Interview with a Komrad

Komrads: The one man industrial crusade led by Zachary Burnett hailing from Rochester,NY recently signed to Negative Gain Productions and is not wasting any time. August 20th will see the release of the album “The Wolf”, the follow-up to 2018`s self-released “Resistor”.

I`ve trudged through the debris of broken analog synthesizers, drum machines and ash to find front-man/leader of the revolution, Zachary Burnett and interrogate him about his latest collection of machine-driven hymns and the Komrads agenda.

Let`s start off with something fairly simple, what is the origin of the name Komrads

I picked the name for a couple reasons.  The main inspiration was Waynes World 2 when Wayne holds a fundraiser at a Soviet Union themed club called Comrades to raise money for Waynestock.  I changed the spelling because if Korn could do it then why can’t I?  Also it’s a gender neutral pronoun, an all inclusive term.  When you’re at a Komrads show, we’re all comrades.

You started out as a full band and eventually ended up as a solo project which seems to be the opposite of how things go in this scene with bands often started as a solo thing and evolving into a full band later on, how do you think you`ve benefited from this move?

The main reason I went solo was because of the relentless touring schedule I was working up toMy previous band members, Jesse Halstead and Joe Sexton, we’re great sports and I couldn’t have gotten this project rolling without them.  But life happens and spending months on the road with an unsteady income is less than appealing to most sane people understandably.  The biggest benefit of being solo is I have little to no overhead cost and if I wanna pull over and go to Starbucks for the third time that day there’s no one to argue with.

Your new album “The Wolf” shows great musical range, opening track “Crossfire” setting the tone with it`s doomsday sound design, “Exile” showcasing the rock/metal influence and “The Cure” seemingly living in between post punk and industrial. To what do you attribute this seamless slithering between the worlds?

It’s mostly to keep things interesting for myself.  I’m a fan of all genres within the “Goth” realm and I love to pick elements of each and mash them together.  Sometimes it turns out great, other times not so much.  I started this project without really picking a direction to point myself fully at.  It’s definitely been an experimental journey trying to figure out exactly what Komrads is to me.  With this album I’ve found a lot more confidence in what I want this project to sound like.

This is your first time operating within the industrial borders [or lack-thereof] what made you wanna go this route? What about the industrial concept so to speak was it that attracted you to it?

What really pushed me into this territory was the fun factor.  Maybe not a whole lot of people think of the word “fun” when they hear industrial.  I’ve been drifting back and forth between the post punk/darkwave and industrial realms for a few years.  After touring with Skold and opening for Pigface, Suicide Commando, and Psyclon Nine I found myself enjoying the energy output at those shows more and more.  It seems more fitting for me to pursue that route given I already instinctively have an angsty, aggressive approach when I produce electronic music.  So diving deeper into Industrial just seemed like the next logical step for me.

Komrads – The Wolf

The wolf as a symbol is found throughout time in nearly every culture, which interpretation, if any, influenced the album to the point of choosing it as its title?

I chose to name the album after the track I had titled The Wolf.  It was the last song I had written for the album and it’s deeply personal about my resentment and outright hatred for someone close to my immediate family.  I won’t go into details about this specific person but due to a series of events over the course of many years, this persons involvement within my family has left me sort of cast out, a lone wolf you might say.  

Who is responseable for the albums artwork and what was the idea behind it?

I was scrolling through my Instagram feed as I often do and I came across this outrageously badass drawing of my favorite Pokémon (Haunter). I immediately followed Keith West/HangxFang after checking out the rest of their work. I asked if they could draw up something for me with a Wolf as the focal point in a cemetery of sorts and barely a week later I’m looking at what would become my album cover. I’m planning on working with this artist again and I highly recommend them. Very friendly and fast turnaround for quality work.

The music of Komrads is largely built on hardware equipment and heavy use of sampling, was this a conscious decision? Why not simply open Fruity Loops and program up a beat or two?

I guess you could say it was a conscious decision to use hardware instruments as opposed to software.  I played guitar in punk and metal bands for years, some drums too so having a hands on approach just made more sense to me.  I want to physically feel the instruments I’m playing, twist the knobs and push the pads myself.  Maybe my performance will be less precise and limited but that brings me back to the fun factor.  Physically hammering on MPC pads and dialing in the synths and drums as they’re looping brings me a lot of joy that I don’t feel when just sitting in front of a computer screen.  My DAW is largely just a means to record the outputs of my gear.

