OTEP, July 20, 2002

 

Written and photos by: Jason Perlman

 

Gearing up for the Ozzfest gig?
Yep. Yep.

You played a few shows with the tour last year, how excited were you to get invited back?
We were completely honored and blessed to get invited back. It was an amazing leap for us. I think our band and Hatebreed were the only (non-main stage) bands to be invited back from last year's festival, so it was really nice of Sharon (Osborne) to include us.

Kind of ironic with the path Ozzfest is taking that the only two bands invited back, including Black Label Society from the Main Stage, are the two bands that least personify the nu-metal phase?
I think it's a testament to Sharon's quest to providing a variety of music and bands on the tour and keeping it as authentic as possible and if she is going to do it heavy, she is doing it heavy.

 

Last year's tour, you had an EP out, but this year you have the full record to tour with. When you were putting songs together for Sevas Tra, what was the format OTEP take to putting whatever may be in your head to recording.
Ummm, I don't know. I don't really think there is a format we use. We just end up being slaves to who we are as artists. I think we just follow the muses. Everyone in the band is a writer for their respective parts. My part is I write all the vocals, but we all have a hand in how the songs are arranged and everything that goes with the process of finishing a song. Someone may come in extremely expired that day, and we go with it. What is remarkable about this band is as a unit, as a Collective, we have started getting this telekinetic energy between us so we sort of know what type of song needs to be written next. Collectively, someone may bring in an idea, and I will be like, "You know, I wrote something like that last week. Let's check it out." It was such an exciting tome writing the record. We wrote the record in a month. One month. The entire record was written in a month where we turned everything off other than those creative energies and we just let them flow.

And how do the lyrics come to you. They are very poetic, internal yet the same time, can be understood by your listeners. It seems to me that the lyrics would have to come first then the music will follow.
Sometimes it happens that way, I write about a lot of personal things. I don't ever stop writing. I am writing or creating all the time. If I come in with some ideas for a song, the band jumps right in on it. Again, they have this sort of energy that sort of brings my lyrics to life. But for me, I have volumes and volumes of books of lyrics and poetry that for me may have looked like failure, but there is that one time where you write the perfect moment, that beautiful moment that sheds all the tears of mine.

 

Does it surprise you that you have a very underground sound, are now on a major label not known for their metal music and were even playing Ozzfest before your record was out. Seems like it all happened big and fast.
Well, that's the thing, too. The musicians in the band have been playing together for a while. Vocalizing for me has become a pretty new phenomenon for me. I have only been doing this for about as long as the band has been together. So, for us, it was a rather quick ride. The band got together in August of 2000 in a variety of formations and shapes before we were able to get this particular line-up, this particular Collective. But we got offered Ozzfest, the last one, before we even had a record deal. Last summer, Sharon and Jack (Osborne) came and saw us play at the Roxy. After the show, Sharon came to us backstage and said, "You're joining us this Summer. Make it happen." We were like, "But we don't even have a record deal." Sharon says, "I don't care, make it happen." And that's beautiful Sharon is. Right after that, we were signed to Capitol Records. People ask me how we made that happen, and it was sheer determination.

 

A lot of bands like to lay claim they have 'cult' following, but for OTEP, there is a definite group of fans that are following your every move.
Well, I don't know if I want them to be referred to a cult or a following, I like to think of it more as a society. We are building a little community, and at this point, it seems like a secret society because it is building underground, very grassroots. But our fans are some of the most intelligent, creative people I have ever met. They know what we are doing is pure and good and we are staying on track.

 

By the time this runs you will have been playing this tour for a while, but what are you looking forward to?
We are going to England and doing the Donnegan Park. We are opening Main Stage. We got bumped to Main Stage because of all the enthusiasm over there, which is just blowing us away because we have never performed in Europe, but the enthusiasm is so amazing.

Writing for Powerplay Magazine in England, and living here in the States, I notice just through the artists featured in the magazine that there is much more appreciation and love for metal music.
Well, I think people there just appreciate art, in general. It just seems more involved in their culture. I don't know, it just seems from what I know of that civilization and this is from what I just read, which is unfortunate, but I will finally get to experience it first-hand soon. But from what I know they accept art and poetry and are just willing to push the envelope a little bit further. It's much more accepted there and inlaid in their society. Where as here, in America, we are so spoiled with everything you want to get right there, we live in a 7-second culture. But hopefully we can change that. And I think we are doing that. We have fans of all genres of music. We have fans of all age groups and backgrounds, but one sort of underlying image is bringing them closer and allows them to be included in something, all from whatever culture or wilderness they may reside in where they don't feel included and kept in from the outside. Artists and the power of music can do that, bring people together and feel a part of something.

