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The New Imperialism’s 'War Mouth' is immersive experience

Kevin Ives

Wichita’s The New Imperialism celebrates the release of its new album, “War Mouth,” Friday, June 3, at Temple Live on a bill that will also feature Atria and Dead Orchestra.

The record is a loud, cathartic affair that is cinematic in scope and frequently recalls a time when albums were a deeply immersive experience, inviting the audience to listen from start to finish and return to discover sonic nuances not evident on first listen.

Founding member Kevin Ives recently spoke with KMUW about “War Mouth” and the band’s upcoming show.

One of the things that I think is really notable about the album is that it functions in the way that albums did for a long time, which is that you're really having this full blown experience, taking the listener from a starting point to a finishing point. And if they stick with it all the way through, they'll really be rewarded for taking that journey with you.

It’s been one of the things that I've wanted to do for a long time. With COVID and all of this stuff, it was kind of easy to really sit down and make that happen, as opposed to having to play shows all the time and not be able to write something like that. In the future, I hope that we [can] do something like that. Like if we have another lockdown or something.

You’re going to do this show at Temple Live, and it's a CD release show, and CD release shows are usually their cause for celebration because the record is getting out there. But it's also a chance to really kind of pull out all the stops.

From the get-go we wanted to it somewhere super cool or out of the norm, not just a bar or something like that. So we talked to Temple Live and they were totally on board with it. So, starting with the venue … it’s a big theater, cool Masonic Temple thing. Secondly, I wanted to put together a really cool lineup; it’s not just us.

I wanted it to be other bands. I’ve never seen Atria live, but I’ve heard really good things about them. I’ve seen everything that they’ve done online. So I thought they were really cool. They were on board with it, which was awesome. Then there’s Dead Orchestra. They’ve been around forever; they’re legends in the scene in Wichita. It was just putting the show together with the lineup and venue itself that was the start of a big, huge show.

Bread Nugent

Bread Nugent did the cover art, and I think it fits really well with the music. How much of it was a collaboration between you two and how much of it was letting him have free reign? 

The art is incredibly important to me. Every aspect of [making an album] is incredibly important. [Art] is just one piece of the puzzle. I was actually following Bread on Facebook and saw all the stuff he was posting. I saw it and just knew that [he] was who I wanted to do the artwork. But you never know when you give someone an idea whether it’s going to be good or bad or whatever.

So before the album was completely finished, there was a terrible mix, but I sent him the full album and said, “Hey, you can listen to this and do whatever comes to mind.” He sent it back to me, several drafts, rough ideas of what he thought. I said, “That’s perfect.” I did give him an idea of [what we wanted] but not much more than, “I want it to be all-encompassing, like whole front and back, all in one to be like the album.” I gave him the name of the album, and he just went with it and that’s what I got. It’s amazing.

Jedd Beaudoin is host/producer of the nationally syndicated program Strange Currency. He has also served as an arts reporter, a producer of A Musical Life and a founding member of the KMUW Movie Club. As a music journalist, his work has appeared in Pop Matters, Vox, No Depression and Keyboard Magazine.