On the topic of equipment, which piece of gear would you say was essential to the creation of this album and why?

I couldn’t have made this record without my Akai MPC 2500.  That is the key to all of my operations for this project.  I’ve compiled tons of samples on it and I love the workflow.  Aside from that I heavily used a Roland SE-02 and Korg Minilogue and often ran them through an Industrialectric Incinerator silicon fuzz pedal.  I practically made those synths scream and chug like guitars.

You`ve played a fair amount of shows and tours, opened for several well known acts within the scene and have a tour of your own coming up in October. Being a solo act how do you go about translating the music for the stage? Do you have a live line-up with you and if so, who does it consist of currently?

As of right now I perform solo live as well.  I used to bring all of my gear with me and that became a massive headache.  Now I have a minimalist rig put together so I can get on and off of stage in less than five minutes to make way for the other acts.  I run backing tracks, several pedals I process my vocals through, and a synth or two for some extra flair and performance.  I also supply and operate my own lighting rig.  I’ve spent countless hours dialing in lights that bring a lot of movement and life to my stage performance.

Having a consistent flow of releases whether it be stand alone singles, EP`s or whatever else, what do you have planned after the album drops?

I have a couple things in the early stages of planning but nothing set in stone.  I am planning on releasing remixes off of this album in one form or another.  I also have plans to collaborate with a few other artists but I won’t be divulging any further information on that at this time.  I’m lending my vocals for a few features that will be out late this year or early next year as well.

Blind [Single from The Wolf]

As you know, Sounds & Shadows is all about supporting smaller artists/bands from around the globe. Who are some of the current underground acts you`re into these days that you`d want our readers to check out?

STCLVR (pronounced Street Cleaver) is easily one of my favorite underground acts in the scene right now.  They’re a solo industrial artist based out of Jamestown, NY.  They slam out releases quickly one after another lately and each one blows me away.  I highly recommend checking them out if you’re into harsh industrial.  Some other favorites I highly recommend are 6th Circle, Bustie‘, and The Russian White.  All three of those acts vastly differ from each other but they’re all among my favorites that I think deserve a little more credit

When industrial was but a foetus [pun intended ; ) ] there was various political as well as spiritual and occult ideologies tied in to the music whether that be in terms of the creators outlook or the methods and equipment used to record said music, while this seems to have taken the back-seat in the modern era in favour of the more club-friendly interpretations of the genre I`d wanna know if the ways of old has any influence on how you create, think about and execute your art?

I think a lot of the original and older acts in the Industrial genre had no intentions of receiving club play.  I don’t set out to write music with a political agenda but sometimes, and more so especially on this record, that’s exactly what happens.  When I’m not yelling about my personal feelings my anger/grief usually finds itself pointed at political issues.  I do appreciate when my music is played in clubs and I do strive to write hooks now and then but I’m writing this music to build a connection with an audience.  I’m of course influenced by the likes of Skinny Puppy, NIN and Ministry, but I want to take that influence and combine it with everything else that makes me who I am, and put it out there as something new and fresh.

Find Komrads on the following pages

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/komradsofficial

Bandcamp: https://komrads.bandcamp.com/

Negative Gain Productions: https://negativegain.com/

New album ” The Wolf ” out August 20th 2021

Steven Archer Rants part (I’ve lost count)

Steven Archer is the amazing talent behind Ego Likeness and Stoneburner as well as fantastic visual art. You should listen to it and buy said visual art, but for now….. 🙂

