Imperial Triumphant’s new album Alphaville is easily the best avant garde jazz-metal album made by dudes in gold masks and flownig robes that we've heard this year. As if its epic musical headfuckery isn’t enough, the presence of Mr Bungle’s Trey Spruance and Meshuggah drummer Tomas Haake rubber-stamps its class.
The latter’s presence is especially significant, and not just because he rarely does anything away from Meshuggah. No, Tomas learned to play Japanese Taiko drums especially for his cameo on the track City Swine, which is some next-level dedication to the art of hitting things really hard.
In the brand new issue of Metal Hammer, we speak to Tomas about his involvement with IT on what’s a shoe-in to make everyone’s Albums Of The Year list.
What’s your relationship with Imperial Triumphant?
Tomas: “Kenny Grohowski,the drummer of Imperial Triumphant, is someone I got to know first through my girlfriend [actor/singer Jessice Pimentel] , as Kenny was previously a drummer in her band and they’ve been friends for many years. She played me some Imperial Triumphant songs and I was immediately blown away by Kenny’s drumming skills and the vibe of the band. I have since seen them a few times live and they do not disappoint!”
How did you get involved playing Taiko Drums on City Swine?
“Kenny reached out and asked if I had ever played Taiko drums, to which I answered, ‘No, of course not, are you high?!’ He asked if I would be into recording some Taiko drumming with him and the other guys, Zach [Ilya Ezrin, vocals] and Steve [Blanco, bass/piano/keys], at a studio in Brooklyn. Since the idea of trying Taiko drums intrigued me, I just said, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’ Being a total newbie at Taiko drumming, I wasn’t so sure they would actually use anything that we played and recorded that day, but I guess they did and I’m proud to be part of it.”
How does Imperial Triumphant’s music tally with your impressions of New York City?
“To me they definitely sound like a ‘New York band’, in a sense… I know Kenny is an avid jazz and Latin drummer as well, and the ‘blend’ or infusion of that combined with the type of compositions they write definitely puts me in ‘a New York state of mind’. Ha ha ha! I can’t really see this particular style or vibe of music emerging just anywhere. I’m certain that the diverse multitude influence that city has on a lot of music and musicians, has had a direct effect on how and why they sound like they do!”
You can get the full lowdown on Imperial Triumphant and Alphaville in the brand new issue of Metal Hammer, which features a world exclusive interview with Metallica on the cover. It also features Trivium, Backxwash, A.A. Williams, Avatar, Mystifier, In Flames and Code Orange and is on sale now.