Friday, November 11, 2011

an interview with OTIS REAPER from the doomed wastelands of Tennessee

A part of you readers are now used to my tastes and way to work for T.O.P., not just about great wellknown names or rising stars from the scene that you can read almost everywhere... The blog is mostly focused on Doom but there's absolutely no calculation towards this in general, I didn't tell myself "well after a sludge band like HOLLOW LEG, I should now maybe do something with a big Doom band or some good Stoner to get high views this week-end"...
I'm not professionnal at all and to tell the truth don't like much to just review an album or a demo; if I had more time I would make an interview everyday, it's definitely more interesting to read about what a band has to say and let them convince you by themselves to get into their sound, than what I have to say subjectively about their music ! No, this is done with heart and passion, I discover some new stuff that often brings me questions to satisfy my natural curiosity and then just enjoy to share things with other people who live for underground metal too. So the only feeling I had in mind yesterday (and another one could have been hardly possible) was to know more about the Original and Ripping : OTIS REAPER !!!
Don't know them yet ? Take some time to and you'll quickly get addicted to them... Cause believe me, from the (musically) not so confidential state of Tennessee, this young quartet delivers a pretty unique sound, basically SLUDGE by its powerful crudeness and bluesy southern catchiness mix together, but enriched with multiple influences from various kind of extreme METAL !
The vocals are amazingly insane, from blackened thrash to ugly and vicious sludge typed, but this is not just the very particular originality of the band, because the guitars sound and approach is definitely something that give too an enormous strenght to the band's identity, with generally constant twisted, groovy and catchy riffs, full of spicy flavour and smooth euphoria.
Now read what these dudes and dudette have collectively answered and DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR : SUPPORT the OTIS REAPER !

* Could you please present quickly OTIS REAPER ? The band’s name is awesome, where did you get the idea from ?
Otis Reaper is Ben, Madison, Jay and Cres. Jay, our singer, came up w/the name Otis Reaper because he said he wanted to start a band that sounded like Otis Redding crossed with Grim Reaper. We didn't really have much more direction than that for about a year. We just jammed a bunch and practices usually degenerated into 30-45 minutes of actual jamming and at least 3-4 hours of grilling out, drinking beer, partying and talking about metal. During this time we went through a couple potential bass players but nothing really worked out as far as scheduling and logistical stuff until Madison came into the fold. By that time we had most of the songs on the demo down pretty tight between just Jay, Cres and I so it was pretty easy to get the ball rolling and he learned the songs very quickly. We started playing shows soon after.
* You guys seem to be or have been involved in several other bands, listening to your pretty unique style, could we in some way consider that the O.R. music represent a synthesis of your various musical experiences ?
Yeah, we listen to it all. Just the metal and punk culture in general is a huge influence on Otis Reaper's sound and attitude. I'm personally a huge fan of all these bands that existed in that time when thrash, black metal, death metal, etc. were all coming into their own and stuff was still hard to categorize. Like, was Venom the first black metal band or just a sleazy rock n' roll band? Many of the older heavy rock and doom bands fall into the same place of just being hard to categorize because they were expressing their influences in a way no one else had done before. Nowadays that stuff is documented to death and sub-genrified to every little detail, but they cast the mold. Otis Reaper has always been about paying homage to the underdogs of the scene and many of the forgotten demo bands that were killer but just never really went anywhere outside of very small circles.

* If I’m not wrong the actual cassette ep co-released by Inherent rds and Failed Recordings is a new edition of the sold-out CD which was including the “footprints in dead earth” and “graveyard sorcery” eps… were those ever released on vynil previously or was it more exactly demos… ?
No release on vinyl yet. We had been planning it from the beginning but funds are still working themselves out. We are still going to do it. It has just been taking longer than we had hoped. The cassette released by Inherent/Failed is the first "official" Otis Reaper release. We have made a couple batches of cd's on our own in runs of 50 or so each and sold all but 4 or 5 of them. Jay and Cres also took a bunch to the Philippines last month for some distros over there.

