This is Simpson’s Doom Metal: Dr. Colossus live at Stay Gold
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11.05.2023

This is Simpson’s Doom Metal: Dr. Colossus live at Stay Gold

Dr. Colossus
📷 NICK MANUELL PHOTOS
words by Kosa Monteith

It’s just a little Sunday matinee in Brunswick, but Dr. Colossus still go hard with their classic entrance.

They walk in slow procession into the crowd towards the stage, kitted out in the lavish red robes of the Stonecutters (‘Homer the Great’, S6 Ep12). Lead singer and guitarist Jono Colliver wears the ceremonial headdress of Stonecutter Number One. Solemnly, they take their places as Time of My Life plays and the crowd whoops and claps. 

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This is Simpson’s Doom Metal. The band launch into the chunky riffs of their opening song, Pickabar, centred on notable quotes from Brother From Another Planet (S4 Ep14). Whether the audience knows the lyrics doesn’t matter. We know the quotes. In the final bridge we chant along with Jono from a murmur to a shout, pounding drumbeats growing as we repeat:

“Jerry the cowboy,

Jerry the cowboy,

The big dipper thing is Alan the Cowboy.”

And everything about this slightly ridiculous, dramatic display is still thoroughly, exquisitely ‘doom metal’ – which, to an outsider, might be confusing: How can you have a ‘doom’ band that’s so fucking funny?

The theatre of metal lends itself to encompassing theme and parody, from the Mac Sabbath heavy metal McDonald’s tribute band, to Okilly Dokkily, a metal outfit usually mentioned in any chat about Dr. Colossus (Okilly Dokkily’s viral gimmick being that they’re all Ned Flanders, with songs based around well-known Flanderisms). 

Dr. Colossus are local Vic lads and dyed-in-the-robe Simpson’s fans. Jono, bass player Mike Findlay, drummer Josh Wales and guitarist Joel Collier share the Millennial Simpson’s fixation and tap into our practically incurable pop culture recall. 

The crowd at the Stay Gold Remove the Stone of Shame matinee are a mixed collection of punk and metal shirts, Simpsons fan merch, battle jackets, trucker caps and flannelette, with a higher than usual ratio of folks who look like Wayne’s World extras (me, I am this). I made sure to grab a shirt from the merch table in my size before the show, emblazoned across the back, “I’m A Stupid Moron With An Ugly Face And A Big Butt And My Butt Smells And I Like To Kiss My Own Butt.” It’s not only a quote from the second Treehouse of Horror Halloween special; it’s the name of Dr. Colossus’ second LP – an album popular enough to land on the ARIA Albums Chart in 2021 at number 16. Like Bart’s prank call that spawned the line, you can imagine this momentous occasion forcing more than one workplace discussion among radio producers and music publications to include that entire sentence read aloud. 

“Hey, what’s on the charts today?”

“Well.”

Dr. Colossus is hitting our age group right in the nostalgia. The songs speak to the ‘golden age’ of Simpsons in the early to late 90s. The notable exception to this is the reference to the death of Maude Flanders (a season 11 outlier) in Six Sixty-Six, the closing song of this set. Founding members Jono Colliver and Nathan Johnston (who died unexpectedly in 2017) chose the band name from an occasional gag character. You probably remember him from such episodes as the Who Shot Mr. Burns two-parter, where he is ordered to “Stay away from Death Mountain.” (“But all my stuff is there!”) Death Mountain of course being the record label the band used for the release of their crowdfunded 2017 debut album, The Dank. Along with a few early singles and their Christmas 2022 release, This Christmas (Buy Me Bonestorm or Go To Hell!), they have a fairly modest selection of songs to choose from, but they’ve already got a well-developed musical style and robust theme.

Some songs they play at the matinee centre around specific episodes, like So Long Stinktown (S8 Ep2) or iconic mini-eps, like Lard Lad (Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores, Treehouse of Horror VI). Whack Sabbath merges a reference to both proto-doom-daddies Black Sabbath (if that phrasing makes you uncomfortable, I am sorry for being right) and Whacking Day (S4 Ep20) while they rip out the Eastern-inspired melodies and heavy distortion for a broad character story of Apu, the Hummingbird of Bengal. 

“The next song we actually based on an episode of the Simpsons,” Jono informs us halfway through the set. “Inspiration strikes everywhere.” But Dr. Colossus more than robes, quotes and gimmick. They weave parody into genuinely slick, accomplished sound. They kick into Get Mendoza with a soundbite from the in-show McBain ‘movie’, before breaking out some heavy, old-school sounding riffs, rolling drumbeats and dramatic vocals. Jono’s wailing tale of McBain’s revenge and the heavenward lean and full-on gesticulation of bassist Mike would be a stage presence just as suited to any non-parodic, sincere theatrical doom. And Dr. Colossus can ramp up a crowd, leading us into the slow, heartfelt headbang and hand-claw metal gestures with the epic Space Coyote (El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer, S8 Ep9). 

They’re showmen. They came here to Thrill(ho) and they did it. And they can keep it up as long as they like, with a barely-scratched stash of quotable eps and character portraits to marry with catchy tunes and a knack for the vintage, epic doom genre.

All in all, that’s perfectly cromulent.

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