Featured photo by: Rae Mystic
Gimpleg had the pleasure of speaking with Adam Davis of Omnigone. Together they discussed music growing up, being straight edge, In Defense of Ska, their upcoming new album “Against The Rest”, and so much more!
1 Hello and welcome to Music Shelf. How have you been?
Hi Mustard. I just woke up & I’m only on my first cup of coffee. I’m about to pack up my stuff & head over to the gym to teach a class. Then! I’ll have to shower quickly & race over to CSU East Bay in Hayward to take classes. They’re both art classes, so that’s fine. In between classes I will take a zoom call about some band business. I’ll drive back home around dinner time. Today is Presidents’ Day, so the rest of my family has the day off! All in all, I’m okay. Life has its peaks & valleys, & the older you get, the more you appreciate the steady flat-ish areas.
2. What was the role of music in your life growing up? How did you first get into making music?
My mom taught piano, but never taught me. I think that’s just how it goes. I taught guitar for years & I’ve never taught my sons to play guitar. Ok, not entirely fair: I’ve tried. When it’s your own kids, they won’t listen.
I got interested in playing music in the mid-90’s during the alternative music boom. While Nirvana was the sea change in popular music, it was actually while watching an Anthrax video on MTV that I was suddenly hit by the desire to be in a band. Not to play an instrument, but to be in a band. Being in a band is a lot like a gang. I wanted that camaraderie, that sense of outlaw family.
I wound up choosing guitar because Nirvana made it seem accessible. I took lessons for a few months & learned how to play cowboy chords & ode to joy. It wasn’t until my friend Iain Crabb showed me how to play a power chord that things started to click. You could move this shape around on the guitar & make songs? I was off to the races.
3. Who were your biggest influences in music when you first started playing?
I was a sponge for whatever was happening around me. In Gilroy, where I grew up, shows happened in the next town over. The two biggest bands I saw were Skankin’ Pickle & Deftones. So, speedy ska punk & down-tuned nu metal riffs. I was also really into a band called Crack from San Jose, who were primarily a punk band, but had ska elements. Their singer had been in Sparker, which was a ska band. Weirdly enough: their guitarist is the bassist on Deftones now.
4. You are straightedge. What does that mean and is that an important aspect to your life?
Being straightedge means that I don’t drink, I don’t smoke & I don’t do any drugs. I never have. I’ve seen a lot of people, first hand, damage themselves because they were on something. It’s never held any appeal to me. I’ve been around a lot of drinking & drug use, I understand why people do it. I have other priorities.
5. You are a co-host for the In Defense of Ska Podcast with Aaron Carnes. How did your relationship form and what is the podcast?
Aaron & I met on July 4th, 1992. We were at a Cure concert in San Jose. I went with one group of friends from our high school & he went with another. Between bands we are all standing in a circle talking & I thought “damn that dude must have gotten in a fight!” Aaron’s birthmark gets darker when he’s tan, & it looked a deep purple in the summertime. We are both from Gilroy California, the garlic capitol of the world. A few years later Aaron started Flat Planet, which morphed from a kinda awful prog rock band into a rad ska punk band after he saw Skankin’ Pickle. Two of my best friends Seth & Geoff joined that band as horn players, & I would go to every show. I was a huge fan. I drew sticker and t-shirt art for them. I joined briefly on guitar for about a dozen shows. We had a band for another dozen shows called the Fashion Police, & then for a few years we didn’t see each other as often. Sometime around 2008 we met back up to do some recording, & then for ten years we did a band called Gnarboots. Aaron is my oldest friend that I talk to the most. He is totally out of his mind, but also incredibly thoughtful & intelligent.
6. Do you have a favorite episode? What are some of your favorite things that have happened on the podcast?
We’ve had so many incredible episodes of In Defense of Ska! A huge one for me was talking to Tim Cappello for nearly three hours. I was buzzing for weeks afterward. The Lost Boys was a favorite movie for me, & his scene looms large in my mind. I thought HE would be the head vampire, & when he wasn’t, that plot twist blew my kid-brain.
Also, I’m not gonna lie: any time someone brings up Link 80, it’s incredibly validating. I spent a lot of years in that band, it’s easy to think that you’ve been forgotten, & that nothing you did means shit. Knowing that you influenced others m, even in some small way, is incredible.
