Komrads Interview - "This is my first full length effort as Komrads completely solo"
Updated: Sep 9
Zach Burnett is the face and drive of Industrial Synthpunk act, Komrads, based out of Rochester, NY. In mid 2021 Komrads signed to Negative Gain Productions and thereafter released the brand new album The Wolf, which is follow-up to the 2018 self-released Resistor.
If anyone needed a soundtrack to the dystopian landscape set before us, then put in those ear buds, grab your survival bag and head off into the wasteland with The Wolf setting the mood. A sound worthy of the apocalypse! Darkwave, post-punk, industrial and electronic beats which meld into a dark assemblage of energy and aggression!
The unscene had a catch up with Zach to chat about The Wolf and all that is Komrads, past, present and future...
Q. Hello, and welcome to Goth-Ick/ unscene?
Hey good to hear from you again.
Q. The new album Wolf has recently been released and it is certainly what we expected from Komrads, a harsh industrial assault of sound! How did this project hatch and grow?
Komrads started out of the frustration from multiple failed punk and metal bands throughout my teens and early twenties. I put down my guitar, picked up a sampler and synthesizer and things took off and grew from there.
Q. What was meaning behind the album title (if any) and is there a story to tell through the song Wolf and album art?
This is my first full length effort as Komrads completely solo. Prior to early 2019 I collaborated with my longtime friend and bassist Jesse Hellsteed with this project. We parted ways amicably so he could focus more attention on his metal band Shadowborn, he’s one hell of a singer. Anyways, it’s basically me reintroducing Komrads. Im solo and it’s taken an aggressive turn in sound, feral industrial, a lone Wolf.
Q. The music video to the track Exile was shown to the masses at the end of July (2021). Is the production something that you get involved with personally and if so how do the ideas come together?
For Exile I wanted to level up the production value from where I had been. I brought in Thomas Rhymer of Pennsylvania Darkwave /Industrial act The Russian White to direct with Jay Arch, also from PA, to work the camera and editing. We worked on the ideas for scenes together, I wanted to represent my hometown Rochester, NY in this video. We are often looked over being in western NY.
Q. What made you choose that specific song for the video?
I wanted Exile to be the second single off the record. It’s the nihilistic industrial punk anthem that kicks off The Wolf.
Q. Your music seems to have become a lot heavier over time, what do you think was the catalyst for this?
A few things pushed me into this heavier territory. I started opening shows for a lot more heavier industrial bands 2018-2020. That included Psyclon Nine, Suicide Commando, Skold, Pigface, and GosT. Playing with those artists and their crowds inspired me to pursue a heavier, more aggressive approach. It was so much more fun for me to hype up a crowd with faster, more punk and metal based songs than it was for me to play atmospheric or dance inspired music.
Q. Elements of Skinny Puppy and some Synthwave vibes can be heard in your art. Would you say there is any specific influences you have that evolve your sound?
Definitely inspired by Skinny Puppy and acts like Perturbator and GosT. Mainly from a percussive aspect. I love the huge, thick drum samples used by these artists. I wanted to bring bigger, slamming drums onto my sonic palette.
Q. How did Komrads begin and what was the idea behind the name?
It began as a two piece that was inspired by acts like Ladytron and New Order. Using analog synthesizers mixed with electric bass and clean vocals often harmonized. Now it’s wild post-industrial electro punk. The name was inspired by a brief moment in Wayne’s World Two that just stuck with me.
Q. How did things fair musically during the Covid lockdowns? Were you able to adapt easily and did it spur on any inspiration or learning curves?
I lost inspiration to write at the beginning of the lockdown. I had three tours scheduled throughout 2020 so that was a huge disappointment canceling those. But being stuck inside with few outlets I funneled all of my disappointment, anger, and angst into writing and it turned into The Wolf.
Q. Excluding the pandemic as we know that's been a struggle for everyone, but what would you say has been your biggest challenge as an artist? Were you able to overcome that challenge and if so, how?
My biggest challenge has been trying to define what Komrads really is. I played guitar up until I started Komrads. So, this is technically my first venture into electronic based music. Learning to play and understand synthesizers, samplers, and drum machines and then learning to engineer my own recording as well has been a huge ongoing challenge. It’s a challenge that I have fully accepted and I honestly love that it’s never ending. I never stop learning how I can write, perform, program, and edit better.
Q. You were on tour with Skold back in 2019. What was your most memorable experience from that? Do you have any plans to do another shared tour with any other artists?
That tour was a lot of fun and I feel very lucky to have been apart of it. I grew up listening to Skolds era of KMFDM so it was a real treat to see him perform, especially closing with Anarchy every night. But my favorite memory on that particular tour was one of the longest drives I had to pull off. Our schedule was pretty strict and I was driving a sedan separate from the tour bus. Luckily I had befriended Rob Gnarly of Echo Black during the course of the tour and he helped me drive from Salt Lake City to Sacramento over night. It was wild driving through the Utah salt flats and Nevada desert and eventually the Sierras throughout the night into the next day. We slept for an hour before load in and in between sound check and doors. Thankfully San Francisco was close by for the next gig.
Q. What further projects can we expect from Komrads in the future? And is there something you would like to branch out into outside of Komrads?
I am compiling remixes from The Wolf and a few of my earlier works. I’m also working on remixes myself and a couple collaborations. Aside from that, I have some ideas floating around for a follow up album to The Wolf. All I can say is I’m still just beginning to dig into my industrial side.
Q. Your artist image and fashion are akin to David from the film The Lost Boys. So, if you were to be replaced as David, who would you have as your 3 other Komrades (like what we did there?) and who would the head vampire be?
I definitely get the Lost Boys likeness quite a bit, that film certainly has influenced my image. As for my gang of vamps I’d pick MOЯIS BLAK, Tom from The Russian White, and Angie from Bustié. Head vampire would be Dave Vanian of The Damned, lol.
Many thanks for taking the time to chat with us here at the unscene. Any last words you would like to depart with?
Thank you for having me. I’ll leave off with a bit of promo, I’m not coming to Providence this year but I will be in Allston, MA at O’Briens with Big Time Kill and Ex-Hyena December 2nd!
You can purchase the album The Wolf and the rest of Komrads back catalog from the Bandcamp page:
And be sure to check out Komrads social media platforms: