Otherwise Magnificent
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Otherwise Magnificent

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By Tiffany Razzano

Friday, April 13 was anything but unlucky for Otherwise Magnificent, as it took the stage at Village Pub South for the first time in months, this time boasting a lead singer for the first time in its history as a group. Prior to this show, the band’s founders, Hamilton, bass, and Jonathan Batailles, guitar, split the role of vocalist.
Now unburdened by dual roles, Hamilton and Batailles led the group, which also featured fierce vocals by first time lead singer Christy Fernandez and the backing beats of drummer Dave DiMarco, through a blazing set that enthralled a packed audience of friends and fans. Since then, the band hasn’t looked back, as it continues to attract new fans of its unique brand of alternative rock that culls from a wide range of influences, from rock classics such as the Beatles and the Who, to indie rock stalwarts such as the Pixies and the Sugarcubes.
“Our first show together was one of the most fun shows I've played in my career so far,” Hamilton said. “It was very freeing not to have to be tied to a mic live and we all seem to be enjoying the group personally and musically now.”
Batailles said, “For the first time in the band, there's a real sense of everything being in the right place for us. We've had good shows before, but this one was by far the most exciting one to play.”
DiMarco calls Fernandez the group’s missing link. And the feeling is mutual for the group’s new singer, who feels she has found her musical niche. “I felt as though I was exactly where I was supposed to be at that point in my life,” Fernandez said of her first show with Otherwise Magnificent.
Hamilton and Batailles have played music together in a number of bands since high school, when they met through mutual friends. They eventually decided to write and perform as a duo, rather than with a full band. They released Nuit Louche as Otherwise Magnificent, which they took from a phrase from Regina, a Sugarcubes song. “I liked the play on words,” Hamilton said. “I liked the irony of everything being wrong, yet at the same time, being of grandeur and excellence.”
“It’s the idea of being somehow tarnished and still going forward,” Batailles added.
As Otherwise Magnificent began performing live on Long Island and in New York City, DiMarco was brought in on drums to flesh out the duo’s sound, followed by Fernandez on vocals. Since then, the band has been moving forward pretty quickly, playing a variety of local venues alongside bands from many genres. “I don't think we fit in a standard closed circuit scene,” Hamilton said. “I think our music has a unique place in the Long Island scene as a whole.”
The group recently released a four-song demo of new material. The songs are available at www.myspace.com/otherwisemagnificent. - Perpetual Toxins


The stage is set plainly, with a red hue from the lighting gels covering the space. Otherwise Magnificent appears from backstage as their devoted fans decide that standing is a more appropriate way to appreciate their unsung heroes. As the band starts their set there are few audience members, but the room is quickly filled by the previously converted and those yet unaware of their sound. Soon, at least half of the audience is standing and dancing to the music.
Although the band has been compared to Belly, Patti Smith, and Throwing Muses, Otherwise Magnificent has a sound all their own. The four members of the group work cohesively as a unit weaving together a sound that is both jangly and hard hitting, snappy and at times soaring. No one member ever seems to outshine another, but instead they feed off each other to create their onstage energy.
As the music builds to a powerful crescendo, lead singer Christy jumps and dances from one side of the stage to the other. Singing into her mike and the mikes of her fellow band members, she leans against them in classic rock star vogue. Breaking the third wall, she leaps into the crowd. Strutting up to and occasionally dancing with the exuberant fans, she captivates the crowd.
Creating driving bass lines from her chiseled biceps and forearms, bassist Hamilton sways back and forth over, and often on top of, the amplifiers surrounding her. She too breaks the third wall and jumps into the crowd with bass in hand. Still managing to keep the song going, Hamilton, smiling, climbs back onstage.
Guitarist Jonathan Batailles dances back and forth creating a melodious harmony and offering occasional back-up vocals. Drummer Dave DiMarco stays at his kit, but it is apparent even he is enjoying himself, something that is not always clear for all percussionists.
As the DJ plays Radiohead’s “The Bends” over the speakers after their set, I sit down with the band at one of the many tables in Crash Mansion. Each table is its own private booth in this black and beige bar in New York’s village of Soho, complete with cushioned seats and candles on the tables.
Who would you count as your influences, both musically and not?
Answering first for the band, Batailles says “Bjork and Greg Dulli. Afghan Whigs and really just anything he does.”
Hamilton says “Well, you know the classics of course – Lennon, The Who – and Bjork and Tanya Donnelly. Jonathan and I really share several of the same influences.”
DiMarco answers in classic percussionist fashion.
“Rush,” he says as all other band members laugh in obvious agreement.
Christy quickly answers “My Chemical Romance.”
“Oh, and DJ’s that play Radiohead,” quips Batailles.
Okay, so, would we say “The Bends”, or “In Rainbows”?
“Oh definitely ‘The Bends,’” answer the entire band nearly simultaneously.
Now that we have that question out of the way and know where these musicians stand on this topic, the interview can continue.
How would you define your sound?
Hamilton explains that she feels that each member of the band lends their own musical influence to the band’s sound as their tastes aren’t always exactly the same, but they do often times converge and sometimes even overlap.
“We have obvious rock and roll influences, but I’d say we even use classic rock and pop accessibilities. I definitely have ‘Butch Vig syndrome’ – I call it. In that when we go into the studio, I definitely have my ear out tweaking this and that all the time,” she says.
Have you had to overcome any challenges or obstacles in coming together?
“I think our name clearly covers that. I mean we’re definitely named ‘Otherwise Magnificent’ for a reason,” says Batailles, as he laughs. The table laughs collectively while they obviously reflect on their separate and combined pasts.
“I think we were meant to find each other. I think this was definitely meant to happen, because we all met separately, but were able to come together and collaborate,” says Christy. According to the band’s myspace page, their biography has weaved together over time.
Hamilton and Batailles met and began collaborating as early on as high school, and after having played in various bands for seven years, got together to form Otherwise Magnificent. DiMarco was brought in by Hamilton and Christy was brought in by Batailles. Together their experiences collide to form a synergy of sound.
Where do you see yourself, as a band, in the long term?
“For me, I just want to hopefully influence others as we’ve been influenced by so many different bands. I hope we can be a way that people turn to music much the same that we have so many times,” Christy explains whole-heartedly.
“I hate to sound cliché and steal from Madonna, but world domination is always something to strive for,” Hamilton says with a smirk. “Honestly, though I think we’re just trying to go out and do our best. We’re really incredibly thankful that we have such amazing fans.”
Christy continues that thought. “Yeah, we have - Amanda O’Mahony


