Otep brings ‘Generation Doom’ tour to Orangevale’s Boardwalk

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 5:13 AM

She’s smart, informed, opinionated and plenty outgoing, particularly on stage and on album. And because she's the main songwriter, because she's the sole original member of Otep left – and latest but not least, because the band is named after her – there’s a tendency to look Otep and the group’s music as being entirely her baby.

Otep brings ‘Generation Doom’ tour to Orangevale’s Boardwalk

Anyone who's followed the band Otep knows frontwoman Otep Shamaya is number shrinking violet. She’s smart, informed, opinionated and plenty outgoing, particularly on stage and on album.

And because she's the main songwriter, because she's the sole original member of Otep left – and latest but not least, because the band is named after her – there’s a tendency to look Otep and the group’s music as being entirely her baby.

Shamaya is the boss and main creative force in her band. But Shamaya said she’s not necessarily a go-it-alone control freak, as some might assume.

A case in point is the new Otep album, “Generation Doom,” where Shamaya found a collaborator who was confident and strong-willed sufficient to challenge her: producer Howard Benson.

In a late-March phone interview Shamaya pointed to a moment when Benson questioned one of the verses in the song “Down,” telling her she should rewrite it to create it stronger.

“I’d never had anybody do that before, challenge me love that before,” Shamaya said. “He could've let it go, love any other (producer) would do. But he didn’t. He couldn’t. And that’s what makes him Howard.

“It was really a joy to work with him. I learned so much. … I think that’s one of the things that may astonishment a lot of people, but I really appreciate collaborating with other artists and other writers. I wish to be challenged and I wish to be inspired and I wish to do the same for them.”

That Shamaya even got to work with Benson would've seemed unlikely a couple of years ago.

In January two thousand thirteen, as Otep released its sixth album, “Hydra,” Shamaya announced it'd be the band’s latest album, and she was retiring from music.

“I think at the time I was very serious about leaving music. … I didn’t wish to waste anyone’s time. I didn’t wish to fake it,” she said. “And I was tired of the music industry, the executives and so forth who were sitting there in their huge comfortable lounges and were trying to tell me what my message should be and trying to tell me what my fans imply to me and trying to tell me what genre we’re supposed to be in.”

Although Otep toured behind “Hydra,” for a time, Shamaya made excellent on her words. She did voiceovers for movies, television and video games (including “The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies” and the favorite Playstation game “The Latest of Us”) and also wrote a book of brief stories, “Movies in My Head.”

But circumstances eventually led Shamaya back toward music.

“I was going through a lot of turmoil during this time,” Shamaya said. “My dog had gotten sick. I'd gone through a really devastating breakup. Losing my best companion and my partner and my lover and my confidant, all in one person, was gone presently and I was dealing with a ill dog all alone. So I really was very, very emotional and depressed and mad and resentful. I didn’t know what to do with it.

“So I started writing again. I just started putting those feelings onto paper, and those poems, I started to hear melodies and from those melodies, that began songs and I knew the spirit of music had returned to me.”

After landing Benson (who's won two Grammys for his producing), Otep, which also features guitarist Ari Mihalopoulos and drummer Justin Kier, went to work on “Generation Doom.” Love the band’s other albums, it features ferocious rockers (“Zero,” “God is a Gun” and “Feeding Frenzy”) but also a few twists.

“Equal Rights, Equal Lefts,” a call to action for homosexual rights, was inspired by an encounter with a homophobic man who took issue with Shamaya being homosexual and features hip-hop rhythms and electronic-laced sonics. “Lords of War” has Center Eastern textures sprinkled through what's otherwise a raging rocker.

Shamaya said Otep plans to play most of “Generation Doom” in its shows this spring, which includes a stop in Orangevale at the Boardwalk. The grouping also plans to incorporate elements of the “Mad Max”-inspired motif used in photos promoting the new album. She said the see is meant adorn wasteland that'll be created if global warming goes unchecked.

“‘Mad Max,’ it’s one of my favorite films,” Shamaya said. “It is an action film, but there’s grand subtext, at minimum that I was able to draw from it, that really illustrates where I think we’re headed as a global community, where water becomes the rarest product on the planet. That’s actually happening, that’s true. … So for me to look that film and the way it illustrated (the future) very poignantly, I decided it was the perfect visual for ‘Generation Doom.’”

six p. m. Tuesday, April twelve

The Boardwalk, nine thousand five hundred twenty-six Greenback Lane, Orangevale

$18-$20

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