Otto Von Schirach seems to be big everywhere but America. In Europe, he tours extensively and plays at big festivals. Here, he's just one of Miami's many oddly awesome characters.
That could change this year as he tours across America with Atari Teenage Riot, the '90s digital hardcore outfit that has reunited after a ten-year absence. The tour makes a stop tonight at the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale.
He's also hard at work on a new album, except he doesn't have a name or track selection for it yet. But he's collaborating with plenty of local peeps like Blowfly, Jose Flores, and Mr. Feather as well as international freaks, including CX Kidtronik and Venetian Snares.
One thing we do know: Otto is very excited about the new material, which seems to run the gamut from punk to dubstep to surf rock. And if you can't wait that long for a new Otto track, the man has lent his vocals to a new Modeselektor track on the German duo's album Monkeytown, out October 4.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, Crossfade talked to Otto on the eve of his tour about what he's been working on, how he hooked up with ATR, and if Miami Bass Warriors will ever make a comeback.
Crossfade: What have you been up to lately?
Otto Von Schirach: I've been busy trying to finish the album -- actually, multiple albums -- and put a demo together and get people excited.
You've released a lot of full-lengths. This will be number...
Yeah, probably six or seven or eight. I lose count, 'cause you know -- EPs, singles, albums, full-lengths.
You have a long way to go if you want to catch up with Dino Felipe, who released his 50th album this year. Not sure what he considers an "album."
Dino is prolific. He's a machine. I work a little slower. I'll be one of the dudes who sits there and listens to it and says, "I like it." Then I'll listen to it again and go, "I don't like it," and then fuck it up.
Does it take you long to make an album? Because with the way the music industry is heading, you don't even have to make albums anymore, you can just release singles.
Yeah, that's kind of where I'm heading. I haven't released anything in so long. But I almost feel like I should release it one by one like a comic book. Sometimes an album is just too much. But it's the format that I'm used to, because I'm older.
Is the stuff you are working on similar to 2009's Magic Triangle?
Really different. Magic Triangle were songs I made in 2006 when I toured with Skinny Puppy. Me and cEvin [Key] of Skinny Puppy, we sat down and he was like, "Make some crazy shit for tour." We decided we were going to do some superhero battle scenes and we had the BananaSloth character. I made the album with that mentality of superhero battles. The new stuff is way more controlled, highly produced, and more of the times. There is dubstep influence and the crazy IDM stuff of the past is leaking back in.
I would describe the last album as somewhat chaotic. Although, arguably, one could use the word chaotic to describe your entire catalog. But I think Magic Triangle was even more so. Is the new stuff more accessible?
Yeah, there are a lot more accessible tracks. But I think people are enjoying stuff that's a little more crazy and twisted. For instance, the new Modeselektor is a bit more twisted to me. And the new Atari Teenage Riot is just as twisted as their old stuff. And then you have this wobble music that's kind of fucked up in a way. I think the kids are enjoying the crazier stuff. I think controlling the crazy is what's important.
Speaking of Modeselektor, you make an appearance on their new album Monkeytown, much like you did on 2007's Happy Birthday! How did the second appearance happen?
We had been planning for a long time to do another track, and Gernot [Bronsert] of Modeselektor called me last minute and told me, "The track we were going to do with you, we can't do it. It's too much of a high production and we don't have the time. We want you to do another song. But we need it tonight." It was like fast, but it was cool. The new song I'm on ["Evil Twin"] is a banger.
Did you record with them in Germany? Or did you record the vocals here and send it to them?
It was recorded here in my studio in Miami. One of the reasons we work a lot together is because Gernot and Sebastian [Szary] like the way I record my vocals, so it makes it easier for them if I'm not in Berlin. They go, "Send me vocals," and they trust me.
Back to your new album. Did you work with anyone?
It depends, because I don't know what my new album is. But I have been working with people. I've been working with Blowfly. We pretty much have six songs done. But I don't know if I'm going to use any of them for my album. I worked a lot with Venetian Snares.
I have all these tracks, and I'm going to demo them out to world -- like Tigerbeat6, Warp Records, Ninja Tune, all these bigger labels -- and I'll see where it ends up.
I really want to push the Blowfly stuff. He's so important in the world of music. He's such an interesting character that's been sampled by acts like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and tons of hip-hop.
I also worked a little bit with CX Kidtronik of Atari Teenage Riot. I've been working with Mr. Feathers on some stuff. Oh, and Jose [Flores] ... He's been doing a lot of guitar. If I had to break my album up, I would have three albums. One would be this supermagical warrior surf kind of Miami punk rock. Really fast and brutal. A lot of surf guitar that Jose did. Then there would be kind of a house-y, sexy album -- IMD-y and dark. And finally, a wobble, dubstep, scientific kind of album.
Speaking of you and Jose ... You guys knocked it out of the park with Miami Bass Warriors. Any chance of a revival?
Jose and I still work on music and we put that same energy in the music we are working on now. Debbie [Dynamite] is in L.A. And Tiger, I don't know where he is. Somewhere in Miami, I'm sure.
We are definitely making music. I don't know if we are going to have it fall under the Miami Bass Warriors, but we want that vibe again. A lot of that is in my new album, as well. Kind of that punk, Miami bass style.
You are on tour with Atari Teenage Riot. And although you tour in Europe quite a lot, you don't always seem to get around America that often. When was the last time you toured the US extensively?
I play very select shows in America. Every year, I play here. But it's always New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago ... So I'm happy to be touring with Atari Teenage Riot. I've barely promoted it because I've been in the studio.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
But so many people have been coming out and telling me how excited they are about it from weird cities like Pittsburgh and Portland. I'm excited because I never tour America. The last tour I did like this was also supporting a big band, Skinny Puppy, and that was in 2008. Other than that it's been select cities.
On Twitter, Alec Empire of ATR has confessed to being a big fan of yours. How did the tour come together?
We played some shows together in Europe last year when they started playing again. My friend CX Kidtronik -- who I've known for a long time and worked with on his album when he was on Stones Throw -- joined the band. Also promoters and venues put us together, like one show in France, another festival in Dour, Belgium. Then in May, we played at Bangface, which is a really big UK festival. There, Alec [said] they were coming on tour in America, and I told them, "Put me on." He responded, "That's what the people want anyways."
Otto Von Schirach with Atari Teenage Riot and Yip-Yip. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 13, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $20 plus fees via ticketmaster.com. Call 954-564-1074, or visit cultureroom.net.