Bryan Ottoson - American Head Charge

February 4, 2005

It is with sadness that I post this interview. As many people probably know, Bryan left us as a result of an accidental combination of prescription drugs and alcohol. I feel blessed to have been able to talk to Bryan over the phone for this interview. He was very humorous and funny and also very passionate and heartfelt about the achievements the band has made and the issues that the band has had to deal with. As a result of these issues, it made this band stronger and more determined. I hope that strength and determination helps get them through this painful time.

How are you doing?

Not too bad. Just got a fucking clean shave down at the hotel which we don't ever get so I'm feeling fresh. Minty fresh.

Sounds like you're looking good then. You guys started out in 2001 with The War Of Art. How many CDs have you guys released since then?

None actually. We have a record coming out on February 15 called The Feeding. This is the first record since The War Of Art. It's been about three years.

Why was there such a long period of time in between releases?

Well, we had a really long touring cycle first of all. We were on the road from August 2001 to 2003 I think is when we stopped. We had about two years and then we had a period when we got off the road where we took about three or four months off. Just right when we got off the road to take care of our health and take a break, we started writing songs for the new record and we wrote about 30 to 35 songs for American Records, our old label, and we ended up being low on the totem pole there. They were really busy with a lot of other artists that were a little bit bigger than us. We eventually ended up switching labels. We're on a smaller label called DRT now and that process of writing those very songs, 30 to 35 songs for American and going back and forth with them really took a long time and we eventually got to a place where we were like "dude, we've got to take these songs somewhere else because we're really not getting any attention here." They let us go really easy and we had basically already had this other deal lined up through DRT. That process again took six months to negotiate a new deal and then we had to do the new record which took about eight months from beginning to end. It's basically like we took a little bit of time off, we had to switch labels, and then we had to make another record. We wrote a fucking retarded amount of songs so that's basically it.

You managed to cram that down into 11 songs. What do you do with the rest of that stuff?

The last time, we actually recorded I think four or five tracks for The War Of Art that didn't make it on the record. I think we recorded two or three this time and we went to our producer, Greg Fidelman, in pre-production and we whittled it down. Obviously you can't have 30 songs on a record and everybody has their favorite songs and you just whittle it down to the songs that you think are the most potent and the best songs. What happens with them? Last time we had five or six or so songs that we were like "we've got to record these songs for the next record." What ends up happening is you go to write the new record and you have me in the band as the song writer which is totally different. You got Justin writing stuff and we have a new guitar player, Karma, too as well. Then you have all this new energy and the creative process is totally different. You've got these old songs that are cool but you have all this new shit. You eventually end up going with what you have instead of something from three years ago.

The old shit sits in the vault.

Pretty much. The same thing is going to happen this time. We have two or three songs that I totally want to be on the next record but even myself, I know that when we go to do the new record, we'll write 30 more songs and these songs will be old to me and they won't be as fresh. Your mindset is just totally different two years later. You're trying to say something creatively totally different and lyrically and musically and everything.

Besides that, in two years time different things happen in the world and you want to write about that.

Yeah, when we got off the road, we had something totally different to say I think. We were all different people than we are in the last year when a lot of the shit came together.

Your lead vocalist is Martin Cock. Is that a name he picked or is that actually his name?

He used to get teased when he was in school. His name is Cameron Martin Hacock. People used to say "hey Cock!" and fuck with him. He went by Martin Cock which didn't really help anything. It sounds like a porno name I guess. I don't know why he really went for that but actually for this record, he's listed on the album as Cameron Hacock. That's his total name. He's been signing everything "Martin Cock's dead." He's killed that persona. That person. That mind frame that was in his brain. He's just Cameron Hacock now.

I got a kick out of that name.

It sounds like a fucking porno name, right?

Yeah, he should be a porn star and take these dick enhancers.

Laurence Of Alabia featuring Martin Cock and Jenna Jameson.

That sounds like a surefire winner right there. That might even make porn become mainstream.

Right.

You guys were on Ozzfest back in 2001. You created havoc and were out of control which is cool. Have you calmed down a little bit since then?

Not necessarily in our heads. I think this is the first major tour so we're blowing the dust off a little bit and getting everything rolling. I think we're a little bit more focused on performance right now but not to let you down. In a month or so, shit's going to be going crazy. We'll be doing lines off the ceiling and fucking punching each other on stage and whatever. I hate to even answer like that. I want to make up some fucking grandiose story about Cameron fucking shot me out of a cannon into the crowd and I landed in a mosh pit. That's not the truth. We're just really focused on performance right now and I think a couple of weeks in you'll start to see some of the shit happen. None of it's planned either. We donít decide to do something, we just do it. Like on stage last night, I almost knocked myself out. I guess there is a little bit of shenanigans. I punch myself in the head when we play live. I went over to the other guitar player's side and got up on his little riser and I hit myself in the head three times like I normally do. Like I normally do, I was just getting really into it. Hit myself three times and then I just started rocking out and I got spaghetti legs. I started to fucking fall over and I was really queasy and it was not right.

