Melbourne’s The Omnific are a very interesting beast. On the one hand, there’s the fact that the three-piece are a rhythm section galore with only drummer Jerome Lematua and two bassists – Matthew Fackrell and Toby Peterson-Stewart – making up the lineup. On the other hand, there’s the fact that with a very tight, talented drummer and with ten-strings altogether, this trio makes some very complex, layered and engaging instrumental prog music. With their solid sophomore EP ‘Kismet’ just days away, the young band spoke to us about having two bassists, their solid new EP ‘Kismet’ (which drops this week), their thoughts on how this new release compares to their past material, how they go about creating their songs, being labelled a “gimmicky” band, and more.
First off, and just to get this out of the way early on, why the use of two basses for those who don’t know?
We usually get called out for doing it for the “gimmick” of having two bass players in a band. But in all honesty, we just met and had mutual musical tastes and passion to create music that we really love.
I find that ‘The Omnific’ is a fitting name for your band, what with you guys having a very interesting, very creative instrumental prog sound. I assume that was the reasoning behind picking that name in the first place, yes?
We chose “The Omnific” because we liked the meaning of the definition (being able to do anything without limits); it really resonated with what we are wanting to do with our musical endeavours.
However, the definition of the word omnific means “creating all things; having unlimited powers of creation”. Ergo, do you ever wonder that with only being a three-piece band of a drummer and two bassists (even with backing synths, atmos and strings) that maybe there are indeed creative limitations on what you can do?
We pride ourselves on making music that gives the feeling that you can do anything in the world and feel like a superhero. The word “omnific” refers to the idea that we are trying to put forward, rather than referring directly to ourselves.
Right. That being said, what do you think is The Omnific’s biggest strength with a lineup like this and with such a rhythmic-section orientated sound?
We found that we’re all on very similar wavelengths when it comes to practising and striving to be the best we can be. Not so much the fact that we’re technically all just a rhythmic-section, but more so that we all pay close attention to details in articulation and every note’s purpose in a song.
As a drummer myself, I am a little curious about the 5-string Ernie Ball Music Man Bongo basses you use. Mainly, what do you feel that makes that particular brand work for your music and why use that brand specifically – is it just a type of bass you’re really used to or is it one you love the sound or action of?
The Bongo’s have a really rich, smooth and punchy sound that we found really works for music where the bass has nowhere to hide. Toby used to use an Ibanez sr505, which was great at the time being but ever since he tried a Music Man Bongo he found the full and consistent tone that he was missing out on when he played the sr505.
Cool! Now, in what ways do you feel that the ‘Kismet’ EP differentiates itself from ‘The Cuneiform Script’ single and the ‘Sonorous’ EP before it – is it a matter of your approach, intent, musicianship or maybe another factor?
We feel ‘Kismet’ is strong in putting forward what we’re all about. Having refined our sound and taste after our debut ‘Sonorous’ EP we made sure we had only our best songs make it onto this release, from weeding out weaker material and spending months really fine-tuning every aspect of ‘Kismet’ (takes, synths, drum tones, mixing and mastering), we are all really excited for this EP to represent where we are now musically.
Matthew, you’ve mentioned that this EP was “…an incredibly personal release for me, as being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in February of this year. Having these tracks to work on helped me to not get overwhelmed from the life-changing issues I was facing. I even have a track on this EP I wrote whilst in hospital which I think captures the emotions of how I was feeling at the time.” Which of these new eight songs is the song that you wrote whilst staying in the hospital?
The title track ‘Kismet’ was written whilst in the hospital and I do believe it’s also the strongest track on the EP.
Also regarding your Type 1 Diabetes Matthew, I just wanted to say that that shit is rough. Similar issues run in my family and my father has Type 2 Diabetes, and his father passed away of a heart attack also. But in saying that, I do find it a little funny and morbid that this EP is titled ‘Kismet’ as that means “destiny; fate” – something I’m sure you’ve grappled with because of this.
We had actually named the EP before I was diagnosed with T1 Diabetes, which is quite uncanny. The EP and song name is quite fitting though as the disease is completely unpreventable and I’m glad that the name does have meaning to me.
That is an odd twist of fate. Since hearing the EP, I’ve been wondering how an Omnific song actually comes into creation? Does it start with a riff, a certain chord progression, a certain tone or idea, or does it maybe not even start on the bass but another instrument?
The premise of our music is usually created by fiddling around on the bass until something we believe is interesting happens. There’s no specific method that’s followed. We haven’t yet experimented with creating ideas on alternate instruments but that would certainly be a new way of approaching our songwriting.
Much like how Lance Prenc’s name is everywhere these days on the credits of Aussie releases, so is Jamie Marinos’ name. So what kind of “Additional Programming” did Marinos actually bring to your new EP – was it helping with drum programming, getting the right samples to be used, arrangement and programming of the virtual instruments?
Jamie was a huge help with this EP, he assisted with arrangement and choosing the samples of certain parts we had written, and also had his own creative input on the writing too.
Obviously, with the backing instrumentation and layers of your sound, they’re all placed on a backing track live I take it? Just so that your live sound isn’t lacking from what people have heard on the EP?
Yes, we run all of the programming on a backing track live.
With bass being such a harmonic and rhythmic foundation, was it ever hard early on for the band to make that instrument the central idea and melodic core of The Omnific’s sound without using a guitar as a front and centre musical motif?
Not particularly, we always approached the songwriting and the music with the ideas solely being on the bass so the lack of guitar hasn’t been an issue.
Fair enough. Now, what do you say to people who laugh off your music because of the dual-bass approach and those people who label you a gimmicky band?
We receive an overwhelming amount of love compared to the haters, so it makes it easy to brush off. Because, honestly, there will always be people who won’t like us and who think we’re pretentious fucks [laughs]. But we’ll just continue to write the music that we love.
Sounds good! Finally, and as a bit of a cheeky question, but as per the two basses, on a scale of one to ten, how much do you guys fucking love Evan Brewer?
Evan Brewer is a boss! We rate him 9.9 ‘very nice’s’ out of 10.
The Omnific’s new EP, ‘Kismet’ is out this Friday, November 24th. Be sure to pick it up here come release day – it’s solid!