BAND ON BAND INTERVIEW: The Omnific & Osaka Punch "Getting To Know You" Bass-Off
Bass in your face! This Saturday kicks off a run of shows for two of Australia's finest prog connoisseurs, with instrumental Melb maestros The Omnific and Brissie metal funksters Osaka Punch heading out to share some stages before their huge 2019 adventures supporting the one and only Cog on their national 'Drawn Together' tour.
While both bands may sit in notably differing realms in progland, there's no denying the innate calibre and panache both bands wield, whether it be the fearless fusion of the eternally effervescent Osaka Punch or the subtle yet dazzling complexity behind the instrumental stylings of The Omnific.
And following a colossal year that combines new music and countless tours between the two, it's certainly set to be a very busy couple of months coming ahead for both Osaka Punch and The Omnific. But before all the excitement kick-starts this weekend, Tiana got Osaka's bassist (and recent Soundcheck video superstar) Brenton Page and one of two of The Omnific's bassists Toby Peterson-Stewart together to interview each other for a little "getting to know you" session to celebrate The Soundcheck's 400th article.
Warning - high fives, hugs and a few secrets ahead.
TIANA SPETER: Hey Brenton and Toby! Thanks for joining me today, I thought it’d be nice to try something a little different and have a little warm-up session before the warm-up shows starting next week - with you two interviewing each other! It’s a bass-off! So let’s get this party started, Toby if you want to jump in first and let's get you two better acquainted!
THE OMNIFIC MEETS OSAKA PUNCH: Toby vs. Brenton
BRENTON PAGE (OSAKA PUNCH)
TOBY: Ok Brenton, we’re both about to take off on a joint tour before kicking off for Cog early next year - is there anything we should know about Osaka Punch before we hit the road together? Any weird pre or post-show rituals that we should know ahead of time?
BRENTON: (laughs) Not particularly, no. I'd probably say we're pretty normal dudes, I guess. Except for our drummer. Probably stay away from our drummer. He bites a little bit. And just give him a chance, he's actually a nice guy, but at first he'll definitely seem like a fucking asshole. But he's a fucking sweetheart. Besides that man, no we're all good, we're just normal. And we just makeout before and after shows, just the usual stuff that bands do on tour.
TIANA: Plus Brenton is a huge fan of "Shirts Off Saturday".
TOBY: (laughs) Yeah, sounds good! What are some bonding activities we should do while we're on tour?
BRENTON: Oooo. I think we should probably go to the movies. I think that's a good ice-breaker in any relationship, I believe it's a good way to get to know each other. So if you're up for a movie, I'm keen to do that. If not...just casual high-fives every now and again just til we get to know each other.
TOBY: We're all movie goers, so I think a movie would be good. High fives are good! High fives in the movies - even better! On the topic of all things touring – what’s a normal Osaka Punch rider these days, and do you have any suggestions for ours?
BRENTON: Oh, we are the worst man. Our rider's like water and towels. And a fruit platter. A fruit platter! What is that?! It's the worst rider ever, I would love to say fucking Hennessey and all that kinda stuff. But we hardly drink before shows, we're very much like "oh, where's our water?" and we get a bit cut if we don't have any water. But yeah, it's up to you man! If you wanna get hammered, I would say go for the spirits cos that does the job. But if I was to give you advice I'd say stay hydrated, man. Get that water into you.
TOBY: Yeah, I'm in the same boat as you. I can't speak for the other two, but I am not a heavy drinker, and I love my fruit and water!
BRENTON: Well, we can share riders Toby. We can!
TOBY: I can't wait! Just some blueberries, that's all I need.
BRENTON: Oh! Stepping it up! That's on the fruit platter, so you're in luck!
TOBY: Good! Alright, what cities on this upcoming tour in November and the Cog shows next year are you most looking forward to and why? Are you more excited for the hometown shows, or getting out somewhere different?
BRENTON: Well, for November, I'm actually looking forward to Melbourne because I love playing at home in Brisbane, like that's always a fun time. But we're still kind of trying to build more buzz in Melbourne so we're looking forward to getting that going. And playing with you guys pretty much! As for the Cog tour, I think Sydney will be the show because that's Cog's hometown. But most of all I'm probably excited for Byron Bay, I really like that venue and I saw Cog when they first came back, their first show back was at Byron Bay and I was there for that, and it was heaving. So I'm looking forward to that.
