To some, music is purely an outlet — a way for them to let out their inner demons, thoughts and idea. For others, it’s much more than that; they not only eat, breathe and sleep it, they literally never want to let it go. That line tends to be leading difference between amateur and professional, the ones who love doing it as a hobby and the ones who let it wholly encompass their life. After talking with Bad Omen’s front-man Noah Sebastian, we like to think he falls on the professional side of the spectrum as we discussed not only his love for music, but how his new band ended up on Sumerian Records, the stylistic comparisons between them and some of their favorite bands and much more. You can also check out our review of the band’s new, self-titled record here.
While musicians tend to eat, sleep and live music, there’s always more to the people that make up our favorite bands. With that being said, is there anything that isn’t really well known about yourself that you’d be willing to share with people who read this?
Noah: There isn’t much more to me as a person outside of music which is why I perpetually pursue it so vigilantly, because it’s one of the only things I really enjoy about not only myself but the world. I can say though that since this band started I have gotten heavily into entrepreneurship, biz development, digital strategy, and marketing. As well as some self-help motivational speakers that have benefited my personal growth. The root of it all though is music and using any and all knowledge I can acquire to advance the progress of my band/music. I’ve said this before but I really don’t think being in a band should be limited to just performing, recording an album, or touring. In this day in age with how much noise there is distracting people from good talented musicians you have to do everything you can to stand out.
There’s an interview on YouTube from this past May where it was discussed how the band formed and the process going through the stages of getting to signed. First off, it was mentioned that there was discussion with a few labels which ended up with the band signing to Sumerian Records. What made them stand out over other potential offers?
Noah: Sumerian just felt like the right label for this band to be on, and for many reasons. I’ve been a big fan of so many artists on their roster for a very long time, our manager had nothing but great things to say about their team/work ethic, and a little while before we got signed there was a situation I read about online where a band won a Sumerian Records competition they host for unsigned artists that essentially gives the winner a record deal. Which is a pretty generous prize in my opinion, especially in a world where nobody owes you a damn thing to begin with. Long story short the winning band basically acted like entitled brats over the very commonplace terms that came with this record deal they were handed, tried to put the label on blast online, and Ash the founder of the label responded to the band with nothing but knowledge and truth about the logistics/history of record deals and put the band in it’s place, all in very good taste. Which I had a lot of respect for and really appreciated.
Following up on that, there was a brief mention regarding a demo EP that was hashed out and passed around amongst potential suitors. Are any of the songs off that demo on the upcoming record and were there any specific reasons for keeping them or leaving them off?
Noah: Exit Wounds, Glass Houses, Malice, Lyrics from Hedonist, the instrumental for The Worst In Me, and the chorus melody for Reprise were all a part of that EP that was never released. They were all songs I really like, that also had meaning to me so they were revamped and made the cut for what is now our self titled full length. Any songs from that EP that didn’t make it just weren’t strong enough songs to be on what I wanted to be the best possible debut album this band could make.
Since the announcement of Bad Omens as a band and then the record itself, there’s been a seemingly large amount of anticipation and hype compared to other bands in the same fold. Why do you think that is and does having such high expectations, especially right away, help or hurt a band?
Noah: My manager and I say this almost every time we get into a long discussion about music or bands, and that’s that “It starts and ends with the music”. Meaning at the end of the day your first priority needs to be good songwriting and the desire to make the best song you’re capable of making. People gravitate towards good music and any other bells, whistles, or gimmicks are nice, but won’t compensate for the crucial foundation that is good songwriting. That partnered with what a conscious effort we make to only release high quality content, engage with every single fan, and put on the best live show we can really pays off. If luck and hard work had a battle I would put my money on hard work every time. As far as high expectations helping or hurting a band I think it’s a great inspiration and reminder to stay on your grind and keep from slacking, so I’d say help.
In regards to the overall sound for the band, it’s been discussed there’s a huge amount of variety due to personal tastes from band members and influences from the pop world, more specifically their song structure. Was there ever a desire to create a more experimental or progressive sound or do you do feel the style on the upcoming album fits the band and what you wanted to do best?
Noah: I am entirely happy with the format that we write songs. Rock/Pop music has been written with this easily memorable verse-chorus structure in the western world for decades and decades now, not to mention this is how most of my favorite music is written. I don’t know why or at what point music was deemed “talentless” or “generic” just because it didn’t resemble a complex math problem or Dragonforce on expert guitar skills, but it’s very frustrating that some people can’t just appreciate it all the way I do. Just because you can shred on your instrument doesn’t mean you can write good music, and if you CAN do both, you don’t always HAVE to. Sometimes, less is more.
There’s been quite a few comparisons between Bad Omens and Bring Me The Horizon, mostly with the atmospheric and electronic elements found on Sempiternal. Do you happen to notice some of those similarities on the record and how do you feel about them?