Discography

"Nuit Louche" available on iTunes.
"Cloud 9 Sessions" 4 song demo

Photos

Bio

Otherwise Magnificent’s alterna-pop sound is a blend of rock, pop and alternative bands like Garbage, The Who, Patti Smith, Fleetwood Mac and Belly. Combining talent, style, sound, and a live show that reminds you why rock was invented, they are a band sure to keep an eye on.

A chance meeting backstage as teens at a talent show led to the eventual collaboration of Hamilton & Jonathan Batailles. Hamilton’s fiery demeanor that night immediately collided with Batailles’ more laid back attitude, but after that thorny introduction, they quickly realized they gave balance to each other. After years of playing in various bands together and apart, they launched Otherwise Magnificent.

In 2005 they wrote, sang and self-produced their first album, ‘Nuit Louche’. Recorded with only guitar, bass, a laptop and a keyboard, the album would be a blueprint for where the duo would be looking to go in their songwriting.

After the album’s completion, they set out to begin performing live shows. Having known him from a previous band, Hamilton called in the incredibly talented Dave DiMarco to play drums. Then in early 2007, Batailles returned the favor by discovering young Christy to step in and sing lead for the band.

Hamilton plays rhythmic scales and melodic lines on the bass. Jonathan Batailles’ guitar is driving and at times jangly, creating a perfect harmony. Add Dave’s intricate yet hard-hitting drum style coupled with Christy’s enthusiastic and soaring vocals and what you have is a band entirely original yet fully accessible. Otherwise Magnificent’s live show has the energy of punk, the hooks of pop and the chops of classic rock without being tied to any one era or genre.

Now, finally fully whole, the band has set out and begun performing in front of everyone they can. They have played at such venues as Crash Mansion, Southpaw, The Continental, The Mean Fiddler, Connolly’s, The Nutty Irishman, McCoy’s, Traxx, The Pussycat Lounge, and Village Pub South. They have played at colleges such as SUNY Stony Brook and St. John’s.

Recently they have played the Long Island Unsigned & Unsung Bands Festival at the Pantheon in Port Jeff, NY as well as at The Crazy Donkey at Unsigned Bands Festival II promoted by Clubloaded.com & 3MB Studios. As a result of their performance at Crazy Donkey, the band received a FREE Video Shoot!

In an era where the singer/songwriter reigns supreme and there are no new huge rock bands rising up, OM strives to fill that void and only their imagination will be their limit.