We Interviewed Troy and Joel of BROTHERS and Studiotte Recording!

Last week I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Joel and Troy Otte of StudiOtte as well as the Grand Rapids hardcore act, Brothers. Between making amazing recordings for local and national bands alike, and being active with their own band, the Ottes are two of the hardest working guys in the scene today. We got a chance to talk with them about everything from their experiences recording the latest La Dispute album, to Brothers’ new EP. Here’s how it went:


UTG: So what has StudiOtte been up to in the last month or so?

Joel: Not a lot. It’s been a little slow. We’ve been working with a band called first strike from Muskegon…Kalamazoo….Grand Rapids. They’re from a couple of different areas. We had this band called Venia in last week. They’re from Minnesota. They an independent band on a little label called Blood and Ink. So we just did their full-length for them, which was insane. We tracked a full-length in like seven days.

Troy: Pretty intense project. They stayed over at our house, so we were in close quarters with them. Fun times.

Joel: A couple months ago we did a full-length for this Muskegon metal band called Kill Tomorrow, Tall Ship’s full-length came out in January, and Kaline’s full-length –

Troy: – Which is yet to come out-

Joel: – La Dispute’s full-length, which came out in November.

UTG: La Dispute’s new album recently won Under The Gun’s Album of The Year. We’re pretty fond of it around here. Do you want to talk about your experiences with that a little?

Troy: Um… Jordan is a bitch.

Joel: Yeah. I want that in the interview. (Laughs) La Dispute’s great. They’re like five of the hardest working dudes in this city and they want a piece, you know? They want to do music, they don’t just say they want to do music for a living; they’re actually out there trying to do it. They were a lot of fun to work with. They’re all great musicians – great dudes. We became good friends over the six or seven months we spent recording.

Troy: Yeah, they’re definitely the hardest working band in Grand Rapids, which I think has everything to do with why they’re probably one of the most successful bands in this town right now. They’ve got it all. They’ve got good songs, they actually put out records, they merchandize, they do the thing.

UTG: Was there any new things you did while recording the CD that you hadn’t done before?

Joel & Troy: There’s a lot of percussion.

Joel: Yeah, Brad’s a percussion guy.

Troy: Which is cool. It was interesting. He went into Meijer and bought like six or seven wind chimes. So we were trying wind chimes out, and then we recorded them, and then he returned them. (Laughs) The dude’s phenomenal with hitting things. We did one part in “Damaged Goods” where he’s mimicking the drum beat with pots and pans. He dented up one of our pans pretty good, but we still use it. (Laughs)

UTG: What do you guys have coming up?

Joel: We’re going to be mixing an album for One Step Too Many.

Troy: They’re getting picked up by Strike First, which is like a starter label for Face Down Records. They’re form Baltimore, Maryland.

Joel: We’re going to be doing one song, full-production for Saints Never Surrender. We did their full-length last year. We’re going to do a demo for them just so they can start shopping around for labels and stuff. La Dispute’s going to be back in here in April, writing a couple more songs for a seven-inch.

UTG: In addition to doing StudiOtte, you guys are in Brothers. You just released a limited pressing of a new EP, talk a bit about that.

Joel: It was supposed to come out a while ago, but it hasn’t, so we decided to just do a limited run to get it out. The songs have been done since June, so it’s just like, come on… And we’ve been playing some of them for months now. So yeah, we just put it out. It’s just five songs; it’s pretty short. It’s only like eight and a half minutes long. Obviously it’s going to be on a 7 in. so we’re trying to keep it pretty short.

The title track, “Tragedy,” came from this kid who got murdered at the Margarita Grill (Grand Rapids, MI). He got jumped by like… seven or eight dudes. And then when I was thinking about writing the song, I went back and was re-reading some of the stuff about it. It’s just kinda crazy. Apparently there was a witness who just walked by. Just saw the seven or eight dudes killing this guy. I was just like, “this is insane.” That’s where that song came from. It’s got the whole anti-violence kind of theme.

UTG: That seems to be a strong theme in the lyrics.

Joel: For sure. I don’t’ want to be in a band that isn’t about something. Before Brothers even started, just looking at the hardcore scene as it was then; there was just so much violence. I could see this trend start where violence and kicking the shit out of kids at shows was becoming acceptable. ‘That is hardcore,’ is what the kids would say. I don’t think that is hardcore. I understand that there is an aggressive nature to the music and kids get pumped and want to mosh and do all that. That’s fine, some people need an outlet and if that’s theirs, then that’s awesome. I think there’s a line that gets crossed when we start having fist fights and people getting seriously hurt at shows. We definitely take a stand. If you fight at our shows, we won’t play. We’re not a soundtrack for violence. If you want to fight, you can wait for a band that doesn’t care.

UTG: What’s Brothers have coming up?

Joel: There’s a hand full of shows coming up. We’re playing Bay City with La Dispute and then we’re playing in Lansing and Howell with La Dispute march. Those dudes keep asking us to play shows with them, it’s always a really good time. We’re thinking about putting out a cover 7in. We might put those out, we’re not sure about that.

The future is kinda up in the air right now. We’ll have to see. I definitely want to see this band do more than just be a local band in Grand Rapids. I’d love to hit the road, but we’ll see if that can all come together someday.

Troy: We’re gonna keep on playing shows and doing what we do until we’re too old to do it.

*Written By: Kyle Viana* 

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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