Keeping up with my streak of non-LA bands, let’s roll on over to Nashville for a band that is the epicenter of a mish mash of blues, rock n roll, metal, punk and a little funk. It sounds like an overwhelming mix, but let me convince you that Omega Swan does it damn well.
Omega Swan was introduced to me via a friend of mine, Kristin, who shot me an email with their tunes because she thought they would be a band I would dig on. She was right. After only listening to a few tracks, it became very apparent that this band was something special. Their genre mixing is not just song-to-song, but individually within each song you can pick out a multitude of genres working together to create tracks that are entirely engaging and fresh on the ears. Overall, from their album,‘OS-1’, you can expect in each tune heavy beats, deep, filthy guitar riffs, and a variety of vocal styles. But as always, I have to pick a couple standout tracks. First up is “Planet Rad”. This tune will keep you captivated musically via warm, bluesy guitar with a punk rock Strummer-esque vocal style and quick rhythms. The climax sports a killer marching drum breakdown and finishes you off with a rad guitar solo. This song is just plain fun, not only will get you moving, but with lyrics like, “I’ll take you to another planet, I’ve got a planet understand it, take my hand, I command it. I command it! Find me on Planet Rad, the best life you ever had.” You can’t help but sing along.
Then you get down to “Alien”, this is definitely a metal rooted tune. Echoing drums, deep guitar riffs, and drawn out, powerful vocals. The climax leads into chanting and tribal-like beats. Lyrically, this song is simple but can be interpreted in a variety of ways, which make it just as powerful as any tune with no break in lyrics from beginning to end. Take the lines, “Where have we gone? Is this a tour around the faction? Where have you taken me Alien?” Clearly, this song could be about an actual alien abduction, and it totally works. However, you can also take this to be a person that is foreign to the lyricist but has some kind of power over him. These kind of songs are the best kind, they force you to listen to the music and feel it, but it also really gets into that noggin of yours.
Omega Swan is Marcus Garceau – Guitar/Vocals, Will Burgess – Bass, and Mark Madison – Drums. These guys have created a sound that truly embodies variety, and executes it like no other band I’ve listened to. Honestly, no matter what kind of music fan you are: metal, funk, blues, rock n roll, punk; you will find something on this album for you. The gentlemen of OS were gracious enough to take time to answer some questions for BBB, so continue on into this post get to know the band. Find out how they came together, the rad significance of their name, and why they, “aren’t gonna whine about it when people tell us rock is dead and there’s no use. We’re going to adapt and make it so you can’t deny it, you have to notice it.”
When and why did each of you start playing?
Marcus: I was surrounded by music growing up. Miles Davis & the Stones everyday. I started playing guitar when I was 12 after seeing the Darkness in Providence (RI). It was my first time going to a rock and roll show, and Justin Hawkins was wearing this one-piece leather jump suit, unzipped down to his crotch. It was badass, they tore it up. As we were leaving the Dunk I was all hyped up on the Darkness, I told my dad I wanted to learn to play the guitar like that. He’s a musician himself, Berklee grad, so he was all about it, and we started playing the guitar together. He’s the man, I am lucky to have such an inspiring dad. He was a bass and trombone player, but he knew enough about guitar to teach me the basics, and I took it on from there. I played in a few rock bands as a rhythm guitar player growing up in RI, and when I was 20 I moved to Nashville to start a real deal Rock n’ Roll band where I could push myself creatively. I taught myself how to sing and started writing songs, and immediately met Mark and Will when I moved to Nashville. It just kept going from there, and now it’s a thing. I still jam with my dad on some blues every time I go home.
Will: I started playing bass about two years ago, but I had played guitar prior to that since I was ten. I started playing with some friends in my neighborhood. I got my first guitar for $75 at a music story in the mall in my hometown. We got really serious about jamming after we all saw an Incubus concert together in Austin Texas. We continued playing together off and on throughout high school. Then I decided on moving to Nashville to continue playing music and met Mark and Marcus.
