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Indie Rock

Interview: Otenki

I recently got to speak with the Houston based rock band, Otenki. Otenki’s new EP titled Kinetic is scheduled for release on May 3, 2011. Their single, “Ghosts”, will be released on February 7, 2011. We had to opportunity to talk to Otenki about their experience working in and out of the studio for Kinetic.

First things first, what does Otenki mean?

Otenki is Japanese for the word weather. We picked the name because it allowed us to always have the freedom to change virtually everything about our look and sound.

Why did you guys choose “Ghosts” to be the first single?

“Ghosts” was chosen as the first single because when we were in the demoing process and sending songs to James, that song stuck out the most. James immediately took a shine to it and said that it was the song that is going to set the standard for all of our other songs. All the songs are amazing but there’s something about “Ghosts” that really shines through.

What were the main sources of inspiration for Kinetic?

In reference to the song “Kinetic”, the inspiration came from all the years we have been a band. After so many years into being an unsigned band you struggle to find a reason to keep going because you’re not always making money, people dismiss you because you don’t have a label, labels dismiss you because you don’t have agents…it can wear you down. The music business can seem like a battlefield, there’s no mercy to be shown…However, the one thing that’s kept this going is our families, friends and fans. They’ve traveled hundreds of miles to see us, given us places to stay, fed us, inspired us to do great things. We do what we do for them. The song and the record are dedicated to those who matter the most to us.

What has been your favorite experience in the studio?

Personally my favorite experience in the studio was just the pride I felt when we were listening back to the tracks we worked on each night. We’d put in about 9 hour days, 6 days out of the week and it was definitely a job but each night we’d all come into the control and listen to the songs together. We all just look at each other with this sense of amazement because of the legendary producer we were working with but also a sense accomplishment that we really wrote something incredible that’s going to have an impact.

You guys have played many big bands such as My Chemical Romance, The Used, and Thrice. How has that been?

Each experience was different. When we played with most of those bands we were a very young band. So it was daunting at first to play in front of that many people. We’re really grateful for MCR and The Used taking the time to talk to us before the show and truly sit down and give us their advice and jam our music.  We did our best to make the most of all the situations.

How has the music industry changed for you guys since your formation in 2004?

The industry has definitely leveled off to a point where the line between well known unsigned bands and semi-well known indie label bands is blurred. The social media outlets like Myspace, YouTube, Facebook made it possible for absolutely anyone to have a real chance at promoting their music and becoming a success.  Without these tools we wouldn’t be where we are now so its a blessing.

The flip side of that is with so many bands/solo artists fighting for listeners’ attention it can feel like you’re screaming in space sometimes. Even if you’re writing great songs, playing to good crowds, touring you can be overlooked so easily for the little kid in skinny jeans,”scene” hair, garage band beats and auto tuned vocals. Music I feel has lost part of it’s soul and we’re all responsible for that but…real music is coming back and Otenki definitely is doing its part for the revolution.

The band’s working with James Paul Wisner, who’s worked with popular bands such as The Academy Is and Paramore in the past, for the new album. How has it been working with him in the studio? Has it been any different than working with Paul Leavitt for Making Sense of Static?

Working with James was a surreal experience. This man is responsible for breathing life into records we grew up listening to like Further Seems Forever, The Academy IsUnderoath…so initially we were a little nervous but he was calm, really focused and put our minds at ease. James is not only an amazing engineer and knows how to get the tones you’re looking for; he is also a skilled song writer with an ear for great vocal melodies, guitar parts and programming. He really pushes you to be your absolute best and will do what’s necessary to get it. Working with Paul was a much different experience because we weren’t nearly as prepared but we made the most of it. Paul definitely made his suggestions and was able to get us great sounds. It’s hard to compare them because their approaches to song writing were vastly different. Paul worked on helping craft some awesome guitar riffs where as James focused on making the vocals the focus.

If you could choose any band or anywhere to play, what would it be?

I would love to tour with Anberlin. They’re easily one of my favorite bands and have inspired us in so many ways. We’ve actually made friends with a few members and it would just be amazing to share the same stage as some of our “heroes”.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Do you have anything else you would like to add?

We want to thank Frank and Kevin for setting up this interview. Our new EP KINETIC will be release on May 3rd. Hit us on facebook.com/otenkirocks and follow us on twitter.com/otenki We’ll be touring soon so keep your eyes open for the dates!

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