It’s not often that such a perfect storm surrounds an upcoming UK metal act, but Rugby’s prog/sludge purveyors Conjurer have worked hard this year, securing not only a shiny new deal with Holy Roar records, but also performing at various big name festivals. Danny Heaton caught up with bassist Andy Price following a packed-out performance at this year’s Damnation Festival.
OneMetalThis has been quite a roller coaster year for you, with the metal press barely able to pause for breath before your latest accomplishment. What have been the most significant turning point moments for you?
AndyIt’s been a hell of a year, yes, we’ve barely had time to catch breath! I guess the biggest moments are probably the most obvious. We signed a deal and released our record in July of this year through Holy Roar. That has been an amazing experience end to end, Holy Roar were pretty much the only label that we could all agree on, so when they wanted to get involved we were over the moon, and the actual reality of it has been even better than we expected. It’s like being inducted into a family of awesome musicians, everyone is so supportive and lovely, everybody is making great music and demonstrating real passion and it’s just a really inspiring group of people and bands to be a part of. So that was a huge thing. We’ve had some big shows as well, playing Bloodstock was a massive honour and a fantastic experience, as was Mammothfest. Last weekend we played Damnation and got a great response, which was totally unexpected. I remember when we were setting up people were waiting for us to play, which was really humbling; they were prepared to wait for fifteen minutes because they wanted to hear our songs. That’s a huge deal for me. Plus any time your band logo appears on a poster with Cult of Luna has to be a big deal, right?
OneMetalWhat’s been the most fun part of the year?
AndyHa – pretty much all of it has been fun! We started off the year with a short tour with an awesome doom band called Garganjua from Leicester, that bunch of shows was loads of fun, just hanging out with a good bunch of guys, we’re great friends with those guys now. Same thing goes for Attan, who are a blackened hardcore band from Norway. We played a couple of shows either side of Damnation with them, and they are just so much fun to spend time with. I don’t think that I can skip Weedeater too, we had such a good time with those guys, again we bonded with them really well, Dixie and Travis looked after us so well, were really nice guys and it made the whole experience really good fun. That tour also included our first Glasgow show, which was really great! Ha – actually the last date of a mini-tour with our German friends The Moth was brilliant – it was the last show in the now-defunct Son of Sun studios in Margate. It was in a tiny room, there were relatively few people there, but I went to the seaside for fish and chips, played a brutally hot set and then remember laying down on the floor while The Moth played and I got battered by the bass frequencies. It was brilliant.
OneMetalHave there been any experiences yo wouldn’t wish to repeat?
AndyEach band member will have their own worst moment, most are likely gear related, to be honest. We’ve not had any real issues with bad gigs or promoters this year, or at all, really, so no complaints there. My worst moment in the year came on a gig in Newcastle with Ohhms. It was day two of a four-day tour with those guys, we love playing shows with them, they’re incredibly good as a band, but they’re also lovely guys as well. Anyway, we got to our set and were setting up to line-check and pretty much all of my gear died. I mean, it looked like everything had died. The bass, the cables and a new bass head that I’d only just picked up. Chaney from Ohhms was lovely and lent me his bass for our set, but he plays in a standard tuning and we really don’t; I couldn’t get his bass into our tuning without breaking his strings so I ended up playing in this weird half tuning and trying to work out how to play our songs as I went along. It was stressful and I was so angry by the end of the set! Apparently it was a pretty good show in the end but it felt awful for me!
OneMetalHow did the band begin?
AndyFrom an advert actually. Brady (Deeprose, guitars/vocals) was looking for a new band and Dan (Nightingale, guitars/vocals) and he hooked up after Dan read a post on Facebook that Brady had made. They got together and jammed, came up with some bones of some songs and then recruited Jan (Krause, drums) who Dan already knew from the Rugby scene and the songs were developed for a while. I was the last part of the puzzle – I joined a couple of weeks before their first gig after a bit of a hunt. Dan knew me from a previous project, and Brady put on another one of my bands – the now defunct Bludger – and was won over by my live performance. Dan sent me some tabs, we got in a room and all got on really well, and the rest is history. We started playing shows and then never really stopped, which has been awesome.
OneMetalAny advice for bands just starting out?
AndyListen to music, and lots of it. Inspiration comes in lots of ways, but mostly from soaking in all the amazing music that there is out there. Make sure you all get on as a band – if you can barely get through a couple of hours in a practice room without wanting to kill each other, then the road or the studio is not going to work. Learn to leave your egos at the door. Spend the time to write the songs that make you happy. Then spend a lot more time to practice them. When you think you’ve practiced enough, practice some more. Get out and play gigs. Lots of gigs. Learn how the songs work in the live setting. Make friends, talk to other bands, talk to promoters. Don’t rush into recording if you can avoid it, and don’t rush to put anything online, especially if you’re not 100% on it – the internet never forgets! Above all, have fun, enjoy yourself, and don’t be a dick. I certainly do the first two, and sometimes achieve the third.
