There have been changes afoot in the Imperial Vengeance camp, with the departure of founder member David Bryan and a renewed effort to get out and play live. CackBlabbath spoke to C.Edward Alexander to try and get to the truth about the recent changes and the plans for the future.
Your last album, The Black Heart Of Empire, garnered some impressive reviews. Were you happy with how it was received ?
Yes, but in all honesty the opinions of reviewers, positive or negative, matter very little to me since I already know whether the job has been well or not. I certainly never bother with printed magazines as the reviews in them are governed by advertising payoffs and written by trend following leftists, or bitter failed musicians. It is good to know that some people are capable of understanding the content we produce though, and we value those people of course.
There has been an increase in activity from the Imperial Vengeance camp recently, you’re not actually going to start playing gigs are you ?
Haha, well we just did one at the Powermad festival in Kent. That was the first in nearly two years, and things have changed a lot. The new lineup is far more proactive so hopefully there will be a steady increase in activity from us.
When we watched Morbid Angel at Bloodstock last year you had a look in your eye that implied you’d rather be up on stage than watching from the crowd ?
That’s astute of you. I actually rarely enjoy being at shows I’m not playing; I never have done. I suppose I’m a little addicted to the adrenaline of facing a large crowd, and the challenge of delivering a good performance.
How difficult is it to get gigs lined up ? Is theatrical dark metal difficult to sell in a country where a dancing dog captures the imagination of the mass TV audience ?
There are a number of things I would pay money to watch a woman and a dog doing, and dancing is not one of them. The problem with this, and all over-privileged societies, is that the first thing to die with struggle is an appreciation of art. We are a stupid society that values only surface qualities, because our lives have no depth. I think it was Schopenhauer that said “life without pain has no meaning”, and it tends to follow that countries with a hard way of life produce incredible art and appreciation of art. People seek beauty and meaning where there is hardship and struggle, two things that are in short supply for a nation of people expecting to be fully supported by the state in return for doing absolutely fuck all.
Back to music though, We have a solid support network in this country which is really valuable to us, but our biggest problem is that no one really knows where to place us. We don’t fit with Black Metal all that well, and we are too extreme to work with more commercial bands. People don’t seem to know how to take us, which I sort of like.
Once upon a time, metal in all forms was an alternative TO fashion, now it is simply an alternative fashion. It’s full of self satisfied frig bubbles, poncing about in perfectly sculpted haircuts and dribbling internet-assembled philosophies about how they are expressing their uniqueness, something that appears to involve looking exactly like the people magazines tell them it’s ok to listen to. This in turn means that any bands prepared to step away and do something a little brave or different get largely ignored by the ‘scene’ and the magazines. Fine by me.
And where do you stand on the illegal downloads issue. Is it something that can be stopped by “force”, or do labels need to evolve ?
There’s no way it can be stopped. In a way though, the people most hurt by it are the suits at the top of the chain. The collapse of the ‘industry’ puts the art back into the hands of the creatives rather than the business people. I think in the long term things will work out for the better.
Actually, do bands still need labels, or are things like Pledge Music the way forward ?
Really, the only things bands need from labels is funding albums/videos and tour support. So many bands now are just finding their own way to do things, but ultimately there comes a point where a label is necessary for most artists.
Right, back to matters Imperial Vengeance, there have been some changes in personnel, how has this affected the balance of the band ?
It’s affected everything for the better. Now we have four people all pulling in the same direction. No more nonsense and personal agendas, just passionate drive and hard work.
I know there were elements in the old lineup that weren’t keen on gigging and touring, do the changes allow you get the band out on the road more and spread the word ?
They will do yes. There was always a tremendous drag factor on the bands progress because of the reluctancy of certain people to get out and do the really hard work. Endlessly producing material without getting out and actually doing it in the real world, amounts to little more than fantasy.
I have to ask, what’s the situation with ex-bassist David Bryan. Following events from afar it looks like things got a bit complicated ?
Yes. Obviously I can’t go into any detail about it, as some of it has outstanding legal implications. Essentially there was a lot of deceit directed to band members and people connected with the band, outstanding debts to an unbelievable number of people and some very poor treatment of vulnerable people. It takes a lot for me to turn my back on someone, and I’m no angel, but enough was enough and the band came to agree that there was no alternative.
IV are a very visual band. Given David’s oversight of the look and imagery, what changes do you foresee his departure causing ?
I think in some ways we were becoming too visual. We are starting to realise that too much imagery can give the impression that there is something to hide, like the music isn’t strong enough on its own. Because Dave wasn’t really a musician as such, it was important for him to have a lot of input with visuals. It won’t mean we stop being a strongly visual band, but we aren’t going to obsess over it to the detriment of getting on with music.
That’s the plan. We are already knocking conceptual ideas around for the next album, and beginning to get excited about that. Really though, it’s all about the live shows for the foreseeable future. We want to sharpen things up, and find ways to bring it to life. Especially now that I am playing guitar as well, it’s really important for us to find ways to make the live show exciting.
And for the uninitiated, what can we expect from the new look IV live ?
It’s just a bit more down scaled. It still has a thread of Victoriana, but where we are aiming now is slightly more harder edged. We’ll never be a jeans and t-shirt band, it wouldn’t make sense. We are starting to find the look that’s right for where things are going now though.Think Bill Sykes, scruffy chic in the 1800’s. Whatever that means. Sorry, I’ve been drinking whilst typing.