Mark: I started playing the drums when I was 8 years old. My family and I were driving home after church one Sunday checking the progress on the corn fields around the farm, when we passed my older cousin’s house who happened to be a drummer. As we passed, I told my Father I wanted to play drums like my cousin and his immediate response was “Okay, we can make that happen”. Within days I was taking introductory drum lessons and after a month had a full 5 piece kit to call my own, igniting my musical passion and career.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up? How does that differ from what you listen to now?
Marcus: Growing up I made an effort to listen to as much music as possible. Early on I was into pop-punk and all that 90’s teenage angst music, Blink-182 and Rage Against the Machine. But after I picked up the guitar I started listening to the blues, because my favorite shredders were always raving about these blues guys like Freddie King, Alvin Lee, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson. I’ve always loved Zeppelin, Clapton, Jeff Beck, B.B King, Jimi Hendrix, all the great blues-rock n’ roll coming out of the 60’s and 70’s. They got that soul you can feel. But I also love modern music, and so during the same time I was listening to hip hop, Biggie, Tupac, Jay-Z and Dr. Dre, a little modern rock like the White Stripes & Muse, but lots of classical, jazz, pop, sitar and ambient music. I was playing in jazz bands and singing baritone in choir, playing snare in marching band and playing guitar in a funky rock n’ roll group. I just loved music, from blues to modern pop. And I still do. I’m really into modern EDM right now, Zedd, Skrillex, innovators like Kanye West, Haim, Gaga and Lana Del Rey. They all are major influences on the new stuff. It’s still got that Zeppelin feel and it always will, but now it’s got an electro-modern twist. At least as far electro as one guitar can go. It’s Omega.
Will: Growing up I listened to a lot of metal and rock music like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Incubus, Dream Theater, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath. One of my favorite bands is Rage Against the Machine I think they have created a genre of music that puts together many different styles like rap, metal, blues, and rock. One of the best parts of the day is listening to new music with my friends. That is how I have got into a lot of the new music I like. We have had Kanye and Gaga on repeat recently. Both of their new albums I believe push the envelope and create a very dynamic experience.
Mark: Growing up, I listened to a lot of 80’s-90’s rock. My favorite bands as a kid were Metallica, Megadeth, and Iron Maiden. The first concert my father ever took me to was at Tinley Park in Chicago which consisted of 3 legendary bands, Motorhead, Dio, and Iron Maiden. While these bands sparked my musical interest and will always be at my core, I quickly moved toward heavier tunes because I found them more challenging on the drums. This transition led me towards hard rock and metal with bands along the lines of: Slipknot, Avenged Sevenfold, Trivium, The Dead Weather, Bullet for my Valentine, Atreyu, Lamb of God, Miss May I, Every time I Die, Devil Wears Prada, Wolfmother, Deftones, Raconteurs.
Which musicians do you admire? Why?
Marcus: The ones that make their art based on feel. You can recognize immediately music that comes from true emotion. I’m obsessed with Lana. Kanye West and Jay-Z are my other two favorites right now because of what they do in and out of music. They have so much ambition, so much drive to not only make music, but also make an impact on people and influence culture for the better. They are innovators and are pushing the limits of what people think is possible, that’s where I get inspiration. Everyone looks at Kanye like he’s some arrogant lunatic, but really he’s one of the most visionary artists out there. He’s trying to influence people, make people feel something real so they can take it and do something with it, and he wants to do it in ways other than just music. He does it for all of us. His integrity as an artist is sky high. He’s just a creative mind and can apply his talent to other things, that’s control. I’ve been able put my emotions into music and make others feel that, that’s the easiest and most natural for me, but that’s just one medium where I put that emotional investment. I try to practice putting into other boxes too, like art, product and company design, things like that. I admire artists that make me feel something heavy, whether it be in music, their story, their designs and artwork, anything. Steve Jobs is another example. Not a musician, but definitely an emotional artist in my opinion. No difference.
Will: I would agree with Marcus that musicians that I admire our hardworking and driven people with a vision. They are the musicians and artists that push me to be my best. They keep the dream alive by not giving up and creating, not just music, but a piece of art. One person specifically has been the reason I got interested in playing bass and that is John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin. He has been actively writing music all of his life, he is a multi-instrumentalist with such a creative mind, and rocked with those most legendary band in history!
