When speaking to the lead singer of the world’s only Nedal band, Okilly Dokilly (the word Nedal combining heavy metal and Ned Flanders, the good-spirited neighbor on the animated TV show “The Simpsons”), it’s sometimes useful to frame the questions as though they were being asked of a cartoon character.
The lead singer, known only as Head Ned, explains: “Mostly it’s just to keep a little mystery to the characters (that the band members play) and the names. Despite two and a half years as a band without a single cease and desist letter, we’re still a little afraid of Fox’s legal department. That’s generally why we keep our real names hidden, for the most part.”
Talking to Head Ned, who will perform with the rest of Dokilly Saturday in Chapel Hill, you sense the double-edged sword that comes with fronting a novelty act. The members of the band are talented – a listen to their 2016 debut album “Howdilly Doodilly” confirms this – but their fame came before their music has been heard widespread.
Founded in 2015, the five-piece from Phoenix became an online viral sensation within days of releasing a few press photos and a four-song demo. Within a couple of weeks, the band had been featured in publications that ranged the gamut from Time magazine to Vice – without having even performed their first show.
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“We’re flattered that people feel the need to tell us that we are not what they expected after a show,” says Head Ned. “They tell us, ‘Man, we weren’t expecting you to actually rock.’ I’ve noticed across the United States that there are a ton of talented musicians, but talent doesn’t necessarily equate to popularity. I personally know many musicians that can play perfectly well, but the market is flooded, and it’s just impossible for them to break through to audiences. People are surprised to find that we have honed our craft, but I think there are a lot of talented musicians who are beginning to do projects like this, instead of their own personal projects. We just happened to have a crazy idea that managed to put us on the radar first.”
But what good is being on the radar if people only know you by your stage name? Will Head Ned need to use his real name with Okilly Dokilly’s music anytime soon?
“That’s one of the reasons that I have tried to keep my real name under wraps for this long,” Head Ned explains. “Any future projects I may do, I won’t have people saying, ‘Oh, this is from the guy behind Okilly Dokilly.’ If nothing else, that’ll keep any music I do in the future fresh, and I’ll try to do something completely different musically. At least that way, I won’t always be met with, ‘Oh man, the Flanders guy has this other band now!’”
Who: Okilly Dokilly, with Beatallica
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Local 506, 506 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill