I’ll tell you, 2018 has been a stellar year for doom. Something I didn’t see coming, but certainly can’t complain about.
So ah, yeah. The other day I was scanning my email – and I saw something to the effect of “would you like to review the new Conan album and interview the lead singer?”
Fuck yes, I’d like to listen to the new album a month before it comes out and interview the lead singer. I’d take either of those options and call it a win. Holy shit. I’ve been stoked for the new fucking album since it was announced.
I was stoked enough when Metalsucks took my suggestion to review the new single “Vexxagon” (thanks Kayla!) – now that I’ve had a chance to peruse the whole album I can tell you it’s a contender for my favorite release of 2018 – easily in my top 5.
I’m actually not big on reviewing albums, but when it gets a little closer to the release date (9/14/2018, on Napalm Records) I’m thinking I’ll break my own rule and write something up.
As a matter of fact I’m listening to the new album as I write this, and I must say it’s as pleasant a listen the twentieth time as it is the first. I think (like the rest of their discography) this is one that’s going to age well.
Conan brings the fucking heavy. Hail Conan.
Band Name: Conan
Label: Napalm Records
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Years Active: 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2009-present
Metal Archives Entry: https://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Conan/96731
Official Site: http://www.hailconan.com/
Members: Jon Davis (guitars/vocals, 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2009-present), Chris Fielding (bass/vocals, 2014-present), Johnny King (drums, 2017-present)
Hey Mr. Davis, thanks a lot for your time – and all hail the mighty Conan!
I’ve been a fan of you guys for several years now. In particular, I think there’s a bit of a Pavlovian association with the Conan comic series – every time I see one of your album covers it reminds me of the art style in the comics (particularly Horseback Battle Hammer). Your sound is pretty much the sonic interpretation of how I always imagined Conan to be – just a constant fucking powerhouse. So first and foremost, thank you for that reminder, and for doing what you do.
Please bear with me on the first question – it’s in 3 parts, and I kinda have to set the pins up before I knock them down.
1) It seems like, with every album post-Monnos, you guys have thrown in some tempo changes/faster parts as a sort of “palate cleanser” (either in songs, or with the new album with a truncated track of it’s own). I noticed it in the O’Neill era, then Lewis seemed to bring a jazz-influence in with some of the fills and faster parts. Now Johnny King seems to be bringing more of (what I’d refer to as) a “classic extreme metal” angle/sensibility to the table with “Existential Void Guardian”.
My questions are;
a) Do you go into the writing/recording process with these sorts of breaks in mind, or do they just kind of happen (planned v.s. organic)?
(Jon Davis): Actually, those faster songs are the easiest ones to write as they always seem to come together while we are fucking around in the studio. We just start playing something ‘un-Conan’ and Foehammer came about, then Revengeance came about when we were trying to play Grim Tormentor but faster. Paincantation was just me playing one note really fast and Johnny joined in. I think the version on the record is actually the first take.
b) Do you pick new members based (at least in part) on their particular styles and influences – or is it based on something else (and you just give them the creative room to explore during the writing/recording process)? Perhaps a combination of these things?
(JD): Well of course we choose members based up their individual playing abilities and I’ve always just wanted to know if they can play heavy. Anything else is a bonus. It’s funny because Johnny almost was overlooked for the role. He got in touch when we thought we had settled on someone else and we almost said no, just so we didn’t mess this other guy around. But I’m glad to say that we took our time and invited Johnny down for rehearsal, and he was perfect. Paul and Rich were perfect too, in their time, but their time has come and gone now and we’re really enjoying having Johnny in the band.
c) Is the inclusion of these “palate cleanser” type sections for the benefit of the fan/listener (ensuring the “caveman battle doom” continues to hit the listener to full effect), or more for yourselves to keep things fresh?
(JD): I don’t think we think about it too much really. I think that it IS important to keep things interesting but putting faster songs in into Conan seems pretty natural really. I listen to fast music (I’m listening to Wolfpack on a very bumpy flight to Auckland NZ currently for example) so writing a faster riff here and there feels perfectly normal.
2) I heard through the grapevine you guys are doing a set of Australian tours with the mighty Bell Witch. I must admit, I haven’t been this jealous of the Australian people since the age of 16 – when an exchange student informed me that his school had a bar adjacent to it, and he was able to drink there (legally) after school. How did the Bell Witch pairing come about, and is there any chance those of us in the states will be blessed with such a powerhouse lineup for the “EVG” tour?
