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A Dirty Dozen with STEVEN BLANCO from IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT – June 2020

| 12 June 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “NYC’s nebulous avant-garde metal outfit Imperial Triumphant is gearing up to release their new album Alphaville on July 31st via Century Media Records. The album was recorded at Menegroth Studios and features Tomas Haake (Meshuggah) on the taiko drums, Phlegeton (Wormed) on guest vocals, Yoshiko Ohara (ex-Bloody Panda) as part of the choirs, RK Halvorson as part of the Barbershop quartet, Sarai Chrzanowski as part of the choirs, Andromeda Anarchia (Folterkammer, Dark Matters) as part of the choirs, J Walter Hawke on the trombone, and Colin Marston on guitars. IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT officially began in 2012 with their debut release Abominamentvm. The line-up consisted of Zachary Ilya Ezrin on guitar/vocals and the rhythm section of their NYC contemporaries: Pyrrhon. Soon they met with drummer Kenny Grohowski and began to feature him on their next two releases Goliath (EP) and Abyssal Gods (LP). In 2015, they introduced bassist Steven Blanco to their lineup. In 2016, they released another EP Inceste, which saw them tour heavily that year with temporary second guitarist Max Gorelick. 2018 brought about their magnum statement, Vile Luxury. The full-length album, written collectively by the trio (Ezrin, Grohowski, Blanco), was a homage to their hometown New York City that brought jazz elements to the avant-garde black metal style in a way never achieved before. They toured extensively in Europe and North America from 2018-19 in support of the groundbreaking full-length.” We get bassist Steven to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

Photo credit: Alex Krauss Photography 

1. Please tell us a little about your latest release. What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through? Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Alphaville is a big album, with big dreams. We’ve crafted a sonically dense experience, while always trying to keep the powerful sound of the trio front and center. We took our time to present what we feel are good songs. If you listen hard, you’ll find some tasty details that do have special meaning, and always 100 percent related to the content ie: the actual sound of that elegantly designed Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero WWII plane as it pertains to the song “Atomic Age.” Or, working with Trey Spruance to get just the right amount of acoustic imaging so a sound will live in a certain sonic space for the listener. We put a lot of work into this record.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

One of my earliest childhood memories is that of listening to Stravinsky’s “Le Sacre Du Printemps.” I cannot remember when I wanted to be a musician; It seems to have always been the life-force in my universe.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

There are too many! I am the sum total of cumulative variables that guided and continue to guide whatever taste flows through me.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Stravinsky, Thelonious Monk, RUSH, Portal, and Duke Ellington.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

I think an interesting music experience would be if Portal and us were to record a song together. Two full bands. That would be insane, and heavy.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Our music sounds like a fine champagne being poured, and then being swallowed up by a sociopath. Heavy Black Metalish with some core Jazz feels, elements of mid 20th Century culture, and the sounds of the big city. I can’t think of a review that made me cringe at the moment.

A seamless Photoshop paper texture with an infinite canvas and self-applying light and shadow texture effects for digital drawing and painting

7. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

The singalong would most likely come from Zachary. Kenny or I would probably get inspired to cook first, and the drinks would have to be of distinct pedigree for all three of us.

8. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

I don’t get star struck often, but I was pretty damn psyched when I met Chick Corea.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Being a musician can be very rewarding. I believe it can help a person find his way towards a spiritually lofty existence in this vague and abstract life. If I couldn’t play music, I’d opt for making feature films or reviewing and road testing motorcycles.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Ask me what my favorite car of all time is. 1956 Ford Thunderbird. I wouldn’t say I’m tired of it, but I do have to describe my musical influences over and over and over and over! Hahaha.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I stepped away from music for almost four years. Although I learned a lot from what I ventured into, it was a mistake to be apart from my true passion for such a long time. I missed many opportunities. But, hey – Life is fucked! And, you gotta live and learn.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

1984 RUSH Grace Under Pressure would be my choice. It’s a very unique album with a unique sound that has seemingly gotten more interesting as time goes by. It marks the end of analog; The beginning of the digital age. You can hear that. Their songs became simpler in some ways, but deeper, complex, and more meaningful in other ways. The playing is superb. Their sound as a band is whole. It has a very dark theme, observing the bleak state of humanity and programming. It’s an album that I couldn’t get over once I finally got into it. I think it’s a very underrated masterpiece. “Between The Wheels” is prob my favorite song.





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About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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