click here for more
Interview: Conan

Interview: Conan

Wednesday 22nd June, 2016 12:30PM

Next month Liverpool-formed outfit Conan will be bringing their colossal "caveman battle doom" to these shores for two shows with their American heavy metal allies Weedeater. Having just tucked their third studio album Revengeance under their belts, the trio are coming with a power-packed set of new songs to melt the minds of showgoers (and possibly blow a cab or two). In anticipation UTR contributor Fluffy had a great chat with founding member Jon Davis about the record, amongst other things...

UTR: First off, let me just start by saying that I was listening to Horseback Battle Hammer yesterday and as soon as the first riff kicked in my computer just died, as if it was bludgeoned to death by a fell swoop of Odin’s hammer. Does your music have a habit of destroying electrical equipment?

JD: No, only really our amplifiers now and again but I think its quite easy to over play the whole “so heavy it kills everything” thing. We try and steer away from that ‘cause no one would buy our records if they thought their equipment was gonna get broken. We like to knock bottles and glasses over at venues, that’s always good fun.

Fair enough! So I imagine you’ve popped a fair share of speakers in your time?

Well, here and there. Nothing lately, our cabs are pretty well made so it’s probably not as exciting as that too be honest. Normally our bass player will blow something among the cabs. He bought one with us last tour and it only lasted one show and it nearly went on fire, which is kinda cool.

Really? That’s pretty hardout, haha!

It tends to be the older, shitty stuff that you buy cheap and then it’s not really up for the job. That’s what we always tend to find.

And so what is your favourite weapon in barbaric battle? What sort of axes and amps do you use?

On guitar, I used to use this aluminium made guitar by Electrical Guitar Company but I’ve recently just swapped in one of my amplifiers for an early 80s Gibson Les Paul, silver-burst, which is really cool. I really love that guitar and it’s quickly taken over as my favourite guitar. For amplifiers, I pretty much exclusively use Matamp amplifiers now. They seem to be my favourite, I enjoy using them, they’re really cool amps with a great sound and are very reliable actually. I can’t see myself changing, although I do from time to time buy and sell amplifiers but I think for the time being, Im going to stick with Matamp because they’re really good.

So, how’d you pick the name Conan for your band? Are you a big Arnold Schwarzenegger fan?

Well, no. Not really, I don’t think he’s a very good actor.

* Riotous laughter *

Well you gotta be honest. I always enjoyed the movies; they were cool films but they were ruined by his acting in my opinion. I think he’s probably not the best. He’s better then me obviously but still, I don’t think he’s the greatest. The program’s stories themselves are really interesting. If you read the books you’ll get a lot more enjoyment out of them, I think. The books are where you can really use your imagination. But the movies themselves with Arnold Schwarzenegger, in my mind, that’s the worst thing about the whole Conan thing.

That’s often the case aye?

Well yeah, it’s true. Ironically the Jason Momoa movie, the recent one, I prefer to any of the ones with Arnie in. I always thought they were a bit more violent and stuff. The other ones in my mind are just a bit boring and dull. They’re kind of dated now aren’t they? There’s no getting around it. But there are lots of other movies that have influenced the music more then Conan. That whole genre of 70s, 80s science fiction and sorcery movies, that where we initially got a lot of the inspiration for the band name and the musical ideas have followed from there. Movies like Jason And the Argonauts, Sinbad the Sailor, all those old movies I used to watch on a Sunday afternoon when I was coming down.

What’re some of your impressions of New Zealand? Have you been here before?

Nope, we’ve never been but we’re really excited. I’ve been to Australia, that’s the closest I’ve been to New Zealand. Various family friends have been but I know it looks awesome. We’re playing a show in Wellington and I think Auckland as well. We’re really excited to get over there.

Do you reckon you’ll have much time for sightseeing? Like any of the great fjords featured in things like Lord of the Rings?

I certainly hope so. I think we may not get any time because as soon as we get there, we’ll probably get off the plane and just want to sleep for a little while. Hopefully our hosts there will be able to show us round a bit, we’d love that.

So you’ve done splits with Slomatics and Bongripper. Are you still pretty tight with these two bands?

Yeah, I’m really good friends with those chaps. Im really good friends with Slomatics, their new album is coming out on my record label. The lads in Slomatics come in almost every day, looking at pressings of the new album. Dave’s been a part of my life since 2005 now, so we know each other very well.

Awesome! What else have you got cooking up with the ole record label?

I’ve got two or three new CD releases coming out soon. Tides of Sulfur, another band called Warcrab and another band that I wont announce yet.

