August 6, 2009

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Otto Kinzel IV goes solo
Metal front man draws on varied past
By Katie Beth Ryan music@hippopress.com

Raymond’s Otto Kinzel IV, veteran front man of Manchester-area bands Black Eye Susan, Change of Season and The Isolated Sequence, among others, has watched the local heavy metal scene grow from a small but dedicated following in Manchester to include suburban kids fronting bands in their basements.

“I just enjoyed being on the road, playing lots of different gigs, meeting different people,” he said. “It’s taken me in directions that I probably wouldn’t have gotten to do otherwise.”

Nowadays, the Vermont native and Plymouth State graduate is forging his own path, releasing his first CD as a solo industrial artist, with the help of a few key collaborators.

“I really enjoy not being tied down in a rigid schedule of having to practice every Monday and Wednesday,” he said. “Doing it this way, I can do it whenever I want, whenever the creativity strikes. Collaborating with lots of other people has been really enjoyable.”

Those working with Kinzel on tracks for his new CD say it was a natural trajectory after years of performing with varying artists on the road. In his solo career, Kinzel has embraced electronic beats and synthesizers more than in his previous work, giving the CD a more industrial, electronic sound, said engineer Matt Marcil.

“The old music, he had a lot of synthesizers, but now it’s just complete sequencers,” Marcil said. “He’s got some good writing going on. You can tell that the arrangements of the music are well thought-out and it’s always great to work on something of that nature.”

Recording without a drummer isn’t new territory for Kinzel, who says he’s long been drawn to electronic acts like Aphex Twin and Björk.

“I’ve always been fascinated by drum machines [and] programming in sequence,” he said, adding that the closest thing to a typical band that he’s been a part of was The Isolated Sequence. Kinzel is also branching out by having different musicians perform with him on the tracks, giving other musicians carte blanche with the songs he creates on his own.

“It’s just been awesome to work with other people and hear their influences,” he said. “I’ll take a typical song that I’ve written. It’s alright, it’s definitely got its formula. And then you let somebody else put their fingerprints on it and it’s amazing how much better it can come out.”

The formula appears to be working. Rapper Michael Hauptly-Peirce said that it’s not uncommon for musicians to let their egos get in the way when collaborating with others. But Kinzel, he said, actively seeks others’ suggestions.

“His energy level is always awesome. He has a great vision,” Hauptly-Peirce said.

“As much as he’s got a good sense of direction and where he wants things to go, he’s very willing to listen. It’s as ego-less as he can be.”

Doing things on his own also affords Kinzel more time to spend with his wife after touring in his younger years. Being able to determine his sound, he said, is also a nice diversion.

“It’s nice to be able to do your own thing and not have the pressure of ‘making it,’” he said. “I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. I’m not trying the make the greatest album ever. I just want to put out an album and see what people think. If they like it or hate it, it doesn’t really matter.”

Otto Kinzel’s as-yet-untitled CD is still in the production stages, but you can hear some of what he’s created in the studio at www.myspace.com/ottokinzelmusic. In the meantime, his five-song promotional EP is available at local record stores like Newbury Comics and Bull Moose Music.