Otep Shamaya Claims All That Remains’ Phil Labonte & Soulfly Thrived Despite Alleged Homophobia


In a lengthy chat with The Music Room, Otep frontwoman Otep Shamaya has given her side of the story regarding the various accusations leveled against her in recent weeks regarding her alleged negative stance against local bands and the incidents that led to the ejection of The Convalescence from their tour together.

However, more likely to stir up controversy are her opening remarks. She began the discussion by voicing her frustrations of being overlooked for larger touring opportunities. As part of that she further slammed All That Remains frontman Phil Labonte for his repeated usage of homophobic slurs—in particular this Twitter exchange.

Labonte has of course largely been condemned for his usage of the slurs over the years. Meanwhile, she further went on to imply that Soulfly are at least in part homophobic due to one of their songs. Her issue with the band comes from their song “Sodomites“, which appeared on Soulfly‘s 2015 album “Archangel” and featured a guest turn from Nails frontman Todd Jones. She said of all that:

“…Even though I’ve been in this business for fifteen years, seven albums in. My last record [“Generation Doom“] broke Billboard’s Top Five. We had two terrestrial radio top forty hits on this album, which is something that totally surprised me. I didn’t think that terrestrial radio would come near us because we’ve been this political art-rock band for fifteen years, yet we’ve had all these great things happen to us.

But we haven’t received one festival offer. Not even for a hundred bucks. They didn’t even think about adding us, even though we sell tickets, even though we sell records, even though we sell merch. They just didn’t even offer it to us. So I know what it’s like to be looked over.

When Phil [Labonte], the singer from All That Remains went online and called me a…excuse my language because I liken this word next to the ‘n-word,’ when he called me a faggot three times on Twitter only one site picked it up and reported it. Nobody else touched it. And in fact, he got rewarded basically for that behavior because they did festivals this year. Did he get frowned upon in this industry for being homophobic? No.

When Soulfly writes a song called ‘Sodomites‘ and they basically just ripped out lyrics from The Bible from Leviticus where it says that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for being homosexuals…did they get lambasted for being homophobic? No, that song actually made it top the top ten on Sirius XM radio. What would have happened if I would have spoken about Max Cavalera’s racial ancestry? What would have happened?”

But when I do go on tour I like to get a band that has a female in the band, a female fronted band, or a band that’s starting to get visibility for whatever reason. And sometimes I do favors for my agent or manager who is doing favors for other agents and managers…because sometimes that what you have to do. You know, you’re supposed to be supportive in this industry.

Even with everything I have been through in the past fifteen years, I still try to give visibility to up and coming bands to play with us and to be exposed to our fans. My fans, that’s my commodity and my fans know that. I’m not using that as a bad term. They know how special they are, how important they are, and that’s why bands want to tour with us. Once they tour in front of our audience, they become a bigger band as well.

I’ve actually kicked myself because it has backfired on me a couple of times. I’ve given bands opportunities to be seen then they go out spreading rumors and lies about me. But I still try to keep a positive outlook and say that’s one band, look how many others bands are appreciative and grateful. That’s how we try to roll.

But there’s just been this rise of complete and utter falsehoods spoken about us on the internet, which doesn’t surprise me. I mean, that’s how Donald Trump got elected. But again, none of these other places came to me and said hey, what do you think about that? What actually happened since you’re the headliner and have been doing this for fifteen years? But no, we’re going to listen to this band that is unsigned and local and has a 3,000 Facebook following. That’s frustrating.”

In regards to being overlooked for festivals, it’s worth nothing that she previously alleged Rockstar Energy were ‘openly homophobic‘—likely referencing this past controversy. As numerous metal festivals are sponsored by larger corporations, it’s certainly possible her actions may have burned some bridges or made other companies leery to involve her.

Regarding her more recent headlines, she also further explained why The Convalescence were kicked off the bill of their recent tour together, alleging that they had used a venue runner to get them weed. She said of that:

“…Our bus driver does not do drugs. They [The Convalescence] roll around in a converted school bus that breaks down at almost every show. My security guard Mountain, who’s 6’5 and 300 lbs., when he’s home that’s what he does. He rebuilds engines…he’s a gear head. So he helped them out. He actually drove for them on one of their tours in between.

Our bus is a 45-foot bus that we pay for and we have a professional driver whom we pay for. He’s drug tested and a professional driver, so there are no drugs. In fact, he’s the one that told us that it happened.

So if he was trying to cover his butt, why would he tell us? He was actually like, ‘I have to quit.’ That’s basically what his conversation was to us. He said, ‘Your runner was supposed to take me to my hotel.’ That’s what runners are for.

So what happened at that venue was our runner picked up our driver and said, ‘Hey, do you mind if I make a stop on the way?’ My driver who is a very cool dude was like, ‘No problem if it’s on the way.’ They were like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s on the way not even out of the way.’ The guy goes in…the runner goes into his own house with a baby in the car, goes inside and gets a bag of drugs and comes back out, puts it in the back seat and drives off.

My driver asked, ‘What’s that?’ And the guy said, ‘The band asked for it.’ My driver thinks the band he drives for…us. So he calls my tour manager immediately when he gets to his hotel room and says, ‘This isn’t cool and I’m going to call this into the bus company.’ We’re like whoa, whoa…I call my entire crew and band and am like who did this?

