Omni Brings Southern Charm and Summer Warmth to Aquarium

While indie band Omni has only been on the scene for two years, it is comprised of veteran musicians.

Lead singer and bass player Philip Frobos is an ex-Carnivores member, and touring drummer Doug Bleichner was once a member of Warehouse. In addition, guitarist Frankie Broyles had stints in both the Balkans and Deerhunter — two popular indie bands from Atlanta, Georgia.

The group blends ’60s garage rock and ’80s punk rock elements into their lo-fi indie rock to create a unique sound that also has the warmth of familiarity with the cool, straight edge of indie rock modernity.

Their second album, “Multitask,” lures the band away from the sultry warmth of the South to the chill of windswept plains as they play the Aquarium here in Fargo today, Nov. 2.

I caught up with frontman Philip Frobos to talk about formative musical influences, their newest album “Multitask” and what fans can expect from their Fargo Aquarium gig.

Laura Ellen Brandjord (LEB): Describe the music scene you grew up in around Atlanta?

Philip Frobos (PF): Well, I guess when I was a kid, you know, everyone was always saying R.E.M. and the B52s are from here and the Allman Brothers and Otis Redding and some other classic Georgia stuff. And then when I moved to Atlanta when I was a teenager, bands like the Black Lips and Deerhunter were getting popular, and there was a band called Snowden that was beginning to do well. It was really fun to go to cool shows of them and their friends from tour. 

LEB: What music did you grow up listening to?

PF: I guess the music that kind of shaped me was Criminal Records and Wax ‘n’ Facts Records and Little Five Points in Atlanta. A lot of their employees would just recommend different cool punk and ’60s glam and ’80s and just all the good stuff. You know, I knew I liked rock ‘n’ roll, but until then I was just kinda of on my own, looking on the internet and all of that, so to find people with more “refined” taste, that was a really great thing for me.

LEB: I hear ’80s influences, but also some ’60s garage influence especially in your song “Type,” myself, but what would YOU say are your biggest influences on the sound you create with Omni?

PF: I mean it’s definitely undeniable that Frank and I were influenced by the ’60s. Especially in previous creative endeavors. I was always listening to bands like Roy Orbison, and I know that Frankie listened to quite a bit of that as well, the Righteous Brothers, etc., etc. But I think when we were forming this group, I was more into Iris records and … I’m like always obsessed with anything David Bowie, but with that you know, it’s like a different day, a different album.

LEB: What made you decide on recording part of “Multitask” at a cabin in Vienna? Did you want those ambient sounds to come through on the record, or was it more the scenery and the space to think, or why did you decide to do that?

PF: I think the main reason why we decided to do it is we just really wanted to get out of the city. There’s just so many distractions.; not only time obligations and time restraints, but also just general needing to get away and not have to worry about what we were or were not responsible for. So being able to do that helped all three of us be able to really think about the songs and maybe expand on some ideas we may have not been able to expand on … just relax and let ourselves get what we wanted to out of it.

SEBASTIAN WEISS | PHOTO COURTESY
(L to R) Frankie Boyles, Philip Frobos and Doug Bleichner of Omni, set to perform at the Aquarium tonight.

LEB: Is bass your first instrument?

PF: Bass was my first instrument, yes. You know, I started playing bass because when I was in like fifth grade, some guy wanted to start a band and I wanted to be in it, but there was already a guitar player and a drummer. So they needed me to be a bass player, and I was like, “What is that?” He said, “It’s just like the guitar,” and I said okay. So I became a bass guy.

LEB: You have an uncommon approach of instrumental arrangement with the bass kind of taking over the melodic parts and the electric to give bright bursts of accents like in “Calling Direct” and “Supermoon,” even “Tuxedo Blue.” Was that a choice you made because of the music of your influences or was it because you write the songs and since bass is your instrument you think of melodies based on your instrument?

PF: I think that a lot of it is just the advantage of us having such a minimal set up. Me and Frankie being able to just, “Oh, well, I have this bass line. What would work well with that?” I also think that in places where the bass may take the lead, like in “Calling Direct,” Frankie — he is being incredibly smart like he is and just doing what works best for the song and I try to do the same. I try to never overplay too much especially when there is a guitar part that really needs to be highlighted. So I think it’s just both back and forth. You know, sometimes we’re both doing a lot, but hopefully never too much.

LEB: I really appreciate that about your songs. I don’t think people realize how much the bass can do. It’s not just strumming two chords back and forth for the whole song.

PF: Also good bass lines are hard to find these days. Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but you know there are so many dudes that used to play guitar and now just play bass. Just like, “It doesn’t matter what the bass sounds like in the song.” Whatever.

LEB: What should fans expect from “Multitask” that they didn’t hear on “Deluxe?”

PF: I guess when we started the group, with “Deluxe” we weren’t originally going to release it. We were just writing songs and making music for ourselves. With “Multitask,” we were signed, so we had a deadline. So it’s a different mindset. But also, what can we (do) different on this song? Like, maybe I want to go really, really minimal on vocals this time, or maybe Frankie can take the lead with the guitar this time.

LEB: What can people expect from your gig at the Aquarium?  Will there be songs from “Deluxe” and “Multitask,” some covers?

PF: I’d hate to ruin the surprise, but it should be a healthy mix of both albums.

Omni’s concert starts tonight at 8 p.m. The show is 21 and older. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased through the Aquarium website.

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