Peace and Rock at All Costs
With the release of their latest album Peace At All Costs, Otherwise is breaking out in a big way. After a 20 month tour to support their debut True Love Never Dies, the band re-grouped with Tool producer David Bottrill and turned up the volume even more. "He really did contribute to the vibe of the album," said vocalist Adrian Patrick. "Whether it was changing the tempo from section to section or altering the key, David brought these new ideas to the fold, and you can hear them in each and every song. From top to bottom, the album has a lot of personality because of his contributions." In honor of Otherwise's appearance at Epiphone's NAMMJAM2015, we spoke with guitarist Ryan Patrick and guitarist Andrew Pugh about the band's efforts to break out of Las Vegas, the support of their hardcore fans, and their new endeavor, Life by Music.
You've been touring constantly since Peace At All Costs came out. How are fans reacting?
Ryan Patrick: The reaction has been really great, actually. We're really happy that our fans are grasping what we were trying to accomplish on Peace At All Costs. They've been very supportive of the evolution of us as a group and how the new album sounds like our old album but does show a lot of growth and change.
There are heavy expectations that come with a second album. What did you want to accomplish?
On True Love Never Dies, it was our first with the record label and we had so many songs ready to go after years of writing as an unsigned act. When we got off the road after a 20-month tour for True Love Never Dies, we had a few ideas--a few songs--that were definitely potential candidates for the next album. But that was it. We really didn't have anything.
So the difference in writing Peace At All Costs was that we actually had the time to sit down and work with some awesome songwriters and say: Hey--this is what we're trying to accomplish. These are some of the sonic goals we have. Let's go! Let's throw darts at the wall and see what happens. We were definitely nervous at first. But once we started rolling and churning out tunes, we thought: Damn, this is going pretty well.
For fans that are just discovering you, what's the story of the band and how it formed?
So my brother (Adrian) started Otherwise about 10 years ago. I was still in high school at the time. He said as soon as you get a little older and go through puberty, you can join the band, too (laughs). So I joined the band and we went through a lot of musicians in Las Vegas, a lot of formations. It took some time to get the players right. Corky (Gainsford, drums) jumped on and then Vassilios (Metropoulos, bass). Then Andy came on board. And now with them we've been tighter and stronger than ever. When we started, we used to open for all the big acts. We'd win all the battle of the bands contests. We'd always draw great in Las Vegas. But the labels were just not interested. We were the black sheep of the industry trying to get signed out of Las Vegas.
In the summer of 2012 when we were about ready to give up... we thought this is crazy--what are we doing? We're playing these showcases, we're winning these battles... our shows are huge in Vegas. But we can't seem to break out. Right then, we wrote a song called "Soldiers." And ironically enough, that song--which was a testament to keep fighting on and keep music in our lives--that's the song that got us a record deal with Century Media Records and we became a nationally touring act shortly after.
What kind of place was Vegas for you as an aspiring band? I imagine it's hard since Vegas is such a destination for established bands.
Andy Pugh: You kind of actually nailed it as seeing Vegas as a destination because that's what it is. A lot of people have the perception that Vegas has a really great local scene. Some of the biggest bands out right now are from Vegas--The Killers, Five Finger Death Punch. But it's actually a really, really hard scene to come out of. You're competing with the biggest acts in showbiz every night. It's really hard to convince people to come see your local band show when they could drive down the strip and see, say, Elton John or see something that's guaranteed entertainment. So only the strongest survived in that environment.
Who were your first fans? Do you think they saw something in the band right away?
Ryan Patrick: Our families and friends came first. They really loved the music and they loved our drive of never giving up. We were continually climbing the mountain--like the song says, it's a long way to the top. But we had our base that really appreciated our passion back in the day. And that passion is still strong in our stage show. Every single night we're on tour, that's one of the most important aspects. We want people to feel the energy that we create performing our songs. We're very confident in the energy that we give off to our fans. We love playing live. There's nothing better than that.
Is there a particular song on Peace At All Costs that helped spark the sound of the album?
The record is really diverse which is what we were trying to accomplish. There's heavy riffage, there are ballads, there's a few experimental 7-minute songs which is something we've been wanting to do for a long time. I would say we wanted to get a little more aggressive in a sense. I think "Love and War" really helped us say to fans that our riffs are here to contend with the big dogs, we're here to bring it. It's our call to arms. A lot of the songs have that bottom line.
The new album has a more aggressive sound, which probably came naturally from being on the road for so long.
It came naturally to us. It's about where we're at in our lives, with our relationships, with love and management and the industry overall. We were feeling pretty fiery and pretty hot during the sessions and it comes across on Peace At All Costs. It was not a hard transition by any means to go a little more aggressive.
I've started a clothing line/writing camp with Andy called Life by Music. We've started this initiative to inspire youth and to get instruments back in the hands of our kids. It's a way for Otherwise to branch out. It's very easy to get stuck where you're told you can only play a certain kind of venue or a certain kind of song. So we've created what is essentially our movement, it's our foundation and label. In the future, we're going to be presenting our own tours which Otherwise will be headlining. We're gonna have some big things on the horizon. I'd love to have Epiphone involved and be our ambassador for our youth as far as getting six strings into the hands of kids that can't afford it or to help out music programs that don't have the funds to do what's needed. I want to come in and inspire kids who feel their dreams are not obtainable. We're living proof that by not giving up and with a lot of practice and elbow grease, your dreams can come true no matter what anybody says. So that's kind of what's in our future.
Who have you been listening to over the last year?
We've been fans of a band called Porcupine Tree for a long time. They're very dynamic. They go from heavy, heavy riffage to sweet melodic-trans moods. And the vocals are really melodic. Noel Gallagher's solo project is always great. When we want to lay back after a show we throw him on. We like a lot of relaxing acoustic stuff... Bon Iver, Anthony Green. And our roots--Red Hot Chili Peppers, Incubus, of course. Can't forget the Foo Fighters. Those are some of the artists that we've been enjoying lately.
What Epiphones have you been playing on the road?
Andy Pugh: Both of us play a Prophecy Les Paul Custom Plus and I also just got my hands on an Epiphone Wilshire. Those are beautiful sounding guitars.
Ryan Patrick: They do sound phenomenal. I was playing Gibson for a while and I decided to try out Epiphone so we could be the new Epi duo and man! I was freakishly--and very happily--surprised at how awesome these guitars sound. They're fantastic.
For more info and tour dates, visit Otherwise at www.WeAreOtherwise.com