 * You gave a fair number of gigs in the first part of 2011 but announced by mid-july that there won’t be anymore gigs until the end of the year, any particular reason about that ? What’s the biggest gig you took part in so far ? Do you think the “gutfest” could become a regular event and how did you enjoy this first local metal fest ?
Our singer and drummer are married and having a baby, so that is the reason for the hiatus. We are trying to get some more shows around the first part of 2012 once their family life begins to settle down and get in a routine. We haven't really played any big shows yet, mostly just diy shows we set up here in town or basement shows and stuff in other cities. In the past year we've had the opportunity to play w/some sick bands though. Gut Fest is a prime example of this. We had Process of Suffocation, a sick old-school death metal band from Memphis,Part Death from Maryland, Epoch of Unlight from Memphis, Sons of Tonatiuh from Atlanta, Black Pussy from Vicksburg, Dead-I-On from Memphis, Argentinum Astrum from Knoxville and many more. Do yourself a favor and look some of these bands up! We played a basement show at Anarchtica in Chattanooga with Pallbearer from Little Rock and Anhedonist from Seattle. That was probably my favorite show from a spectator's perspective and i'm glad we were playing first if you know what I mean.

On FB you’ve an album called “we love the womerns” with very beautiful girls wearing your T-shirts… did you just select the most beautiful or are they all as exciting around ?! You’ve yet done numerous different models of merchandising, seems great quality and nice designs with even flashy colors for some, do you have any facilities for that ?
Yea, Jay makes most of those shirts at work. I believe most of them are one-offs. He convinced his boss to buy some design software and printing equipment and now he is bootleggin' band stickers and Otis Reaper shirts like a motherfucker!

* Could you speak about your newest composition ? how do you think the band’s sound evolutes with time passing ? Any project for an album now ?
We have about 8 more songs now that are keepers. There are two that didn't make it onto the first recording because we didn't have time to get around to them in the studio and then about 6 new jams. We plan to record them as soon as we can, sometime early 2012 hopefully. We hope to have enough by then for an album and maybe a couple splits w/friends of ours' bands. I guess that all depends on how the tracks flow together once we get them recorded. We've got some ideas but nothing official has yet to be determined.

 * Your musical style is rather hard to describe, I’ve read about a mix between WEEDEATER and DIXIE WITCH which is quite fair but the vocals and a song like “unspeakable acts of intoxication” have a crusty black thrash taste that is fuckin awesome, it just seems that OTIS REAPER takes all that is good in almost all extreme metal forms and ultimately mix it without too much calculation, am I wrong ?

We were not necessarily going for any sound in particular and though we come from the South and all share the same obvious influences when it comes to doom and sludge we didn't want to have the typical sound that so many bands just copy shamelessly. It's pretty easy to determine what our influences are, yet i think we also have our own style. I think that's a good thing and definitely take your description as a compliment. We could just chug out some eyehategod or neurosis riffs and be way more popular but we strive to keep it diverse without being too gimmicky or anything.

* That’s not really surprising when I have a look on all the various types of stuff that you listen, from Brasilian blackened thrash from the late 80’s to grind stuff, not forgetting doom of course… I even feel there’s an amazing little south American taste in the song “unspeakable acts of …” , which’s a bit surprising considering you’re pretty young and have not lived this period, how did it he come that you’ve been connected to these obscure sounds ?
Yea, "Unspeakable Acts..." definitely has a pretty heavy Sextrash or Sarcofago vibe and influence w/the way composition and lyrics are arranged, with a bit of added groove and crossover style vocal chants in the chorus. It's definitely the odd-ball song in our set, but somehow we manage to make it fit our style and make sense with the rest of our stuff. Some of our newer songs will expand on that faster, more upbeat and thrashy direction so hopefully people like them as well.

* What does France evokes to you ? Do you feel attracted by any European country in particular ?
France is killer! We just set up a house show for The Pledge of Cain from Strasbourg here in town and it was amazing having these French guys show up and lay waste to a living room crammed full of rowdy people. Churches Burn from Ohio also played and were amazing. I can't think of many other french bands off the top of my head. I'm a big Blut Aus Nord fan and recently have been spinning that Cauchemar record pretty regularly. They have a cool, retro vibe and something about the female vocals sung in French is just really mesmerizing. Europe in general has the best metal, of course but lots of stateside bands are (and always have been) at the forefront of new heavy sounds as well. (note : CAUCHEMAR are Canadians -from Quebec-)
* Thanx a lot Ben, all the best to O.R., could you now please tell anyone what’s your actual merchandise for sale + add something if you want
Otis Reaper casettes are available from and

We are going to be doing a short run of longsleeve shirts as well w/the artwork from our cassette. Other than that I have just been writing a lot and getting ready to start rehearsing, playing shows and recording again as soon as Jay and Cres' spawning ritual is complete.


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