We rate the Durban-based four-piece as South Africa’s Next Big Thing – if they’re not there already. The indie-rock sensation, The Otherwise have received extensive radio play with their first single, “Can I Kiss You” and their debut album “She Doesn’t Care, She Wants To Dance” has impressed all the right people. With the guys gearing up for their second release, we thought it was about time our readers got to know the The Otherwise a little bit better. Enjoy the Oppi anecdotes and just how refreshing the band really is!
Band: The Otherwise
Genre: Indie/Rock ’n Roll
Members: Greg Allan (Vocals), Harry Allan (Guitar), Carl van Renen (Bass), Chris van Renen (Drums), Dean Roberts (Keys)
Year Performing: 2008 – present
Band’s Hangover Remedy: Greasy food and Grandpa’s
How does the scene in Durbs compare with the likes of Jozi and Pretoria? Is it harder for bands from Durbs to crack the national market?
Apparently Durban is the 2nd biggest city in the country, but unfortunately we’d have to say, as far as the music scene goes, the “Dirtbin” comes in at 4th place, behind Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria. That said, it seems to be growing and there’s quite a few amazing bands and new venues sprouting up. It is probably a bit harder for Durban bands to crack the national market, since most of the bigger shows and industry people are in Johannesburg or Cape Town, but there are Durban bands that are doing well, you just have to travel a bit further (and more often) for the opportunities, but all bands have to tour to make a living so it comes with the territory. It would be nice to see a proper campus station happen or at least more airplay for local artists on our regional radio.
What’s your guys’ motivation?
A strong desire for creative expression and entertainment and the fear and loathing of the “nine-to-five”.
If people were to say your sound was reminiscent of another outfit, who are they most likely to say?
Our personal influences are too numerous to mention, but usually people compare us to Arctic Monkeys, The Libertines, The Cure or The Strokes (sometimes even My Chemical Romance, probably more due to Greg’s hair than our sound). We try to do our own thing the way we want to do it, but these days it’s almost impossible to escape comparison. At least we like the bands we get compared to.
What is different and stand-out about your sound and style?
Compared to most rock bands, we have a more “dance-y” sound and relatively clean guitars and extensive use of 16th beats and straight forward grooves. Compared to most indie bands we rock out more on stage and Greg has more of a rock ’n roll voice.
If you guys could land the cover of any magazine, which would it be?
Rolling Stone, ‘cause then you know you really made it. And Time Magazine, because then you’ve really, REALLY, made it massively.
If you could only please one who would you rather satisfy with your sound and style: fans or music critics?
Easy question – the fans.
What’s the definition of indie and what does it mean to be indie in 2011?
It used to just mean independent (as in unsigned/self-signed/DIY), but nowadays, it makes you think of bands like The Killers, Kings of Leon etc. and it’s possible to be considered an indie band even if you’re signed to a major label. It’s got more to do with the sound. To us it basically means rock ‘n roll that you can dance to, sometimes with a bit of electronica.
How’s the process of the new album coming along? When are you guys scheduled to release your follow-up album?
It’s going well, we’re really happy with the results so far. We’re doing things a bit differently (some might even say wrongly) this time. Instead of doing all the drums, then all the guitars, then all the vocals, we’re completing the three strongest tracks first, so we can start sending it around for radio play and start making videos for them and after that record the rest of the album in the normal order. We’re an unsigned band, so there’s no pressure to release. We will release it when we think it’s perfect and ready for “human consumption”.
You’ve shared the stage with some greats; who inspired you the most?
Fokofpolisiekar and Shaun Morgan were probably the most inspirational. They’ve got such presence and charisma onstage and are down to earth, approachable and friendly off stage. Both have been playing for a long time, but still perform with 100% conviction and commitment and are also professional without being sterile and boring.
What’s your general plan of action when you arrive at a festival?
Set up camp, have a few beers and then go explore.
What’s the maddest thing that’s happened at a festival whilst you’ve been performing on stage?
We’ve had a few bras thrown at us and girls dancing onstage, which is always very cool, but the maddest thing was probably at Splashy Fen last year, when Harry unintentionally whacked Greg on the head with his guitar and Greg nearly passed out half-way through the show. After the show, for some reason the whole band was ill and having a communal vomit-session at our campsite, probably something we ate earlier.
Describe your perfect gig.
Our ultimate fantasy gig would probably be playing at Glastonbury while the sun is going down or playing Wembley Stadium or Madison Square Garden. We’d also love to play on Jools Holland’s TV show or Saturday Night Live. As far as this country goes, we’d love to open for a big international band at the Coca-Cola Dome.
Are Durban ladies the hottest in SA?
Possibly the hottest in the world! But South Africa is a very talented country, there’s hotties everywhere.
Which song on your current album do you guys hold closest to your heart and hold in highest regard and why?
The songs are like our children, so we can’t really favour one over the others. Rollercoaster to Insanity is our first born, Can I Kiss You is the most successful and She Doesn’t Care, She Wants to Dance is the baby. Like a Fairytale probably has the best lyrics. These four are probably the most fun to play as well.
If you guys could please share with us any upcoming gigs, tours, festivals you’ll be playing out, that’d be great for our readers!
It’s going to be a bit quiet on the gig front until the album and videos are done, but we should be back in full force by mid-August and hopefully tour in September, first stop will be Cape Town.