My friends are a part of a sludge metal band called The Ominous and have released their very first album on Saturday the 25th of June. While I am working on my Track By Track Interview, Liam Croft, lead guitarist, kindly agreed to talk to me about the new album in an ‘If you ask Me…’ exclusive. If you’ve not heard any of it yet, feel free to listen to Once Bitten on Spotify as you read this post.
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1. When you were making Once Bitten, how much planning was there to do before you got into the studio to begin recording?
We had the songs all written a while ago; we’d wanted to do an EP, but since we had enough material we thought we might as well just record a full album. Kie invested heavily into the necessary equipment, and was committed to recording and producing the album. He’s put an immense amount of hard graft into it and it’s paid off.
2. For this album, you guys wrote the songs, recorded them, and you self-produced them. It must have been a pain in the rear. How did you manage to get through it all?
Kie took the brunt of the recording process alone but was confident to learn how to do it and did a superb job. We supported the work as much as we could, and we all added significant contributions to the song-writing process, so by keeping each other motivated, we managed to produce something we can all be proud of.
3. What was an important thing you learned when recording your album?
We learned, above all else, to support each other through all important ventures as a band. It helped us all be productive to help the joint effort in the band. Kie, myself, Pete and Ted all have roles to play and I feel we put 100% into everything. Kie, in particular, had an incredibly complex job in recording and mixing the album, and produced the full thing brilliantly.
4. The album’s Title, Once Bitten, is taken from an old adage of ‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’ meaning that one takes caution in their actions after an unpleasant experience. What inspired you to make that quote the inspiration of the album title, and the last song of your album?
Twice as Shy was originally a totally different genre, written by Kie years before we had come together in our current line-up. After remembering the song after seeing it on YouTube, I spoke to Kie about potentially using it and changing it to fit our current sound. We were very proud of the result; we felt that because it was our longest song at the time and had an outro that finished the album well, it should be the final song. The Once Bitten title came later when we came close to finishing the album we felt it was the best choice to link the trackless together.
5. Were there any other titles you considered? Some of the song names would have made great album titles, like Live Another Day, for example.
As The Right To Die was the first song on the album and the first we wrote in our new style back in 2015, it was certainly considered. Ultimately though, Once Bitten was one of the first names suggested and was the right choice.
6. It could be said Twice as Shy is the de-facto title track of the album, given that it is the second half of the quote used for the title. Is that the song you’re the proudest of?
Twice as Shy is definitely a favourite, even with our newest material included. It’s a good fit to connect with the album title, and I feel it’s a good first track for new listeners to get an idea of our sound.
7. You guys have obviously been playing music since you went to school with me, and perhaps longer. I know some of you did release an EP in one of your earlier bands, The Dispute. How did your experience recording Place Your Bets influence the recording of Once Bitten?
It was entirely new to us recording Place Your Bets. I think it taught us to plan more effectively, and have an active role in the production process to ensure we get the sound we like.
8. 8130 is another standout. It takes a lot of influence from Punk and early Metallica. It’s very fast and aggressive. It seems like it was a complicated piece to have played/produced. What was the hardest thing to do when you were making this album?
Glad you enjoyed 8130! It’s a song we never play live, just because it’s exhausting to play compared to our other slower tempo songs. It’s a short blast of our older sound when we played mainly aggressive, fast-paced punk, and we feel it was nice to include it on our new release. We’ve also created similar sounding material more recently, so we’re looking forward to showing what else we can do. We were tempted to include an 11th track, a minimalist instrumental guitar piece, but we felt with our equipment and experience it might be best to leave it for a later release, so this was certainly a stressful part of the recording process.
9. How do you think your emotional state affects the music you make? Long Live Fury is a very angry song. Would you say you have to be in an angry state to create your sound?
It definitely affects your writing if you let it, and it often creeps in when you’re not trying to call on it. Emotional experiences lead to great songs. Long Live Fury wasn’t one of these examples, funnily enough, it was one I’d written for a previous band in a death metal style and we altered it for our style.
10. With so many hungry young bands vying for attention, how does The Ominous try to reach out to people to get attention?
We’d like to think we’re doing unique and interesting things with an existing style, and we try to attract new audiences by promoting often and using new ways to get our name out there. We did this recently by having Wagner announce our album release, which to our knowledge hadn’t been done before, and we were really pleased with the response we got!
11. Now with your growing repertoire of original music, you will be taking it all on stage. How does listening to your music live compare to listening to a studio album? Is there something you miss if you don’t hear it live, in your opinion?
We’re really looking forward to more live performances of songs from the album as well as new material. Live, there’s certainly a bigger focus on delivering a minimalist but heavy performance, with two guitars, vocals, bass and drums with constant communication between ourselves and the audience. There are additional instruments on the album recordings, such as an organ in “Ragnarök,” although we’re considering implementing these elements into our live show too. We’d love to attract new audiences with our material, and we really appreciate how much the crowd adds to the live performance experience. A great crowd is so valuable, and always brings out the best in us.
12. Finally, now you’ve recorded the album, what are The Ominous’ plans for the future?
As for our future plans, we want to continue to perform live with the album and our new material and we will be recording again as early as later this year. Thank you to everyone who has listened so far, we’re excited to show you the best we have to offer again and again.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Liam. Once Bitten is out now, and can be listened to on all major streaming services, such as Soundcloud or Spotify, and is available to purchase on iTunes or Google Play Music, and can also be bought physically at live Ominous gigs.