• About A Band: OMNI

    The Goat Farm Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia has appeared on both big screens and small when it was used for filming in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Walking Dead. The art, music, and performance collective space is also where Atlanta outfit OMNI wrote and recorded the demos for their debut album, Deluxe

    Roommates Frankie Broyles and Philip Frobos would slip in during the evening — it was quieter then, all of the other acts that utilized the space had called it quits for the day — and they’d start playing. Frankie would craft a guitar lick, an angular and moving composition, while Philip’s bass parts were oft bouncy, his vocals rhythmic and off-the-cuff. By the end of the night, they’d have a song. 

    “It definitely happened very quickly, which made it all the more exciting because everything stayed pretty fresh,” Frankie says. “We’d make up things as we went along and it was done. Usually, we’d get together at the practice space and we’d have an idea or start playing and linearly start writing the song and record a demo.”

    The process was a welcome diversion from each of their previous bands — Deerhunter and Balkans for Frankie and Carnivores for Philip — this time, a swift and natural creative production period. When it came time to bring the songs to the stage, they enlisted Philip’s former Carnivores band mate Billy Mitchell on drums.

    In its finished form, Deluxe doesn’t differ much from the original demos. It’s jangly and jaunty, reminiscent of Devo and other New Wave/post-punk bands of the era. Frankie’s driving guitars are layered in complex patterns, high voicings paired with strong chord strums. Philip’s lyrics a blanket of stream-of-consciousness draped over constantly moving compositions — an intriguing departure from their previous work.

    “A lot of times I caught myself saying, ‘This sounds like something I’d done before. I’m not going to do that,’” Frankie recalls. “Or taking inspiration from something and thinking it’d be interesting to try to do something like that.”

    Frankie gives us the lowdown on the story of OMNI and the one downside with recording songs so quickly.
    Photos by Mary Caroline Russell

    Can you tell us how the band formed?
    I used to play in this band called Balkans in Atlanta around 2008. One of the first bands we started playing with was Carnivores, which was the band that Philip was in. We ended up becoming friends and eventually roommates. I think the first time we ever worked on a song together, he sent me this demo that was bass and vocals and one day I was bored and added guitar to it and sent it back to him and it kind of took off from there. We did that casually for a while and as our other bands stopped doing as much stuff — we started doing this because it was fun. It’s easy. I would play drums and guitar and he’d play bass. Usually by the time I was done writing my guitar and drum part, he’d have the vocals figured out. We ended up having all these songs and wanting to play shows. Our friend Billy stepped in to play drums for the shows. We recorded this album with no real intention — just because we had the songs and it seemed like the right thing to do.

    So would you meet up and say “let’s write a song!”?
    We had this space at this art collective and we’d usually go in there around 11 and sometimes stay in there until 3, just finishing a demo. Sometimes we’d wait a few days and we’d upload it and listen to it and be like, “Oh, we have another song!” A lot of them I just forgot about because they happened so quickly and I wouldn’t think about them anymore until we had to play them or re-record them. I had to re-learn a lot of parts. 

    Is that typical for your process?
    It was new because we weren’t a band, really, so we didn’t have any sound that we were thinking we were supposed to be going for — just whatever we thought sounded good. We were the only ones listening to the songs before we started playing shows.

    And then the only difficult part was re-learning everything.
    That became more of a problem on some tracks. It’s too noisy and I had no idea what was going on. Luckily I still had some of those separated tracks, so I could be like, “Oh, that’s what’s happening there” and re-learn them all. Playing live, since a lot of the tracks have multiple guitar parts on them, I’ll challenge myself to combine them into one guitar part, which sometimes works out better than others.

    It’s cool that you went into this warehouse space at night to write songs that basically only you were meant to hear. 
    The songs, when I listen to them, I think about the time spent writing them or what was happening around that time more so than about what Philip might be singing about on that song. I remember one of them we did in the basement at my parents’ house and I was house sitting for them. I can hear it in the drum sound because it sounds different than the other ones. That’s what I think about most of the time when I listen to it.

    Does it help you remember things? 
    Especially in the rough edits in the demos, pretty much at the beginning of every song, we’re talking about something and then all of a sudden the song will start, so there’s a lot of chatter going on on all the demos, it’s kind of funny.

    Did you ever think to include it?
    There’s this newer song that we wrote — one that’s not on the album — but that we made recently. I edited the ambient sound from this weird post-rock band playing next door into the intro that ended up sounding pretty cool. I like messing around with the accidents. A lot of the way we wrote, stuff just seemed to happen that we made work and became a part of the song. 

    You were roommates at the beginning of writing. Did it help to be in the same physical space as someone you’re working with?
    I think it led to the songs having this cohesive sound, yet push ourselves to do something a little different with each one. We allowed ourselves to experiment a little bit more since it was the two of us bouncing ideas off of one another. We didn’t have anyone to really work with or compromise with.

    When you listen to the record, your influences are pretty upfront. How do you strike a balance between drawing influences from other bands while still having your own sound? 
    We just released that song “Wire” and I was trying to play something to the best of my ability that sounded like something like Jimmy Page would do. I don’t think it sounds like Jimmy Paige. But one of the most interesting things about being in this band is having my parts and Philip’s bass parts combining really different moods. He might be playing some riffs that are really exciting or happier sounding and I’ll try to alter that by doing something to counter that mood and then to create something that neither of us would’ve been able to do on our own. It’s always surprising. The way we write music is interacting in an exciting way. Sort of like I forget how I write these songs and am like “Hmm, that’s a weird thing to listen to.”

    What are your thoughts on the nostalgia movement that’s happening? 
    I was talking to Philip about this other night. It’s hard to see songs as you write it, the way somebody else will. It's hard for me to listen to some things as a song after awhile. After we recorded this album, I was like, “I guess this sounds like music.” Then you take a break from it and listen to it and you’re like “Oh, it’s a song, yeah.” 

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