Tag, You're It is Heard Mentality's weekly interview feature. The concept is simple: One local artist picks another local artist to interview, then the interviewee becomes the interviewer of an artist of his or her choice the following week.
Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
Upon meeting Brandon Seger for the first time, I was admittedly underwhelmed. He was mild mannered, polite and soft-spoken; the kind of personality that is easily forgotten. Right away he told me he'd heard my band and that when his band OMAHA was ready, that we should play shows together. I agreed, but internally had no intention of checking his band's demo out. That was until later that night when I heard him singing a karaoke version of Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher."
He turned into an animal on stage. Hitting Diamond Dave's high-pitched squeals effortlessly while brooding back and forth, he assumed the persona perfectly (minus the hot pants and neon pink adornment). I was captivated and instantly regretted writing him off.
I feel like most people's initial reaction to OMAHA is the same. At first glance, the quiet, seemingly introverted band members provide little indication of what's to come. But once they hit the stage, it becomes quite clear: this band means fucking business.
With unrivaled focus and intense spiritual concentration, OMAHA punishes their audiences with complex, detuned sludge riffs, serrated drum pulses and tortured vocal hooks.
On par with bands like Botch, Coalesce, Meshuggah and Slayer, OMAHA has crafted a unique brand of metal that is haunting and strangely accessible while still retaining its edge and integrity. Brandon has since become a friend and an inspiration to me. I consider myself lucky to have met him when I did. Hopefully this interview will give the readers some insight into what inspires him.
Danielle Bacher/OC Weekly
Justin Suitor: How do you feel about heavy rock getting positive attention in Orange County again?
Brandon Seger: It's a breath of fresh air.
What makes you want to play heavy music?
Jon, Ben and I have listened to heavy music our whole lives. That's what we love. For me, heavy music has always been challenging. People seem to admire technicality and specific musical references within the details. We want to bring that out in our tunes.
Who has had the biggest influence over you in your musical career?
The biggest cultural influence for the aggression in our music is listening to the news and hearing about what goes on in the world. The specific human influences are local acts and big acts, plus a few Costa Mesa bands that never got big outside of the scene. One of them would be a band called Ruth. I used to roadie for them and sit in on all of their practices. I probably picked up more subconsciously from their practices than anywhere else.
Their singer Landon Vineyard was playing bass at the time. It was so cool to see him snaking around his bass lines while singing aggressively in a pissed-off cadence and tone. I definitely pulled from that. Then there's the obvious: Melvins, Pink Floyd, Slayer, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana... it's pretty wide-open. It doesn't need to be heavy, just good music.
Danielle Bacher/OC Weekly
What made you want to start screaming for OMAHA?
When we started, the first tune we wrote was "Evil Eye." We had all of the music for it. It came to a point where either I was going to sing it, or we were going to have to find a vocalist.
The fear of having to deal with getting a singer and the potential personality conflicts drove me to try really hard. I had a sound in my head, and I knew what I wanted to do. So I went to the studio. It was a rainy day. I was singing over the instrumental in the car on the way down, and it wasn't coming out the way that I heard it in my head. So I turned the music up louder. I remember the windshield wipers going back and forth. I was in Vernon, and I just fucking let it go. The chorus for "Evil Eye" is what came out.
I've been finding myself ever since.
All of the lyrics I've heard from you have been really straightforward. Why have you favored straight talk as opposed to the more abstract and surreal styles of writing lyrics?
It seemed like at the birth of the alternative scene, Nirvana re-popularized obscure lyrics that were hard to figure out. Initially it seemed very artistic and interesting because there was a meaning behind it. But what that turned into was people being able to just spout words and say, "I'm obscure, I'm an artist."
I'm sorry, if there's no substance behind your obscurities, there's nothing to it.
For me, I really wanted our lyrics to be straightforward. So all of our lyrics are pretty much plain and out there because the motives behind them are true."
Danielle Bacher/OC Weekly
What's your personal connection to the anger involved in OMAHA?
I'd say that the time period between age 25 and 30 was the genesis of that anger. It was a time where I was making a lot of bad decisions and wasting a lot of time. It's hard not to look back on that period and feel like I could have been doing this then. It's not healthy to do that, but feeling like I wasted the prime of my youth making bad decisions makes me angry.
If I could say one last thing, it would be to young musicians who are thinking about putting bands together. Try playing some heavy shit. It's honest music, the bands you end up meeting and playing with are down to earth and the audience reaction reflects and feeds the intensity of the live performance. There's nothing quite like it.