OneMetalYour debut mini album I has just been released, tell us about the recording process.
AndyIt was interesting. We did most of the actual recording with Steve Sears at Titan Studios in Watford over the course of a week. The studio time was pretty good fun, although I was only able to be there for a day – I had to work. We did some cool stuff, for example, Jan recorded his drums in the dark. I was there to see Joe Nally (Hang The Bastard) lay down his vocal line on ‘A Chasm Forged in Dread and Disarray’ – I’d never met him before and we’re good friends now, he’s a lovely guy. Then we took the stems and mixed and mastered the record with Lewis Johns, who’d previously handled Rolo Tomassi, Employed To Serve and Svalbard, among others. He’s a lovely guy and extremely talented, he really got what we were going for and he worked some serious magic on those tracks to get them to the place you can hear on the recording. He’s a magician; we’ll be in with him next year to record our full length from top to bottom.
OneMetalThese days established genres seem to be bleeding together more and more; is your disparate style a conscious effort?
AndyI’m not sure anything we do is conscious! I think it’s healthy to blend styles of music and bring things together. The challenging thing to do is to make the whole feel cohesive; to make it feel like one band, and to give the songs an identity of their own, rather than just a list of influences. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not claiming to be originators in any way – we all listen to a wide variety of music and take influence from it hugely, but the challenge for us is to come out with songs that are ‘Conjurer’ first and foremost. I’m always a little disappointed when I can hear a bands’ influences a little too loudly – they rarely improve on the original inspiration. The other thing is that sometimes the metal scene gets a little bit too hung up on labels and genres and this can be a bit limiting. We write songs that primarily make us happy and that excite us. If they don’t do that, then we’re not going to be happy playing them and it’s not going to feel right. So we mostly do what we like, but try and keep it ‘Conjurer-y’. It’s a bit of a constant surprise that other people seem to be into it too!
OneMetalAny plans for a full-length?
AndyMost definitely, yes. We’re a good chunk of the way through writing it, about half way through the last song, so about 80-85% of the record is done. We’ll be in the studio with Lewis Johns next year to record everything, and prior to that we’ll be focusing on rehearsals and demoing the songs to make sure they flow as a record. I’m really pleased with the songs as they stand, there’s a bit of a mix and there’s a couple of curveballs on there, which will be really interesting to record and it will be really interesting to see how they go down with the people that are into the first record. We’ve been playing a number of the songs live over the last few months – five of them have made their way into the live rotation, so we know they work live and I’m excited to hear them recorded.
OneMetalBeing the darlings of the UK underground scene, are there any hidden gems out there our readers should be aware of?
AndyHaha – I’m not convinced we’re anyone’s darlings! There’s loads of fantastic bands out there that everyone should hear. I’m gonna focus on new bands that I’ve come across recently that are doing awesome things. We played with Ba’al in Sheffield lately, they’re great, very post-metal and Amenra in their approach. On that tack Solleme are very much on my radar, their two track demo is really, really good. We’re playing with them and Kalloused in Brighton in December – both are bands to keep an eye out for, and I’m looking forward to experiencing both bands live. Nottingham have provided us with the epic post-black-screamo from Underdark, those guys are highly recommended, and Earth Moves debut record just came out, they’re great and well worth checking out. If you’re into Yob / Pallbearer style doom, then our boys in Garganjua are well worth your time too, fantastic wall of sound live, too. I’m also going to say Under from Stockport who, along with Kurokuma from Sheffield, are doing some interesting things with doom. Under are taking doom and melding in the sensibilities / obtuse weirdness of The Melvins and it’s glorious. Slightly left field, but I’m also going to call out my tech metal friends in Hieroglyph – their debut album lands later this month and I suspect it will be great.
OneMetalWhat’s next for Conjurer?
AndyNext for us is a couple of one-off shows, including a show with Slabdragger in Brighton and the beleaguered Somatic Festival, which will be an interesting experience. Then we’re out for a short run of UK dates in mid-December with the simply amazing Regardes Les Hommes Tomber, who are an awesome post-black metal band from France. Go and check out their album Exile from 2015 – it’s fantastic, and we’re really excited to be playing with them. That pretty much rounds out our year and then we’ll take a bit of a break over Christmas. We’re back out on the road for an as-yet-unannounced set of dates in January and then it’s time for the countdown to recording. It’s all extremely exciting; we’re having a great time and frankly feel extremely privileged and lucky to have been able to do the things we’ve been able to do, and to have received the support that we have so far. It’s one of those ‘pinch yourself so you know you’re not sleeping’ type things, and we could not be more thankful.
OneMetalThanks for taking time to answer my questions, it’s greatly appreciated.
Conjurer’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/conjureruk