Writers on the storm
First Posted: 3/15/2015
NEPA’s Omnitial dipped their collective toes into the waters of original music with the release of a track called “Been So Long.” The release signaled the full circle journey that’s been defined by the most basic language of human expression for this band — the trouncing of genres and sonic boundaries within their musical ideals.
“I started thinking about the origins of music and how it’s been a language that all cultures can share and communicate through,” said Omnitial vocalist/guitarist Sean Lehman. “I made up the word ‘omnitial,’ forming from ‘omni’ and ‘initial,’ and creating the meaning, ‘the universal language of music that’s within us since birth.’ It was down to two names and after the traditional coin toss, Omnitial was chosen.”
Lehman’s initial spark for the band came in the summer of 2011, with a specific idea of what he musically wanted to do. It all came down to finding members who would be on the same page.
“I asked the drummer of the band I was currently playing with at the time about starting something up with me,” Lehman said. “He dug the idea and I put out an ad in search of a bass player. I had little response, so I reached out to a friend and someone I worked with in projects past – Scott Sorber. I knew he was busy getting something going in another band, and I was hesitant to ask, but put the offer out there anyway.”
The three musicians began working on the project as a three-piece and would eventually add a second guitar player before playing live shows. The burgeoning band went through some lineup changes and even a name change (they formerly operated as This Time Around) six months into their existence. The current Omnitial fold sees Lehman teaming with guitarist Christopher Iorio, bassist Sorber, and drummer Robert Burns – all members handle backing vocal duties.
The name and lineup aren’t the only things that have progressed since day one. The music Omnitial’s chosen to cover has also taken some twists.
“We began as a classic rock and blues-based rock kind of band,” Lehman said. “Our focus was playing the ‘b-sides’ and presenting cool songs that the majority have heard, but not a million times over. We added the occasional few tunes that were more obscure and we felt like bringing them to life. We found out through time that the majority of the music we were presenting wasn’t as widely accepted in the venues we were performing.”
Lehman notes the addition of Iorio helped Omnitial narrow down their approach to the music they’d eventually choose to cover.
“His guidance helped bring us a more diverse list of tunes,” Lehman said. “I know we have a variety of different influences among us but also many of the same. We all enjoy recreating the music that challenges us as musicians and forces us to work harder as a group. Our challenge as a cover band is finding that happy medium of songs which make it pleasing to us as well as an audience.”
It’s this happy medium of self-satisfaction combined with the admirable intent of pleasing a crowd that is now driving the band in their exploration of writing and recording their original music.
“Our creativity combined with the versatility and influences of each member is what makes collaborating on originals a fun experience,” Lehman said.
With the band’s live show, Lehman said it’s all about the audience driving the band toward new heights. If a crowd isn’t taking to what Omnitial brings, it certainly isn’t from a lack of muster or preparation on the band’s end.
“It’s the people that make all the difference,” he said. “It’s great to see people having a great time with dancing, singing along, or just being in the moment and enjoying the music. That’s what gives us our energy – we feed from them and give it right back. We always do our best in providing a quality sound and light show. That’s important to us.”
Chemistry plays an important role in driving Omnitial to an unforgettable live performance.
“It’s great to be playing with members that can bring a lot of ideas and musicality to the band,” Lehman said. “It’s fun that we can challenge each other musically to make ourselves better at our own instruments. The cool part is that all of us can sing and know when we are out of our comfort zone.”
With the release of “Been So Long,” Omnitial’s first original tune, the band is poised to seemingly begin a new chapter in their evolution. If the track’s driving, combustible sense of funk and groove with delicately balanced vocal melody is any indication, any forthcoming originals will be of increasingly high caliber.
“We recorded most of the song back in May 2014 with our friend Phil Gomez at Drive Tone Records and Recording Studios,” Lehman said. “We finally found the time to go back and finish the tracks up at the beginning of this year.”