Ahh, top secret?

I’ll keep ‘em under wraps for a little while. I’ve got vinyl and CD release coming out soon but I like to not put out too much at once. This year I’ve got a handful of releases, the latest Slomatics album that’s due out the 1st of September and that’s proving to be really popular.

Busy busy aye?

No rest for the wicked. I record at the studio as well and I tour manage bands. Ill probably end up dying of a heart attack. Live fast, die young.

That’s the one. Tell us about your latest album, Revengeance. Did you do some mixing and mastering on that yourself?

No, I didn’t, I don’t have any skills in that respect but Chris Fielding is a bona fide producer who works with a lot of awesome bands. He’s our producer and has been since day one. So he’s put this album together production-wise. It’s really good that Chris is in the band as well because he knows the exact sound that he wants and he knows how it feels to play these songs live so that can translate itself into techniques in the studio. This album sounds a lot more… sonically it’s a lot wider. It sounds bigger and that’s exactly what we were going for.

You’ve played a score of awesome festivals including Roadburn and Psycho. What’s been your favourite show that you’ve ever played?

Well, y’ know, you’ve named some big festivals there, but probably the favourite show I’ve ever played was Stuck On A Name Studios in Nottingham playing to about a hundred people in a sweaty room and it was unbearably hot. It was electrical, man. You could really feel the vibes off everyone, they’re coming to see a band that plays what they’re into in a small intimate setting like that. We had a great time and people loved it, crowd surfing and stuff. It was like a little party atmosphere. On our last tour in Europe, we had a similar experience in Paris where we had the day off on a Friday because we had to cancel the show unfortunately and with 24 hours notice we arranged another show and it sold out. So the place was absolutely rammed and people were crowd surfing and there was really low ceilings so there was footprints along the ceilings. Probably another one that sticks in the memory was when we played The Black Goat in Melbourne, Australia. That was another one that was a pretty small venue but that was lots of fun as well. The faster we book a show; it’s a totally different vibe. Unless you’re playing to your people, it can seem a little bit sterile but those smaller shows in the little venues we tend to have more fun playing…especially when people are jumping up and down and getting excited.

So, there’s lots of heavy/slow/psychedelic music coming out of Europe and the world at the moment. What are your picks for some of the bands keeping the style fresh?

I reckon Slomatics are doing a good job of that, YOB are always a standard there. We tend to see ourselves as being slightly further beyond that, we don’t just play slow, heavy music. We have a lot of songs which are faster and more mid-paced so we see ourselves as sort of straddling both camps. We are a heavy metal band, really. A lot of the time we’ll inject slower parts into our songs to create a bit of dynamic.

In regards to the slower stuff, do you think there’s a danger of it becoming sort of trendy and “done to death” in similar ways that Nu-metal and Metalcore did in the past decades?

I don’t think they’ll ever become trendy but I think what you’ll have is the music itself will probably get less interesting as time goes on. People start trying to re-invent the wheel after a while and I think it’ll get a bit old. You’ve got bands that are coming out now that sound a lot like bands that are already popular. There’s one or two bands that sound just like Electric Wizard, there’s one of two bands that sound just like Clutch or Eyehategod. It’s kind of annoying that bands like that get exposure really because their taking fees out of the industry that could be used to pay for shows for bands that are more original. That kind of frustrates me and there’ll come a point when there’ll be loads of bands that are playing really boring music and it’ll be then really that people will start to lose interest in this kind of music because it’ll get boring. I just hope that doesn’t happen soon.

So what are some of your musical influences then?

Well, Slomatics are an influence on Conan, big time. Black Cobra, High On Fire, somehow Weezer; The way that we feed off the drum beats is a bit like what Weezer do, I think. Nirvana, I’d like to credit them really. Some of the music that I write on guitar seem to be like heavier Nirvana riffs.

One last closing question: if you were ever offered the musical guest spot on The Conan O’Brien Show would you do it, in some sort of barbarian-Inception kind of deal?

Hahaha, well people have mentioned that before. Yeah, we’d do it for definite. Hopefully we’d be paid off right too, it’s quite expensive to get on that show. We’d be flattered if that could happen but I don’t think it will.

Maybe one day aye? Ill cross my fingers for you.

Yeah it would be cool if it did.

Conan are coming to these shores with Weedeater for two shows across Wellington and Auckland in July, head over here for more details and to buy tickets.


Share this

Tue 12th Jul
San Fran, Wellington
Wed 13th Jul
Kings Arms Tavern, Auckland

Content copyright 2018 | some rights reserved | report any web problems to here