Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life had the pleasure to talk with Zachary Ilya Ezrin (vocals/guitars) of avant-garde black metal band, Imperial Triumphant. Their latest album, the excellent Alphaville, is out now and you can read our review here.
Hello, Zachary. It’s an absolute pleasure to speak of you. How you doing?
The pleasure’s all mine.
We can’t start any interview off without talking about it. How’s life been for you over the last couple of months? During the COVID times?
It’s obviously a big change, but we’re trying to stay busy and focused on the art. You know, it’s not something I spend too much time dwelling on. Just try to stay focused on the positives and move forward.
Were you worried that it was going to have any kind of negative effect on Imperial Triumphant and the release of Alphaville?
Yes. But, you know, we had to make the right decisions and I think this kind of time and this kind of climate may be the thing that will put people in the headspace, the perfect headspace to absorb it. Also, in many ways, we had the best time to release the album.
It’s that balance, isn’t it? You can delay an album for a period of time or you can take advantage of the fact that a lot more people are sitting at home and they need these releases.
It’s been just over three weeks since the album was released. The dust is beginning to settle and now that you’re kind of able to take stock. Are you surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response to it?
Yes and no. I mean, we worked really hard on the album, and I really like it. So I understand why people, other people like it. You know, at the same time this is the biggest record we’ve ever put out. And this is the biggest response we’ve ever gotten. So that’s always a surprise. And it does feel really great to feel all this positive reaction from something you worked really hard on.
It’s been touted in many areas, particularly in the U.K., as one of the best albums of the year. A fascinating and eclectic release, something that would normally divide, but it HAS been pretty unanimous. And at what point or did at any point, you know, you had something so special on your hands?
That’s a good question. I think we were always thinking this was gonna be a special record. I think it was always in the back of our minds, whether there was a new song or editing any song or laying down the basic tracking or wherever. Every step we took, we were just yes, yes. You know, every step that we take, every, you know, hurdle we get over, it just brought us closer to thinking like this is really a magnum opus for us.
Working with Century Media this time around. Did that add more pressure or was it a very relaxing kind of experience?
Working with them has been nothing but great. But I will say that, you know, in the back of our minds, we were thinking like, oh, we do have to deliver. This is our first time with them. They’re definitely taking a bigger risk on us than we are with them. We need to deliver.
So it does feel good to be able to deliver something that you said is being considered in one of the best records of the year.
Do you find yourself investigating or going out of your way to try and read reviews and comments and just general Internet chatter about Imperial Triumphant?
I mean, sometimes I like to read the reviews and the comments, sometimes I read them.
But again, it’s a divisive record, as I think many forward thinking works are. So, of course, it’s going to have people that don’t like it. I don’t blame them. I don’t. I don’t have to hold anything against them. It’s art at the end of the day. It either pulls you in or it doesn’t.
Yeah. We would call it over here, a marmite release. You either love it or you hate it.
Yeah, I mean, that’s fine. There’s no artist in the world that’s universally liked.
You can be a multi-platinum selling band, touring stadiums around the world and you’re nobody if you don’t have a collection of haters. It seems that signifies when you’ve made it.
Wow. Yeah. And in that sense, we’re definitely making it.
You are 15 years into your career with Imperial Triumphant. Do you personally still feel as hungry as you did then?
Yeah, I’m still hungry for sure, and I’m hungry than I ever have been because I’ve gotten a taste of what it’s like to pay play for a thousand people. And now I want to play for two thousand. Five thousand. I want to sell out. You know, I want to sell at the dome in London. I want to do all these things. And I want to be put on an amazing show. I want to be able to branch out into other mediums. I want to start bringing Imperial Triumphant to film, television, video games, all these concepts and mediums. I think there are going to be applied to.
Do you think Imperial Triumphant are meeting the challenge of being constantly visible online with social media and so on?
Is this something you enjoy?
No. But it’s something that needs to be done.
It’s the sad truth that as an artist, whether you’re in fine art, television, music, no matter what it is, it’s probably only 50 percent talent and skill and actual creation. The other 50 percent is business, and that 100 percent is your trajectory of how far you’re going to go.
You do need to be good, but at the same time, you also need to play the game, which includes writing, you know, Instagram posts and more trivial things. But that’s important. And if you if we’re living in an age now where we can have this fan interaction, it would seem stupid to not take advantage of it.
Like every band your plans have been delayed or postponed, being unable to get out there and promote Alphaville and play the songs live. Have you been able to come to terms with that?
We’re working on some online streaming sort of things. And, like I said, trying to branch out into other mediums like film, television, video game, these are all industries that are still producing. And something that we could do. It’s a form of creation for us. You know, imagine playing a video game scored by Imperial Triumphant. Or watching a film that was scored by Imperial Triumphant. This is like another way for us to get out our ideas.