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/

https://egolikeness.bandcamp.com/

We are all behind the curve right now

We are all excited for shows to start back up. I personally have been working towards my upcoming tours for a year and a half. As have many bands. We all want to get out there and blow your faces off. All of that said I wanted to throw something out there. Our scene is not young. Most of the “back bone” acts, all those bands you take for granted that play at all the festivals or come through on tour all the time, have been doing this shit for a long ass time. And all of us are aging rapidly. There’s a meme going around that says “guest list is canceled” because bands and venues need your support. I’m all for that and hopefully all of you will understand how much everyone on this side of the ticket counter needs you. Last night I did my first DJ gig in two years. It was a wonderful experience to see old friends and do the thing. But let me tell you, over the past couple of years the arthritis in my hip has gotten much worse (don’t try to stop a car with your hip, kids.) And a casual survey of my fellow compatriots tells me I’m not alone in that. My point being that, our scene for as amazingly accepting of the whole range of humans can occasionally be kinda snarky (I know, right?!?) with the things it takes for granted. Support isn’t just a financial thing. Support is accepting that everyone is two years older than they were when you last saw them. Bodies change, people slow down, artists go in different musical directions and on and on. Maybe try not to lock into the idea of “getting back to the way things were.” That big black pirate ship has sailed. You know people complain from time to time that the scene is ,”stuck in the past?” Well, now is the time to embrace the new world! Instead of expecting shit to pick back up the way it was, consider this whole thing an experiment in Tabula Rosa. A chance for all of us in the “wear a lot of black, dislike the sun, like sounds that go boom and collect dead shit” community to look at the big picture and appreciate what is happening now. It’s easy to take our scene, the venues, DJs, bands, publications, record labels and the rest of the infrastructure that keeps it moving (out of love, because ain’t nobody getting rich doing this shit) for granted when it’s a constant thing. But now all of us know what it’s like when all of it comes to a rapid crashing end. We all know what it’s like to miss the life we just accepted was always going to be there. It’s the new normal, the new model world… If you aren’t vaccinated. Get it done. Go out to club nights! Tip bartenders. Tip DJs. Buy band Merch! Tell promoters how much you appreciate them. Maybe ignore the fact that some artists are shaped slightly different or a bit slower than they were last time you saw them. And appreciate the fact that they are still up there in spite of the new pains in their bodies or the fact that the covid depression caused them to gain weight or maybe their shows aren’t as tight as they could be, because it’s difficult to get together and practice. Because believe me, all of us are painfully aware that our bodies have changed. And as much as we want to get on stage and be the pure vision and vehicle for the music that we see in our heads. The reality is what we see in the mirror or experience trying to walk up stairs reminds us every day that time moves on. But we are still going to get up on those stages or in those booths and venues and do what we do. So, if you have any petty observations about shit like that, how about keeping them to yourselves. Celebrate the fact that we are finally able to get together and do horrible things to each other in darkened clubs and not take the whole thing for granted. –

Steven (Ego Likeness, Stoneburner, and a dude who needs to get his hip replaced at some point)

It’s Wed My Dudes, On 5/7 It Will Be Bandcamp Friday May Edition

I have not been great about writing reviews this month. However that has not stopped my compulsive purchase of badass new music. So I am going to delve into my cups as well as the latest in hot new tunes. I invite you to follow my meandering thoughts and broken sentence structure. It is my genuine hope you find something here that will inspire hope for you as the tension of the last year and a half seems to have a light in the distance. As always leave a comment below if you have an artist you would like to see me review in the future.

kenzifiresSlumber Party” by Ashnikko – The amazing shooting star Æðra Justice Burke of FIRES has started a new WitchHouse project and blew my doors off out of the gate. These slinky flowing hip hop beats crisscross with waves of color and heat. I think the most amazing impact is the ability to stop everything, hang in silence a moment, then pirouette and walk away. I don’t know the original song well, but you can bet your sweet bippy I am looking it up now. Everything she touches is a laser beam right to my heart.

https://kenzifires.bandcamp.com/track/s-l-u-m-b-e-l-i-g-u-s

DoppelgängeRMercy and Eternity – Currently the hot topic in Post Punk/Darkwave is the amazing icy wind blowing out of Russia. Doppelganger has been leading that charge for a while now. Building an impressive catalog for 25 years and honing an impressive smooth icicle sound with a razor point. Rolling live drums with crisp transitions. Light shard guitar cadence. A bass line the drives the tempo with intuition and an unseen presence. The vocals are subtitle and hold a wisdom. When someone says you have an old soul, that is the effect these vocals create with me. I am kicking myself for waiting so long to find this band and if you haven’t heard them please don’t waste another day.

