Friday, March 27, 2015

Interview with Daniel from No Omega

No Omega are an awesome band from Sweden whose sound straddles the line between contemporary screamo and more straight-forward hardcore ala Hope Con or MLIW. I heard about them recently due the fact that my friends over at Protagonist Music are helping to release their new one-sided LP “Occupants”. I’m always curious to see what Protagonist has up their sleeve and was blown away when I checked out No Omega, particularly their disturbing and yet incredible video for “Comfort”.

I decided to drop them a line to learn a little bit more and had the following exchange with Daniel. Make absolutely sure you check out “Occupants” when it drops next month.
Sweden obviously has a somewhat legendary hardcore and punk scene in certain a little bit about your first experiences with the music, including some of the first bands you discovered, shows you went to, etc. What are some lesser known Swedish bands that people should check out that perhaps had a hand in introducing you to things?

I got into hardcore through indie rock more than metal or punk like most do. Hence, I listened mostly to stuff like At the Drive-In, Refused and The Blood Brothers, and went on from there. My first DIY hardcore-esque show was when my old band put up a show with Suis la Lune, a band that always will be very dear to me. Around then there was some great screamo in Sweden, like Amalthea and Anemone. There was also a band that has been a great influence to us artistically called Meleeh! There are SO many good bands coming out of Sweden, punk and non-punk so I could make an endless list but currently some of my favourites are: Sore Eyelids, Via Fondo, This Gift is a Curse, Scraps of Tape and Mattias Alkberg.

Give a little bit of background on how all of you guys came together as musicians. Over the course of a demo, two LP's and now a new e.p., how would you say the band has grown and changed, both sonically as well as lyrically?

Right, so I guess everyone who started the band had been in various bands together before forming No Omega, and after some people leaving the band, especially our old singer Andreas, we were forced to essentially reform the band. Oscar who used to play guitar picked up the microphone, which made a lot of sense since he's written a majority of the lyrics from day one. We brought in our best friend Joakim to play the bass, and we now are faced with a situation where we will be touring with a somewhat rotating lineup this year, with me and Oscar being the only constant members at shows.

From the beginning Oscar and Andreas wrote most of the music and lyrics, with me coming in a bit more after a few releases. On the past record, “Shame”, and on this new one we've had more of a conversation within the band about the themes and direction of what we're doing which is great.

No Omega's always had quite simple song structures, without a bunch of guitar solos or flashy playing, focusing more on mood and an overall texture to the songs I guess... With the new record we pushed it a bit, and I added a lot of more guitar than what we're used to. We always have a core of what is our band with every release, but try to widen the pallet of what we can do, as the band evolves and our influences in life changes.

I usually see the records very loosely as different style, with the first ep being more post-metal, “Metropolis” as the melodic hardcore one, “Shame” the fake-black metal one, and this new one I guess has nu screamo and post-rock as the new thing going.

Lyrically, it's always been within the same general area but about different aspects of it. A world that is wrong can either make you feel angry, sad or just hopeless, and we try to take up the various ways things are wrong and often more in a ”this makes me feel this” kinda way than ”this guy's an asshole”.

You guys have worked with a bunch of different labels; Thirty Days of Night, Get This Right, the last record on Throatruiner and now the new effort being co-released by Dog Knights and Protagonist. How have those working relationships been, and more recently, how did you hook up with Dog Knights and the homies Brendan and Bill from Protagonist?

Our relationship with Mathias and Throatruiner was great, he helped us a lot and was easy to work with, we liked his ethics and he'd released some great bands, so with him it was us contacting him.

Darren had been wanting to do something with us for a while but it didn't really work out, and now when we decided to try him after seeing him doing some great work for our friends in bands like Disembarked and Shirokuma we couldn't be more happy – his part in this record is very important and it's been great.

For Protagonist we'd just seen some good music coming out of them for a while and when we got in touch it turned out they were into our band so!

In terms of the rotating line-up, I imagine that's due to work/school commitments.....what are the logistics like in terms of pulling that off with people playing different instruments and doing different things in the context of your live performance?