They’re like we didn’t do this. So I said go ask Convalescence if they did it. Sure enough, the singer of that band comes over and says he talked to his guys and they wanted some bud. That’s what he says.

Okay, well in that state it’s illegal so if you’re getting medical marijuana get out your card. I’m not an anti-marijuana person. I live in California and I believe in medical marijuana. No problem there for me.

But don’t use my runner to take my driver for an illegal action that can get both of them put in jail. So he promised me it would never happen again. He’s like, ‘I’m so sorry, please don’t kick us off the tour.’ I said you are on notice. Basically, the only reason I took them out was because at the time we were managed by the same manager and my manager asked me to do them a favor by giving them exposure. He promised me, my manager, no problems from these guys. They’re self-sufficient.

They are going to do their job and stay out of your way, don’t worry. And we had that with them on the first tour. There were some problems, but just little misunderstandings that we sorted out. So we toured with them for the first time earlier this year for a two month tour.

We came back and said we’re going to do the second leg of The Resistance Tour and my manager asked if we were going to keep the same bands. I said I’d love to keep World Over because they were great. He said they were already doing something else but what about The Convalescence? I said as long as they do what they did last time, cool. Well, they didn’t do that.

What normally happens is sometimes when bands tour with bigger bands they start feeling entitled and they are the reason why this tour is happening when that’s not true.

After that was over I made it clear to the tour manager, my security manager, and our stage manager that those guys were not to have access to our runner…ever. And that if they saw them asking for drugs inside venues or asking venue owners, or anybody I was going to kick them off the tour.

I called my manager and he asked me to wait until we could find a replacement. I was going to drop them that day but my manager asked me to wait, so I did. That was the end of that. Our driver wasn’t requesting drugs, they were. They said it was bud. I don’t know what it was, but it wasn’t coming from my camp.

We’re just not that band. I’m not trying to stigmatizing anyone here. If people want to smoke weed, smoke weed. If you want to do drugs, do drugs. If you want to drink, drink.

But that’s not what we do and if you’re going to be a band on our tour then don’t do anything to jeopardize my reputation. Because, as you see, there are already obstacles that I’ve got to overcome. If my driver was asking our rider to get drugs he would be arrested.

I’m not going to put my band’s lives in jeopardy because our driver was high. That’s ridiculous.”

She also explained her stance on local bands and merch practices in regards to this incident involving Nethersphere, offering:

“…All the stuff coming that I’m saying local bands can’t sell merch…it’s all nonsense. It doesn’t come from me, it comes from the venue. I don’t set any of those rules. The only rule that we have with regards to merch is this, I won’t go into the venue and steal your audience by sitting at the merch table because I’ve made that mistake before. I was going to the ladies room and the fans saw me and left the floor coming after me.

I felt so bad for that band playing that I said I can’t do this again. I don’t want to do that to somebody and take away their shine. So I decided at that moment the best thing to do is, I won’t come inside. You guys have the entire time from doors, which are usually five to six o’clock, to the time we play which is around ten thirty to eleven o’clock. So you have five to six hours of selling time. Sell your merch, play your show, go to the table and meet with your fans.

But when I play, give us the respect of having one person at your merch table. And this is for all of the bands, local and our tour package. You can have your merch person at the table but you can’t sell when we play. It’s out of respect for us. We won’t come in and steal your audience, and when I’m on stage don’t sell merch…that’s it. It’s an hour. We play on stage for an hour. And after we’re done you can go right back and sell it. The one rule and the only rule.

And this other local band in Illinois that went online and wrote this entire lie, which has now been rebutted by the promoter, was a complete and absolute lie. There’s nothing true about anything he said. No one told him to set up on the sidewalk. My guitar player, who is literally built like the hulk…I don’t know if you have ever seen my guitar player but he is built like a body builder. He’s a beast. This guy said he walked by and said, “Piss-ant local band.” That’s absolutely not true.

Besides being built like the Hulk, Aristotle is from Iowa and one of the nicest human beings in the world. He would never…that’s not even a word he uses. Piss-ant…that’s not even a word. Everything he said was a lie. But, all of the websites pick it up and say that it’s true. All of the other local bands pick it up and… Last night we had friends of the local band that played with us come and call me a dyke and throw sex toys on stage and hot dogs.

It’s kind of funny because they spent all that money and they lost it so that’s ridiculous on them. Then on their Facebook page, which we all screen shot by the way because they are dumb enough to put it on their Facebook page…it’s a hate crime. It’s assault and battery and we will be pursuing charges against those idiots as one should.

People should feel safe in a venue, especially now after what happened in Paris and with Dimebag and with other artists in other genres. Fans should feel secure. Bands should feel secure. Venues should make sure that bands and artists are secure. If a local band thinks that they are going to earn any extra points or publicity by committing a hate crime, by bad mouthing a headliner of fifteen years with connections throughout the industry….I have a manager who manages other bands momos.

I have an agent that agents other bands you momos. What do you think? That they are not going to take that personally that you are attacking one of their bands and that they are not going to let you play any of their other shows? That’s a bold move if you really want to get out of the unsigned scene. It was really nice that the promoter wrote a rebuttal to those people.”

There’s a lot more to be read from Shamaya in her own words regarding the recent headlines over at The Music Room.