Mark: I enjoy musicians that push the envelope of their genre/sound. One of the most frustrating this as a hard rock and heavy metal enthusiast is the lack of originality. The bands and specific musicians that catch my attention are the ones doing something new and fresh. That may simply involve a unique guitar riff I’ve never heard before or an unexpected drum beat that doesn’t fit in all the right ways. One of my favorite musicians that excelled at this was Jimmy Sullivan, aka “The Rev” from Avenged Sevenfold.
How did you guys meet?
Marcus: When I moved to Nashville, I was randomly roomed with Mark in the campus apartments at Belmont University. I was dead set on starting a band immediately, and he played the drums. We didn’t really think too much about jamming just because Mark was all Metal, and I was into doing some blues-pop stuff at that time. But when we did finally jam, we were able to meet in a middle-ground of Blues and Hard Rock, and that’s where we stayed at. Now we are trying to work around that balance, and push that boundary as far as we can. Will came in right after, he was in our group of friends and was a perfect fit on the mindset level. He wasn’t playing bass at the time but he stepped up and filled the whole we were missing.
Will: I met Mark and Marcus through some mutual friends. Those friends told me that this band was looking for a bass player. So I went out and bought myself a bass and jumped in on some of their jam sessions, and have loved it ever since.
Why the name Omega Swan?
“Above us today hangs a danger never yet paralleled in history. We suppress the individual in more and more ways. We think in terms of the herd.” The Alpha has been a representation of the man on top, the herder. They tell you what you can and can’t do, what’s possible or impossible. They say you can’t make it, have a back up plan, go to school, and be an accountant. The Omega is the outcast of the herd, who questions everything and pushes the limits of the norm. The ones who eat the apple. The Omega Swan is anyone or anything that’s a beautiful misunderstanding, who is looked upon strangely for doing things differently, but when the times change and things evolve they are the ones leading the way. Rock n’ Roll is that in a sense, and it needs a little reinventing. Every man and woman is a star and has their own path that they discover through their own experiences and self-reflection. We want people to connect with that. We are here to inspire them to disregard the naysayers, reach for their dreams, as outlandish as they may be, and get it done against the odds. To be the light-bearer, if you will.
Describe your show visually & musically for those who have never been.
Loud, Raw, Rock n’ Roll psychedlia. Lots of shredding, high energy and ambience. We try to create a dynamic atmosphere, an emotional journey we can experience with the crowd. Recently we’ve been incorporating live visuals, lighting and other stage effects to our show to make it an experience. We want people to feel like they are in that mental space with us, and the visual aspect to the show adds a whole new dynamic that people can connect with. It’s a trip, an emotional and powerful adventure. And it’s real fucking loud.
How does your creative process typically work?
We’re always listening to new music, watching new movies or looking to art or nature for inspiration. Anything that makes us feel a certain way, we try to capture that vibe, that emotion and translate it into our songs. If I (Marcus) hear a song or see a scene I really like, I’ll be like…”Damn. I want to write something that makes people feel like THAT.” So I take that vibe, that feeling, and channel it into my instrument along with my other influences. You’ll never be able to target an influence really, and say “That sounds like Kanye.” or “That sounds like Zeppelin.” We try to disguise the thievery and make our own interpretation of a feeling. “The new songs are very Electro inspired, and I’ve been trying to make my guitar sound like a massive synth. I’m a blues player at heart, but I love modern sounds.” – Marcus.
Creation is always happening, whether it’s music, movie ideas, product ideas, architectural structures, we live with a bunch of dreamers. We are always creating; it’s just a natural thing.
What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?
Just getting out on the road. We’ve all been in school, but we just finished. College grads. Crazy to think someone’s giving us basement rats a college degree. When we were taking classes is was hard to get out and tour, which is our favorite thing to do. It was great to educate ourselves, but now we are ready to take that knowledge out into the real world. We love traveling and seeing different scenes, meeting different people; that’s what it’s all about. We’re about to hit the road and get out there. We need to get this new show out to y’all.
