The Empire strikes back 

"We started a long time ago as Liers in Wait," says Erik Sizemore recalling how his Empire was built. "We carried on from the mid-'80s until '96." Seeking a change in direction, Sizemore and Liers founder Grant Dawson developed the concept of Empire 44. The Liers dealt with explorations of human tragedy: "with Empire 44 we are going in a lot of different directions at once, like a shockwave," says Sizemore. "It's about looking at the various struggles we all have to face. We are trying to understand the future by understanding the nature of man."

The recently issued album from the thinking man's brigade, Shockwaves examines some of these subjects. "A lot of people can see our material in many ways, thus the duality," explains the guitarist and co-vocalist.

Currently, the most recognizable aspects of Empire 44 are the two attractive yet stern female flag-wavers. "Every empire must have an army and the Honor Guard are our frontline troops," he continues with the zeal of an evangelist. "Visually, they represent what we are all about vocally. They are sexy but not sexually exploited, symbolizing the female in authority; and they're sexy without being submissive." Their costumes will vary, but Sizemore promises the Guard will retain an imperial feel.

The theme of duality rages on in "Wake Up," a song dealing with the battle of God and the Devil. "I kind of wrote it about a broken home," he says, "so it reflects mankind's problems." The dual ideal is evident in all aspects of the Empire; they appeal to the goth and metal crowds with a few curious onlookers won over at each battle.

The addition of powerhouse vocalist Johnnie Lee Hooper adds a decidedly soulful touch to the Empire. "She responded to an ad in Creative Loafing, actually. Now she's the Empiress." Hooper was able to properly attack the band's wide range of emotions.

"We want to put the infrastructure of the Empire together, so we can raise our banners high and march off into the future," Sizemore proclaims. "Hopefully we'll plant the Empire 44 flag on top of Mount Olympus one day."

Empire 44 play Fri., Sept. 29, at 9 Lives Saloon.

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