Adam Davis is certainly no stranger to anyone that’s been around the punk rock scene for the past 2 decades. As a part of the iconic ska/punk group Link 80, Davis played a very integral role in showing the world another side of the prevalent East Bay punk rock scene. Now, a few bands (Desa, and G.N.A.R.B.O.O.T.S) and some years later, Davis has returned to his ska/punk roots with his latest project Omnigone and their debut full-length album No Faith. We had the incredible opportunity to chat with Davis about the album, the inevitable comparisons the new project gets to Link 80, some of the songs from the album that he feels you should check out, what’s coming up next for the band, and much more!
1. You released your debut full-length album No Faiththis past September. Tell us a little bit about the album. How it came together, why you wanted to do an album like this for today’s generation, etc.
I didn’t realize we were making an album at the time. I went into the studio with a group of friends to record a bunch of songs, with no real plan for how or when they would be released. In a single day we knocked out something like 12 songs. I tracked vocals over a few different sessions with Vantana Row. It started to make more & more sense to release it all as an album. Brent from We Are The Union was actually the person who said “Why don’t you see if Bad Time Records will put it out?” I had met Mike at the gym (he was wearing an AMR shirt, so I said hi). I asked him and he was into the idea!
I half-expected there were already a ton of young East Bay bands already playing fast hardcore-influenced ska punk, & that I hadn’t heard of them because I’m “old”. It turns out there aren’t really any bands doing it. Hopefully Omnigone can fill that vacancy. Also, I’d love to be wrong about this. If there’s some rad young band playing ska punk with breakdowns in the East Bay, I would love to go see them! Someone let me know.
2. What can people who are familiar with you through your previous bands (Link 80, Desa, and G.N.A.R.B.O.O.T.S) expect to hear from this that your previous work didn’t offer?
The main difference from previous projects is that I’m the loudest voice. Link 80 and DESA wrote songs by democracy, everyone throwing in their own ideas. There’s something to be said for this type of writing, but it’s intense. It requires a lot of trial & error, a lot of talking. So far in Omnigone, I write all the songs. Eventually it’ll be myself & Barry writing the songs, but first I needed to prove to myself that I could write songs alone.
For the uninitiated, I describe Gnarboots as musical terrorism. It’s a chaotic cathartic dance party, equal parts performance art, primitive drum circle, and primal scream therapy. I haven’t felt much like doing G.N.A.R.B.O.O.T.S recently because I’ve been getting less out of it than I put into it. That said, Gnarboots is F.O.R.E.V.E.R.
In conclusion, if you want to hear me play ska punk, come see Omnigone. If you want to dance under a parachute with a clown, come see Gnarboots.
3. Obviously, because Omnigone is a ska/punk type of group, you’ll draw comparisons to Link 80. Do you embrace those comparisons, or do you strive to establish Omnigone as its own thing separate from that?
I absolutely embrace the comparison. This is a continuation of what I helped build, an offshoot where I can make my own choices. Link 80 had 19 members in & out of the band. When we reunited in 2016, we had to coordinate the lives of nine people. It’s frustrating to put so much of your time & energy into a project, to have to stop doing it because other members don’t share your enthusiasm. Link 80 can be its own thing, Omnigone is my way to free myself & continue to create music that I love.
4. You toted “Horizontal Aggression” as an early single for the album. Why did you feel that this song was the best definition for what the album is as a whole?
Oh, I don’t think I picked it because I thought it represented the album as a whole. I picked it because it sounded the most like what I set out to accomplish with the band. I like the message of the song, I like the way the parts fit together, I like the abrasive ska punk style. When I went into the recording studio, the amp that I was borrowing to play guitar through didn’t have a foot switch. So, that made the stylistic choice for all the guitar parts to be distorted, which I think was a good choice. I also didn’t want the lead song to be a song with horns, since we won’t always feature horns.
5. You also released “Rather Be Alone” ahead of the album, a song that gave us a different feel for what the album held for us with its laid-back reggae chill. Why was this song, which is vastly different than “Horizontal Aggression,” chosen as a representative of the album over the other songs?
I have pretty varied musical taste. My original concept for a new ska-punk band years ago was to have epic 11-minute-long songs in a heavier style and then shorter more traditional ska sounding songs. Like Fall of Efrafa for one song & the Specials for another. The idea also was to not have it go from ska to punk in the same song.
When we went into the studio, I originally had four drummers lined up. One of those was Monkey’s old drummer, Matt Kolb. Unfortunately, he had just found out he had cancer, so he bowed out of the session. His inclusion in my mind was to bring a more traditional ska influence to some of the songs.
Aaron Carnes (of Gnarboots) played on this song, which originally started out as a G.N.A.R.B.O.O.T.S song called “Pokey the Cat.” I thought the vibe of the arrangement came out so nice, I rewrote the vocals & melody.
Oh wait, I need to answer the question: I wanted to include a song that was the polar opposite of “Horizontal Aggression.” I wanted to showcase the variety within the album.
6. Now that the album is out, for the people who haven’t got their copy yet, which two songs from it would you recommend they take a listen to first to help them make their decision to add this album to their collections.
I’d go with the title track, “No Faith.” It’s the heaviest song on the album and the horn part is cool. I had fun recording the vocal.
I’m also partial to “West Coast East Bay.” It’s sort of a love song written to 924 Gilman; to all-ages venues in general, to the community those places help to foster and the friendships they create. There’s a ton of lyrics crammed into that song & a few nods to bands and people I love.
7. What’s your personal favorite song from the album and why?
“Obituary.” It’s the first song I wrote for Omnigone; the lyrics are written as much to myself as the listener.
8. What’s next for Omnigone from here? Is there new material in the works? A full-fledge tour? Etc…
We have new material recorded that we’re looking to release soon. Touring probably isn’t a reality here in the states, but we’re looking at the UK. Barry & I are currently demoing new material & sooner than later we’ll be back in the studio working on the next album. We’ve only played two shows so far. We’ll be playing more shows, they just need to be planned well in advance to get everyone sorted to be there. We’d like to come out to the East Coast. Florida. Texas. Japan. Everything just takes a lot of time to plan & costs a lot of money. If anyone reading this has a label, or a rad band, or runs a venue, or just has a ton of money to give us, hit us up!
9. You’ve said that this project was really born from the 2 reunion shows with Link 80 in 2016. How did that experience set this chapter in motion for you?
The reunion reminded me how much I enjoy playing this type of music. I also missed playing music with all of these dudes. They’re like my brothers. If I can use Omnigone as an excuse to stay in closer contact with some of them, that’s huge for me. Already I’ve been able to stay in more constant contact with Barry. We had Joey (he played drums in Link 80) play our LA show. Ryan (he sang in Link 80 & DESA) came to the show to hang out. Steve Borth (saxophonist for Link 80) recorded his parts for the album way out in Denmark! Our kids still get to say hello to one another via FaceTime.
At the end of the second Link 80 set, I made peace with the fact that we probably weren’t going to do this again. Link 80 is a lot of fun, but it comes with a lot of baggage. We’ll see what the future holds.
10. We’re all about helping the next generation at allageszine.com, so we always end all our Q&A’s with this question. What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is just starting out with their first band today?
Only one piece of advice? I’m gonna break the rules & just put a bunch of advice here: make yourself indispensable. Be the leadsinger or the drummer. Learn a secondary skill (recording, graphic design, accounting, booking) that you can use to make money. Get AAA when you go on tour. Never cancel shows the day of the show, unless someone is dead or in jail. Don’t break down your drums on stage. Don’t rely on crowdfunding for everything.