Omnigone tap Jay from Suicide Machines for new song, talk new LP, ska scene & more in new Q&A
Omnigone, the Bay Area ska-punk band led by former Link 80 member Adam Davis, recently announced their sophomore album Against The Rest and shared its title track (which we named one of the best punk songs of February), and now we're premiering its second single "Communities in Collaboration," which features fellow ska-punk veteran Jay Navarro of The Suicide Machines. As Adam tells us in a new Q&A, despite Link 80 coming up around the same time as The Suicide Machines, Adam and Jay actually only met more recently, but they're of course likeminded in so many ways and it's a thrill to hear Jay assisting Omnigone on this ripper. "The song is about mutual aid, how we are all in this together," Adam tells us. "Helping out your fellow human in need, the realization that we are neighbors, that we can have enough if we work together. As Bad Op would say: Eat the Rich, Feed the Kids." Check it out below.
I also spoke to Adam about how much has changed for both Omnigone and the ska-punk scene in general since this band formed, musical influences and lyrical themes on the new album, his experiences co-hosting the In Defense of Ska podcast with Aaron Carnes, the upcoming Bad Time Records tour and accompanying concert film/documentary This Is New Tone that Omnigone are involved with, and more. Read on for our chat...
We're premiering "Communities In Collaboration" with Jay Navarro. How did you first meet Jay? How did this particular collaboration come about?
I met Jay through the internet! During the pandemic, when everyone was doing IG Live, Jay popped on with me for a few minutes & we chatted. Somehow Suicide Machines and Link 80 never crossed paths back in the day when I was in the band. We also chatted for a few hours on In Defense of Ska, and Jay told us insane stories about the early days of Suicide Machines. Baz (our bassist) and I were talking about getting some guests on this album and I thought “fuck it, I’ll ask Jay” he said yes, but to keep bugging him, otherwise he would forget. So, I kept bugging him every few days for weeks until it got done. He said “my voice was a little rough, I played a break anchor show the night before.” I think it sounds perfect. I finally got to meet Jay at Fest this year, and the first thing I did was push him into the pit for Against All Authority. He’s the best.
Any overarching lyrical themes on the album that you can talk about?
Probably the largest theme is making the most of the time you have. You only get so much life, how are you going to spend it? What really matters if you only had two years left? It’s a horrible misconception that you’re done at 30. There is no reason to stop making art, to stop making music, to give up on dreams. At 46 I am still growing and changing, testing my limits and challenging my own beliefs.
What were some of the major musical influences on this album?
All of the music on Bad Time. Seriously. Since we put out No Faith in 2019 the bar has been continually raised. We needed to step up.
When we were doing Link 80, other ska punk albums 9 times out of 10 sounded like absolute garbage. Bands only cared about the live show. Now, albums are king again. So, we put a ton of work into making this the best record we could make, and we’re already taking everything we learned & putting it into writing LP3.
What would you say were some of the biggest changes between writing/recording Against the Rest and No Faith?
No Faith had zero planning. I wrote out progressions in the studio, we jammed them once or twice, then recorded them. I tracked vocals with Vantana Row in the van, often times finalizing lyrics just as we hit record. It was completely by the seat of our pants. With Against the Rest, we demoed everything in advance. We wrote & re-wrote parts. We recorded at Atomic Garden with Jack Shirley. Everything was intentional.
No Faith came out in 2019, and obviously the ska scene and the excitement around ska has changed a lot since then. From your point of view, how has being in a ska band changed between the time Omnigone formed and now?
When I started Omnigone, I didn’t think anyone would care. I just missed playing ska punk. Somehow tho: people cared. Lots of people, and lots of rad bands came out of the woodwork. I think a lot of people reassessed what they enjoy musically during the pandemic, and realized: it’s okay to like ska, and it’s possible to play ska without it being goofy.
Also, given your history with Link 80, how would you compare the third wave era to what's happening now with New Tone / Bad Time Records / etc?
It’s totally different. “3rd Wave” was a weird cash grab trend hop. It was the same as “swing revival” or “nu metal” or “grunge”. A few bands got huge, a few did it really well, and there were hundreds that tried to cash in and were goofy as fuck. Not just in ska, all of these genres! Now, with New Tone, it’s politically and culturally similar to the Two Tone movement. And it’s NOT just BTR bands! There are tons of bands out there playing different versions of ska/ska punk, and while they might not want to adopt the “New Tone” moniker, they are also pushing the genre forward! If you don’t like ska, you just haven’t found the version that resonates with you.
Also, in Link 80, we had very few close allies. I could count on both hands every band we aligned with. Now? There’s too many to count. Allow me a moment to name a few we haven’t had the chance to play with yet, but I want to: FUSKA, 8Kalacas, Folly, Sorry Sweetheart, the Dendrites, La Muerte, Til I’m Bones, Random Hand, Faintest Idea, Redeemon, La Pobreska.
You also stay busy co-hosting the In Defense of Ska podcast with Aaron Carnes. How has doing that podcast impacted your experience with the ska scene or just as a musician or person in general?
About a year into In Defense of Ska I realized that the show has infinite potential for guests. Everyone has a connection to ska. It helped me realize that we are all connected, that music is a continuum and that everything influences everything. We are all more connected than we believe, and that just being nice goes a long way to opening doors for you.
Also most people have a connection back to Mike Park. He seems to be the touchstone for a lot of people involved in modern SKA.
Omnigone are taking part in the Bad Time Records tour that's being filmed for the This Is New Tone documentary. What are you most looking forward to with this tour? Any surprises in store at these upcoming Omnigone sets?
I’m just looking forward to hanging out with everyone, in Omnigone and in all the other bands. These are all some of my best friends, and getting to tour where I’m excited to see every band every night is mind blowing. I’m also excited to do a lot of escape rooms. It’s an expensive habit but DAMN they are fun! As far as surprises in our set: we’ll have some friends on stage with us.
What's one current underrated ska-punk band that the world should be paying more attention to right now?
Noise Complaint. They just put out a split with The Upfux and the whole thing is killer (check out The Upfux too). Nicky Noize, who has been playing guitar with us, is their drummer. They’re awesome.
Favorite ska-punk album of all time?
Capdown, from the UK. The most upsetting shortcoming of my musical career has been not being able to bring them stateside. I was hoping we could organize it for the Link 80 reunion in 2016 but it didn’t happen. If you’ve never listened to Capdown, their first two albums (Civil Disobedients and Pound for the Sound) are absolute classics.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I’d like to give a shout out to Brent Friedman, who as I am typing this is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his 18th birthday. If it wasn’t for Brent volunteering to play drums for a potential ska punk band when I first met him, I don’t know that Omnigone would exist.
Get tickets to the Bad Time tour here. Against the Rest drops 3/31 via Bad Time Records. Pre-order it here.