Since charging out of the gate in 2016, Omni has been crafting an earworm rush of twisted post-punk's most caffeinated avenues in the shape of Television, Wire, and Magazine. Across their new album Souvenir, out February 16th on Sub Pop (Weyes Blood, Sweeping Promises, Kiwi Jr.), the Atlanta trio adds an intricate dimension to their wandering foray of exploration with enhanced sonic abstraction, melodic allusiveness, and slashing guitar chords, resulting in the best version of themselves that we’ve seen so far. Ahead of the release, I had the pleasure talking with guitarist Frankie Broyles, bassist-vocalist Philip Frobos, and drummer Chris Yonker all about how the new album came together, how producer Kris Sampson pushed them to reach their full potential, and roping in Izzy Glaudini of Automatic for the first-ever Omni duet.
First, tell me what you've been up to lately. What have you been listening to, reading, or spending a lot of time doing?
Frankie Broyles: Mainly just preparing for the album release, designing show posters and merch, working on music videos, things like that. I've been listening to a lot of Prefab Sprout and Burt Bacharach's Together? OST, which is really good and really sad. I just started reading Ubik by Philip K Dick.
Philip Frobos: Fatherhood has been the main headline for me aside from the album. Our 10 month old is a cool dude. Tonight, he ate homemade shrimp alfredo for the first time. I've been reading the Gospel Singer by Harry Crews and listening to the Jazz Butcher and the Gil Evans Orchestra.
Chris Yonker: Just made the move to Brooklyn for a change of pace and ability to pursue tattooing more seriously. I guess you could see what I've been up to with tattoos on Instagram (@morning.mouth). Other than that, just playing with synthesizers, eating food and preparing to go on tour. As for music, I've been enjoying Ronald Langestraat and Eddie Chacon lately.
How exactly did Omni form in 2016 and what has the journey been like for the last eight years? What are your thoughts looking back on the band's past records?
FB: Philip and I met in 2008 playing in bands in Atlanta. Years later, we became roommates and casually started writing songs together when our other bands broke up. Chris joined the band on drums in 2018. It's been a wild ride. A real time. I don't listen to our old stuff very often but it's fun to do now and then. Sort of like looking through old family photos.
PF: It's been a lovely journey, and the most fulfilling creative endeavor. Our previous albums definitely bring up memories of different years and places in time, but I have no qualms with any of them.
What is it like returning with new music this year after being inactive in the studio since 2019's Networker?
FB: It's exciting. We wanted to wait another five years to release this record to really get people hyped but the label wouldn't let us.
Take me through the recording sessions for your latest LP Souvenir. How did it all come together and where was it recorded? This is the first album to feature Chris too!
FB: We started working on new material in early 2022 with no real direction other than to write songs that were energetic and immediate. Songs that excited us. After writing and demoing material for most of the year, we spent six or seven days in January '23 with Kris Sampson recording drums and bass at my family's cabin in Vienna, Georgia. This is the first Omni record to feature Chris on drums and he killed it. The rest of the record was completed at Kris's home studio in Atlanta.
CY: I had a great time drumming on this record. It's the first time I've played drums on a record since I was 16 years old. Also, I've always enjoyed the mixing process of making a record so being able to suggest experiments and aesthetic decisions was exciting.
What was it like working with Kris Sampson and how did he push you three to your fullest potential?
FB: Kris (Kristofer) Sampson is a delight to work with. He's an incredibly talented engineer and has a serious passion for music. He really put his all into this record and we couldn't be happier with the results.
PF: It was really fun, he definitely brought a new energy to the table and pushed us to be a little more in the forefront than we are used to in general. Guitar leads, vocals, synths, they all stick out a little more. And he makes a mean French press.
CY: Loved working with Kris. Always grateful to work with an engineer that knows how to capture something the right way but is willing to let us try the wrong way too.
Philip, did your solo debut Vague Enough to Satisfy have any influence over the eleven tracks here?
PF: Not tremendously, except maybe that I felt a little more on the loose melodically. I also wanted to explore different lyrical themes on this one, so maybe just going it alone once helped open some of those doors.
What was it like working with Automatic's Izzy Glaudini on the tracks "Plastic Pyramid," "Verdict." and "F1"? What was it like exploring the conventions of a collaborative track?
FB: Working with Izzy was really great. She's a pro and is incredibly talented. She sang all of her parts in one evening. I was especially excited about the vocals she added to "Verdict."
PF: Yeah she's a super pro. We rehearsed and explored possibilities for a few hours and then dove right in. We only set out to get "Plastic Pyramid," but ended up riffing and getting those great takes on "Verdict" and "F1" as well. It was a very natural and exciting process.
CY: LONG LIVE IZZY!
The music video to "Plastic Pyramid" is also as demented as Sparks' "Cool Places" as far as collaborative tracks go. What was it like putting that video together with Izzy and director Zach Pyles?
FB: It was a lot of fun. Zach shot our video for Courtesy Call in 2019 and we've been working with him ever since. He's a true wizard. There is nothing he can't do. Zach's friend and co-worker, AJ Holder has also played a big role in the making of the videos for this record. For Plastic Pyramid, I came up with the general theme and a bunch of shot ideas, sent those to the band and Zach, and together... we made music video magic.
PF: We had a blast, which I think is pretty obvious.
FB: We had pizza delivered.
How did the opener "Exacto" come together? Did you draw from any specific inspirations?
FB: We started writing "Exacto" in Vienna and I later added second guitar parts in Atlanta. I was listening to "Never for Ever" by Kate Bush a lot around the time we were working on this song. It might not sound like it, but her song "Delius" inspired a lot of what is going on in the "I love you like the first night" section. The chimes, synth, and guitar melodies. Zoot Horn Rollo was another source of inspiration on this one.
PF: Not a hundred percent sure but I do remember being on my Big Audio Dynamite kick at that point. I think I also had my copy of Heathen down there with the portable record player.
My personal favorite song off the new LP is "Granite Kiss." What was the vision behind this one?
FB: "Granite Kiss" is kind of a mash up of three or four... or five different riffs that just happened to work together. Kind of feels like aural collage to me. Had a lot of fun adding all of the guitar, piano and synth overdubs in the studio. I like the faux blues outro. Really love Chris's drumming on this one. He killed it.
PF: Also, I felt like we needed a love song, so the lyrics head in that direction and take a trip to Arabia Mountain, which is just outside of Atlanta. It's a very romantic place.
Were there any tracks that were laid down or demoed that were ultimately left out from the sessions? If so, are there plans to rehash them and be released in the foreseeable future?
FB: There are a handful of demos that didn't end up making it to the sessions for the album. We might revisit/rehash some of them. Who knows? We've definitely done it before. Many of the riffs in "F1" were taken from a very different sounding Networker-era demo.
How did the cover art come together? What were you aiming for in correlation to the songs here?
FB: I spent many months working on the cover. Too long. I spent a few weeks figuring out the general composition, just working with shapes. Once we decided on a title, things started moving a bit quicker. The keychain in the center window is based on a keychain my mom had when I was a kid. It was a clear acrylic disc with a tiny can of alpo dog food suspended in the middle. A weird little trinket that, for whatever reason, was so special to me. To me, it felt like a good representation of the album's theme. A collection of souvenirs.
You'll be touring the new album beginning February 24th with a hometown show at The EARL in Atlanta. What are you most excited about getting back on the road?
FB: Looking forward to seeing old friends and eating pho. We eat a lot of pho on tour.
CY: Just excited to snuggle with my boys at various La Quinta's around the US.
Souvenir is out February 16th on Sub Pop Records.