What makes metal music truly “metal?” Is it blast beats, electric guitars with heavy distortion, or is it just an idea? Straight from the depths of Davy Jones’ Locker, or as we call it in the 21st Century, San Diego, THE DREAD CREW OF ODDWOOD prove that metal music is made with pure attitude. Probably the sole group in their self-proclaimed metal subgenre “Heavy Mahogany,” Oddwood are a puppet-slaying, whiskey drinking, all acoustic pirate metal sextet with an affinity for the strange, so hide your women and children as we chat with “quartermaster” Stark Cordwain and learn about the Dread Crew.
Let’s start at the beginning. Where did you get the idea for The Dread Crew of Oddwood?
Basically, Wolfbeard O’Brady and a few of the original members all met at Echo Con, which was a convention for the Sega game Echo the Dolphin, and they were basically the only people who showed up. Woflbeard, being a pirate himself, kind of just started it from the group of everyone who showed up. Everyone played some sort of weird instrument and the nautical theme just went with the whole Echo the Dolphin vibe, and it escalated rom there.
Are you perennial pirates? Is it just your personas or do you live the pirate life?
It’s a tough question to answer… In the band the characters are pirates, or some form of time-traveling thief, but us outside of the band, the musicians, no, we don’t dress up like that all the time [laughs]
Tell me about the different kinds of instruments that you use.
The most talked-about, I’d say, would be the toy piano and the accordion, because only the coolest people can play those instruments. The toy piano is exactly what it sounds like. Riven [Rahl, “First Mate”] has kind of constructed this contraption where it straps to his body instead of having to sit down and play it. We also have stand-up bass, Irish bouzouki, tin whistle, mandolin and a percussion contraption that we call “the Oddkit.”
Who came up with the term for your subgenre, “Heavy Mahogany?”
I think it was Worlfbeard, actually. He used to introduce some of the songs saying, “We’re often referred to as a ‘heavy metal pirate band,’ but we prefer the term ‘Heavy Mahogany,’” because of the acoustic instruments It started off as a joke, and then we were trying to think of titles for the third album and we just went with it. That is our subgenre, because every band ever falls into your nonsensical subgenre that just doesn’t matter. So we wanted to ranks.
Something else that I like that you guys do is your music videos. They’re always a lot of fun. How much fun do you have making those?
It’s always fun. The first one we put out for Lawful Evil was for “Sulfur,” and we basically just got together in a warehouse with a bunch of friends and fans, and had a big party. We brought a bunch of whiskey and burritos and things to blow up.
What are you guys up to right now?
Right now we just finished seven weekends at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire our in our home state, and we’re getting ready to perform with Tengger Cavalry, and just beyond that we’re working on a couple more music videos we’re going to release right before our tour in the summer.
Will there be more violent puppet deaths in these new videos?
We’re working on it. Violent puppet death is very expensive [laughs]. We do want to make another video that rivals “Queen’s Decree.” It’s definitely on our to-do list, it’s just when we can all get together and shell out some cash for more senseless puppet violence.
Those poor puppets.
They had it coming.
When you are performing, or even in the studio recording, what is the most important thing to you that you want to convey?
I guess, fun. Fun is probably the overall… We enjoy writing the music and we take what we write seriously to a point, but we all do it for fun. The music if fun, the lyrics are fun, it’s all just good times.
If you were onstage and you saw someone just standing there staring, thinking “What is going on,” what would you tell that person?
[laughs] Oh man, that happens way more often, especially when we’re opening for other bands whose fans might not have heard of us before. We take the stage and everyone’s like, “What… the fuck. Is going on right now.” But usually those blank stares are wiped away pretty quick. If I could tell them something, I would say “Grab a drink and have fun, or get the fuck out.” [laughs]
What would you say is the most interesting interaction you’ve ever had on a show—it could be with another musician, or someone in the crowd?
I remember pretty vividly, I think it was last year, a girl in the front row at one of our shows was rockin’ out, wasted, and threw up all over the place, and then paused for a couple seconds, and then just went right back to the partying and having a good time. That stuck with me for a few reasons. [laughs] Actually, when we were on tour with Alestorm last year there were a group of people—I can’t remember exactly which show but I think it was in Canada—there were a group of people that just got down in the middle of the pit and started rowing, like they were on a longship or something.
Were you going to recruit them as roadies after that?
Recruit them? I don’t know, I kind of wanted to join them at that point.
The Dread Crew of Oddwood are slated to set sail on their Lawful Evil Tour across North America starting August 12. Click here to find a complete list of tour dates.