7. How frequent are the episodes, how long are they, and where can people find them?
We have put out a new episode on In Defense of Ska once a week for a little over two years. We recently switched things: Patreon subscribers get episodes early on Saturday, & everyone else gets them on Wednesday. Episodes are at least an hour, with bonus content on the Patreon in our “Behind the Curtain” section. You can find the podcast wherever you get podcasts, but you should subscribe to the Patreon to hear the full episodes with no ads: Patreon.com/indefenseofska
8. You were one of the first bands on Bad Time Records. How did you end up on BTR, and what has that been like?
Getting on Bad Time was purely by luck. The original plan for Omnigone was to just record music & put it up online & hope someone cared. I recorded a bunch of stuff with Brent Friedman, Justin Amans & Aaron Carnes trading off on drums. Afterward Brent said “what are you going to do with this? I bet Mike would put it out on his label” turned out we had recorded enough songs for a whole album in literally a day, so that became No Faith. I had met Mike briefly at AMR 20, & then again at the gym. I couldn’t be happier to be on a label. BTR puts out records by incredible bands, we are literally all friends & it’s just the best. I look forward to what the future holds for everyone.
9. Omnigone released their debut album in 2019, but you’ve been putting out music since the late 90s. How has your music and influences changed in the 25 years since you first started releasing music?
Back in the Link 80 era, we all felt like we needed to keep evolving & pushing toward something. We practiced relentlessly & if you listen to the DESA recordings (the band we were all in post-Link 80) we’re all playing really complicated stuff, really fast. Is it fun to listen to though? Some of it is good, but some of it is obnoxious. I was really into super out-there bands in my late 20’s: Xiu Xiu, Tera Melos, Hella, the pAper chAse. I still enjoy that stuff, but these days I want the stuff Link 80 was doing: breakdowns, gang vocals, fast punk beats, & halftime ska.
10. You are going to be doing the West Coast leg of the Bad Time Records tour with Catbite, Kill Lincoln, and We Are The Union coming up. What should people expect from this tour?
We’re only playing seven shows, so expect us to go really hard for every show. We’re playing six songs off the new record. I’m excited to play new songs. We’re practicing tomorrow. I never get to practice so when I do it feels like a big treatS
11. Where can people get more information about venues and tickets?
All of the info is at badtimetour.com, but honestly by the time this interview comes out the shows will probably be in the past? Follow us on instagram to see where we are playing next.
12. You just announced a new album! What’s the name of the album and when does it come out? What was it like recording it?
The new album is called “Against the Rest” the whole album will be out March 31st. We recorded with Jack Shirley at Atomic Garden. I’ve known Jack for a long time, he’s great to work with, his studio is incredibly nice. We recorded the whole thing in starts & stops over a few session. Justin smashed his hand up pretty bad banging out all the songs in two days. It’s my favorite thing I’ve ever recorded.
13. The first single just came out and it’s also titled “Against the Rest”, and if this is what the album is going to sound like, then I’m going to love this album. Why did you choose this song to be the first single and what does the song mean to you?
Against the Rest is the name of the crew started by Link 80. It’s the first song on the album & it sets the tone for the whole record. The first line of the song is “Continue to struggle & fight.” This is all I know how to do, & I’m going to keep doing it until I literally can’t. I did not think I would be able to still perform or even be alive at this age when I was in my 20s. I still feel great, so let’s keep going.
14. Your last album blended hard-core, ska, and punk. Would you say those are the main influences in this album as well? What bands were the biggest influences when you wrote this album?
Honestly? Link 80 is the biggest influence. I was a huge fan before I joined, their level of ferocity was unmatched in ska punk. I learned a lot being in that band and that legacy means a lot to me. Beyond that: Suicide Machines, Capdown, Best of the Worst, Operation Ivy, Fugazi & Strife.
15. Your last album featured your former band mates from Link 80, but also had Brent Friedman and Jeremy Hunter from We Are The Union. Is collaborating with other artists important to you? Do you collaborate with other artists on this upcoming album?
I like having friends on the record, then when we play the song live they can hop on stage if they are there. It’s more fun than DIY. It’s DIWF instead! This album has 18 people on it, technology makes it easy for everyone to contribute & record remotely. I was really stoked to have Jay from Suicide Machines on a verse. Baz’s favorite band as a teenager was Suicide Machines, & they still rip.
16. Where can people find more information about you, Omnigone, and pre-order the album?