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The Messiah of Metal

Jamie Peachey

Heavy metal singer Patrick Flannery has lived in the Valley since 1983, and he knows a thing or two about the mingling of faith and freakiness in Phoenix.

As a teenager, the Catholic-raised Flannery sang in a choir that performed for Pope John Paul II at Ss. Simon and Jude's Cathedral in September 1987. Six years later, Flannery became "Prophet," singer for local, self-described "carni-metal" band St. Madness (www.myspace.com/stmadness), a group that wears ghoulish, evil-clown makeup and enlists a sideshow of bizarre figures to invade the stage while they throw down thrash-metal riffs. Characters like Carl the Clown, Altar Boy, and Satan are just a few of the freaks included in the show.

Flannery, now 45, says he's still deeply religious, and his Scottsdale home is filled with such religious iconography as statues of the Virgin Mary and paintings of Jesus Christ. But Flannery doesn't feel his faith makes his band's "Saintanic" music any less intimidating. "Just because people know I believe in God, that doesn't mean we won't scare you," he says. "We go through more fake blood than you could possibly imagine."

In addition to the gory-but-comical visuals, one thing that separates St. Madness from most other local bands is a fierce sense of pride in this state. Flannery even wrote a song called "Arizona," which pays heavy homage to the rattlesnakes, desert skies, and Native American legends of his home.

The dichotomy between Flannery and his Prophet persona is sort of like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde contrast. On a hot Tuesday afternoon in July, Flannery — sporting a long black goatee, a leather skullcap adorned with skull and crossbones, and giant hoop earrings — looks something like a gypsy pirate, and he's polite and well-spoken. Onstage as Prophet, he wears white makeup with red crosses painted on his cheeks and black tears streaming from his eyes, and he's liable to say or do anything. "As Prophet, I speak my mind without restraint," he says.

Flannery admits he was influenced by colorful shock rockers like KISS and Phoenix's own Alice Cooper, but he views St. Madness as a unique entity — a family legacy, even. Flannery's 20 year-old son, Josh, has played guitar in the band and participated in the live shows, and Flannery says he'd ultimately like to hand the band over to his son one day, saying, "I want to keep St. Madness going, like a circus."


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