Otep Shamaya is a person of many facets; singer/songwriter, dog lover, street poet, artist, activist, lesbian. She is all that and more, and attempting to quantify her by any of the aspects of who she is negates everything that she is passionate about. Her longtime songwriting partner “eViL” J. McGuire, is likewise a man of many talents and interests; father, bassist, tattoo aficionado, and sometime conspiracy theorist.
Shamaya has spent a good portion of the band’s current Rise, Rebel, Resist tour struggling with nodes on her vocals chords, requiring her to rest her throat the day of our interview. Fortunately the ever gregarious and easy going eViL J. was more than happy to spend 30 minutes discussing life, politics and of course music with Metalholic.
The band’s 2009 album, Smash The Control Machine puts social and political issues at the forefront of the bands ‘artcore’ sound. The newest video for “Rise, Rebel, Resist” takes aim at our leaders lack of insight and integrity. Former Alaskan Governor and Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin takes a shellacking in the vid. “It’s not anti-Palin,” eVil J. offers, “but it certainly doesn’t show her in a very good light. I’m not using a band to create a lifestyle and reputation for myself, so don’t use politics for that either. Don’t use a political stance to get yourself on TV.”
While Otep is defined primarily as a metal band, the band themselves see what they do differently. “We’re entertainers. That’s what we are,” eViL J. says “We don’t take our influences from one particular genre. My parents flooded me with music when I was younger and I steal from all different kinds of music. I like fusion, I like jazz, I like Iron Maiden metal, I like death metal…and art is a freedom of expression, and I think that’s what our music is. We can express our emotions or frustrations. And everybody’s emo-core or hardcore, so we just call ourselves ‘artcore'”
One can’t have a real conversation with members of Otep without discussing social issues or politics. “I think the government is a form of distraction,” laughs McGuire, “it’s a fun video game for people to play. You get your vote, you get your voice, you make a few moves, but hopefully the game isn’t rigged so that your moves aren’t just counter-productive.”
Watch the full video interview with Otep’s eViL J. below: