always been very sarcastic. It’s like, if you look at our songs and ideas, there’s nothing that’s very direct or serious. Because it’s music and people are funny about music, they will say that one song is satanic and another song is misogynistic. People who actually think the band is satanic are hilarious to me. I always thought it was so over-the-top goofy, I was surprised people even liked it.”
Just four years ago, we listed Rosemary’s Billygoat in the “Top 10 Shock Rock Bands of All Time” and, at that point, the band was preparing to release its fourth full-length album, Psychobillygoat. Here we are in 2017 and the album has still to see the light of day. We did get treated to the “Hobbit Feet” video, but no album. According to Odd, little progress has been made getting the record out there, but it is finished.
“It’s been a running joke that it’s the album that will never happen,” he says, emitting another big laugh. “The last time we played, I started talking about it on stage and I had realized that week that it had been six years since we recorded it. I really need to get this record out somehow. I want the nice 12” vinyl with artwork, and the crowd does too. I don’t want to do iTunes. So if you’re listening, Atlantic Records, this thing is ready to go.”
Who knows when that album will actually be available. What we do know, based on the displays at stores, is that Halloween is fast-approaching. One might imagine that this is when a band like Rosemary’s Billygoat would shine — when the guys pull out all the stops for a big extravaganza. In fact, they lay low during the Holiday.
“I’m an 'Every day is Halloween’ person,” Odd says. “I have a horror belt buckle company called Monster Buckles, I manage the band Mac Sabbath, I play a horror host called Dr. Odd, and my favorite song is ‘Halloween’ by the Dead Kennedys. But when Halloween comes around, I’d rather do Halloween things. We’re gonna be just as Halloween in July as October. It’s like if you sold little Jesus figurines and decided to do a convention on Christmas Day.”
There’s a lot of sense in that. And if you are starting to feel ever so Halloweeny, Rosemary’s Billygoat’s gig on Saturday at The Doll Hut in Anaheim will surely satisfy those spooky cravings. If nothing else, you’ll hear some new songs.
“You’ll hear a lot of great new songs from our new album that doesn’t exist,” Odd says. “I guess you’re not supposed to play your great new songs until you put your album out, but if we did that, you wouldn’t get to hear these great new songs, ever. There’s a new song called ‘Silver Bullet,’ which is about killing a werewolf with a can of Coors Light. I thought making a massively commercial song, a song that’s so commercial that it’s a commercial for a giant, ridiculously huge corporation would be the most sarcastic thing I could do in this silly punk rock metal band. So we did it.”
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After that, the future of Rosemary’s Billygoat is uncertain, besides the fact that there will be one. Odd is having far too much fun to quit now. There might not be an album any time soon, and the gigs might be few and far between. But when they do play, it’s an event.
“It’s funny, because on Facebook there’s been a lot of people asking when the next tour is and when we’re coming to various cities,” Odd says. “My response is always the same: Rosemary’s Billygoat is a lot like Disneyland. If you want to see it, you have to come to Southern California. And it’s ironic because we’re playing in Anaheim. So once again, Rosemary’s Billygoat is a lot like Disneyland.”
Rosemary’s Billygoat plays with Yeastie Boys, Riotgun, DMF, and more at 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 23, at The Doll Hut; 107 S. Adams St., Anaheim; 562-277-0075.