Ote for President band members, Steven Driscoll, 16, drummer; Jack Sehres, 19, guitar; Cole Gann (crouching), 17, vocals and guitar; Charlie Sehres, 16, keyboard; Guy Moore, 14, bass. They often change out instruments between songs explaining that if they write the song on that instrument, they play the song on that instrument.
Ote For President, a young band from Topanga, has emerged with promising potential in the crowded LA music scene.
An array of alluring sounds, with slide guitar accentuating an unforgettable rhythmic component, this is a band not easily forgotten and a name that even the most diehard fans have yet to decipher. Though their name may throw you for a loop, dont try to puzzle it outnot even they can explain it.
The band catches you in their beguiling melodies and beats and threatens never to liberate you. What isnt in doubt is their sound, a soulful blend of catchy alternative rock reminiscent of Dawes and The Black Keys.
This band of home-schooled boys are all talented musicians who had played together casually, but it wasnt until last years Rainforest Benefit Concert that they seriously considered forming the band.
After the concert they were invited to play at Topanga Days on the Corral Stage and Ote For President, was off and running. They have spent the last year gaining performance experience and honing their music style.
The members of Ote For President, have grown up in and around Topanga Canyon, known for its eclectic music history. Over the years they have been exposed to many local musical influences and mentors.
At music gatherings in the Canyon they were introduced to myriad musical genres from Middle Eastern drumming to a cappella Motown; from the classic songs of Bob Dylan to the iconic sounds of The Beatles.
We have been exposed to every single sound. We listen and play to everything, says 17-year-old lead singer and guitarist Cole Gann. The other band members corroborate this, adding that growing up attending Topanga Days every year and seeing all the different artists was inspiring.
So inspiring, it seems, that they have landed the main stage this year.
Last year we were on the Corral Stage and it was a pretty big stage for us then, and I guess it still is, but the main stage is definitely a step up, says Gann, as they attempt to wrestle each other off the guitars long enough to complete the interview.
We are sitting in the heart of Topanga overlooking Big Rock, and I have caught them on break from their rehearsal.
Drummer Steven Driscoll, 16, brings us back to the interview, In a way its scary. Its Topanga Days theres going to be a lot of people but its also exciting because a ton of people will be able to hear us.
In the short time since they first performed on the Corral Stage, their sound has evolved tremendously.
In only a year our songs have matured so much, says Gann. When we first played our song, 4AM, at the Rainforest Concert, it was lame.
Driscoll concurs, Our songs are more mature, tighter. I mean, C Jam? he scoffs at one of their early set filler songs.
Over the past year, Ote has started to solidify their composing process as they learn and grow as a band. Bassist Guy Moore, 14, says, Our system is usually to have someone bring in an idea or a riff and then we all elaborate on it and contribute to it. Then they can try their new material in small, fun environments.
Sixteen-year-old keyboardist Charlie Sehres says of their recent performance at The Guitar Merchant, Tiny stage, in a tiny venue, Im stoked.
So, although they are still playing at small places, as their sound evolves, so does the quality of their venues. Recently, Ote For President landed gigs at The Grammy Museum, Club Nokia, and two shows at the iconic Whiskey a Go Go.
While Ote For Presidents maturing electric sound flows through stages of soulful alternative rock, unplugged, it takes on a completely different form.
To prepare for their next few gigs at Topanga Earth Day on April 22 and The Talking Stick on May 3rd, they have been adapting their songs into acoustic versions.
It highlights different aspects of the songs that might not be as pronounced in a more intense, heavier, electric setting. It's been cool to see how they change and what works and what doesn't, says Driscoll.
Well, changing it up is what the Ote boys are all about. If you have seen Ote For President in concert, you will know that their custom is to switch instruments in between songs. When questioned on this unusual trait, their reasoning is nothing more than necessity. If they write the song on that instrument, they play the song on that instrument. What seems a common occurrence to the band members is an intriguing phenomenon to the audience.
I enjoy switching around to different instruments because it gives me an understanding for each individual and his role in the band, says Moore.
Recently, with the help of Chris Garcia, a music producer in the Canyon, Ote took their music to a new level and recorded their first EP.
Guitarist, Jack Sehres, 19, says, When you play live, half the time you dont hear each other. You're just playing in the dark and hoping for the best. Quite a different scenario than recording where everything is mixed beautifully.
You can finally hear each individual part the way its supposed to sound, says Driscoll in apparent satisfaction.
Even so, it was a process getting there. You have to play everything perfectly, over and over again, Jack Sehres admits in exasperation.
Ote For President continues to grow as a band and will be playing at Earth Day and on the main stage at Topanga Days. Be sure to keep an eye out for this under-aged band with a name that confuses even those who think they understand it.