Before their show at Brighton Music Hall last Wednesday, Corky Gainsford, the drummer for Otherwise, sat down with Blast’s Madeline Knutson to discuss the group’s progression over the last decade. Hailing from Las Vegas, Otherwise has five members: Gainsford, Adrian Patrick, Ryan Patrick, Tony Carboney, and Andrew Pugh. Their most recent album, Peace At All Costs, was released in September and they are currently on a U.S. tour.
Blast: Otherwise has been together in some form for almost a decade now. How did the band first begin their musical journey?
Gainsford: This particular group of guys has been collected over a large number of years. Adrian [Patrick] started the band back in late 2005/early 2006 and his brother Ryan [Patrick] had to audition because he was still in high school. I joined at the end of 2010, which was right after Adrian and Ryan had done Mayhem Fest. They went around the country in a minivan following in the moment so Adrian could sing one song on stage over the course of several months. When I joined, it was right at the end of that version of the band when they were kind of regrouping because most of the band had quit due to not wanting to wait around.
The following year (2011), we wrote a lot of music. “Soldiers” and “Apologize” came out of that, as well as a lot of what was on the first record. Andrew [Pugh] joined in the middle of 2012 as our sound guy, and a few months later moved to guitar player. Tony [Carboney] became our bass player a few months ago. He’s an old friend of mine that I have done a ton of gigs with in Las Vegas. The two of us have played all sorts of stuff throughout Vegas, from cover bands to original groups. When we needed a bass player recently, he was the dude who popped up in my head. He wanted to hit the road with us and it’s been great ever since.
Blast: “Soldiers” has become an increasingly popular song. How does it feel to have people know all the lyrics and sing the words with you at your shows?
Gainsford: It feels great. We wrote the song in our garage when we were unsigned and we never thought that anyone would ever hear it. It’s a really special experience for us because we know where that song has come from and what it has become now to both the fans and us. We close with that song every show because of how significant it is to us.
Blast: Do you think that being from Las Vegas brought any specific struggles that you wouldn’t have faced elsewhere?
Gainsford: It’s definitely a different experience. In Vegas, there’s marquee stadium-selling acts or bands down the street in a run-down club trying to gain some recognition. It’s a pretty hard sell to get people to your shows. Also, you are out in the desert away from other cities, so it’s a very isolated area. The closest real towns are LA, which is 4 to 5 hours away, Phoenix, which is 6 hours away, or Reno, which is 8 hours away. You have to seriously commit to get to other cities. That was always a struggle, but ultimately, 4 to 5 hours is not horrible. Before we were signed, we were going back and forth between LA and Vegas. We kept thinking that was what would get us signed, but it ended up happening from a radio station playing our song. It had nothing to do with going to LA whatsoever.
Blast: Your first major album True Love Never Dies was very well received by the public and gained a much larger fan base for you. What was the creative process like with your second album, Peace At All Costs?
Gainsford: I think that everyone was worried a little bit. Time after time, a band’s second record is a difficult one to pull off well. You have your whole career to create your first record, but you only have a few months for the second one. We try to write every day on the road, but it’s a really difficult thing to do because you get in a very specific day-to-day routine. There is very little time to really dive into the writing process and dig into it well. When we got off the road, we took a week off and then went straight into writing sessions.
For this record, we gathered our friends and people recommended by our friends. We specifically wrote with other people to try to get us out of our comfort zone. We thought one of the worst things we could do was to try to write a record that was very similar to the first. We wanted to branch out dynamically and try to find the things that we did well on our first album and expand on them. When we started writing with some of these people, they would come in with preconceived notions thinking that we wanted to write a record like the first one. We had to tell them that we were working with other people to do the opposite of that. We ended up writing almost 30 songs and then picked the best 11 or 12 that fit together and also showed growth. Most of the songs were brand new and written right after we got off the road, but two of them came from demos that we had done years before we got signed. “Never Say” was a song we played live back in 2011 that didn’t make the first record. We ended up restructuring it for this record, as well as “Man on Fire,” which was a demo that had been sitting around since 2010. We thought that on the second record, we could show growth in musicianship and songwriting.
Blast: Speaking of Peace At All Costs, how did you come up with the title and which tracks on that album do you think are most representative of the record’s message?
Gainsford: It is a tattoo right across Adrian’s neck and it is a saying that his grandmother used to yell at the family when they were fighting back in the day. Adrian and Ryan went through a lot of struggles when we were working on the first record. They lost a very important family member right before we got signed. It was a difficult process for them because they went through the largest amount of grief in their life, while also accomplishing the one and only goal they had been striving to achieve for the last six years. Mentally, the first record and touring cycle was really tough. The goal with the second record was to bring some clarity and peace to everyone’s lives and move forward. It has worked in many ways.
Touring off the second record has been a much smoother process. We are much more familiar with everything, we are playing clubs we have been to before, and there are more people in the audience that know our songs. The growth and progression has been obvious. For Adrian and Ryan, they are getting to the other side of their grieving process. Adrian now has a newborn child that is a few months old, so he has this little bundle of joy that is helping him realize that things are so much larger than his center of being in terms of his scope on the world. I have a 5 and a 7 year old, so I’ve been trying to catch him up to speed on that but now he’s there.
There are two tracks on this record that describe our message. The first would be “Love and War” because it highlights the struggle between, like the title says, love and war. Our band’s message is about seeing the light through the darkness and getting through your struggle to the other side. “Meet Me in the Dark” also expresses that message very clearly. It’s almost like a love song in a certain sense, because it’s about taking someone’s hand in the dark and getting through to the light together. They are almost bookended on the album and they both encapsulate those feelings.
Blast: Otherwise has played in a bunch of different cities on this tour and the last one. Out of all of them, what has been your favorite?
Gainsford: It’s a difficult question to answer because some of the coolest cities to visit are not necessarily the coolest cities to play in or vice versa. One of our favorite clubs to play in is The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan. When you go to Flint, there’s nothing really to do around there, but there’s a great radio station and rock club. That’s what we see. When you are on the road, unless you find time to do something or have a day off, you only get to see the parking lot, the rock club, and the freeway going to and from. Today was cool because we stumbled into a music shop down the street, which we didn’t know was there. Even if you are early though, most of the time, we are visiting a radio station before sound check. The cities aren’t the same for bands as they are for the general public because most of what a city has to offer, we don’t actually get to see. The show is what we came for, so it’s the most important part of the night. Our show a couple days ago in Lancaster was awesome. It was like a three story club and every story was packed, plus there was a ton of people at merch after the show. I don’t know what there is to do in Lancaster but the show was really cool.
Blast: I have to ask, being from Las Vegas, what is your favorite casino?
Gainsford: I love the Hard Rock because the pool is awesome, the music is awesome, the vibe is awesome, and the memorabilia is amazing. I love The Joint, which is the big club they have there. It used to be a terrible sounding room but they completely rebuilt it and now it’s a great place to play. They also have a small club there called Vinyl, which is fun to go to. If we were ever going to hang at any casino, which you rarely ever do in Las Vegas, that’s a good spot. Mandalay Bay is also a favorite because of the Foundation Room and the House of Blues.
Be sure to follow Otherwise on Twitter at @WEareOTHERWISE and check out their most recent album Peace At All Costs on ITunes and Spotify.