TOBY: Yeah, sick! What’s your craziest story so far from being on the road?
BRENTON: We had all our fucking gear stolen in Perth. That's my craziest story. For the first time in my life I realised why people murder other people. So - it was an eye opener. That would probably be the the craziest, that was a whirlwind few hours for us. But! Tiana, being the legend she is with her crowd-funding, at least we got the finances back. We just lost instruments!
TOBY: Oh, so you never got them back?!
BRENTON: No! Never got my bass back, man. Nope.
TOBY: Jesus. Nah, I can't even imagine. That's fucked.
BRENTON: Yeah. It's next level fucked. However! I literally just picked up my new bass today! Like, an hour before this interview!
TOBY: Oh, sick!
BRENTON: Yeah, that would probably be our craziest story. I mean, it's not a great story. But, it definitely spun us around and we had to scramble a bit. But it all turned out all right, which is good.
TOBY: Yeah, that's great. Wohoo! Now, what has been the biggest highlight so far for you guys as band and what made it so memorable? Either a live show, or maybe even just showing up on time to rehearsal!
BRENTON: (laughs) I think for me it would be...well, it'd be a combination of the last two tours, and the tour coming up. So, The Butterfly Effect, Mammal and Cog. Mainly because those are three bands I listened to growing up, and they've been a big influence. And to be able to tour with them is ridiculous! All of those achievements have been pretty good!
TOBY: Yeah, fuck yeah. Cool! Next, since we’re both bass players – who is your ultimate bass hero?
BRENTON: I probably have two. So that would be Victor Wooten, just because he's ridiculously good and he makes me just hate playing bass. And probably Tim Commerford from Rage Against the Machine, just cos he makes simple sound so massive and awesome. They're my two favourite bass players hands down.
TOBY: Yeah, good choices! Being an instrumental group, if The Omnific were going to cover an Osaka Punch song, what would you suggest and why?
BRENTON: (laughs) I would suggest...any of our songs with vocals, because then you'd sing them. So, probably 'How We Operate' cos that's a pretty hard vocal song. 'How We Operate' would definitely be the song, and you would have to sing, Toby, whilst playing. That's the deal.
TOBY: (laughs) Sounds good, best answer! For when the time comes for the making of the Osaka Punch motion picture, which actor will play you?
BRENTON: Well, because I look very similar to Jason Momoa it'd probably have to be him. I just find that'd be the best person to act me (laughs). Either that or Jack Black. They're the two that I get mixed up with a lot. If you're talking to Jack (Jack Venables - Osaka Punch frontman), this would be an easy question man because he looks like Mark Ruffalo, fucking hands down. So that would be easy, but I'm a bit of a mixture of Jack Black and Jason Momoa, so that's a tough question. But a good question.
TOBY: Good answer! And finally, is there anything else we should know about each other ahead of this weekend?
BRENTON: Um...not really. I think if there is anything I'd like to keep it a surprise. I think that makes touring a lot more fun! And whether you like it or not it's gonna happen, so...it's always good to learn to adjust on the fly, Toby.
OSAKA PUNCH MEETS THE OMNIFIC: Brenton vs. Toby
TOBY PETERSON-STEWART (THE OMNIFIC)
BRENTON: Now Toby - we’re both about to tour for the first time together before the shows with Cog early next year - are there any secrets The Omnific want to get out in the open before we hit the road together?
TOBY: That's a tricky one! I don't really think we have too many things. We're new to touring, we've only been around for two years, so we don't have too many rituals that we have going on. We play the set a couple of times before the show, that's one ritual.
BRENTON: Where do you guys play that?
TOBY: We just plug our phones in to our in-ears and just go through the set!
BRENTON: Jesus. That's amazing! Technology these days!
TOBY: It's crazy! It's only been once lately, we used to do it two or three times, it's a bit ridiculous (laughs).
