After scouting the U.S. to find the most promising unsigned bands, Billboard found three of the southwest's best and your votes picked a finalist: Otenki! The band hit the road headed for Las Vegas in a car provided by Chevy to compete at our May 18 Battle of the Bands concert against the finalists from the other five regions. Read about who won and watch the whole Battle of the Bands live showdown here. Scroll down to read a Battle of the Bands Q&A with Otenki, hear some music, and more.
Scan the code above with your smartphone to watch a short video from our Battle of the Bands finalists and find out if you've won a trip to the 2012 Billboard Music Awards!
Watch out drunk racists: this "Kinetic" electro-rock hybrid from Houston might steal your girlfriend. Read on.
Describe your sound and your audience in your own words.
A hybrid between rock, pop, alternative and electronica. We've always wanted to try to strike a balance between all our influences.
Tell us about your first gig ever -- just how awkward was it? And how has your live show evolved since then?
Otenki's very first show was a complete disaster. Only one member was somewhat seasoned at playing live. We were off-time, out of tune, loud and had no sense of direction, but we were passionate and energetic. We played our hearts out and gave out so much energy the crowd fed off it and returned it tenfold. Playing live is where this band shines. Now we are infinitely more focused, and more comfortable performing live, but we have kept our core qualities of energy and passion intact.
What's the strangest thing anyone has ever said about your band?
Strangest thing we've ever had someone say to us was a few years ago when we were on tour in Ohio. We had just played a show to a handful of people in this really small town so we figured it'd be cool to play acoustically on the streets. The reception was pretty good until this one drunk guy came through and started running his mouth about us being minorities, saying, 'This is America, go get a job.' We didn't pay him much mind but it was odd and sad. Best thing about it was that the drunk guy's girlfriend gave our singer her number after we were done. I'd say that was a win for us.
Why should you win this competition?
We feel that we're bringing something that is different -- visually and sonically -- that has hints of familiarity that will allow us to break down barriers with listeners. It's that accessibility that allows us to create and nurture relationships with our fans and turn them from fans to friends and from friends to family. It's this family that we're doing all this for. They're the reason we've gotten this far and the reason I feel we should win this competition.
What's your next project?
We currently are working to release our 5-song EP, "Kinetic," that was produced by James Paul Wisner (Paramore) sometime after the Billboard Music Awards. From there we fully intend on hitting the road and playing these songs in front of as many people as possible.
If your band had to come up with a plan for total world domination in the next 10 seconds, what would it be?
Tour with U2 and play our little hearts out. Hopefully you'll feel what we feel when these songs pump through the speakers.
Interview by Dan Weiss
*Click a region to to see the other finalists in the competition.