ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: Well + Good, Okay Omen
Rock and roll took the stage at Lilliput Records on Saturday night for the venue/record store’s newly started “Lilliput After Hours” series featuring bands Well + Good, Okay Omen and North Warren.
Well + Good consists of vocalist/guitarist Devan Diefenbach, vocalist/bassist Justin Meli and drummer/backup vocalist Marcus Freeby. The alternative rockers formed in 2022 out of high school friendships, as Diefenbach explains. “Me and Justin have been making music together since back then; we put out our first EP together in 2013 and we’ve been on and off in bands for the last ten years. I was in a band in Chicago for a while, and then when I got to Milwaukee, Justin and Marcus were both already here and we got talking while at a show at Company Brewing. We got together to play music and ended up writing our song “Trenches” in about 20 minutes.”
The boys had their first show at Bremen Cafe earlier this year in March. For Halloween, the band dressed up as Scooby-Doo characters for their show Saturday.
Well + Good released their debut album “I Don’t Wanna Be Bored” in September. Diefenbach shares that many of the songs came from a transitional time in his life. “Aside from a few of them, these songs I wrote while living in Chicago but also while leaving Chicago and coming to terms with having to give up the music thing and go home to help out my grandparents. They were already written when we started playing as a band, so they naturally became the songs that we worked on.”
“It’s a huge reason why we were able to get an album out so quick,” Meli adds.
Since finishing the album, Well + Good have been working on new songs with more of a collaborative approach; in fact, Diefenbach and Meli trade guitar and bass for one of their new songs. “Once we started writing with each other’s input as we put out “I Don’t Wanna Be Bored”, we knew right away that we were already working on album two,” Freeby said.
Well + Good play X-Ray Arcade on November 3rd.
Okay Omen is vocalist Chase Hoffman, guitarist Mike Holloway, bassist Josh Rardin and drummer Bob Schaab. Formed in early 2022, the band’s sound can be described as atmospheric emo rock with touches of post-hardcore. Holloway shares that Okay Omen originated from a couple of loose songs he wrote that went in a different direction from his other project Garden Home. “I’ve been writing screamo and post-hardcore songs for a long time, but I needed an outlet for this sort of spacey alternative emo stuff, and during the pandemic I got a job at Music-Go-Round; I’ve been friends with Josh for a long time, so that’s how he got involved. I’ve also known Bob for a while and asked him if he wasn’t in a million bands for once, so I caught him at the right time. I’ve always known that Chase was a great singer, but after seeing an Instagram story of him doing karaoke, I asked him and he was down.”
On the band’s name, he continues, “I was reading “Slaughterhouse-Five”, and there was this part where it was talking about good and bad omens, and my brain went “what about an okay omen?” – OH! Band name.”
Okay Omen’s debut record “So It Goes…” came out earlier this year in February. Hoffman describes the songs, “There’s a fair amount of common themes of confessional lyrics but also themes of missing people that are either gone for good or just far away. I talk a lot about being stuck in my head, especially in the last two songs; “Reverie” is about daydreaming and not being able to tell if it’s reality or not, and then “Mood Swings” is a complete breakdown where everything is fucked and you can’t keep a level head.”
“That’s kind of where the title came from too,” Holloway adds. “In “Slaughterhouse-Five” the reoccurring phrase is “so it goes” – where everything that happens is just one thing after another.”
Several music videos accompany “So It Goes…” as well – “(In)sincere”, “Reverie” and “Mood Swings” – two of which they worked with Samer Ghani on.
Okay Omen played a ton of shows this year including a Midwest run in February. They have one last show coming up this weekend before they plan on taking a break to work on new material. “We’ve got four songs that are pretty much ready to record,” Hoffman said. “I think we’re planning on hitting the studio in December.”
Three of the four bandmates arrived at the show Saturday with Insane Clown Posse face paint on, not telling Rardin they were doing it. “I hate Halloween,” Rardin declared.
Okay Omen’s final show of the year is at Promises on October 29th.