Noah: I am self-aware enough to recognize them, especially being someone that studies songwriting and produces music for a living. My opinion on this frequently asked question about us and Bring Me is that we both just have a lot of the same, and in my opinion, very good tastes. I’ve always admired BMTH and Sempiternal absolutely blew me away along with the rest of the world, but they didn’t invent this sound. We have influences on our album from bands like Deftones, Crosses, Nine Inch Nails, and Linkin Park, to artists like Panic At The Disco, The Neighbourhood, The 1975, and even The Weeknd. But kids that refuse to open their minds and listen to anything but the same 5 bands have nothing else to compare new bands to than what is unfortunately, a very narrow catalogue of music. Which honestly bums me out for them because there is so much great music they’re missing out on. It seems that it’s mostly younger individuals that missed out on a good era of music though making these remarks because whenever we talk to the older crowd of listeners they have opinions that are much more accurate and educated.
One of the things that always intrigues me is the behind the scenes work for bands and their albums. Foremost, is there an overall central theme to the record or is it more of a typical album where each song is meant to stand out on its own?
Noah: There are definitely some reoccurring themes on the album but it’s not one cohesive concept. Just individual stories and experiences shared through music and lyric. There’s a lot of self loathing on the album, but also a lot of strength. One thing I advocate in this band is being real and true to yourself, so I hope that when we write the next album my head is in a better place and there’s more positivity and strength on it. As much as artists (myself included) like to romanticize melancholy, it’s not something we will write about if it isn’t there.
Following up on that, when you went into the studio, how much of the music was already ready to go compared to what was left to do? Were there a lot of changes in regards to what you thought the record would come out like versus what it did come out like?
Noah: Well before we went to the ACTUAL studio we would be tracking the album in, we did pre-pros in our drummer Nick Folio’s basement in Frederick, Maryland. We did this so that the final recording process would be less hectic last minute songwriting, and more fine tuning, focus to detail, and fun in the studio environment. One thing that Will Putney complimented us on that really flattered me was was how prepared we were when we got to the studio. Most bands tend to get a little lazy and just say “we’ll write the rest when we get to the studio” but that’s not how good songs are composed, in my opinion. We even had stems, midi, samples, etc ready to go for him when we got there so we could get straight to work.
Lastly, you guys worked with Will Putney on the record, who clearly has a track record of successful releases. How was the vibe between the band and him and how did he help shape the overall sound and style of the record?
Noah: I’d like to start by saying that as an aspiring producer myself, I’ve been a huge fan of Will for a long time so even getting to go there in the first place was a huge honor and I think he killed the mix on our debut album (in a good way haha). Once again though he really flattered the band in the earlier stages of the recording process where he typically makes big adjustments to songs before you record them, saying that there really wasn’t much he thought needed to change about them and complimented how well they were already written/produced. He did a lot of work on F E R A L and the more electronic songs, introducing us to some really cool sounds and plugins, but outside of that and a great job producing some of my melodies/lyrics he didn’t have much to change about the style/sound of the record. I hope to work with him someday again if not with Bad Omens then in another capacity because we definitely clicked and had some awesome musical moments together.
Going outside the realm of the record, you guys have previously discussed the bands financial assets. One of the intriguing things was how you keep track of everything via various apps and really pay attention to the financial aspect. Did that come from watching other bands of all sizes come out and discuss their poor situations or has that always been something you’ve wanted to be more involved in rather than letting someone else handle it?
Noah: It’s always something I’ve wanted to be involved in as I’m an aspiring business man beyond being a musician, but the reality is that I had an amazing teacher, my manager Jason Malhoyt (Imperial Artist Management/Enlighten Creative Studio). He’s taught me all about music industry politics/economics, and also a ton about staying organized and efficient financially on tour to avoid going into debt like most bands. This management company is like no other in our scene in my opinion. It’s a very strong and organized family, with tons of great resources from graphic and web design, to music videos and marketing strategy. I get more and more involved with him and his company all the time and we have some very big plans together for it down the line.
On the tour front, you guys are part of the upcoming ‘10 Years In The Black’ tour, featuring an incredible and diverse lineup from the Sumerian Records roster. How did it feel to be added to that bill and what can people expect to see from you in a live setting?
Noah: It felt absolutely unreal. I am truly so grateful every time I think about it. The venues alone that we’re playing on this tour are absolutely incredible, some legendary, and I never imagined that I’d get to step foot on their stages. As far as expectations of this band live, you can expect as much raw intensity as we can give give. I also love to get as close and personal with the crowd as I can so if you know the words, don’t be shy.
Lastly, this is your platform to voice yourself and anything we didn’t have a chance to cover to people who read this, so feel free to drop anything here.
Noah: All I can say is if you’re a music fan and reading this is please do your best to be actively open minded and supportive of music. Don’t be ashamed to like the things you truly enjoy, and don’t let your peers convince you that it isn’t “cool” to like something just cause they don’t.
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”
― Albert Einstein
Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us and we can’t wait for the upcoming album and to catch you on tour!