ONI Vocalist Discusses Past Tourmates, Possible Upcoming Concept Album, & More
Ever since we premiered their debut single, "Eternal Recurrence," last year, it seems that Oni has been gaining quite the momentum. Their first LP, Ironshore, was released via Blacklight Media/Metal Blade Records and was one of my favorite progressive metal albums of last year. Currently, the quintet is on tour with the Devin Townsend Project and Thank You Scientist.
We spoke to vocalist Jake at the tour's first show to discuss Knotfest, their previous tourmates, lyrical content, and the upcoming album from the band. Check out the full interview below.
I saw you guys last year at Knotfest and it was really amazing to see “The Only Cure” performed live with Lamb of God's Randy Blythe. Have you played that song with him any other time after that?
No, but it’s going to happen soon. We've already talked about it.
Speaking of Knotfest, I feel like you mention Slipknot a lot. Would you consider them to be your personal biggest inspiration?
Yeah, for me personally. Being a prog metal band, I’m obviously influenced by that stuff too, but I’m such a big fan of early Slipknot and Corey’s vocal style.
I’ve understand you’re also quite into the djent scene. Do you think the future of your band will head towards a more djenty sound?
“The Only Cure” is a quite a djenty song. I do like djent, but I don’t really see our band going in that direction. I feel like we kind of missed the train on the djent boat. We’re always going to have elements that sound like that, but never have a strictly djent record.
In the past couple years, you guys have been thrown on so many amazing tours. I was thinking we could go through each band you’ve been on the road with and you could elaborate on your experience specifically with them.
Devil You Know – Those guys are awesome. We did two tours with them and they’re like family to us. Howard called me his white brother once and then body slammed me on stage. They’re just super cool, down to earth guys.
Return to Roots with Max & Iggor Cavalera – That was a crazy fucking tour. We were so green and probably too green to be in the lion’s den with all those guys. Max and Iggor are super nice folks. Combichrist and All Hail the Yeti were support on that tour and are good dudes too. Black Dahlia Murder dropped off that tour though. And then Allegaeon are rad guys, we played a few shows with them in Canada.
Children of Bodom – We toured with Bodom in the US and Europe and those were our best tours by far. By the time we were on that second tour with Bodom we really hit our stride as a live band. And their keyboard player Janne Wirman loves the technicality of our playing and he’s a big fan of our Xylosynth player. We really got to hang out with them a lot on the Europe run. And in the US, we got so close with the other bands, Exmortus and Abbath.
Devin Townsend Project – I haven’t got to meet either of the bands on this tour yet, but I think it’ll be a cool tour. On our last tour, fans really appreciated the metal side of us, maybe not so much the progressive side. And then on this tour I think it’ll be completely flipped. We’ll be playing longer songs like “The Science” just because this is the tour to do it.
Both you and Devin Townsend are Canadian progressive metal bands. What is it about Canada that creates so many amazing prog metal groups?
Yeah, there always has been a lot of good ones like going back to Rush. I guess it's just too cold to go outside so they might as well stay inside and write music. It's like Seattle and grunge music. There's not a lot to do and I find a lot of great bands come from nowhere.
I understand some of the band members have a college education in their instruments. Considering they're more classically trained, would it be safe to assume you're the token metal guy in the band?
I’m definitely the metal guy, for sure. That difference can be hard sometimes, but we don’t try to cause conflict. We have similar interests like Between the Buried and Me and there other overlap. I think it’s good to have people of different tastes and genres and influences because they keeps each other in check. If it was too much of me, it could sound like a nu metal record, which we don’t want. If it was just them, it might be too far out of the mainstream people’s reach. So, the band and I have a really nice way to balance each other out.
I was hoping we could delve a bit into the lyrical content of a few songs?
“The Only Cure” – Well my idea for the lyrics is basically about getting fucked up and cut open. In the music video, a dude gets abducted by a twisted serial killer with a mask that looks like my face. I really like death metal, like Cannibal Corpse, or grindcore, where there’s cheesy, funny kind of gore. There’s a lot of metaphor there too. So, I would say the only cure is releasing energy through violence to an extent.
“The Science” – A lot of those lyrics were written together, but it is hard to have enough for an 11-minute song, so I pieced a lot of different lyric parts together for that track. It starts off with “In your land so cold, rotting away,” which is about people that I know that let themselves down and ran away from the problems in their lives. And then coming home to realize things weren’t what you thought they were.
“Spawn and Feed” – The theme is about a guy who got insects in his brain and then they lay eggs. The plan was to have a music video with a spider going into someone’s ear and lays a bunch of baby spiders. Then they become huge and eat him from the inside and come out of his stomach. We just recently released a live video for that song instead though.
“Coast to Coast” – That song is about the world we live in today, which I believe is being poisoned by the higher command of the world. It’s not so much political, but more-so loosely conspiracy theory based. Just talking about the bigger picture stuff like all seeing eyes, federal reserves, proxy wars, poisoning food, and topics like that.
I heard that you’re hoping to make theme-specific concept records in the future? Do you already have something in mind or not yet?
I think this next album, I’m hoping to write a majority of the lyrics and make it a concept album. I’ve never been that guy that listens to concept records though. My favorite concept album would be Colors by Between the Buried and Me, but I find it hard to write so many songs about one concept. And Chase will want to write some lyrics too that will be different than mine. So, it might not make sense to make a concept record, but it might happen. We’re toying around with the word “Feral” right now for the next release and it having very barbaric and tribal themes. Probably got those vibes lyrically from being on the Return to Roots tour and mixed with some Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. vibes too.
Anything else coming up Oni?
We have a run with Gojira lined up for a few days. And then Death Angel and a lot of festivals this summer. Definitely recording next year. It'll be a heavier album overall, more brutal, but still have its pretty, clean parts with ambience.