He looks over his shoulder, gazing to the horizon and the past at once.
“We used to run all over this place, man,” Adrian Patrick observes with a sweep of the arm as dusk begins to settle on a chilly day, the descending sun flashing off the numerous silver rings adorning his fingers. “There’s a 7-Eleven down there that we thought we were so cool riding our bikes to without our parents.
“It’s strange being here,” he acknowledges, his gruff-around-the-edges speaking voice trailing off momentarily. “It’s like seeing the ghosts of your own childhood in a way.”
Adrian is flanked by younger brother Ryan as the singer and guitarist of Las Vegas hard rockers Otherwise walk the grounds of an east valley church where they used to play with their cousin Ivan Patrick, who lived right up the street when they were kids.
Ivan is on their mind this afternoon.
He often is.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him,” Adrian acknowledges.
On Oct. 31, 2011, Ivan Patrick died in a motorcycle accident.
He was traveling back to Las Vegas from Pahrump with his girlfriend. A young driver didn’t see them coming in the opposite lane, making a left turn right in front of them. Ivan was able to throw his companion off the back of his bike before impact, enabling her to survive the collision.
“He saved her,” Ryan says.
Ivan wasn’t so fortunate, dying from blunt-force trauma to the brain.
He was 32.
Now Otherwise has released a song in his honor.
It took the group years to complete “The Ballad of Ivan Patrick,” and Otherwise will debut a poignant video Sunday for perhaps its most emotionally charged number.
The clip serves as a tribute to the Patricks’ fallen cousin, but it’s also an appeal for motorcycle safety and driver awareness.
“We hope to keep his legacy alive but also support riders,” Ryan says. “A lot of people have gone through what we’ve gone through.”
On dreams and nightmares
They were bonded by blood and rock ’n’ roll alike.
Ivan Patrick was more than a cousin to Adrian and Ryan; he was their biggest fan, their most tireless booster, never missing a show.
The three grew up together, learned their instruments together.
“He was the first drummer I ever jammed with,” Adrian recollects of Ivan, who served as Otherwise’s drum tech and played in his own local hard rock band, Sordid.
“We were on a rock ’n’ roll superhero squad growing up,” Ryan recalls, a wide smile flashing through his thick beard. “ ‘One day, we’re going to conquer the music industry and be rock stars.’ We have other cousins that we’re close to, but none who wanted our reality and our career as badly as he did.”
His brother puts it more succinctly.
“We had the same dreams,” Adrian says.
They were about to realize one of the biggest of those dreams when Ivan passed.
Two weeks before, Otherwise played the 48 Hours Festival at the Luxor Festival Grounds. Backstage, they met Jose Mangin, program director for Sirius XM’s hard rock station Octane.
They gave him a CD of their song “Soldiers,” which the band had made on its own.
It was Ivan who ran and got a copy from his truck.
Mangin dug the song so much that he put it in regular rotation.
It quickly became a hit, a remarkable achievement for a group without a record deal.
The next month, Otherwise became the first unsigned band to notch a No. 1 song on the channel.
The success of “Soldiers” garnered label attention that had long eluded Otherwise.
On Dec. 21, 2011, the group signed with Sony Records-owned Century Media.
Finally, the Patricks had realized their dreams.
The one they’d all shared since they were kids.
Only one of them wasn’t around to see it.
“The entire time we were trying to become known, he was standing right there next to us,” Ryan says. “And then all of a sudden, we become known — and he’s gone.”
The Patricks credit Ivan’s passing with galvanizing them for subsequent record label showcases, which can be a brutal, ego-bruising process of getting picked apart by label executives.
“It gave us an aloofness in a sense, because we used to live and die off the showcases,” Adrian says. “ ‘So-and-so from so-and-so label didn’t think you guys have it.’ And we’d be so crushed. But after that happened, we didn’t give a (expletive) who was at our showcase. ‘I don’t care what you do. We’re here to rock in his honor.’ ”
It worked: Otherwise landed its deal after a successful showing at L.A.’s Roxy Theatre.
It was a bittersweet accomplishment.
“The irony and the dichotomy of the greatest possible thing happening to us at the same time as the worst possible thing happening to us is a part of this band’s DNA,” Adrian says. “It’s a part of the story. And it’s never going to go away.”
‘It’s a way to look forward’
It started the same place it ended: the road.
Otherwise was on tour in 2015 when Adrian began working on what would become “The Ballad of Ivan Patrick.”
It took awhile before he could set his feelings to music for all to hear. He wanted the emotions to be a genuine, organic outpouring with a sense of purpose.
“It was very natural. It just came out,” Adrian says. “It was never, ‘We have to write a song about this.’ It just happened when it did.”
After three years of working on the song on and off, the band completed it while on tour in Illinois.
Released on Otherwise’s “From the Roots Vol. 2” in July, the song is a heart-in-throat acoustic lament shot through with touches of John Cale-worthy slide guitar that distills the longing saturating Adrian’s words.
It’s a deeply personal song, but one also intended to promote a more universal message of motorcycle safety and awareness.
“It’s a way to look forward for us now,” Ryan says, “instead of always looking backward at his death and losing him.”
This is what Otherwise wanted to capture when conceptualizing the video for “The Ballad of Ivan Patrick.”
Directed by drummer Brian Medeiros, the clip intermingles footage of the brothers performing the song in a ghost town setting with shots of a biker traveling through various scenic locales.
The video culminates with an on-screen message: “For those who ride, stay safe. For those who love someone that rides, stay strong,” displayed over pictures of various bikers sent in by the band’s fans.
It ends with a close-up of Ivan on his Harley.
“It feels like it’s time to do something very specific and lasting,” Adrian says. “The song, the video, they’ll be there for other riders long after we’re gone. They’ll be there for other families.”
Of course, there’s no such thing as closure when you’ve lost a loved one, only ways of attempting to cope with that loss.
For Adrian and Ryan, “The Ballad of Ivan Patrick” was a means of doing just that.
“Everybody dies,” Adrian says. “Everyone is going to experience losing somebody. It’s just a part of life. We don’t want people to think it’s something that we can’t deal with. This is how we deal with it.”
The song is among the band’s most moving.
“I never got a chance to say goodbye,” Adrian sings on its chorus.
All these years later, he’s found that chance in song.