The Daily Gamecock

USC student speaks about experience on 'Clash of the Corps'

<p>USC student and lead trumpet for the Blue Devils in "Clash of the Corps," Clark Cothran.</p>
USC student and lead trumpet for the Blue Devils in "Clash of the Corps," Clark Cothran.

Those who tune into tonight's episode of the Fuse docuseries “Clash of the Corps” might see some familiar faces, as two of the musicians featured on the show, Clark Cothran and Cody Hutto, are USC students.

“Clash of the Corps,” produced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, runs every Wednesday night at 11 p.m. EST on Fuse. The series shows the competitive and intense world of drum corps and follows the rivalry between two organizations — the Blue Devils and the Cadets — as they fight to become world champions.

Cothran, a fourth-year music education student at USC, has dedicated many years to honing and perfecting his skill as a trumpet player because of his personal drive and passion to succeed in the world of music. However, these motives weren’t always there and had to be developed.

“I really got into band because the sixth grade band was supposed to go to Orlando for Universal Studios,” Cothran said. “So it was really this extrinsic motivation to do band and do music.” 

Despite joining band for the trip to Florida, Cothran soon found that he actually really enjoyed band. So much so that he decided to pursue it further and actually planned to make a career out of it.

“My dad was in band in high school, but he never really pursued it,” Cothran said. “This was something that I got to do on a personal level that none of my other family members had done before.”

His middle and high school band days eventually lead him to the next stop in his journey: joining the Carolina Crown Drum Corps. During his first year with the corps in 2013, he helped them win their first Drum Corps International World Championship.

Cothran said that he assumed he would continue marching with the corps for the standard four years that other members stayed for, but the situation changed when opportunity came knocking.

“A lot of people show their loyalty towards one group, but I have this burning passion to want to see what else is out there, especially because all you hear about is the Blue Devils,” Cothran said.

After completing his second year with Carolina Crown, Cothran auditioned and was accepted into the Blue Devils, a corps who Cothran said has a dominance over the drum corps world that is similar to Alabama’s hold on college football.

The Blue Devils were excited by the prospect of having their organization and the activity they are passionate about featured on a TV show, but some members were a bit skeptical of falling victim to reality show dramatization.

“So on top of being excited for the TV show, there was still a little bit of hesitation to see how the activity, and specifically the Blue Devils, were going to be portrayed,” Cothran said.

However, Cothran said that they ended up being really happy with the product and had a good time with the film crew. The show tries to show a personal side to the musicians to give faces and personalities to the individuals in the corps.

“There’s a product on the field with 150 people, but there are individual lives too which I think the TV crew captured well,” Cothran said.

Cothran’s fellow Gamecock on the show, lead baritone Cody Hutto, wasn’t available for an interview because he was at Marine boot camp, but Cothran had plenty of kind words in his absence.

“Cody is one of my best friends so it was so much fun to be able to march with him,” Cothran said.

The connection between these two can be easily seen in a deleted scene on Fuse’s website, and both are on the show giving personal interviews and chronicling their journey to become DCI World Champions.

The world of drum corps is a bigger production than most realize, far more involved than that of a college marching band. The Blue Devils had the chance to play professional football stadiums in front of 20 to 25 thousand people who were there only to see their performance.

“That’s a really cool feeling, walking into a show or walking into an arena and then you have a product to give to a bunch of people and your sole driving force is just to entertain people who are there to watch you,” Cothran said.

Students can tune into tonight’s episode to see Cothran and the Blue Devils undertake one of these performances in Denver, Colorado and all the obstacles and challenges that come from such a large production.

“[Drum corps] is a fusion between music, dance and also other forms of art coming into one product on a stage that is 120 yards wide,” Cothran said. “It’s just a big production and it’s very entertaining and I recommend for anybody to try it out and just watch it.”