Sounds like the tour has been going pretty well so far.

The tour's been going great. The venues we've been playing have been really nice venues and they've been selling really well. Otep is awesome to be on tour with. I love watching her every day. She's fucking badass dude.

Who are you guys touring with?

Otep, Candiria, and The Autumn Offering.

Candiria kicks ass.

Yeah, dude they're good. Their drummer's a fucking maniac. I love them.

I saw them here in Dallas. A really good band.

You're in Dallas right now? That's really funny because you sound exactly like my friend Marian who's in Dallas. You guys have the same speech patterns. That's really weird. I'm like "I wonder if she's from Dallas."

You guys are doing the North pretty much?

As far as the tour goes? No, we're doing the whole country. We're doing Florida, we're doing Jersey and New York, we're doing California, we're doing Texas, we're doing everywhere. Otep keeps going I think but we drop off this tour on Marth 17. It's the last day for us. It's the L.A. House Of Blues and then on the 18th of March which is my birthday we fly to England and we do the U.K. We're going to do Paris, France and Germany and a bunch of days in England and Amsterdam for one day and then we come back. There's another tour that we're jumping right on right when we get back. It's not announced yet so I can't really talk about that. I'd have to kill you.

You like to tour a lot and you don't mind being out on the road for two years at a stretch?

That's where we feel comfortable. We're a live band. Fuck, we live for this shit dude. Just being in the trenches, just being disgusting and gnarly. That's where we feel at home. We're good at it.

Tell me a little about The Feeding.

The Feeding was produced by Greg Fidelman and he is the guy that engineered the first record which was produced by Rick Rubin. It was written over the last probably four years because some of the riffs that I wrote on this record are fucking 20 years old or 26. The record basically musically and lyrically is about the process of basically hitting rock bottom and being totally desolate and fucking at the end of your rope and building yourself back up from that because the process of making this record, I wasn't really specific before but it's been extremely tumultuous and just chaotic. I quit the band, Justin quit the band, two people in the band went to rehab, Iím not going to name names. I was almost checked into a seven day suicide watch because I was fucking just out of my mind. At one point we all fucking hated each other. Nobody trusted each other. Personal relationships were fucking just done basically and I canít really put my finger on exactly why but it has everything to do with coming from a really high place and getting off the road and then having absolutely no hope. Itís much more than that too. It has a lot to do with peopleís personal relationships with people outside of the band that has nothing to do with music. We all ended up for some reason or another in a totally fucking desolate mindset and somehow, someday we fucking salvaged it and started and kept writing music. We made this fucking record and the songs are about that fucking process of just totally hitting rock bottom and then coming back to the top from that because right now, weíre all sobriety wise, I mean Iím fucking drinking a beer and itís one. I shouldnít really talk about it. Sobriety wise weíre all really, really in a good place. Probably better than weíve been in the last three years I would say that with confidence. Weíre all fucking best friends again. Weíre all lovers. Not really. Weíre friends and lovers. Relationships are stronger than ever due to what just happened. We all really believe in the record and the songs and weíre fucking back dude. Weíre fucking annihilating shit. The first couple of shows were kind of weak. Not weak but blowing the dust off. Weíre back on our game now dude. Weíre fucking playing good live and weíre rolling.

Sometimes sitting down and doing something like writing songs or working on a website or something is kind of cathartic when youíre having problems or shit is just getting you down.

Yeah, and I think that thing is probably the only thing that kept everybody in this band alive. The fact that we did have that to do. There are people in the band that didnít even want to do this. It was like ďthis is killing me. I canít even fucking touch this anymore.Ē Personally Iíll take credit for being the guy that fucking kept calling everybody and kept nagging everybody to fucking get back and start writing and keep writing and fucking do shit. Eventually it fucking worked out.

Would you say that you guys have a pretty large fan base?

Thatís a relative term. I donít know.

The reason Iím asking is because a lot of times when people have really bad shit going in their lives, somehow music keeps them going and if you guys just go off the map...

Right. See this is the thing and anybody reading this, I hope they donít take offense but to all of us, itís not about the people that weíre doing this for. Weíre doing it for ourselves. We make music because we have to make music. I wake up and play the guitar because thatís what I have to do. Justin wakes up and writes fucking four songs in a day because that is what he has to do. I donít know where I was going with this. What was the question?

What I was saying was that sometimes if people have a band that they really love...