 

For OTEP, perhaps the most effective tool you have been using is the Internet. You, more than just about any other band, has used it to bring people together from different cities, regions and countries. You are not just using it to give information; you are using to get people connected to each other.
Right on. The Internet is essential to our movement. It absolutely is. That might allow people who might feel uncomfortable and who feel like they are being judged, to come to a convention to where all of our fans are meeting. And here, they can feel connected. Here, it doesn't matter how tall they are, what they look like, what clothed they wear or what type of music they are into or anything else. If they are ugly, or short or fat or don't fit into whatever cultural identity they are supposed to have, through the Internet they are anonymous and the only thing that matters is the power of their mind and they passion that they bring. That enables them to feel powerful and strong and not have to worry about the skin they are in or the identities that society, or their parents or the Church is putting on them. It doesn't matter on the Internet and I think it's a very beautiful and empowering thing and something that people will look back on when remembering music and art and society in general; how it was shaped by the power of the Internet and how it forced people to evolve mentally.

You mentioned the power of the Collective and the growing power of the band. Here you are not two years later and are playing Ozzfest for the second time and headed to England to play on the main stage in front of tens of thousands. Has this gone beyond your dreams?
You know, I don't think I could have ever foresaw something this amazing happening just for doing something that we want to do, staying authentic and maintaining our integrity as artists. Creating for me was always something very personal, private event. In my little, poverty apartment, writing poetry, doing my illustrations, doing whatever it was that allowed me to escape the environment I was in. It has been a strange transition for me. But to know how people are connecting through my music and to know that some are being empowered by what I do … I write mainly for me, and I want those listening to get more out of it than my experiences. I want them to be better than me, to not just relive my experiences but to be inspired. I think that is the job of any artist, just to inspire. Then, if I could just do that, then living this life was worth it. Even at this level, we have grown much beyond my expectations or any sort of prophetic visions I might have had.

And how do you feel when people are reacting to your lyrics, which are so personal. Is it ever strange to have people respond to something that you may have never thought anyone would know or care to read?
No, I think it makes me feel not so alone. When you are like a product of violence, when you come from those atmospheres of neglect, you feel lonely, no matter whom you are. Even in a room filled with your friends. You don't feel connected, to your family, anyone, even your best friend. You think you are alone, you think that there is no one that shares these things with you. But as soon as you find out that there is, there is someone else, there is this really, really amazing epiphany almost, an evolution. I don't know; it likes takes the anchors away. So, it's amazing for me. On the record, there is a song called "Jonestown Tea" that is very dangerous for me to do live, and was very dangerous for me to record as well. That song is very personal to me, and very important to have people come up to me after we do it live and say, "Thank you for singing that song for me," when I wasn't, I was singing it for me. But to know that I touched them with just the words that I written and externalized is just an amazing thing. It really is. It makes me realize that everything that I lived through was worth it.

 

Now that you have your first record under your belt, are you ready to do another?
We know what we have to do now. We are already looking for ways to better the next album, but we know we have to support Sevas Tra with our rituals and destroying everything that we can.


To kind of wrap it up here, I am sure you get sick of the female in metal music questions.
Yea, I am not fond of those types of questions.

 

Seems like whenever a blond female in metal plays, people have to say Doro Pesch.
Yea, I get it a lot and I wonder if fans or journalists go up to Corey Taylor (Slipknot) and say, "You remind me a lot of Jonathan Davis from Korn." They just don't always make sense. I understand, but I wish that women in aggressive music weren't such a rare breed. And as long as there are few of us, these comparisons will probably be made. But hopefully through my willing self-destruction, it will inspire a lot of girls to embrace their aggressive side and not hide it as society dictates and allow the art to flow from those places of aggression and rage that are righteous.

 

The one thing that has to happen every show is there will be girls in the audience looking at you with awe and thinking they want to be just like you.
I think parents should be role models. Artists should just be honest in their expressions and voice and what applies and appeals to me may not be right for someone else. I think an artist's duty is to inspire. It's not my job to tell someone how they are supposed to act or feel or speak or wear or any of that. My job is to be as honest and authentic as I can with my art and stay true to that.

Even with that stance, it has to be satisfying to know you are influencing young women.
No, it's satisfying, sure. I am not going to deny that. We live in a vocal patriarchy. I think American women can find it very difficult to complain in light of what's going on around us. But I look at the promised potential of what this country is supposed to offer us, all of it's citizens, not just white, Protestant men, and I think it validates my mission and my message to be able to speak and say and do anything that I like without being judged on how tall I am, or how short I am, or if I am too fat or too thin. If my breasts are too big or what color my hair is. But it is satisfying to have women come up to me, young girls come up to me, and say, 'Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for doing what you do.' I think that is very satisfying and makes me know that what I am doing is right and valid and there is an appetite for it. And hopefully I am satisfying that hunger. And hopefully I can destroy the dominant paradigm as to what type of art and music women can perform.