Favorite track:

Dancing With Shadows – A flowing wisp of smoke with quick moving guitars and deceptive transitions. Another power of this band is that it sounds like itself. The vocals in particular could easily get lost in the “Baritone Post Punk” singer trope. It has instead a fresh confident take that is not another Ian Curtis/Andrew Eldrich.

https://doppelganger-ru.bandcamp.com/album/mercy-and-eternity

HALLOWSAll That Is True Dies – New single from recently relocated Seattle band Hallows on Cold Transmission Music. In addition to the single you get two remixes by Dead Astronauts and Profit Prison. As well as exquisite mastering by Pete Burn and Slade Templeton. That is an all star team and gets me excited. The first time I heard this band I was struck by the glorious blend of vocal styles. It really creates a story between these voices. Like an other world echo of memory that haunts a home. I love the simple idea layered with tragedy and humanity. This is a song of reflection and immersion. After the banger club hit, that quiet moment when our characters lock eyes and get lost.

https://hallows.bandcamp.com/album/all-that-is-true-dies

Into GreyWaiting Here – So this is a band from Columbus Indiana that found it’s way to the Sounds and Shadows group and holy shit it is good. I’m working my way through the previous catalog. It is rainy days and water colors. Deep resonant vocals that put me in mind of Golden Apes. Cutting poetic lyrics of longing and doubt. A lot of overlapping busy guitar leads which create motion from an otherwise crushing weight. It’s a nice effect that draws a beautiful contrast. Quickly rising on my list of modern bands making goth romantic again.

https://intogrey.bandcamp.com/track/waiting-here

StoneburnerSell Out – Steven is newly signed to label COP International and broke out the first single. To no ones surprise it is a total banger. It was produced by living legend John Fryer and features remixes by Klack, Stabbing Westward, and Sick Jokes. I love the crushing 100 MPH pop stinger tempo and tongue and cheek clever delivery. “I want to look good in the DJ booth” “You have to sit through my noisy ass shit”. This is a cleaner burning view into the wit and humor that Steven uses to connect with his audience outside of his music. I love the left turn in direction to show the range and endless creativity Stoneburner continues to bring.

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/album/sell-out

Shadow FashionOne Black Rose – San Antonio darkpop darlings have dropped a new single and this is my favorite of their releases to date. I fell deeply in love with this track. It hits on so many genres and decades in one dark clean insta classic. Huge John Hughes romantic swirling film feels. Patrick’s vocals are crisp and dreamy. It has a modern production with a nostalgic tone. This single really paves the way for a bright exciting future. I’m jaw dropped blown away by how much this track is stuck in my mind when I least expect it. Must have.

https://shadowfashion.bandcamp.com/track/one-black-rose

Dove TribeAll In The Waiting – No one is a bigger fan of the artistic exploration of sound by Hide Tepes of Carrion than me. He is on a constant journey to create some of the most cutting edge sound crafting in the modern scene. So when I heard he was doing a new project with a more rock focused old school bat cave sound I knew to expect something exceptional. The song “New Cold War” is a powerful political statement with an emotional delivery that harkens me back to 1959 by the Sisters of Mercy. A track that transports you and paints a picture of strife and rebellion. It shows Hide’s voice in a completely new light that left me spellbound. Currently available for pre order for a 5/15/21 release. I feel like this EP has the raw power to be a game changer in a genre hungry for new sound.

https://dovetribe.bandcamp.com/album/all-in-the-waiting

Lyres Of UrI Look Good On You – I know, I know, you are thinking Ken are you just reviewing all of your contributors at Sounds and Shadows? No, this new single from Lou Blacksail is pure blazing fire and marks more young talent that is hitting a stride which strikes me deeply. The vocals are a sinister reflection of 80’s pop. I love how accessible the hooks and cascading synths feel while the vocals hint at something secret. A dangerous curl of the lip and arrogance of the eyes. As Lou continues to find his voice, I continue to be more invested and impressed by a future talent in this scene. Show support now for this “It” factor artist.

https://lyres-of-ur.bandcamp.com/track/i-look-good-on-you

MORIS BLAKIrregular Revisions Vol. II – Brand new remix album from Boston EDM wizard Brian Blacknoise. Powerful reimagining from 2019 The Irregularity of Being. This album is a epic dance journey where sounds are sculpted from chaos into form. A masterful job of enlisting vocal performances from the likes of Alicia May, Luna, and Pete Crane to add layers that elevate the intent and narrative. Finding a fresh image in songs you have previously done is no easy task, but this remix album cracks the standard code. It’s a collaboration that takes something wonderful and fires it through a prism.

