Omen Stones are a new Richmond-based trio featuring drummer Erik Larson, who’s played in numerous wide-ranging bands over the years, from the deadly thrash attack of Parasytic (RIP) to the southern swagger of Birds of Prey. Larson is here joined by guitarist Tommy Hamilton, also of Druglord, and bassist Ed Fierro. Together, under the name Omen Stones, they play some mean, hard rock-leaning, southern-tinged sludge, and their self-titled demo is this week’s demo of the week.
According to Larson, “Omen Stones . . . spawned from an interest” shared between himself and guitarist Tommy Hamilton “in trying to write songs together that [they] didn’t have an outlet for in the other bands [they] were in.”
“Both of us are multi-instrumentalists, but as we got started it just seemed prudent that we play to each others strengths,” says Larson. “Tom is a fucking fantastic guitarist, much better than I could ever be, and personally I feel a bit more free and intuitive behind the kit, so we just kinda gravitated to that and haven’t veered from that since.”
Larson goes on to describe recruiting bassist Ed Fierro: “Finding Ed was like finding that piece of the puzzle you know existed but hadn’t seen roll under the couch and so you spend a lot of time frantically saying ‘I know that fucking piece is here! I just saw it, I know what it’s supposed to do! If I could just find that fucking piece!’ We had been playing together as a 2 piece for about half a year before we knew it was time to find a bassist. It was kinda like a ‘of course!’ moment when his name came up. Fortunately he was interested, and it triggered a whole new angle of the writing and songs, and I think that really rounded out what we were doing. Not just in the fact that the lineup was complete, but Ed’s playing and personality completed the circle so to speak.”
For his part, Hamilton says he’d known “Erik for a while now and [had] always wanted to collaborate” with him.
As for the name Omen Stones, Larson says: “We settled on the name before Ed joined, just before. Band names are always kinda a pain in the ass to come up with. One can overthink it really easy. I am always jotting down words and phrases and potential lyrical things, so I mined my notes and sent Tom a list of potential band names. He picked Omen Stones. Done Deal. I read a lot, and a lot of SciFi, so the term was a small sub plot in an old book from the late 60s I had read in 2017. I like the mysticism of the term. It portends something . . . what? That’s up to the listener I suppose.”
Across the seven tracks that make up Omen Stones’ self-titled debut, you may hear a lick here or a vocal line there that reminds you of another band. I personally picked up on vibes spanning the American hard rock/heavy metal scope from Acid Bath to Queens Of The Stone Age. According to Hamilton, it’s all in there, and more, for all he can remember.
“For sure we’re a metal band of sorts,” says Larson, “but there’s definitely lots of 70s guitar rock and some HC going on. I think the main thing we try to do is make the song memorable. I’d like to think you could air guitar/bass/drum to anything we do because it is catchy and hook-laden. The melting pot of influences is what makes any band unique. I try not to try to imitate or emulate anyone in particular. my goal as the drummer is to aim for what’s behind the drum and play to the riff, no fancy pants fuckery.”
Larson describes Omen Stones jamming and writing as a collaborative process that “usually . . . builds off a riff idea that Tom or Ed bring in.”
“I tend to help with arrangement,” he says. “That’s my job as the drummer in the band. We had 5 songs when Ed joined and we played our first show with only those 5 songs. We stretched out the set with feedback and noise, but it wasn’t long at all until we had the other 2 in the can so to speak. I’d say we had these 7 songs written in 7 months, which seems like a pretty ridiculously long time to me to get that done, but we work on Dad time since we all have kids and other bands and employment of some sort to compete with the process. So I’d say we’re doing alright in the grand scheme of things.”
Omen Stones’ demo was, according to their Bandcamp, recorded somewhere called Room 13. Larson explains: “Room 13 is an undisclosed bunker that we rehearse in. Roughly the size of a small child’s bedroom or walk-in freezer.
“Tom recorded the songs with limited mics in Room 13 with all of us on top of each other. No real baffling to speak of, just going for it. It’s a pretty accurate capture of what we sound like. Loud and fierce. Tom can fill you in on the technicalities. Once he had mixed it to all our stoked approvals, we passed it off to Garrett Morris to do a slight ‘Mastering’ adjustment. Really, it’s a pretty straight forward recording.”
“I have a device I can record 8 track,” says Hamilton. “I just set up [the mics] in [our] small rehearsal space and did it. I had an 8 track 1/2” tape machine I used to record tons of FL bands in the late 80s through mid 90s so I’m really comfortable recording in any situation.”
According to Larson, Omen Stones will soon have some “limited slip discs for purchase.”
“We will have them at the shows coming up, and beyond that you can always write us and do it the old fashioned way through the post. I’m a big advocate for the post.”
And here are some upcoming Omen Stones shows . . .
14- @ the Riff House Pub in Chesapeke VA *
15- @ Guidos Speak Easy in Frederick MD *
16- @ Bandito’s in Richmond VA*
19- @ The PourHouse in Raleigh NC w/Witches Tit/Bedowyn/Book of Wyrms
17- @ The Camel in Richmond VA w/Cloak/Khemmis
26- @ Bandito’s in Richmond VA #
27- @ Club Nola in Frederick MD #
*w/ Crystal Spiders
#w/ Stone Eye
Looking ahead for Omen Stones, Larson says: “Right now we’re just gearing up for the shows and trying to write some more. Get out there and play is the main thing.”