BRENTON: (laughs) It sounds like anxiety. I like that, though. You've got focus, Toby. Like some Jedi shit. I like it! Well I'll be looking out for that in the green room when you guys are playing with your phones. So, The Omnific have two bass players, and I’m obviously the only one in Osaka Punch. Should we all join forces and start some bass-tastic supergroup? And if so - any name suggestions?
BRENTON: The answer's obvious, I'll answer the first part for you: yes. You can answer though, what would we call ourselves Toby?
TOBY: Yes! Well, we tried to think of names for the tour, so we could do like an "Omnific Punch". Or "Omni-Punch"? That's better. I think "Omnific Punch" is a bit too busy.
TOBY: "Punch-tific". I like it, I like it!
BRENTON: Oh, wait! This is your question! Fuck! It's your call.
TOBY: Or, if we combine our latest song with you guys it could be "Punch Erin". But I don't know if that's too much?
BRENTON: No, no, no. Toby. Toby. That's perfect. That's the answer. I was waiting for you to say that, and that's the correct answer. So we'll move on. But I can't wait to start our 'Punch Erin' project. That's fantastic, actually.
TOBY: (laughs) That was the one that Josh (Josh Terlick - Beardfoot Bookings) came up with!
BRENTON: Josh. Yes, it should've been the 'Punch Erin' tour!
TIANA: It's not too late guys. Just saying!
BRENTON: I agree with Tiana! Alright. I will move on. So. What venues are you most keen to play both over the next few weeks and on the Cog tour next year. Any particular shows you absolutely can't wait for?
TOBY: Yeah, like I said before we haven't actually toured a lot before, we've been to Sydney and Wollongong. But, everything else will be new audiences for us. So we're really keen for that! But also saying that, we're so keen for our home show on this single tour, it's the first headline show that we've ever done. And we're playing above you guys, which is gonna be very intimidating, but very awesome! I'm really keen for that because I think we have a lot to show and we've come a long way since our first show. But really - all of them!
BRENTON: This next one might be an easier question, so far you guys have played like 10, 20 shows, yeah? What's been your best live show so far?
TOBY: The best show was probably our last one, I find we've just found a more happy place onstage, we're more comfortable onstage playing bass parts where literally everyone can hear everything that you're doing. Whereas at the start, it was nerve-wracking. It's still nerve-wracking, but we found a little groove last time when we played with Transience. But before that, I think honestly 90% of the shows we played, we had technical difficulties.
BRENTON: So that last show you played, did you run through the set three or four times before you played?
TOBY: No! That was the least amount of practice we'd done, and the least amount of running through it! That was the weird thing!
BRENTON: That's it, no more practice Toby! That's the answer! Don't you dare play bass before Saturday!
TIANA: Put your bass down, now!
BRENTON: Put it down! You're probably holding it right now, Toby, but put it down. Alright, cool. Well, you guys have quite the presence with the so-called “gear nerd” community – what gear will you be rocking in the next run of shows with us? You guys are endorsed, is that right?
TOBY: Yeah, yeah, we have endorsements with Darkglass.
BRENTON: Stop it!
TOBY: Yeah, the Darkglass thing is really awesome, we've got the latest Darkglass pedal which is the X7, which I think we're both incorporating in some fashion. It's a little bit different to the B7K, but it's super sick! So that's gonna be coming out and making our tones a little bit tighter!
BRENTON: Are you guys just using digital? You guys don't have any amps or cabs or anything hey?
TOBY: In Melbourne we're gonna use cabs, but we usually just go direct. Our tone is pretty much DI, we literally just use the Darkglass tone and just go DI, it just sounds the best for us. It's pretty simple, but efficient! We find if we have cabs, it's too scooped.
BRENTON: Yeah man, cool! Do you guys have a "band favourite" song to play live?
TOBY: Ooo. I think we've all got different ones!
BRENTON: What's yours? Fuck everybody else, man, what's yours?
TOBY: (laughs) I think my favourite would be our new song 'Erin'. It's just a bit of fun, it's not super hard but it's still got some hard parts. On that topic, though, I think the hardest song and the song that we're all kind of most nervous about is 'Ersatz'.
BRENTON: Epic, are you playing that song on the tour?
TOBY: Yeah, it'll be the first time playing it live, so it'll be an adventure for everybody involved!
