Wednesday, 06 May 2015 12:13

The Omecs Echo West Michigan’s Primitive Past

Written by  Nolan Krebs
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Holy Wave
w/ The Omecs, Heaven’s Gateway Drugs
Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids
May 20, 8:30 p.m.
$10, $8 adv., 18+

Michigan is responsible for spewing out some primal iconic garage rock bands. From high velocity acts like The Stooges and MC5, to the primitive sounds of the Gories, White Stripes and the Hentchmen – Michigan is notorious for its noise.

But it’s not all about the Motor City. Hordes of other lesser known bands called West Michigan home in the mid ‘60s. The “Scream Loud” compilation is an essential collection of West Michigan and Lansing area garage singles recorded at the now demolished Fenton Records in Sparta. The JuJus’ 1966 “Do You Understand Me” single is a definitive piece of Grand Rapids’ underground rock history.

The Omecs, out of Grand Rapids, carries on that fuzzy-Fenton sound. And while the Omecs echo “Nuggets” collections, its signature sound comes laced with psychedelic shreds of reverb-laden punk. The group’s first release, a self-titled collection of eight songs, was released in October. It’s hooky as hell, a tastefully frenetic ripper-rock album – and it’s streamed at:

Recorded with Don Carlisle at Knavish Audio in Grand Rapids, it’s surprising to hear guitarist Luke Bonczyk say the record only took a couple days to lay down, considering how tight it sounds.

“We pretty much recorded everything live in two days for a couple of hours at a time,” Bonczyk said. “We had a good time doing it and everything was nice and relaxed. Mixing was more tedious and took longer because it was hard to get everyone in a room together. Now that it’s done, we dig how everything turned out.”

While the group has toyed with a few different lineups, The Omecs started out as a project between guitarist Bonczyk and former drummer Michael McFarlane, who now fronts local punk outfit Black Monuments. The group now consists of Bonczyk on guitar and vocals, bassist Hank McHenry, drummer Mara Furlich and former Haunted Leather keyboardist Ross Turcotte.

“(We) started The Omecs in a basement as a way to blow off steam. We’ve jammed with a few different friends, but we’ve always tried to keep things simple and keep the music dirty,” Bonczyk said. “We’re all about 60’s garage-psych music and having fun with our buds.”

The group’s record also brought about a collaboration with the ambitious Brooklyn-based King Pizza Records. After playing a show with fellow garage-punks Crazy Pills, who hail from Brooklyn, the group was introduced to King Pizza owner Greg Hanson.

“(Hanson’s) label is geared toward garage, punk, lo-fi, fuzzy music, so it was right up our alley,” Bonczyk said. “The King Pizza Family has brought a lot of really cool bands together and has created a whole community of musicians along the east coast and through the Midwest, so when Greg said he was interested in putting our stuff on cassette we were totally psyched.”

The Omecs plan to hit the studio in the next couple months with Matt Ten Clay at Amber Lit Audio.

“We’ve come up with a lot of new material since our first release,” Bonczyk said. “We’ve also been throwing around the idea of setting up a tour this summer.

“Unfortunately, like most garage bands, we’re all broke so we’re trying to come up with ways to make some money to pay for this stuff.”

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