We Are All Doomed Interview
Interviewer – Phill Bruce
Interview Date – Feb 8th, 2012
Otto Kinzel - We Are All Doomed frontman
GC – Can you tell us a little bit of a background about yourself and where in this beautiful world you are from?
Otto – I grew up in Vermont, but I’ve lived in a lot of different places as a kid. I was born in New York, but also lived in Delaware and Pennsylvania before we moved to the Green Mountains. Since 1999 I’ve called New Hampshire home.
GC – With your new solo project We Are All Doomed you have just released your album The Zodiac Killer, what were the thoughts behind using such a subject as the inspiration for your album?
Otto – I’ve always been fascinated with this particular case. I think because the Zodiac has never been caught, it really adds to the mystic of the whole thing. The case has grown over the years and has taken on its own life! When you break it down and examine it, I think it naturally lends itself for a conceptual album. It’s a storyline that is already laid out for the listener, I just had to figure out how to tell it.
GC – You have just hooked up with Lucretia’s Daggers on guitars, how did this come about?
Otto –We played a lot of shows together and “ran” in the same circles, more or less. So when the opportunity came up I asked about it. Lucretia had me come over to their practice space to jam, and that was pretty much it.
GC – At what point in your life did you decide to form your band and why?
Otto – When I was very young, I remember watching reruns of The Monkees and thinking “wow being in a band is cool! You get to go on all these crazy adventures” hahaha. That’s how is kind of started, but when Nirvana and Grunge music broke in the very early 90’s, that’s when I was really inspired to learn how to play guitar. I think I was 11 or 12 at the time. But at that age, when you’re learning how to play guitar, being able to play one of your favourite songs by one of your favourite bands to your friends is a big deal. They’d always bust my balls and be like “can you play Twinkle Twinkle Lil Star yet?” And I’d say “how about Smells Like Teen Spirit” lol. It was like being able to play a song they knew gave me credibility and made me motivated to keep learning and working hard.
GC – So in your music career have you had any crazy adventures like The Monkees did?
Otto – Not really. Well, none that would make it on network TV anyways.
GC – Can you remember the first song that you actually learnt to play?
Otto – I think it was Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, the Bob Dylan version. It’s only three chords so it was a good “jumping off point” for me on guitar.
GC – Who besides yourself is in the band and what background are they from?
Otto – I’m a solo artist so pretty much it’s just me, but my buddy Marc Brennan played drums on over half the songs on my album. He’s amazingly talented and has been the drummer of The New Collisions (out of Boston) and also Kalta Eye. He was a huge help.
Also Matt Marcil from Tweek Sound and Mastering was a huge help with the production and “pulling it all together”, so to speak. He does awesome work, www.tweeksound.com
GC – Being a solo artist can sometimes be quite hard, how have you overcome this stumbling block overall?
Otto – When it comes to writing & recording, I try to lay out a game plane: my own personal map, if you will, for how I’m going to write and then track songs. Each song is different in the approach so I think it’s important to stay very organized. I’m constantly recording demos, and then re-recording those ideas as they start to get refined. The more you refine them and re-track, the easier things start to come together. As long as you can keep an accurate log of where you’re at in a particular project then it’s not as daunting as people think.
GC – You have been in many different bands covering a few different alternative genres, what type of music is your true love?
Otto – I think the avant-garde genre…really experimental, weird music…is probably my favourite. But it’s very difficult for me to choose just one because I find inspiration from so many different places. Sometimes I’ll get an idea from listening to metal, or I’m listening to some Euro-Techno pop and that will trigger something creative in me. I really don’t ever want to be tied down to only one type of musical style or genre. I’m afraid of commitment!
GC – What are your musical influences?
Otto – I listen to everything from early 90’s Grunge/Alternative Rock to Metal to Techno and other types of electronic music. I pretty much try to be open minded to all genres and experience them in some form. As for specific artists, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, Mike Patton (especially Fantomas and Mr. Bungle), Ministry, KMFDM, Dillinger Escape Plan, John Zorn, Nirvana, Aphex Twin, Square Pusher, Mars Volta….I could go on and on really.
GC – Many people have a favourite band, do you have a favourite band?
Otto – Again, it’s really difficult for me to choose only one band or artist; I’ve drawn so much inspiration from so many different artists over the years. But If I had to choose 3-4 I’d probably go with Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, KMFDM and Nirvana.
GC – What made you decide to set up your own record label Bluntface Records?
Otto – It was out of necessity for the most part. I was tired of constantly fighting the corporate battle with other labels. I understand it’s a business first and foremost, but there were so many times I just wanted to throw my hands up in the air and say “I quit”! It was too frustrating dealing with outside people who never seemed to care about what I was doing as much as I thought they should. I mean, they’re the ones who are making money off my work, they should care! So if I’m the one doing all the grunt work to promote and tour to make this “dream” happen, I want to have a huge say in how things go, with respect to promotional campaigns, marketing strategies and in general the “business” side of the music industry. I want to be my own boss, for better or for worse.
