By Kristen Collins
It’s a sunny Saturday evening in May in Battle Creek. There’s a line of fans waiting for the Music Factory to open its door for the all ages show. Cars, packed with even more fans inside, are circling this 500-capacity, general admission venue, looking for places to park along the curbs of side streets in this small Michigan city. Meanwhile, the guys from Otherwise are lounging on their tour bus parked in the gravel lot next to the venue, which is still known to many as Planet Rock. Andrew Pugh, rhythm guitarist, is on the couch in his fuzzy slippers next to lead guitarist, Ryan Patrick, who’s still dressed in shorts from his Crossfit workout, and both of them open up to Shockwave about their music, their fans and life on the road.
Shockwave: If you look back at your whole career, what do you think your biggest accomplishment is so far?
Ryan Patrick: That, whew, that’s a good one to start. What do you think since you’ve joined the band, Andy?
Andrew Pugh: Just the release of the second record. That’s another lifeline to keep going. The fact that we’re two singles deep into the second record, which a lot of bands don’t even get one single off their first record. Some bands don’t get a single until their fourth or fifth record. And the fact that we’re on our, now, fifth high-charting single off our second record. I think that’s it.
RP: You’re right. Recording Peace At All Costs is a big, big, big accomplishment. We worked with an amazing producer. And Andy and Corky [Gainsford, drummer] were engineers and, in a sense, producers as well on the album. In the past, there was a lot of internal turmoil as every rock band, or band, or group of people that try to do something together, go through. And we were, kind of, released from, or rid ourselves of, the cancers that were our old ways. And, I think adding Tony Carboney, our new bass player, is definitely a good, good, good start in the right direction of understanding our musicality at this time.
What is your favorite track off the album?
RP: “Love and War,” which is the album opener. It kind of sets the tone; it’s what we play. That’s our show. We’re aggressive. And loud. And that’s what that song is.
So, is that your favorite song to play then?
AP: Which one is your favorite? That’s like asking which one is your favorite kid. You don’t have a favorite. You like playing different ones for different reasons.
RP: Yeah, it really depends sometimes. In Pittsburgh the other night, we played a song called “The Other Side of Truth,” and where we put it in the set – we’ll probably do again tonight – and it felt really good playing it where it was. And I like playing “Meet Me in The Dark.” That’s a good track. I like seeing people’s heads move the way they do to that song.
What’s your favorite city to play in? Do you have one?
RP: Puerto Rico. [Laughs.] No, I’m kidding. Isn’t that a country? [Laughs.]
AP: Battle Creek … [Laughs.]
RP: New York City is so awesome. Umm, we don’t really play in New Orleans, but whatever we’re doing around down south is always sweet. Florida is great. We seem to do really good in some random ass little cities. Like in West Virginia, we played a really cool show in a small club on a cliff. It just really depends on the show.
Is it hard staying fit? Keeping everyone on good diets?
AP: It’s not as hard as you think.
RP: Yeah, no it’s not. You just can’t be a sissy.
You know, we kinda enforce that, because if you don’t work out on this bus, you go crazy. You go mental. And, there’s a few of us on this bus, not to name any names, who don’t work out and they go crazy.
You know, it’s funny because you go, “What’s your favorite city to play in?” And we go, “Battle Creek. That YMCA is awesome! We can’t wait to get there!” [Laughs.]
So, if staying fit isn’t hard, what is the hardest part of being on the road?
RP: Sacrificing the lives we live at home, cuz we have to have lives, too. But there is a duality to the calling of a musician to go out, like we have something to prove, so it’s like we have to go out and prove it. But then we have cute, little cuddly things at home that we like to snuggle up against. [Laughs.]
AP: They are super hot! [Laughs.]
RP: Yeah, that’s probably the toughest part. You know, you leave and, like, every time you leave, things change, but they don’t change. You come home, you can tell your parents get just a tiny bit older, your dogs get just a little older, your friendships change. And it’s, like, well, I’m still the same person, but you forget. You’re away from it. It’s a strange struggle.
If you could give a message to your fans, say anything to your fans, what would it be?
RP: We’d like to let fans know that there’s been a resurgence in our group internally and that we feel stronger than we’ve felt in a really long time. And this whole, like, crazy roller coaster that we’re on, we still are surprised by the hope and the possibilities that take place in being a touring act, striving to get your music out to more people. The music industry is rough, very rough, and it’s very nice when there are glimmers of hope for musicians who put their life, and sacrifice everything, to come and express their music.
So, for us, at this point in our careers, we are still getting these opportunities and it’s giving us hope when we are watching bands crumble before us, and after us, and around us, yet somehow when it seems like it could be past the point of us being able to continue on, we have nice things take place. Like we have our vehicle back. This is our kingdom, as you can see when you walked up, and we have some good tours coming up, and our single is doing well.
If you look at it in retrospect, these are all the things that we could have only dreamed of for years before. It’s good. As hard as it is, it’s good. So, if we could let our fans know something, let them know that shit’s hard, and that’s what we sing about, but there’s this tinge of hope in our songs and we are living and breathing it. And we are making new music. We’re still on the album cycle, so it’s an exciting process. We are excited to make more music, play more shows. That is like being invigorated, re-invigorated, so we’re at a good place right now. We’re at a really good place right now.