Artist Spotlight: Imperials Interview

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A shot of Tylor Colby, the drummer and singer from Imperials, in the music video for “Wizard.”

In their three-year reign as a “loud and aggressive” rock band, Imperials has performed at Ithaca Underground’s Big Day In, Ithaca College’s Battle of the Bands, and opened up for the popular indie rock group The Front Bottoms. The band is composed of Tylor Colby (drums/vocals), Matt Colgan (guitar/vocals), Kai Hutchinson (guitar), and Vincenzo Sicurella (piano/synthesizer/accordion/trumpet). These four met at Ithaca College in 2013.

Although the core members of the rock group met while studying at Ithaca College, they plan on moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the end of the summer. To prepare for the move, the group is staying fairly quiet for the summer. They only have two gigs booked, but both of these shows could bring big exposure to the young band. Imperials will perform on Friday, July 21 at the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance. In September the group will also perform at Cayuga Sound, the festival curated by Ithaca’s very own X Ambassadors.

Our Outreach Coordinator, Elena Piech, had the chance to interview Tylor Colby, one of the front men for Imperials. The two talked about the bands history, Hannibal Burris and future plans.

Elena Piech:  How did Imperials meet? When did the band form?
Tylor Colby: We met very late in 2013. That’s when I met the core group that turned out to be the band. Matt Colgan and I met Vito (Vincenzo Sicurella) in early 2014. We just started assembling members as we became more serious. [We] really became a full fledged band in the fall of 2014. We just kept writing songs. It was really Colgan’s doing that we kept writing and kept pushing stuff out there. He motivated me to keep writing lyrics. It was a really fun thing to do during college and now that we’re graduated we’re heading to Philly (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) to expand our horizons a little bit.

An older photo of Tylor Colby playing the drums and singing for Imperials. Not much has changed for the artist, except he let his hair grow longer and thicker.

EP: Did you think you would be both the drummer and singer for Imperials?
TC: I think it started out of necessity because it was just me and Matt Colgan at the time. We were just playing and practicing some really crappy songs in the basement of one of the Cornell co-ops. I just felt the need to sing because the songs needed words and Matt didn’t want to sing. I just started belting and at the time I didn’t have a microphone, so I think that really shaped the way I performed— just loud—always.

EP: Was it a challenge to play both the drums and to sing?
TC: I’ve actually always been a singer. So that’s probably why it comes naturally. And drums and singing are my two favorite things and normally they don’t get to be combined. So this is amazing that I get to do this on a regular basis.

EP: What’s on the agenda for Imperials this summer
TC: This summer we’re—aside from two very large shows—we’re not doing much else. We’re playing at Grassroots Music Festival, which we’re really excited about. We’re playing on that Friday. And we’re also performing in Cayuga Sound, that’s in September. But right now we’re just writing a lot and gearing up for our move.

EP: Talk to me about that move. Why take the band to Philadelphia?
TC: I still don’t know why we’re moving to Philly, but I like it there a lot and I feel like it’s just where a lot of people are going right now. I’m literally I’m hopping on the bandwagon. I’m saying ‘Alright, a lot of people I love and creative people I know are going to Philadelphia. And it’s cheap and it’s close enough to Buffalo and Ithaca, my other hubs.’ So I’m just kind of like ‘post graduate: screw everything let’s go to Philly.’ It’s like that Hannibal Burris meme that’s like, ‘Get yourself together, man. Move to Philly. Start a salsa company. Listen to Animal Collective. Blow up an Applebee’s.‘ Just like, I’m literally being a meme right now, but that’s fine.

The Hannibal Buress “Get Yourself Together Man” meme.

EP: For the members moving to Philly, what will your practice and work schedule look like?
TC: The goal for this upcoming year is going to be balancing professional work with our band, that has always been a thing though. I’ve been doing that in the past with school. Balancing school and Imperials — I think that’s trained us all well to perform and practice when we get the chance and wherever we get the chance to do it.

EP: Do you have any releases that are going to come out soon?
TC: Unfortunately we haven’t recorded recently. I’m hoping we can find them palatable to release, but most likely everyone in the band is going to be enough of a perfectionist to produce something that is going to take some time.

EP: Has working in Ithaca shaped your band’s production process. How would you describe Ithaca’s music scene?
TC: Ithaca’s music scene is great and very supportive. You can’t say that a lot about other cities. Ithaca is both eclectic and tight knit. You just have communities of people playing everything from Reggae, to experimental noise, to country, to bluegrass music, and everyone gets along. I’m really going to miss the music scene here. Benjamin Torrey of various projects and things in Ithaca said it well when he said ‘I go to other cities and I’m like, okay, so where’s the local DIY community group. And it’s like, there isn’t one. There’s people who do it, but there isn’t something as large and organized and non-for-profit as Ithaca Underground. So we’re really going to miss that and that’s something that I’m going to start working on doing when I go to Philadelphia, actually, is getting something like that going wherever I am.

E: Talking about IU, what do you think about MegsRadio?
T: MegsRadio is a really great idea and it works. It works really well. What it essentially does is support all these eclectic, and collective bands, and sounds that are happening locally. It allows people to keep discovering artists and not only that, but keep them on the radar. A lot of people discover bands through Pandora and through MegsRadio you can discover bands that you live a couple miles from who are playing a $5 show somewhere. They really could use your love and support. It works so well with what we already have here. I’m really glad something like that is here.

EP: Hopefully MegsRadio can enable more people to discover Imperials. Where can people go to find more information about your band?
T: Follow us on Facebook because we’re still like your friendly 45-year-old grandma band and that’s what we have to communicate through. We post funny things sometimes and sometimes we have silly little contests that Vito starts up.

Watch “Wizard,” the latest music video by Imperials:

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Artist and Listener Outreach Coordinator. All around dynamo and local music enthusiast.

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