What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you in 2014?
We have big plans for 2014. There have been some major additions to our team, we’ve been getting some great support from the Team Hans crew and there are big things in the works. Definitely some new music, videos, and a lot more shows across the country. We’ve got a bunch of new material ready to go, just waiting for the right time. We’ll be releasing some brand new music very soon, starting with a single called “New Moon”. The new stuff’s got this Electro-grunge, arena space party feel. We are stoked to get it out there.
Why should people listen to your band? What makes you unique? If your band had a slogan, what would it be?
We are trying to revitalize that classic, raw Rock n’ Roll feel with a totally modern approach. We have been disappointed with modern Rock, and we know our generation feels that. The biggest rock stars right now are in hip hop or EDM, which is cool and I dig that, but someone’s gotta step it up for Rock n’ Roll. But we can’t complain if we’re not doing anything about it. Omega Swan is here to melt your face and take you back to space.
If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?
We don’t see much wrong with the industry. People say it’s dying and record labels are done and artists are doomed but I mean we are in a state of major reform. We like being faced with the challenges of having to find different ways of doing things, it leads to creativity. With necessity comes drastic change. As far as bigwigs trying to screw the little guys, we are educated in the business of music, we went to school for it and we’ve been in it. We know how it works, and how to recognize when someone is for real or a scam. We take this thing seriously. I’m an entrepreneur, and Omega is my main squeeze (Marcus). It’s up to the team and I to see it through; we can’t expect any label to help us out if we aren’t working at that level ourselves. We aren’t gonna whine about it when people tell us rock is dead and there’s no use. We’re going to adapt and make it so you can’t deny it, you have to notice it.
One song you never get tired of.
Marcus: “Since I’ve Been Loving You” by Led Zeppelin. Dynamics are the key to everything, and that song is the definition of dynamic. Talk about taking a blues and flipping it on it’s fucking head.
Will: “Pull Me Under” by Dream Theater.
Mark: “A Little Piece of Heaven” by Avenged Sevenfold.
What is the best live show you have ever gone to?
Marcus: Kanye West’s Yeezus tour was pretty insane, I felt that one. Him or the Derek Trucks Band. Trucks has the ability to take you to another spiritual realm with his guitar. It’s incredible.
Will: Black Sabbath at Ozzfest was probably the coolest show I have seen, but recently we saw a band play in Nashville called Reignwolf and he brought some loud and cool music to the table.
Mark: Iron Maiden, The entire show and performance was epic and Eddie was a trip.
Favorite things to do NOT musically related.
Marcus: Create. I like technology, and making things. I’m a creative person, I like working my creativity in different areas. I’m working on a pretty rad invention right now, writing a story-board for a internet-inspired psychological thriller, running a Nashville underground music organization called Planet Rad, and drawing out sketches of this monument I’m working on with our roommates Chris and Ben. It’s going to be a structure that represents the universal energy that connects us all. People will be able to experience this connection through interactions with all elements of the earth and then take a trip inside the monument to a museum we’ve named the ‘Realm of Consciousness’. We want people to leave feeling like they are connected to the whole. I just like to dream up crazy things and make them real. Life is a big lucid dream. The more I practice being creative the better I get at it. It doesn’t have to be related to music, but it all comes back around.
Will: Drawing and painting. I took art classes growing up and really enjoyed creating pictures varying from portraits to landscapes. It is another means for me to escape other than music.
Mark: Anything outdoor related. My moments of serenity are casting my fishing line over a misty, tranquil lake or watching a freak-nasty Buck materialize out of an early morning fog from my tree stand.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?
Marcus: Definitely a male, 20-something version of Matilda. Telekinesis is my most desired super-power.
Will: Billy Madison. That dude knew how to have a good time.
Mark: “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski
If you ran Badass Bands Blog, what is one band you would feature? (Exempting yourselves of course.)
R∆chel and Blackbear & the Surf Bums. They are part of the Planet Rad team, and they are some of the raddest dudes we know. They both rock and are a huge part of this new underground scene in Nashville that’s been brewing in the basements.
FIND OMEGA SWAN HERE: