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The Metal Shakespeare Company

My current favorite Shakespeare-themed metal band will grace Stillwater on Saturday, Oct. 3.

Metal Shakespeare Company played Southern Oregon for the first time last year during an Oregon Shakespeare Festival Green Show in what the band has described as the "quietest metal show in history."

Since the Ashland gig, the group has played a Shakespeare festival in Colorado and has been practicing new songs based on the Bard's works.

They went on to rock Stillwater, a legendary show in which someone brought along around 20 foam swords. The mosh pit turned Medieval. Merriment was had.

I spoke briefly with MSC troubadour Lord Simms Wednesday night. We discussed, among other things, the upcoming show (door opens at 8 p.m., $5 cover), Ashland's best dive bar and the pitfalls of metal bloggery.

What have you been up to since last you visited Ashland?

There is betwixt the Lake of Salt and the great land to the east yet another Shakespeare festival held at a great Boulder among the rocks.

And there we traveled and were well received. We found their audiences somewhat smaller than thy festival, though their tolerance for loud music was somewhat greater. So from our instruments we coaxed greater sounds that echoed off the stony walls of their shire.

Are you thrusting any new material upon your Ashland fans this time around?

Yes, in fact, we now have made music of Sonnet 66, which we deem the most metal in subject. We are hoping to place it upon a recording if we are able to find a patron who will sponsor the creation of this latest work.

Describe Stillwater to those who have not had the fortune of imbibing there. Last time you took advantage of the climbing opportunities afforded by the stage.

I know not why, but I was cursed by spirits of doubt and found myself climbing upon the crossbeams like some unsure knave last show. My tight whites surely suffered for it. Dust and grime still mark the knees of my garment.

If Stillwater could be replicated throughout the land, this would be met with our approval. The stage size allows us to erect our stocks for detention of our most unruly of audience members. But it remains small enough so that we might smell the ale on their breath and feel their tentacle-like hands reach to our buttocks.

Ashland audiences are notoriously subdued. Were you happy with the sword-wielding audience that greeted you at the last show?

It is a rare pleasure to perform before an armed audience. There were several nobles among them that brought their foils and rapiers and who made merry of sparring. This is something that cannot be found in more civilized villages such as the colony of Santa Fe.

You often treat a crowd to covers of Dio's "Holy Diver" and Iron Maiden's "The Trooper," which are amazing. Any vintage metal covers coming our way?

Yes. We have undertaken a number from the second greatest poet of your era — the first being the brave and noble Saint Dickinson (Iron Maiden singer) — being the mighty Emperor Halford (of Judas Priest fame), who has prophesied the future murderer Jack the Ripper. He is the subject of the new number which we have learned.

Is it intimidating playing in Ashland because it is so renowned for its Shakespeare festival?

Methinks it would be most humiliating in Shakespeare's home in the New World to fall flat. 'Tis also glorious to be well received there. This is, after all, the colony in which they hang the Bard's face from their lampposts.

For when we travel elsewhere and speak of our following in Ashland, it is met with great respect.

You each have bands on the side. What brings you back to Metal Shakespeare Company?

As a group, minstrels are commonly plagued with an exaggeration of their own abilities and importance. To work with the Bard as thine lyricist serves to remind thee of thy ability and lack of skill. It is through him we function most smoothly.

Like most rock 'n' roll subsets, the metal community is depressingly elitist in some sense. If you don't conform to a certain look and sound you are dismissed as a poser and cast aside. What has been the reaction to Metal Shakespeare Company by metalheads?

It has not been kind. Wethinks we are more welcome at some Shakespeare festival than at the Ozzfest stage. Their hostility is thus derived from their lack of joy and merriment. Those who maintain their capacity for joy often are ecstatic at the discovery of such a group as ours.

Our harshest attacks come from what are called metal bloggers, those who know not spelling and punctuation.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471