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Real or fanciful, all of Flannery's lyrics seem engineered to offend and irritate. Perhaps the tune most likely to cause teeth-grinding is "Love's Butcher Shop."
"I've written a lot of love songs over the years, and after a while, I got sick of them," he explains. "I wanted to write something that was just terrible, that would get under everybody's skin. When I wrote that song, I thought about every rotten thing I've experienced with a girlfriend or a wife. I climbed inside myself and found that anger from all those years."
But even Flannery has his limits. During the live version of the song "Waiting to Die" (from the band's debut album, Loneliness Is Black), the band stages a mock crucifixion of Christ wrapped in an American flag. Though onlookers might beg to differ, Flannery insists that the image of Christ is never disrespected. He also points out that the flag never touches the ground.
"I'm proud to be an American," he says. "I respect the flag, not like that dweeb Marilyn Manson, who uses it to wipe his ass. Nor do I spit on the Bible, which he also has a tendency to do."
Which begs the question: Has St. Madness been accused of sacrilege? Flannery responds: "Hell, yes! A lot of people give us flak, like we're Satanists or something.
"It's hard to explain to people you're not a devil worshiper when you're willing to wear '666' on your shirt. But I use that image to incite feelings in people--and it does. Besides, this is just a show. I'm not up there being Billy Graham."
St. Madness is scheduled to perform at a Halloween costume party on Friday, October 31. Call 423-9891 for more information.