We recently had a chance to sit down with Otto Kinzel, Solo artist and self proclaimed cartoon enthusiast. His most recent album, "We are all doomed: the Zodiac Killer", is a masterpiece and one of the best albums to come out of New Hampshire in recent years. You can purchase and listen to samples of the album here : http://www.ottokinzel.com/fr_zodiacmusic.cfm . You can also watch the amazing video for the single "I Want to Report a Murder" below.
Thanks for taking the time to sit with us and chat about your music. Who are your major influences? Kinzel: I have a ton. Frank Zappa is one of the biggest by far, but I also love Mike Patton. I love almost all of his projects, especially Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, and Peeping Tom. I also am a huge fan of KMFDM, Ministry, Ween, Pink Floyd, NWA, Meshuggah, Cynic, Digital Underground…I have so many different bands and artists that I love. It’s really difficult to narrow it down to just a few.
Do you have a record label? Kinzel:I run my own little independent label called Bluntface Records. We specialize in all things left-of-center. Primarily Metal, Electronic and Industrial music, and whatever else I think is interesting for the most part.
What can you tell me about your instruments and gear? Kinzel:For guitars I own a Gibson Les Paul Custom, a Gibson Les Paul standard, and a Schecter Damien Elite. I also have a couple acoustic guitars and a bass that is kind of a “beater”. For amps I have a full stack consisting of a Marshall Valve state Head, two 4x12 Fender Rock Pro cabinets, a Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier head and the matching 4x12 cabinet. Plus I have a ton of stomp boxes and FX, way too many to list individually but I really love my Hazari Memory Man pedal, and I have a bunch of delay & looping pedals. I also have a bunch of digital hardware: a Yamaha RM1X sequencer, the DJX Keyboard/workstation, and I use a lot of Toontack’s drum program on my laptop including EZ Drummer, Drum Kit from Hell, and a ton of their expansion packs and MIDI programs.
And no I have no brand affiliation. I really love Gibson guitars but I LOVE my Schecter Damien, it’s an awesome guitar!
What are your favorite venues? Kinzel:I used to love the Uptown Tavern in Manchester, I was sad when it closed down. Even thou it was a grimy, slimy hole in the wall it was also a really fun place to play. I also really enjoy The Middle East and the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge. The Middle East is always a blast, the sound system is terrific and I’ve literally never played a bad show there. Same with the Cantab, its small but a very intimate venue to see a show.
The Uptown was a great place to play. Do you have any upcoming shows? Kinzel:Not currently, I’m currently writing some new music. I’ve been going 100 miles per hour since I released my album back in October. It’s been non-stop promoting so I’m enjoying having some “quiet” time to write new music and record some demos.
Video for "I want to Report a Murder"
Could you briefly describe your music-making process? Kinzel:It almost always starts with either a guitar riff or a drum pattern. I’ll get it in my head and start working on it, either developing the riff or programming the drum pattern. From there it’s a matter of “fleshing it out” and letting the idea take shape. I’ll usually record a couple of demos to listen to and analyze over the course of a few days. After I’ve had a chance to ponder the demo recording I’ll re-visit the recording and lay down a new track, trying to either expand upon the original idea or totally re-invent it.
Do you care if people like your music or is it just for you? Kinzel:I’d love to say I’m brave enough to not care what anyone thinks, but I’d be lying. I need to be proud of what I do, but it’s always nice to know other people appreciate your art.
Art and Music are tied closely together. It seems your band is very interested in visual as well as musical art. When doing a show, what one takes a priority, visual or musical art? Kinzel:That’s tough t answer. I guess the music needs to be the priority because that’s the main vehicle for what I do. But the visuals and the art really need to be treated equally as important. I want all senses to be attacked, and the audio and visuals both are critical to the overall live show.
What has been your biggest challenge ? Kinzel:When you’re a solo artist, the buck stops with you. If a song or album I make comes out bad, it’s all on me. So I’ve found that I need to really focus on the big picture and rely on the opinions and insight of other people, whose own opinions I really trust and value. Having a few other “core” people to bounce ideas off on and talk to really makes a huge difference.
What's your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame and fortune? Kinzel:I’m hoping to be so successful that I can eventually become the ruler of a small third world country, where they’ll treat me like a demi-god. I’d probably be a despot of some sorts, or else I’d open my own modern “Jones Town” type of cult-ranch. We’d have a wacky time, before the mass suicide anyways.
Hmmm, Maybe I should stop drinking the kool aide your broguht in. What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands or are in bands? have any secret tips? Kinzel:I have a ton of advice and tips from my own personal experiences. These are both successful and failures that I’ve been able to study and learn from. It’s too in-depth to list here but any young musicians who would be interested in chatting can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
First Album you ever bought? Kinzel:The first album I ever bought was Faith No More, The Real Thing. Although that’s not the first album I ever owned. That would be Michael Jackson’s Thriller. My sister gave me a hand-me-down copy on cassette tape when I was 4.
Favorite local act right now and why? Kinzel:Virus Cycle, from Boston. A one man Industrial band; the brainchild of Johnny Virum. Amazing combination of art and music, and he draws heavy influence from Zombies and the theory of a Zombie Apocalypse. He puts a really creative spin on the subject and as has good hooks in his songs. www.viruscycle.com
What is the craziest thing to happen at one of your shows? Kinzel:Several years ago, I was playing a show down at a club called Whiplash on the South Shore. I jumped off stage into the most pit while performing and got my nose broken with a flying elbow.
Then one time during a show I was playing at Mark’s Showplace when a bunch of fat guys rushed the stage and started to strip naked…on stage. It was bizarre.
And then there’s numerous time involving the excess use of drugs onstage while performing, usually with crowd participation. Having someone tap a vein during a set is interesting to see firsthand.
Those are the only three stories I feel comfortable putting in writing. The rest I can tell you in person but I don’t want to incriminate myself in print.
*Any last words? “You got cookies for me? Mnumnumnumnumnum”