Yeah pretty much. We've only taken in good friends of ours to play, and now that everyone live in Stockholm again it's quite easy to just go out and practice with them. Right now we're playing with our real bass player and two extras, which just means I have to play the old songs a lot more than I'd have wanted haha. 

We've been lucky enough to have found friends who are able to play our songs and share similar views and ethics, and don't feel like the picture of the band is being tainted or anything.

You guys have toured quite a bit over the last several years, often with some fairly big bands (Touche Amore, Birds in Row) and sometimes with those who are a little less well-known (This Routine is Hell). How do those tours compare and in general do you prefer the exposure of playing a big room or the intimacy of something a bit smaller?

We've only really done one actual ”big room” tour and that was with Touche. Some shows on that tour were cool but generally the promoters didn't really care about us and a lot of people who'd come out to see us missed our slot with the venue not having our stage time properly announced. But it's whatever. I mainly care about being out with people I like and the people doing shows for us being decent. I don't have a problem with a big stage but usually the 100-200 cap rooms are the best!

There was a reference on your Facebook a while ago about "planning a world tour"....what are the chances that we might see you guys over here in the States at some point?

Might take a little while, but the US is on the list! I didn't really enjoy my last first tour over there, so I hope to get another chance. We'll be doing most of Europe and another part of the world we haven't announced yet this year mainly!

Yeah in the States you always hear American bands that have traveled to Europe talk about how much more awesome bands get treated, the shows are generally better and there is a difference sense of hospitality. As a European who has toured the States, what did you see as the biggest differences and why do you think those differences exist? Is punk and hardcore just a lot more popular there, are there cultural differences that make Europeans appreciate touring artists to a different degree?

It's hard to tell what makes the differences exist, like I don't think Americans are shittier people than Germans... I guess it's just cultural, and the English speaking countries might've had bands going around to play for longer, or I don't know. In England it's not AS bad as in the States when it comes to hospitality at shows, but they're not far from it. My experience in the US was that there barely was a promoter each night; just a room with a small PA and a microphone and then a FB event say what five local bands were opening for us each night. Like... it didn't feel like there was anything demanded of a promoter, which to me is weird. Decent food, a decent place to sleep and a working PA with as many microphones as you actually need are basic parts of a DIY show. If you can't even deliver that you shouldn't have booked the bands from the start.

I am aware we played a lot of odd shows though, and that there is a real DIY scene in the States also, we just didn't see it too much. Loads of the shows, like the 25 minutes we played, were great though! People were really nice and interested in our band, and that was a great thing, way more than we expected!

So the music video for "Comfort" is incredibly powerful, offering a chilling look at humanity. I'm curious if you could first talk a little bit about the visual concepts you had in mind. Also, you offered a little bit of narrative online about your thoughts on how our culture is based on dominance and things of that nature, I was hoping you could expand a little bit more on that.

We were aiming at having two very different videos for the record, and one would be really raw and abrasive and capture something we can't really say without those pictures. Chariot of Black Moth helped us out and the end product was way better than I'd expected of such a concept.

Well. Essentially, what we mean is that it's quite obvious how our species as a whole isn't the missing link or the cause of all problems, making us behave like we do. It's an issue of culture that not that many critics of the human behaviour talk about. They quickly start blaming humanity itself, for things like capitalism, sexism and the destruction of our planet, when we know that people went on fine for a long time not messing with the order of things.

Alright last question. If a person only took away one thing from No Omega, be it from the live experience or from listening to your music and reading your lyrics, what impression would you hope they come away with?

That's a good question. Even though we're a generally dystopic and negative band, I wish they picked up what's said between the lines about issues we want to correct and try to make their lives more cruelty-free and have a better impact on their surroundings. I've had a few people going through rough parts of their lives coming up and talking about how our band has... maybe not helped, but been a support to deal with their issues, and that is sooo humbling. So whether our records and shows make you speak up the next time a friend uses a homophobic slur, or get you one step closer to being vegan, or just help you through a shitty day that's great.

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