Oto So Far

The band behind the Japanese name reclaims the spotlight from its departed front woman

"That was the only bummer about the rave experience," says Pond, shaking. "No respect for the live musicians. You want to go up to a DJ and say, 'Look here, we're musicians. We make the music that's on the vinyl you guys spin.'"

During the group's yearlong drought of gigs, it added Southern to guitar, something of a departure for a group that was staunchly opposed to six-string interference.

Admits Dreisher, "I had a problem with guitarists for a long time. It was all rock shit. Which was cool, it has its place, but it's not what we're doing. In Phoenix, the first time you play with a guitarist, they want to crank the distortion and turn it past 11. We're a bass-heavy group, so it was hard to find guitarists in this city who were tasteful. Rick's guitar style is that old school meets western meets surf, and he also plays the Rhodes. A lot of the samples are Rhodes keyboards, and he uses vintage guitars and it sounds real spacy-trancey."

Oto: A dance band with multiple personalities.
Kevin Scanlon
Oto: A dance band with multiple personalities.


Scheduled to perform on Friday, December 7, with Joined, and W.O.M.B. Showtime is 10 p.m. Also performing are DJ Essential, Egorock, and Jimmy the Mantis Claw.
Bash on Ash in Tempe

While fans of the group's old sound will miss the dichotomy of Coppé's Japanese melodies going up against Puma's in-your-face word bazookas, they can enjoy hearing broken beat with surf guitar and a more R&B sound than Oto has ever dared before, with the addition of Misty Chapman.

"I sang with DJ Radar, Bombshelter DJs. I even sang with Coppé once at Higher Ground one New Year's Eve," she says, giggling. Chapman brought in her friend Athené NaShea, a dancer who had plenty of theater experience but had never sung with a band before. "Misty's voice reminds me of Billie Holiday. Athené's vocals are grittier, more harsh. They have completely different sound, but it goes together really well," notes Southern. "And then you have Puma on top of that. He's great live, he really works the crowd."

"If you're gonna lump Oto's music in a category, it's hip-hop broken beat, with bass and drums, a hybrid of acid jazz, hip-hop and drums and bass," says Dreisher. "We've got a new song, 'Athereal,' which is pretty broken beat. There's some dub stuff; we've slowed it up from the drums and bass."

"The main difference," stresses Southern, "is that we're actually developing songs together now. It's more of a controlled environment. It's not that we're controlling one another but the musicians are following each other. There's not one of us into the cosmos visiting some kinda space monster."

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