Favorite Track: I have a tossup here. Between Alicia May‘s vocal delivery of empowerment and grace on Burying Place, and the and the HAEX remix of of Erase Displace. Both brought such a fresh vision to Brian’s vibrating walls of earthquake destruction. Honestly I am hard pressed to find anything here I didn’t enjoy.

https://morisblakngp.bandcamp.com/album/irregular-revisions-vol-ii

ΣΕΘ(SET)Disorders Of The Heart feat. Morgue VVitch – So this was a powerful and abstract find from Arizona featuring Morgue VVitch. An unnerving and beautiful forest of terrifying Will o Wisp lights. Goblins horror texture blended with dungeon synth adventure. I loved the spoken word intro and the fingers on your spine chime movement. What left me enthralled by this was how unfamiliar and dangerous it felt. A chilling feeling of desperation leaving me hungry for life. I want to explore deeper in this haunting mystery.

https://subgoth.bandcamp.com/album/disorders-of-the-heart-feat-morgue-vvitch

Jim Marcus (GoFight/Die Warsaw) Advice For Writing Songs

I’ve been writing songs for 40 years and have written or co-written over 500 songs that have been released in some way. I don’t consider myself, really, a great musician, a great drummer, a great singer, but I do cling to the idea that songwriting is the core of who I am. even if it doesn’t love me, I love it.

I wanted to maybe list 5 super simple tips for songwriters. I know there are a lot of musicians here and I hope there is value here for some of you:

1. Write at least one song every day. Even if you think it is terrible. The only way to get good at this is to get crazy at this and do it a lot. You can start thinking of songs as throwaways, as ideas that sometimes stick and sometimes get thrown away. Once we stop getting so protective of them, we can let them die, change, grow, or be replaced by something better. I like to write new theme songs for tv shows, local colleges, superheroes, anything. Most of the songs I write are just for cannibalizing for pieces. “Cause I’m the Spiderman, I like to swing, impossibly high cause that’s my thing, Got spider bulge and 6 pack abs, realistic webs come out of my ass” had 14 verses and I have actually used some of them.

2. Conversely, Record everything you do. Writing down notes is helpful. Having a voice recording app on your phone you use constantly is better. Every idea, every riff, every bassline, every small chunk of vocal. Keeping a google doc open ton your phone, too, where you write words you like is great. I refer back to mine all the time. It’s now hundreds of pages and full of lines, rhymes, chorus ideas, etc. Entire verses that I liked have come from it. I wrote a song in the 90s called “Pussy Maybelline” for a friend of mine who admitted she put lipstick on her genitals for a date once. I wrote literally hundreds of verses about what other insane things she could do. That song has really delivered, even though it never came out. If you like a meter, write as much as you can in it. Many songs I’ve put out have had 12 verses written for them. I used the best ones.

3. Find different parts of you I have a habit of splitting myself into different people when I write. I have a person inside who writes dirty songs, one who does mean, angry ones, one who is super political, etc. They have names. It helps when you imagine how someone else would say something. Talk in funny voices, mispronounce words. Try to do something at the top and bottom of your range. Sing at different times of day, find every weirdness. I sometimes walk around talking like a different person, looking for a voice. I wrote a song called “Light it up” trying to channel this guy who comments on my feed who made an allusion to blowing up the middle east. I couldn’t sing that as me. (Maybe you can see | how hard it is for me | to be one voice in a system when it used to be all me | I want the same thing everyone | wants and will not say | to be in the majority, but that just slipped away, so I say Light it up.)