(JD): I think drinking right after school would have ruined me but it doesn’t seem to have done Australia any harm. I doubt Conan will tour the US with Bell Witch, but you never know. This pairing was the idea of the booking agent I think, or maybe I suggested them, I honestly don’t remember. Either way, they are an INSANELY cool band and we’re very happy they agreed to join us.
3) I read a while back after watching one of your live shows a reporter to nearly soiled himself (I think he discovered the fabled “brown note” isn’t that much of a fable). There isn’t a question there, I’ll just never get a chance to say that in an interview again. But it does act as an interesting segue to my next question – when you write and record songs, are you doing so based on how they will sound on the album, or in a live environment?
(JD): More so in a live environment. Early on we never really gave it much thought, but as time has progressed and we have toured more, we notice different reactions from the crowd and I think our writing has followed. We’re a metal band at heart, all this doom and stoner metal bullshit is just dressing. With that in mind we really enjoy affecting a crowd, giving them songs they can go crazy to – I got bored watching people nod their head slowly to Krull all the time, the faster songs have always been more fun.
4) I feel like I already know the answer to this, but I have to ask – do you guys mic your amps in the studio?
(JD): Yes, obviously this is essential when recording.
5) Is there anything you’d like my readers to know – be it about the upcoming album, forthcoming tours, or otherwise?
(JD): Well, we are pretty busy in the latter part of this year and hopefully next year too with some touring and festivals. I guess we’ll be over to the USA soon enough, so keep an eye out for announcements.
6) Lastly, a selfish question – being a resident of Upstate New York (near the Pennsylvania border), is there any chance we’ll see see you touring anywhere in New York besides near the city?
(JD): Now, my geography is not too good within the USA. We played Rhode Island and also (I think) Rochester on our last tour. Does that count? I’m on a flight without wifi so I can’t check on a map, so I’ll have to keep this answer vague sorry!
I have been stoked for the release of this album, and have had it on pre-order since it went up on BandCamp. Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions, it’s been a pleasure!
(JD): Cheers Corey, I enjoyed answering these questions.
Fuckin a right – Jon, if you’re reading this… Rochester is close enough. Your geography is spot on.
As of today (8/20/2018) Here’s when/where you can catch Conan on Tour;
30.09.18 UK – Sheffield / O2 Academy
02.10.18 NL – Eindhoven / Effenaar
03.10.18 DE – Bochum / Rockpalast
04.10.18 DE – Hamburg / Logo
05.10.18 DE – Berlin / Musik & Frieden
06.10.18 PL – Wroclaw / Firlej
07.10.18 PL – Warsaw / Poglos
09.10.18 LT – Vinius / Rock River Club
10.10.18 LV – Jelgava / Melno Cepuriso Balerija
11.10.18 EE – Tallinn / Sveta
13.10.18 FI – Helsinki / Blow Up 4 Festival
15.10.18 SE – Stockholm / Kraken
17.10.18 SE – Malmo / Plan B
19.10.18 DK – Copenhagen / Stengade
20.10.18 NL – Leeuwarden / Into The Void Festival
07.11.18 AU – Canberra / The Basement
08.11.18 AU – Melbourne / Max Watts
09.11.18 AU – Sydney / Manning Bar
10.11.18 AU – Brisbane / Crowbar
12.11.18 NZ – Wellington / Valhalla
13.11.18 NZ – Auckland / Whammy Bar
16.11.18 RU – Moscow / Aglomerat
17.11.18 RU – St. Petersburg / Zoccolo
23.11.18 UK – Nottingham / The Loft
24.11.18 UK – Leeds / Temple Of Boom
25.11.18 UK – Newcastle / Byker Grave Festival
26.11.18 UK – Glasgow / Audio
27.11.18 UK – Manchester / Rebellion
28.11.18 UK – Coventry / The Arches
29.11.18 UK – Cardiff / Clwb Ifor Bach
30.11.18 UK – Milton Keynes / The Craufurd Arms
01.12.18 UK – London / Boston Music Rooms
02.12.18 UK – Oxford / Buried In Smoke X-Mas Weekender