Imperial Triumphant are among one of the most unique and bizarre metal acts in recent history. They combine elements of extreme metal with jazz to help make themselves the torchbearers of avant-garde metal in a way not seen since the heyday of Mr. Bungle. What makes Imperial Triumphant distinct is that there is an industrial New York City underbelly that has taken root within the band’s sound over the course of the last few albums Alphaville and Spirit Of Ecstasy that help to set this collective apart from the rest. I spoke to multi-instrumentalist Steve Blanco about the band’s overall sound, evolution, guests on the record and what the future might hold for this becloaked and disguised collective.
Tom Campagna: What helped to forge Imperial Triumphant’s sound?
Steve Blanco: It’s been a long evolution that Zachary started quite some time ago. Then with the current lineup the NYC influence took over and the sounds of the metropolis manifested in trio form.
The band has really attracted more and more praise since the release of Alphaville back in 2020, what do you attribute that to?
Alphaville was a big and luxurious album that we put a lot of work into. We’re glad it has been resonating with so many people.
What lyrical themes are staples of the band’s collective identity? What have you added to that arsenal with Spirit Of Ecstasy?
We try to look at life and the world through a wide lens, offering our observations on society’s order and chaos; civilization’s connectivity, style, and human life.
What is the story behind “Chump Change”?
It’s really up to the listener to interpret, but one theme is moving to the big city to gain success only to end up in the ever-growing masses that never get ahead. So much desperate behavior in humanity.
I am getting a fair amount of the off-the-wall nature of Mr. Bungle’s Disco Volante on “Metrovertigo” among other tracks. What do you consider the main stylistic origins for this record?
Mr Bungle is definitely an influence since we are fans. Trey Spruance is also our producer on Alphaville and Spirit Of Ecstasy, and also a great friend of the band’s. As for style we have too many influences to list. We love lots of different kinds of music. Great film, art, books, life, and BBQ all play a role in what we do.
Where did you gain inspiration for the samples on “Tower of Glory, City of Shame”?
It’s best to not be too direct about such darkness. Keep the dream alive and find meaning in it. With this in mind, those samples are mostly real soundbites from a most sinister NYC event.
How do you go about finding guest musicians for an album?
We love to collaborate as there is just so much amazing talent in our creative network, so we just think about people we’d like to have and then try to get them. Fortunately for us, many have been saying yes!
What was it like working with Kenny G in particular on “Merkurius Gilded”?
Absolutely incredible! Can’t even believe he’s on the record. We love what he played very much.
How did you go about deciding which songs to make videos for?
Usually we’ll discuss it over BBQ and then think about ideas we can bring to life.
What effect is your goal for a record like this to have on the listener by the end of its 55 minute run?
To blow their minds and give them a rich, luxurious listening experience; to make a connection.
What are the plans for the band now?
Right now we have much heavy touring happening, but also other things on the horizon.
Anything else you would like to add?
Get Spirit Of Ecstasy and come to the show to see/hear what we’re really about.
(interview published August 20, 2022)
Watch Imperial Triumphant – “Merkurius Gilded” Video