Touring with new album ‘Souvenir,’ Omni to collect memories in UK, Ireland

Atlanta band teases with promise of another local appearance behind Sub Pop record
On the heels of an East Coast tour that kicked off with an album release show at the Earl, the Atlanta band Omni is heading across the Atlantic for an April tour of the UK and Ireland.
(Courtesy of Gem Hale)

Credit: Gem Hale

Credit: Gem Hale

On the heels of an East Coast tour that kicked off with an album release show at the Earl, the Atlanta band Omni is heading across the Atlantic for an April tour of the UK and Ireland. (Courtesy of Gem Hale)

Atlanta band Omni kicked off a busy, globetrotting 2024 with the mid-February release of its fourth record “Souvenir,” engineered and co-produced by local studio owner Kristofer Sampson. The album has earned overwhelmingly positive press — and deservedly so.

“Souvenir” captures the sounds of a modern trio moving forward while capturing the jittery energy of post-punk greats such as Wire and early XTC through guitar riffs jagged enough to cut glass, nimble bass lines, tempos turning on a dime and the versatile vocal style of singer-bassist-songwriter Philip Frobos.

“We were just trying to up the fidelity of the sound while maintaining that same kind of scrappy, dirty sound from our first few records,” guitarist-keyboard player-songwriter Frankie Broyles said on a recent Zoom call from his home. “Kris Sampson pushed us in a lot of ways to bring more clarity to the overall mixes,” a factor noticeable on songs such as “To Be Rude,” with smooth choruses bookended by more cacophonous verses.

Sampson’s touch is also evident on the angular album closer “Compliment,” featuring a chiming, clock-like fade and wry vocals from Frobos (“and it’s nothing new/ I’m guilty of it too/ looking at someone else’s life/ thinking ‘hey man, that looks nice’”).

Omni's new album "Souvenir," on the renowned Seattle label Sub Pop, was recorded in Atlanta and the south central Georgia town of Vienna. 
(Courtesy of Sub Pop Records)

Credit: Handout

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Credit: Handout

Another addition to Omni’s arsenal for “Souvenir” is the guest appearance of singer Izzy Glaudini, of the Los Angeles band Automatic, on three tracks, including the epic, adventurous “Plastic Pyramid.” On the same call with Broyles, Frobos highlighted the evolution of the song into a duet.

“Musically we worked on it for a long time. Frankie re-situated it as it is now and, in that iteration, I pitched the idea of making it a duet,” he said. “We had just done the tour with Automatic and were all really big fans of their band. She [Izzy] was super into it so we flew her to Atlanta,” and she added her parts quickly.

“Plastic Pyramid” features all of the elements that make the whole album so successful: It glides along through a labyrinth of stops, starts and time changes plus guitar waves that alternately chime and stab, ending after three and a half minutes instead of extending into a prog rock odyssey. There’s even a brief section where the song slows to a clip-clop crawl, reminiscent of the “Soon Be Home” portion from the Who’s mini-opera “A Quick One, While He’s Away,” before Glaudini’s advice to “hold on tight” ushers in a return to a faster pace.

Omni’s economy affords them accessibility; as soon as you think another tempo change might be on the way, the song you’re listening to is over — leaving you wanting more, with the full album clocking in at barely over 30 minutes for 11 tracks.

Everything fits together, from the power pop stylings of “Verdict” to the punishing, rapid-fire “Common Mistakes,” for the group’s second full-length effort for Sub Pop.

“They’re all super-nice people. We have only good things to say about our experience with them,” said Broyles about the renowned Seattle label, a motion immediately seconded by Frobos.

The record is part of Omni’s continuing evolution, from its Atlanta beginnings in 2011. Broyles played in Balkans for many years, with a short stint in Deerhunter. Frobos was previously in Carnivores, while drummer Chris Yonker joined the band as a full-time member for this album.

The videos accompanying “Souvenir” are the perfect complement to its musical vision. The clip for “Plastic Pyramid,” directed and produced by local filmmakers Zach Pyles and AJ Holder based on ideas from Broyles and Yonker, is stunning in its execution. A gloriously accurate 1990′s-style infomercial for plastic pyramids, the video stars Frobos and Glaudini as slick co-hosts and Broyles and Yonker as, alternately, assembly line workers and pyramid chicken chefs. Frequent cuts to instructions on how to order move the clip even further into its own universe.

“We shot it all at Boggs Social, the bar in East Point. Zach and AJ did a great job of bringing all of those ideas to life,” Broyles said. “That’s what’s great about Frankie’s, Chris’ and Zach’s minds coming together,” added Frobos. “They’re able to make these authentically weird, almost original MTV-style music videos.”

Omni — from left, Frankie Broyles, Chris Yonker and Philip Frobos — celebrated "Souvenir" with a sold-out late February show at the Earl. "It was pretty awesome to have so much support and energy in the room,” Frobos said.
(Courtesy of Gem Hale)

Credit: Gem Hale

icon to expand image

Credit: Gem Hale

Named after the early Atlanta arena before its name change (to State Farm Arena), Omni celebrated the release of the new record with a sold-out late-February show at the Earl. Sporting matching boiler suits (as seen in the “Compliment” video), the well-rehearsed trio ripped through a blistering set of songs from across its catalog for an enthusiastic crowd.

“Thinking back, it was pretty awesome to have so much support and energy in the room,” Frobos said. The show initiated what will be a steady diet of touring for Omni for the rest of the year, starting with a recent East Coast run.

“We hadn’t toured much in the last few years,” said Broyles. “Everywhere we went it was a pleasant surprise to see how many people were coming out and enjoying the music.”

The UK and Ireland are up next for the band, starting with an April 10 show by the seaside in Brighton. The trip includes a stop at the BBC’s Maida Vale studio in London for a prestigious BBC 6 Music radio session with Marc Riley and Gideon Coe, for which Frobos is particularly excited.

“It was [legendary DJ] John Peel’s studio. That will be a really cool thing to be a part of,” he noted.

“They’ve been super-supportive of us,” Broyles added, referring to what’s considered one of the world’s premier alternative music stations.

Omni will head west for more appearances starting June 11 in Texas, with announcements still pending about likely tour legs in continental Europe and Australasia later this year.

“I’m sure we’ll do another Atlanta show at some point soon,” said Frobos, with a one-off June 8 festival appearance in Savannah their only official Georgia booking for now.

While on tour breaks, the band members continue to visit their favorite area spots, from Arabia Mountain to Aurora Coffee in Little Five Points. The British Isles beckon, though, with Omni enthusiastic to head across the pond.

“We’re really excited to revisit a lot of the cities that we’ve been to before but haven’t played in a long time,” Broyles concluded. “Seeing a lot of friends all over, eating fish and chips!”

Meanwhile, Atlantans will wait for word on getting another chance to hear “Souvenir’s” songs live in the area, hopefully before the end of a well-deserved, action-packed 2024 for Omni.