Omni Interview: “The Next Level”

Atlanta post-punk trio Omni is back with their new record, Souvenir. We talked to vocalist Philip Frobos to find out more.

Your music has been on rotation of our online radios for a while now, so it’s really cool to see you here. How are you?

Thanks for playing us! It’s going great. I’m just having a great time being busy with the band again. We played our first show in over a year here in town. It was sold out, a wild night.

We are here in celebration of your new album Souvenir. How has officially becoming a trio reflected on your group dynamic?

I think it just opens up so many more possibilities, especially when your bandmates are Frankie Broyles and Chris Yonker. They are incredibly talented. Right now, I’m super proud of our stage show alone, we tried to take it to the next level. Chris is playing drums, triggering tracks that play along. Frank is playing guitar, and he is also triggering tracks. And I play and sing at the same time. It enables us to do a lot more with our sound. As far as our writing goes, you just have more quality brains to work with.

Out of this new album cycle, what were the easiest and hardest tracks to create?

I don’t know if it was difficult, we definitely put the most time “Plastic Pyramid.” We kind of knew it would be a different track for us, having the guest and including synths and space. That one received the most hours out of any track on the record. “Compliment” also required a lot of attention, because it has a lot going on.

Stuff like ”Common Mistakes” and “Exacto” were songs a little bit more in our wheelhouse previously.  It’s hard to call them easy to record, but still. We were already comfortable with the style of those songs, so it was a little easier to get in there and make it happen.

We are not purists, we don’t record on tape or anything, but we like to lay our hands on everything and do it ourselves.

According to a press release, “Each track is a compact unit that stands on its own, reflecting the time and place in which it was created.” Name three random memories associated with this album.

When we were writing it, we were down in Vienna, Georgia. Like the Vienna in Austria, but they pronounce it differently. There is a natural spring behind the house, and it was maybe the first session where Frank and I were writing. We decided to actually jump in the spring. It was incredibly cold, but we sat down in our tubes, laid out to the sun a little bit, and thought of the songs we were writing.

Also in Vienna, one night, we were recording. Chris, our drummer, made everybody salmon dinner. That was a nice meal, a nice time. He is a great cook. We’ve got some good cooks in this band. Mostly because our partners are good cooks, we learn from them.

Also, that first night of getting back together to do more music and having some drinks to start the process. It was a good icebreaker.

I have a question for you, too. What part of Turkey are you in?

I am in Istanbul.

We have a friend here in Atlanta who is from Ankara. Hoping to go there sometime too.

Funny you should mention that, because I think I am half Ankara-based now. It is definitely a highly characteristic city. A bit too gray, but it is cool in its own way.

Cool. I have heard some nice stuff from my friend too. I also love the cuisine.

I think, as broad as a term it may be, post-punk is really cooking these days. How do you feel about being part of this great cultural moment, and do you follow new music frequently?

I feel pretty good about it. I think the enthusiasm is great, and whenever we meet people who are inspired by the stuff we and our friends do, it’s exciting. And obviously, post-punk really varies according to the era. There is the 00s as well as the 80s, which is my favorite era. It’s fun, it’s great, and there are a lot of ways to interpret it. I hope you guys like our version!

Do you ever get the feeling that the term is maybe a slightly bit overused?

Definitely think it has become a bit of a catch-all term. We wouldn’t even choose to call ourselves that, even though a lot of original influences come from the 80’s timeframe. We are also very much influenced by the likes of jazz, rock’n roll, and glam rock.

I think some of this usage is just something on the branding and marketing side, but it is weird that they push so many bands into that category.

Philip, your vocal style is influenced by early college rock for this album. So I wanna ask a bit of a nerdy question: Can you name one underrated R.E.M and The Cure song?

R.E.M.’s one of my favorite bands, loved them since I was a little kid. I think my favorite song by them is “Wolves, Lower.” It’s the opening song of the Chronic Town EP. As a runner-up, you should definitely check out “Feeling Gravitys Pull” on Fables of the Reconstruction. I’m sure you know that one. I could probably pick 20 other songs, though.

For The Cure, lately I’ve been into this song called “Dressing Up” from The Top.

I know from another interview that this band is the first time that you are a full-time musician. I currently work at an office job full-time in addition to running this blog. But I also recently discovered that I really want to make music. I have my early attempts as well as a few collaborative ideas with multiple people that I know. And I know that making that transition is a bold one that demands a lot from you and that it does not boil down to a single formula, but I recently decided that every little advice I can get could be precious. So, what do you have to say to people like me?

What comes to my head initially is: “Don’t ever think you are ever gonna be able to stop working at any capacity.” When music becomes part of your life, it only means it will demand more of your attention and time. And sometimes, in between records, it may not be enough to be your main income. You might have to take another job. I bartended during the pandemic to make ends meet. Nothing wrong with that either. I know musicians way bigger than our band who are signed to major labels, and they work second jobs just to keep the money flowing. Unfortunately, it’s the thing we all need. Do your best, and keep your expectations dreamy yet realistic. And don’t be afraid.

I think having a full-time job can alternatively boost your confidence in making music too, if channeled right.

Yeah, that’s a nice contrast. You can draw from all your experiences, some frustrating, some exciting. It really gives you a lot to work with in the paper.

If Omni was given a memorial stone at a Musicians Theme Park 100 years from now, which one of your lyrics would you have liked to be written on it?

Maybe I would put “Afterlife” on there: “I’ve been counting off one that’s vague enough, my death.” Which one do you think it should be?

Could be “Exacto, de facto / Concise, quite right.”

That one would look better on a granite.

You can check out Omni’s Bandcamp profile here.