Stonecutters’ Brian Omer On Obtaining The Band Name, New Lineup, And New Album

Sep 14, 2023 at 11:34 am
Stonecutters’ Brian Omer On Obtaining The Band Name, New Lineup, And New Album

As vocalist/guitarist for Louisville sludge/thrash/hardcore punk band Stonecutters since 2005, and guitarist for metalcore band My Own Victim for a decade prior to that, Brian Omer has toured the world several times over, played numerous major festivals, and has shared the stage with some of metal and hardcore’s biggest acts. Locally, he’s been a staple of the metal scene not just as a musician, but also as the host of Metal Mondays at Highlands Taproom for the past several years, and was the former resident metalhead at Ear X-Tacy. LEO caught up with Brian prior to the release of Stonecutters’ latest album Eye of the Skull. Here’s what he had to say:

LEO: First and foremost, please explain what happened with the ex-band members and the dispute over the name Stonecutters.

Brian Omer: I’m going to own up to this right now. Yes, I walked away from Stonecutters in 2020. I was 45 years old, living in a van and going out there playing too many empty rooms, and it was killing my morale. When you’re touring all the time as a DIY band, it’s rough. We were like a circus act with no roadie — unload, set up, rock out, load up, travel, repeat. I was coming back from tours with no money, no working vehicle, frustrated, angry, a mess. I kept telling the guys I need quality over quantity with these excessive shows. Then in a strange turn of events, COVID happened, and we were all sent home mid-tour from the first lockdown.

I shaved my head and completely got off social media for close to two years. People kept reaching out to me telling me I need to do something about Stonecutters, but I was dealing with heavy things. It wasn’t until one day I heard the song they released without me that I realized they were disrespecting me. I thought the song was stupid and never felt threatened by it, but I was livid and reached out to them to let them know. Then after about a week of restless sleep, I decided I have two options: One, Let them continue dogging me out on a platform that I’d spent the last 15 years building, or Two, take what’s mine. 

I chose the latter. 

It was not easy. I contacted an attorney and he told me to just start over with it and we’ll fight it out. Everyone I talked to said do it, so I did. The attorney sent them two cease and desists that did nothing, so I had to wait over a year for my own Stonecutters name to get trademarked. That’s how I finally got them to stop.

All of this caused me a lot of time and stress, so I knew once I had the trademark I needed to put out a killer new Stonecutters album. Luckily, it made for some ferocious music. I address it all on the new album.

How did the new lineup come about?

Drummer Johnny Wooldridge and I have been playing together since high school. He had played on the majority of the Stonecutters albums already. Chris Leffler played guitar on our 2013 release Creatio Ex Nihil, so he jumped right back in. Chris is an amazing guitar player. Besides Stonecutters, he’s done Fatal Step, Assisting Sorrow, and Cataclysm. Jayce Wraley is a dear friend who’s been on the road with Stonecutters several times. He knew the songs and told me if I ever need anyone he’d be there for me, so he was the first person I asked to play bass. He also plays guitar in Shi.

What can you tell us about the writing and recording of the new record, Eye of the Skull?

Johnny lives in Danville, KY, which is about 90 miles from Louisville. We both grew up there. We all get together about once a week or so and make it happen. We wrote most of these songs during the height of COVID while we were dealing with a lot of emotions. And I’m proud to say Chris Leffler recorded the whole thing for us and it turned out fantastic. We saved a lot of money that way and we were able to take our time.

I know you said you’ve been through a lot the past few years and you address it all on the new album. What can you tell us about the lyrics?

“One of Us” is a tribute to Louisville native and filmmaker Tod Browning’s masterpiece “Freaks.” The title track, “Eye of the Skull,” is a dark, prophetic, apocalyptic dirge. “Worms Will Feast” is about mortality. Other songs like “The Search for Rest,” “Brittle Chains,” and “Til the Last Blooddrop” all came from a real place. Each song contains different subject matter. The sequencing of the album turned out perfect too, the way it flows, like it’s telling a story.

While the death and thrash metal influence is still there, the tracks on Eye of the Skull seem to have taken on hardcore & punk elements. Was this a conscious decision on the band’s part or just how the new sound worked out?

The new album is more direct, darker, sludgier, and yes, more punk, too. Things were getting a little too technical; I was ready to just bring back the power of the riff. No blast beats on this one. Some songs even have a rock feel. Stonecutters’ dual lead guitar attack is in full swing as well.

You’d mentioned that the track “Planet Chaos” is one of the bonus tracks on the physical release for Eye of the Skull. That song dates back 30 years to the early days of Human Remains, pre-My Own Victim. What made you decide to resurrect that one?

“Planet Chaos” is the title track from an early demo Johnny and I made back in 1993. Jeff Toy from those aforementioned bands was also involved in the original writing process of that song as well. I’m a fan of instrumental tracks on albums and always loved the heavy Sabbathy groove of that song. We just re-recorded it, added some solos and a sample. It turned out great.

What’s in the future for Stonecutters?

Eye of the Skull is out digitally now, with a release show at Headliners on Friday, September 15th. It’s all-ages, and the majority of the set will be from the new album. Time is Truth Records are releasing limited edition CD’s, cassettes & splattered vinyl with amazing artwork by famed tattoo artist Tim Lehi that will be available at the show, (vinyl in December). All physical copies contain two bonus tracks, including “Planet Chaos” and a cover by Florida legends Death. We also have a split 7” coming out in December with Batwizard that we’re calling the StoneWizard split. And we’ve gotten asked to play some festivals next year, which we’re planning on doing. All the shows I’ve booked so far, we’ve been asked to play, and I really like that approach these days.

Any parting words?

I did six albums with My Own Victim, and this will be Stonecutters’ sixth album. We may have one more album in us, but if this is the last one, we’re going out strong and I’m ok with it.

Stonecutters’ Eye of the Skull is available on all streaming platforms as well as CD and cassette. Vinyl coming soon. The record release show is Friday, September 15 at Headliners Music Hall with guests Shi and Sinistrum - all ages; $10 advance/$12 day of show. Doors at 7:00 p.m., show at 8:00p.m. For more info on Stonecutters, visit stonecutters.bandcamp.com

Stonecutters’ Brian Omer On Obtaining The Band Name, New Lineup, And New Album
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