Entertainment

Metal is music to the ears of Steveston native

Nick Oszinski, also known as Nikki Omen (at left), is lead singer of Among the Betrayed, which also includes Monty Lang, Maximus Whyman and Steve Myers. All but Myers are Richmond natives. -
Nick Oszinski, also known as Nikki Omen (at left), is lead singer of Among the Betrayed, which also includes Monty Lang, Maximus Whyman and Steve Myers. All but Myers are Richmond natives.
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Absence can indeed make the heart grow fonder. But this fairytale isn’t one lined with chirping birds and show tunes, it’s set to the sound of heavy metal.

Nick Oszinski, born and raised in Steveston, is the frontman of the heavy metal and hard rock band Among the Betrayed, a group that formed a decade ago only to part ways a few years later. The guys found other bands, and in those years apart Oszinski recorded a track with Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger, and opened for acts like Our Lady Peace and Ian Thornley from Big Wreck.

But they all missed playing together, so the guys reunited. Now Among the Betrayed is celebrating its first real release, the EP The Need to Make a Change—available for free on the band’s website starting June 27, the same day as a release party at the Media Club in Vancouver.

Oszinski, also known as Nikki Omen, handles the vocals. Fellow Richmond natives Maximus Whyman and Monty Lang play guitars and drums respectively, and Steve Myers rounds out the sound on bass.

Oszinski, 29, attended Tomekichi Homma Elementary and R.A. McMath Secondary, and now lives in Vancouver. He started making music in Grade 6 with the alto saxophone. He wanted to play guitar, but his band teacher didn’t see it as a concert band fit. As a teen he played both instruments, and developed his talent for singing.

Away from his band, Oszinski is a radio producer for Willy in the Morning on Classic Rock 101.

1. How did you get into radio? “I remember wanting to get into radio as early at about six or seven years old.  The only problem was I had a lisp and I talked really slow for a long time. Everyone said I would never make it—if I didn’t get over it. But eventually, after speech therapy and practice, I did get over it.”

2. What’s Willy (Percy) like away from the mic? “Willy is pretty much exactly the same on and off mic. He’s one of the most generous and real people I’ve known to date. I could tell you a lot of stories that nobody hears about that make this guy such a solid dude. I know he doesn’t like to talk about a lot of the amazing things he’s done for people over the years, but let me tell you, this guy gives his time, money and heart like pretty much nobody I’ve ever seen in this business.”

3. What drew you to metal? “I think frustration has a lot to do with that. Growing up feeling different, feeling like nobody was listening. I was also bullied a fair amount when I was young, and that leads to a lot of resentment and anger. I guess those can be common themes in a lot of metal. I think what really drew me to it was the realization that there more people out there like me, people that saw the world a little differently.”

4. What explains the continued interest in the genre among fans? “Metal fans are really the most dedicated fans in the world. As long as you have people that are being oppressed and pissed off in the world, I think there will always be some form of metal. To me, it’s something that unifies the voiceless.”

5. Something that happens at a metal concert, not at a Bieber show? “Intelligent music and moshing.”

6. Greatest misconception about heavy metal? “That it’s just a bunch of noise. I grew up playing jazz on the alto saxophone. Sometimes I see a parallel between metal and jazz in just how intricate they can both be.”

7. Your band has a documentary film? “Yes. We will be releasing it online for free in the weeks following the release of The Need to Make a Change. The documentary follows the writing and recording process of this new EP as well as some live footage, and some of the band’s shenanigans.”

8. A memorable show? “In my other band, Southern Death Threat, we played an outdoor festival with Our Lady Peace, Marianna’s Trench, Social Code, Faber Drive and a bunch of others when we were on tour in Brandon, Man. It was the biggest show I’ve ever played to date. It was a rush!”

9. A music legend you’d love to jam with? “Slash. He’s pretty much my favourite guitar player.”

10. An instrument you’d love to learn? “I’ve always wished that I had learned the piano. It’s such a diverse instrument.”

11. Something unusual on your iPod? “The Counting Crows. Always loved those guys. It’s kind of a guilty pleasure.”

12. Best fast food meal? “Taco Luis in Lansdowne. The guy that runs the place is hilarious too.”

13. A favourite Richmond memory? “Drinking with the boys in Sherwood Forest and Hunter’s Trail (in Steveston).”

14. Best time of day? “It depends on my mood. Sometimes I like 4 a.m. in the summer when the sun is coming up and nobody’s awake. Sometimes I like 11 p.m. when the party is just getting started.”

15. Some of your favourite bands growing up? “Growing up I listened to a lot of the Seattle scene of the early ‘90s. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Temple of the Dog. Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson were big ones for me as well… When I got to high school it was all about Pantera, Slayer and Slipknot.”

16. Listening to music on vinyl is…? “A warmer sound.”

17. Place you might take a first date? “The aquarium, followed by a bar.”

18. How did The Need to Make a Change come together? “It was a collection of songs we felt belonged together. We didn’t have a big budget to spend on this EP, so we decided to demo about 12 songs before we narrowed it down to the five we were going to record. We did five songs in five days. I think the final product has actually exceeded band expectations. We think it sounds killer, and we hope the audience is on the same page.”

19. Your hope for Among the Betrayed? “I hope we keep writing great songs for a long time that connect with people.”

20. Odds Slash will make a guest appearance at your release party? “He’s a constant on the guest list, but I’m pretty sure the odds that he makes an appearance at our show are about the same as an original lineup Guns N’ Roses reunion.”

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