The fan base thing, yeah. Okay, I hope that gave you a little bit of information but Iíll say this. Weíve been kind of astounded at the response coming back because it has been a really fucking long time and we all know that. I was a little sketchy in my head about what are people going to think about this record. Are we going to have any kind of fucking anything still? The first two week tour we did, there were fucking people at every show. It was awesome. Three years later with hardly any press, we went over and did four shows in England and all four shows were sold out. Thatís a good indication I think of where things are going. Now weíre with Otep and the shows are doing really well here too.

See, you have a major impact on people.

Why thank you.

First and foremost, you do this for yourself. Also at the same time, itís your fan base that makes it possible for you to do this for a living.

Right. What I said before, donít get me wrong. Itís not that we donít appreciate it. We appreciate every single fucking fan out there that does anything for this band. We totally appreciate it. I was just saying that first and foremost, weíre creative people and we do what we do because we do what we do. Thatís all Iím saying. Donít make look like a dick. I didnít mean it like that at all. I know you know that.

Yeah. I think in order to have a really successful band, you have to have a group of creative people who are crazy and chaotic to begin with.

You know what, somebody said this about us one time and I think it sums us up really well. I think it was somebody that was interviewing us. They were like ďI kind of get the feeling around you guys that everything could go totally wrong at any point.Ē Thatís basically true. Weíre all fucking fruitcakes, man. Weíre all kind of fucking in our own little heads, in our own little worlds. Somehow, some way at the end of the day we manage to fucking make a record and get on the tour bus and go on tour. Sometimes Iím astounded at some of the things that we accomplish because weíre so fucking out of our heads. I think thatís part of what drives this band is the fucking chaos. The chaos somehow fuels the energy in this band. You canít control us. We canít just sit down and have a meeting and say weíre going to do this, this, and this. The shit just fucking chaotically flies all over the place and thatís how it works.

Sometimes chaos works for sure.,p> Yeah, and thatís fucking Head Charge. The whole fucking chaos man.

Maybe 10 years down the road youíll do the Metallica thing and have a therapist and make a movie out of it.

Oh, boy. Head Charge therapist. Hmmm. What an interesting concept. Next question.

You guys are going to be on the road until March. Are you going to take a little break before you go over to Europe?

No, like I told you, March 17 is the last show at the House of Blues in L.A. and March 18 is my birthday and we fly to England. We have nine days in England or the U.K., excuse me because weíre doing more than England. Then we come back and then we have another tour thatís lined up thatís about two months. I canít tell you who itís with but itís going to be fucking dope though, Iíll tell you that.

All the iís arenít dotted and the tís arenít crossed yet basically.

Exactly, exactly. Itíll be officially announced. Youíll see it on the PRP and all that kind of shit in the next couple of days.

We almost have information then.

No, itís 100 percent confirmed. Thereís going to be a press release in a couple of days. Thatís all.

Cool deal. Does everyone in the band pretty much contribute to the writing or are there some folks who do more of it than others?

We have a new guitar player, Karma Cheema, who just got in the band literally two months ago. He obviously didnít contribute to the record. Not that heís not an amazingly creative person. He started a side project with Chad and Cameron, our bass player and singer, called Ethyl R and they and Paul from Slipknot, #2, played bass on it and then there was another drummer from Minneapolis that did drums and all that so they did their thing and they did a show or two. Karma is totally a writer and total a creative guy but he wasnít involved in this process. The last time it was kind of Chad and Cameron writing pretty much the whole record and I joined the band about six months after the record came out. Iíve been in the band probably four years or something like that or two or three actually. Iím right along with Chad and Cameron this time on this record as one of the main songwriters. Justin Fowler our keyboard player also contributes creatively in huge amounts. The last time all the keyboard stuff was done by him and the other guy, Aaron Zilch. This time he did all of that himself and he actually wrote a bunch of guitar riffs too. He wrote part of the first single, ďLoyaltyĒ, with me and Cameron. To sum it up, me, Chad, Cameron, and Justin are some of the writers in the band.

Are you guys planning on doing any videos for any of the songs?

The first single ďLoyaltyĒ we shot a video for about a week and a half ago in San Francisco at a fucking abandoned military hospital. Weíre getting the first edit in a couple of days and we should be done with it in about two weeks so yeah, you should see that pretty soon.

Cool deal. Any other thoughts or comments?

That question just put me on the spot. Say something cool. Go! Iím not good at that. I donít know why. Hereís my answer. Figure it out and thatís not a rude comment to you. I donít know. It was good talking to you.

It was good talking to you.

I hope that you have found inner peace and that your travels through the Spirit World are good. I hope that you may always smile down upon your family, your friends, and your fans. Rest in eternal peace Bryan.

American Head Charge