The Omega Experiment – Karma to LearnThursday, 6th June 2013
We’ve spoken to bands doing things themselves least a few times in the year that has been 2013. Generally, that entails being in a one-man black metal band and not having the slightest care about production values, presentation, etc. Don’t preach that to the young progressive metal underbelly – they’ll probably tear your head off in some highly-frequented forum. Indeed the number of bands popping up using technology to their benefit is awe-inspiring and has led the way for the djent movement and everything else in its periphery (get it?). Count Michigan’s The Omega Experiment in the mix, who in the period of just four years have gone from a studio creation to heralded upstarts.
The creation of multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Dan Wieten and his cousin, keyboardist/sampler Ryan Aldridge, The Omega Experiment takes the lavish, well-produced stylings of Devin Townsend and gives it a less abstract vision. Coupled with the album’s upbeat and melodious nature, and what is borne is a band that demands attention and should have no problem getting it. Wieten was kind enough to submit to our queries and here’s how the studio-bound man responded…
Dead Rhetoric: From what I gather, the two of you are cousins by marriage. At what point did the two of you come to realize you had a similar musical vision?
Dan Wieten: Oh man. As far back as the 80s? I think he was four and I was 12 ha-ha. He had this little drum set and I was already playing guitar at that point, and we would air band to KISS. But as far as the more refined vision we have today, I showed him Devin Townsend around 1999 or 2000. I was teaching him guitar and he fell in love with the music. The rest sort of spiraled from there. I brought him into my musical realm and we’ve been musical soul mates ever since.
Dead Rhetoric: On a similar note: does the fact you two are in a metal band make for interesting conversations at family gatherings, etc.?
Wieten: Sometimes. His stepdad is my uncle by blood, and he is the same uncle that showed me KISS when I was five. After we both finished rehab we would hang around the pool at his house, and I remember my Uncle Mark talking about us doing something musical together; sort of related to recovery and what we’ve been through. So I guess it’s sort of prophetic? Pretty amazing to think about how far we’ve come since then. We’ve realized our dreams.
Dead Rhetoric: The self-titled album has been floating about for quite some time. What prompted you to hook up for Listenable for its official release?
Wieten: They contacted us last fall. I’d known of Listenable since Soilwork’s debut, and I am a huge Textures and Gojira fan, so I was pretty stoked about it. We negotiated for a bit and finally settled on a deal, and then made plans for the release. They’ve been busting ass to promote it and we couldn’t be more grateful.
Dead Rhetoric: You’re a home-grown band in almost every sense of the word, and you’re active on the promotional front. How much of an all-consuming entity is The Omega Experiment for you?
Wieten: For me personally it’s a full-time job in the sense that when a responsibility comes up I usually take care of it. The good thing is that it never feels like work. This is what I’ve wanted to do my whole life, and now that it’s finally here, it feels like an honor. I’m fine with it. Ryan is an engineering student and has a family and also works part-time, so the only thing expected out of him is to be there to write keys and samples with me, and to rehearse and play live. Same with Matt. He comes out to write bass parts with me when he can. I’ve been hard at work demoing second album songs.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve had Devin Townsend vouch support for you, which is clearly beneficial. However, there’s a double-edged sword to this: You may forever be linked to him. What’s your take?
Wieten: I’ve pondered this quite a bit. So far, the good has outweighed the bad. The comparisons are there, and are expected. He’s had a huge impact on us. I’m not going to force anything as far as our music. I would rather write what comes naturally, and if it is influenced by him, so be it. I think we’ve learned a hell of a lot since writing the album, and have been impacted by tons of different music since then. I’ve also been revisiting the classic albums from my childhood. I do feel like we have a niche, and the new music I’ve been writing really harnesses that. It’s hard to describe, so I guess it will just have to be heard. There are blast beats, more vocal layers, more groove, more subtlety, etc. It’s The Omega Experiment times ten.
Dead Rhetoric: Along those lines, you’re a part of the progressive metal scene, which is chalk-full of music know-it-alls who can be awfully disconcerting. Are you equipped to handle their sometimes unfounded criticism?
Wieten: Sure. I mean, we haven’t seen too much of it. Not on the level of Periphery or TesseracT and bands like that anyway. It’s really hard to keep a level of humility when you’ve busted your ass and put your blood, sweat, and tears into a piece of art. It can take months to years to make a good piece of art, and it takes a second for someone to rip it apart. Such is life.
Dead Rhetoric: Rare when we hear the word “uplifting” when talking about a metal album, but it’s a word you use in your bio. Care to elaborate?
Wieten: Yeah it’s not too common. I dunno, obviously Devin is a huge influence and his music is mostly uplifting. There is also our heavy 80s influence, which encompasses everything from Michael Jackson and Phil Collins to Def Leppard and Winger. There is no shame here. I like to make music that makes me feel good, and the uplifting stuff is where it’s at for me. I know I can speak for Ryan in that regard as well. The metal world is a grim place, and I want to inflict some sunshine upon it ha-ha. That being said, the newer stuff has a lot of darker elements. It’s much more varied. The goal on the debut was to overload you with that uplifting vibe, up to ten, all the time. The next album has many more twists and turns, but the uplifting parts are even moreso. It’s exciting stuff.
Dead Rhetoric: The album itself sounds totally huge and well-produced. Describe the work and the man-hours that went into its creation.
Wieten: Oh man. I could write a book ha-ha. It was started on a shitty E-machines with a 40 GB hard drive and 512 MB of RAM. I upgraded about nine months into it. It was extremely difficult to make. It was all a learning experience. I’ve had some studio experience, and quite a few years recording my own ideas, but I never endeavored to take on an epic full length album. I hit up forums like Sevenstring.org, the Andy Sneap forum, etc. I learned a lot from people there critiquing my mixes and just reading threads. For the most part it was all in the ears though.
We just experimented with sounds until things sounded right. Mixing was painstaking. It didn’t help that we were in school the whole time (and still are), so we recorded and wrote when we could. It took two and a half years to complete through mastering. I think you can hear that in the music. It was a labor of love. I think the most fascinating part that surprises most people is that I mixed it on KLH home stereo speakers, headphones, and my car stereo. It’s all I had available, so I had to do the best with what I had.
Dead Rhetoric: Because the album sounds so rich and full, are you worried about replicating it live? I know you have a live band put together…
Wieten: Yeah, it’s a bitch. That’s the downside. A lot of bands tend to simplify their sound in order to replicate it live, but I don’t ever want to sacrifice an epic creation for the sake of reproducing it live. The studio is a magical place. I believe in doing whatever is necessary to reproduce the sounds in my head. We do the best we can to bring it live. We have samples, extra keys, and extra vocals on Ryan’s mac. We are at the mercy of acoustics, good monitoring, sound guys, etc. It’s always a risk, but that’s what has to be done to bring it to the masses.
Dead Rhetoric: Finally, what’s on the agenda for the rest of 2013?
Wieten: We will play around the state in summer to raise money to get to Europe in October. We are playing ProgPower Europe and Euroblast, and are also doing a small tour in between fests which should be announced shortly. Other than that, I’m gonna keep demoing new music.