GC – How would you describe the music you make?
Otto – As far as my solo material goes, I love doing more complicated, intricate “meta, in the vein of DEP or Meshuggah. I guess “Math Metal” for lack of a better term. I love coming up with different off-time rhythm patterns and trying to put them together, while also retaining a central groove for people to catch onto. I try to really layer my material so that it incorporates not only abrasive sounds, like screaming or distorted guitars, but also rich clean sounds and clean vocals. I want to always retain melody but also push the envelope with the heaviness and technical aspects of the musicianship.
GC – Wow you are a true musical talent both having heard Zodiac Killer and seeing the way you describe what you play. Maybe a hard question to answer but what is the key to maintaining the balance between the distorted and clean sounds?
Otto – I think it all comes down to basic song writing principals. Ultimately I want these to be good songs; I want people to connect with the material. If you have too much screaming and blast beats, for example, then I think people eventually tune it out. They become desensitized to the whole thing. So I want to have a break for the listener. A chance for them to hear clean, melodic sounds and tones. I want those cleaner sounds, especially the vocals, to accessorize the screaming, more abrasive stuff so that when it comes in, it hits you over the head. Balance is the key to everything. I want to have a “hook” that the listener can grab onto, and having a balance between the two I think helps to achieve that.
GC – Where do you see your band in five years and what are your hopes for the future?
Otto – Either running a small third world country in a dictatorship type position or trying to make a new and improved version of the Wonder Bra.
GC – And if you did improve the Wonder Bra what would you call it and what would be its main improvement?
Otto – I’d call it “The Titty Lifter”. I want it to not only increase cup size but also make any woman whose wearing it feel slutty.
GC – Is there any place or venue you would like to play at and why?
Otto – I’d love to play at X-Games someday. I love the extreme sports type of events and have played live at a few in the past. There’s nothing like ripping some crazy heavy riffs while guys are competing on a half-pipe or doing motorcycle stunts! I’d much rather do those kind of events than play traditional venues.
GC – What is the overall experience like playing at those sorts of venues and what are the crowds like?
Otto – It’s unreal! There are so many people and the vibe in the air is so energetic. People are going nuts and its sensory overload in a way, but it’s so cool at the same time. It’s really difficult to describe, I think it’s something you have to experience in person to really “get it”.
GC – Without giving too much away is there any instrument or program you wouldn’t be without and why?
Otto – I guess the guitar, that’s where it all started for me. Without it I’d just be another douchebag playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band.
GC – If money was no object what would your dream guitar by be?
Otto – Hmmm. Probably either a vintage Les Paul, or a brand new PRS with all the bells and whistles”. I love those guitars.
GC – Do you think games like guitar hero have inspired new musicians to play?
Otto – I don’t know. I think it’s a hard thing to gauge accurately, because a lot of kids I know who became interested in guitar and started playing ended up quitting because they didn’t realize how hard it actually is to get started. Any musical instrument takes discipline and patience, especially when you’re first starting out and you’re a total novice. That aspect certainly does not translate from the video game. So I think when kids realize that playing a REAL guitar is a lot more difficult (and even more difficult to play it well, on the level of some of the artists in the Guitar Hero games), they get frustrated and give up. But having said that, I would think that there has to be at least some people who have genuinely developed an interest in playing guitar through Guitar Hero and Rock Band.
GC – OK now for a little fun. Talking about Guitar Hero, what is your favourite computer/console game?
Otto – I have PS3 but I only own 2 games. I have NHL ’12 and Formula One 2011. I use those to live out my fantasy of being either a professional hockey player or a Grand Prix driver.
GC – What is your favourite clothing brand?
Otto – Whatever my wife buys me, lol. I haven’t actually shopped for my own clothes in years. But for footwear, I really like DC sneakers. Vans are very comfy also.
GC – If you summarise the music you play up in a cocktail what would you call it and what would be the ingredients?
Otto – I’d call it “The non-threatening rapist”. Two shots rum, one shot vodka, mixed with some diet cola and a splash of GHB. And top it off with the bartender spitting in it.
GC – If you could have lunch with anyone fact or fiction, who would it be and where would you take them?
Otto – Optimus Prime! No question about it. How cool would that be?!?
GC – What is the one thing in life that really makes you laugh?
Otto – People getting hurt doing mundane, everyday life-type of things. Or watching presidential candidates who are stuck in the eye-of-a-personal controversy-storm try to talk their way out of it (i.e. Herman Cain).
GC – Thank you for giving Grave Concerns Ezine this interview, is there anything you would like to add?
Otto – go to www.ottokinzel.com and buy my album. Or buy it from iTunes. I need money bitch!
Thanks again, good luck for the future
See Otto on YouTube
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