4. But Don’t wait for words and melodies are different. I hum simple melodies all the time and then sometimes match them with words. I sing to things. It would be embarrassing to explain which song I released started as “I love you, spaghetti” Remember that some of the greatest songs ever don’t have words that make sense. Phl Collins was going to replace Susudio, but couldn’t find a word he liked, Maurice White left “Bah-de-dah-de-dah” in “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire, because that’s just how he liked it.

5. Write over other people’s songs and rhythms. I worked with a really good songwriter once who used to just sample other grooves from songs she liked, loop it, tape the key down, and sing her own songs over it. When you listen to music you like, sing your own song ideas over the songs. I mean, not at the show or anything. But when you are alone. Once you have a good song, you can replace the music under it with anything. The world is full of rhythm, chord progression, etc. And all of it is there to inspire you.

Jim’s newest single in case you had any doubts of his stellar credentials 🙂

System Syn and the Influence of Clint Carney on the Dark Music Community and Beyond

This started out with all the intent of being a review for System Syn’s latest two offerings “Once Upon a Second Act” & the just released accompanying remix album “If It Doesn’t Break You”

Both brilliant offerings from an act that has put out one great release after another but, I decided I didn’t just want to talk about the albums of System Syn, but about the man behind System Syn, Clint Carney and his ever-growing influence not just on dark music and our little corner of the world, but also art and film that’s often over shadowed by the shenanigans of other artists and his down to earth persona.

I first discovered System Syn in late 2004/early 2005 through classic online electro-industrial-EBM show Real Synthetic Audio followed by a tour supporting Imperative Reaction at local legendary Denver Nightclub Rock Island.

This was the first glimpse I had of the energy and creativity of Clint. Since then, I have become a fan on many levels, and through many channels.

As a long-standing DJ and writer in the Goth/Industrial/Alternative Communities I have followed the career of System Syn and Clint with relative curiosity over the years, each release better than the last. Which is saying worlds, with 15 releases as System Syn to date.

I always look forward to new System Syn releases yet dread it at the same time, as there is always more than one track worth spinning, that you know will make people move.

I know this doesn’t sound like a problem, but when an artist has this many albums full of great club worthy tracks that are also massive earworms. One can easily get bogged down and lost in the fray but, I always find something.

Once Upon a Second Act and If It Never Breaks You are no different in that respect. Both are solid albums filled with sonic goodies. Hell, the covers of Pulp’s “Common People” and The Strokes “Someday” are worth the money alone. And looking at the cover art (also done by Clint) brings me to the other side of Clint and System Syn.

As with a lot of artists in the dark and indie music community Clint is a multi-talented artist (more on that later) as well as filling in as a hired gun on multiple tours for acts like Imperative Reaction, and God Module. Adding the to the chemistry and artistry of each band’s live performance.

I have seen Clint live as often in other bands if not more than I have with his own projects. During the Triptych Tour, in Denver he not only played all 3 sets, but when the power at the venue went out, instead of just giving up or waiting, what did he do? That’s right he pulled out an acoustic guitar and continued to put on a pretty fantastic show.

This may not sound like much, yet it was the first time I have seen an artist at this level just take the road block and run with it.

Besides the above-mentioned artists and System Syn, if you go to Clint’s Wiki or Discogs you will see a number of side projects (Fake, Parallel Project) but also how far reaching his influence is working with people all across the board.

One might think it is enough to be a known and respected musician, not Clint.

As I spoke about earlier, Clint is also a prolific artist in multiple other disciplines. His album covers give an idea but nothing prepares you for the sheer volume of his work (very similar to Steven Archer of StoneBurner and Egolikeness in this regard), check out his involvement with Hyena Gallery and his transition into film and music video.

Since that time, he has worked with directors as notable as Wes Craven and David Fincher. And in 2017 making his Executive Producer, Writing and Acting debut in Dry Blood. Currently Clint is in various stages of production on other projects in film.

Talking with Clint, one would barely have an idea of how much he has going on or how wide his influence really is. He is both humble and polite, as well as being more down to earth than most I have had the chance to meet and speak with.

I for one am looking forward to many more years of releases from Clint and his various projects.

system syn (bandcamp.com)

Clint Carney Official Site | Artist | Musician | Film Maker

DRY BLOOD Official Trailer (2019) Horror Movie HD – YouTube