Last week the world said "Hi-diddly-ho!" to Okilly Dokilly, the Phoenix, Arizona punk group whose members dress like The Simpsons stalwart Ned Flanders (even down to the moustache, or "soup-strainer" as he would call it).
Their five members – known only as Head Ned, Red Ned, Bled Ned, Thread Ned and Stead Ned – enjoyed the privilege of going viral, though Head Ned admitted to NME that their japes can present a challenge. “Part of the band attire is a sweater and Phoenix just hit a record high of 117 degrees [47 celsius],” he said. “So the biggest challenge we’ve faced is not bursting into flames, as metal as that would be.” They'd probably rather be wearing nothing at all, nothing at all, nothing at all…
Anyway, Okilly Dokilly inspired us to explore the stray-diddly-ange world of novelty bands, from a San Diegan funk group with a robot singer to Mormon punks with a robot drummer (robots are a theme).
This Baltimore death metal trio features drummer Blake Harrison, guitarist Mark Sloan and vocalist Waldo, the 21-year-old grey parrot. They returned, last month, after an eight-year hiatus to release fourth album 'Number Of The Beak', the latest missive in their 12-year-old assault on all that is sensible. Harrison and Sloan do the grunt work, writing and recording riffs, before Waldo listens to the result and embarks on an inspired stream-of-conscious squawkalong that is then edited down. The duo must feel pressure to please the parrot, as Waldo apparently imitates the piercing sound of a smoke alarm when he's unhappy.
Best track: 'Bird Seeds Of Vengeance', in which Waldo appears to cackle away at the futility of life itself.
Jaymz Lennfield (sadly not his real name), this mash-up group's singer, sounds uncannily like Metallica vocalist James Hetfield and his band's mission statement is a simple but beautiful thing: to combine the California metallers' bruising tunes with the sweet music of The Beatles. The result is surprisingly listenable and there's much material for songs hooked around laboured puns such as 'I Want To Choke Your Band', played to the tune of 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'. Metallica sued file-sharing giant Napster in 2000, so don't tell them that Beatallica give their music away for free.
Best track: 'Hey Dude', featuring the fabulous lyric, "Remember metal is in your heart/And you can start to be a shredder".
As promised, this article features two bands with robot members. The first, LA punk outfit Tartar Control, have the added bonus of being fronted by two guys who claim they're Mormon missionaries. Known only as Robert and Sean, they rely on Robot to provide the beats, though the machine is made up of so much tin-foil it's amazing he doesn't crumple under pressure. The trio released their second album 'We Forgive You' earlier this year and continue to drag Robot's metal butt around the punk venues of LA, though it's questionable how much he contributes.
Best track: 'Smoking Crack', the video for which depicts the troubling sight of Robot getting his end away.
Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra
There's no denying the pivotal role of this band's robot. This two-piece funk group from San Diego consist of a human producer, known only as Professor B Miller, and his creation, the robotic vocalist SPO-20. They've been around since 1996 and claim to have released "the bestselling debut four-CD box set in history", which sounds pretty impressive until you count the number of four-CD box sets you've bought in your life. Last year SPO-20 and Professor B Miller they released their latest album 'Experiments In Auto-Croon', which features a cover of Warren Zevon's 'Werewolves Of London'.
Best track: 'Frankenstein's Laundromat', the chorus for which goes: "Frankenstein's Laundromat is where it's at/It's better than Dracula's, I know this for a fact".
Puddles Pity Party
Perhaps you saw this lot do the rounds last year. Their creepy, lounge-style cover of 'Royals' by Lorde, and its accompanying video of a six-foot-something old, bald clown mournfully crooning the anthem of a 17-year-old girl, went viral (and probably kept its 12.8 million viewers up at night). The clown, Puddles, is the creation of Michael Geier from Philadelphia, who was formerly in the all-clown band Greasepaint. He now bills himself as 'the sad clown with the golden voice', has also covered 'Chandelier' by Sia and recently performed a well-received one-man show at the Soho Theatre in London.
Best track: 'Royals'; Puddles stares into the camera throughout almost the entire duration of its video. He sees your secrets.