BRENTON: So where do you play that in the set? Is it early on? Just so I can stare at you the whole time. Cos I find that makes it easier if someone's staring directly into your soul. Anyway, we'll talk about that later.
TOBY: (laughs) Yeah, it'll be about three quarters through.
BRENTON: Three quarters? Excellent. I'll be there side of stage, you'll see me. I'll be literally two metres from you. Alright. Do you have a dream band you want to tour with one day? Besides Osaka Punch. Which is a hard question.
TOBY: Other than Osaka Punch? Well, my personal one would have to be bands I grew up listening to, like Tesseract or Periphery. Very djent bands, on that djent side of the spectrum, so I reckon one of those bands. Or even Plini. Plini I love, they're in the same vein with the instrumental music. Those guys all seem like cool dudes! And music that I love!
BRENTON: Did you see Tesseract on their recent tour in Melbourne?
TOBY: Yeah, yeah we ended up going backstage with them, which was completely surreal, looking back on the 14 year-old me. But, yeah - they were fucking nuts!
BRENTON: That's adorable. That's what that is. That bass player, he's amazing too. And! I noticed he doesn't button up his top four buttons, which I also like.
TIANA: Oh, that's a bold look!
BRENTON: Ohh, Tiana. You should look it up. Like: "just tear the buttons off my shirt, I don't need them!"
TOBY: (laughs) It is a very bold look.
BRENTON: If you can only bring one backpack on tour and nothing else (except for your gear), what will you pack in it?
TOBY: I would pack socks and jocks. Cos you can't go wrong with socks and jocks. And then I would just have my Darkglass pedals in there. Oh, and my laptop! We need the laptop or we're fucked (laughs).
BRENTON: So are you like a briefs or boxers or jockey kinda guy?
BRENTON: Like the cheeky boy-leg ones?
TOBY: .....No. no.
TIANA: Brenton's only asking because he wants to match you to bond on tour.
BRENTON: I was trying to subtlely ask that.
TOBY: If you've got any American flag ones, I've got a couple of those, I'll bring them on tour and then we can be matching!
BRENTON: Done! Movie night! Alright, if The Omnific and Osaka Punch ended up having a dance-battle while on tour, which is highly likely: what song or music should we throw down to?
TOBY: Ohh...I think we could go some folk.
BRENTON: Jesus. Ok...? (laughs).
TOBY: Yeah, yeah, I reckon we could go some folk, I'm gonna put my boots on right now.
BRENTON: So you're gonna line dance us to death?
TOBY: Yeah, to death. It'll be a fun time!
BRENTON: Wow. That's....ok? I like that! I'm definitely not prepared, but that's good! So my final question is the same as the final question you asked me: is there anything else we should know about you guys before we hit the road? Toby, is there anything that I need to know about you man, like are you gonna watch me while I sleep, or...are you a hugger? I know you wear underwear, so that's a good start....
TOBY: That is a good start! Well, I am a hugger. And I love blueberries. And that's all you need to know, man. So let's just hug it out.
BRENTON: That's perfect! I think we're gonna get along just fine!
TOBY: Yeah, it'll be fine!
TIANA: This has been just beautiful! And very wholesome, I'm just loving the bromance unfurling before me over this conversation.
BRENTON: Tiana, you're just bringing people together.
TIANA: Well I know you guys are gonna have a hell of a time on tour and with your movie dates and high fives in your undies. But look after each other, and I can't wait to see you bass badasses in action very soon!
BRENTON: We will! See you this weekend Toby!
TOBY: Cool, see you then!
THE OMNIFIC AND OSAKA PUNCH START THEIR JOINT TOUR THIS SATURDAY IN MELBOURNE, BEFORE JOINING COG AROUND THE COUNTRY KICKING OFF IN FEBRUARY NEXT YEAR. TOUR INFO AND MORE BELOW.
**A huge thanks to Brenton and Toby for being part of The Soundcheck's 400th article, and to anyone and everyone who has been part of the fun so far...**
FOR MORE THE OMNIFIC INFO, HEAD HERE
FOR MORE OSAKA PUNCH INFO, HEAD HERE
BY TIANA SPETER