Interview – Conjurer

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Conjurer Band

It’s rare these days that a band comes out of nowhere and delivers a debut album that has critics, fans and established fellow musicians all championing their cause. But UK metal band Conjurer are no ordinary metal band. We caught up with Brady from the band to chat inspirations, celebrity fans and future plans.

Tell us a little about how Conjurer came together and what your aims were for the music in the beginning.

Dan and I were really bored with the local scene. We’d both come from a history of metalcore bands that weren’t going anywhere (although I still maintain, that Dan’s old band Tear Of Eden were brilliant, you can check out their EP here: https://tearofeden.bandcamp.com/album/as-the-crows-watch-over-us) and wanted to do something more influenced by the bands that we were actually inspired by: The Black Dahlia Murder, Gojira, and Mastodon. We swiftly recruited Jan (Krause, drums) and our first bassist Andy. There were no aims with regards to where we wanted to go commercially but artistically, we just wanted to make something challenging, interesting, and exciting.

Mire has a very dynamic sound. Was the recording process something you had much involvement in? 

Well, we were there! We worked with Lewis Johns on this record who really managed to get the most out of the songs and breathe some life into our recorded output. We learned a lot from our debut EP and were determined to make sure that the follow up really captured what the band is about. I’m actually really pleased with how it’s come out on several levels, the main one being that our live show and tone is significantly heavier – there’s still that extra punch when people come and see us. We’ve put out a real statement of intent, sonically and from the perspective of what the band is now capable of.

Which song on the album do you think most captures the essence of the band?

This is probably one of the most difficult questions I’ve had and something we recently discussed at length. I don’t think we are a band that can be summed up with a single track because we put in the effort to make every single element in each song unique in some way, or at least give each song a distinct identity. If you were to twist my arm, ‘Choke’ and ‘Hollow’ to open the album sets up what we do quite nicely but the rest of the record really compliments and expands on those ideas.

Our recent discussion was on ‘singles’ and how ‘Retch’ and ‘The Mire’ only give you a brief insight into what we do and that there are too many bands around at the moment that can be very easily summed up by one single. We want to challenge the ideas of what you can do within the scope of ‘metal’.

Is there a theme that connects the songs on the album?

There’s nothing that links them directly: we’ve discussed the idea of a concept album but tend to shy away from that for two reasons: there are so many failed or half-baked conceptual projects out there that we’d be mortified to add to that – when we look up to records like The Hazards Of Love by The Decemberists or Mastodon’s Blood Mountain, we’d have to make something we consider to be at that level to warrant committing to the idea. The second reason is that we’re completionists – we’d have to play the entire concept record in full, every night and singing about the same kind of stuff every night would get tedious!

With regards to what IS on the album, our lyrics have always been bleak. The idea of misery from the human perspective has always been something that I think flows through the lyrics of the band – not just trying to make something grim, trying to make it resonate with people in a way that evokes a deeper sense of dread. ‘Choke’ is about the way the gutter press hounds celebrities, in particular, Amy Winehouse, to the point of ruin. ‘Of Flesh…’ explores the utter magnitude of the universe and how terrifying that is and conversely, how little we know about the depths of the ocean on ‘Hadal’.

The album artwork is fantastic. What can you tell us about how that came together?

This was based on the lyrics to ‘The Mire’ and was an idea we’d had fairly early on. The song is about the transition the soul goes through after death as depicted in the old English folktale, ‘Lyke Wake Dirge.’ Essentially, the better life you lead, the easier your transition would be – sinners would find the path treacherous. The cover shows two pallbearers carrying a coffin down one of the old corpse roads that used to be used to transport bodies to the nearest churchyard and goes hand-in-hand with the themes of that track.

The art itself was done by Rodrigo Almanegra who we found online – he’s also done some incredible work for Rolo Tomassi and Earth Moves.

Matt from Trivium has called you his “new favourite band” and Kerrang! have named it “Metal debut of the year” even though we’re only in March. How does it feel to have such high profile names giving you that kind of praise so early in your career?

We were confident in the music and we had thought we’d get a generally positive response, but honestly nothing like the reception we’ve had – it’s been better than we could have dreamed. We actually got a message of support from Matt Heafy via someone who was interviewing us giving us some advice and reiterating how into the band he was, it was a really emotional moment for us.

This kind of stuff is what you dream about in your early teens, being in magazines and your heroes knowing you exist etc, it’s obviously fucking wicked but what we want from the band is different to if you’d asked me aged 14. All of this stuff is sick but it doesn’t affect our day-to-day, it doesn’t affect our approach to writing or performing or how we’re going to sound going forward. We have convictions regarding sound that mean we will continue to push our own boundaries and keep things interesting regardless of public or critical reception. If we love what we’re doing, that’s the bottom line for us.

Now that the album is out, can you tell us what touring plans you have for 2018 and if North America might feature?

We’ve just announced a few UK shows with Employed To Serve, a one-off with Palm Reader, and a few UK festivals including Tech Fest and 2000 Trees. We have a few more announcements incoming, including our first foray into Europe and some more festival dates.

This has been one of the most unbelievable weeks for us and if everything in the works comes off, I wouldn’t rule out a North American tour in the reasonably near future.

If you could only tour opening for one band for the rest of your career what band would you choose?

For me it would be Gojira, I think having to see all your effort made to look like nothing when they come on stage, every single night, would push me to be better. They are an utter tour-de-force in the live arena and I think it would be an honour to play one show with them, let alone every show!

What other new bands do you recommend to our readers?

The Holy Roar Records roster is a great place to start for UK heavy and pretty much every band on there is worth delving into, but below are a few highlights as well as just some cool bands that deserve a shout:

Employed To Serve – Chaotic hardcore with mainstream potential

Wren – Experimental dirge metal, utter filth

OHHMS – The longest songs you didn’t know you needed. Beautiful and heavy.

Apologies, I Have None – Very ‘London’ songs, new record Pharmacie is a triumph. Singing.

Armed For Apocalypse – One of our biggest influences, heaviest band ever.

Attan – 5 blokes from Norway, tour buds for life, horribly abrasive hardcore w/ riffs.

Are you fans of any Montreal bands?

I had to Google ‘bands from Montreal’ but I found two bands that I like from your lovely city: Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Despised Icon. The former I have every album on vinyl and the latter I saw once supporting The Black Dahlia Murder and thought they were sick. I know Jan quite likes The Agonist too. Very happy to take some suggestions of bands I’m not aware of though!

Hopefully, Conjurer will announce that North American tour soon enough and we can welcome them to Montreal and introduce them to even more local metal. And Poutine.

Interview – Steve Gerrard

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