A wise man once wrote “The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places…” One such place is Damnation festival where Conan are to return this year headlining the Electric Amphetamine stage. They will guest their new works, from their up coming new album, that will be released end of March 2014, providing a little more aggression than unusual Conan. They will be there to give you a barbaric performance.
Lara Kisel – Conan originally formed together as a two piece. I’m intrigued as to how Conan held out and in the meantime how were the gaps filled, like for example during you first EP ‘Battle In The Swamp?
Jon Davis – Yeah, we did start out with a bass player in the VERY early stages but it didn’t work out at all. Shortly after we let him go. We wrote the tracks that went onto Battle In The Swamp and decided that we didn’t want a bass player. To fill that gap, I bought the loudest bass amps I could afford (HH 100 watt heads at that time) and used old 1×15 cabs and I acquired an old Carlsbro 1×18 cab too. That all sounded kinda cool, but of course we went to back to a three piece for Horseback Battle Hammer because no matter what you do a guitar through a bass rig will not sound as good as a bass through the same rig.
The first gigs that we ever did were as a two piece – me on guitar and vocals and then Paul on drums, they were cool shows but we’re definitely happy now in our current lineup.
LK – Looking into Conan I have come across a reference to H.P Lovecraft and barbarian/warrior themes. What are Conan about, and musically, now your a three piece, how has this changed the dimension of the music you play?
JD – Well, we are all about great guitar tone, great bass tone, great sounding drums, and wailing shouted vocals. We play the most simple riffs, we can get away with, and base our songs about all those things you will read about in the Conan books, or Lord of The Rings, or Fire and Ice, and all that stuff. We write about those things that go through your head when you go on a rampage in Skyrim – we are the voice inside your head as you slay on World of Warcraft.
LK – Before going into the studio you did a small UK mini tour, how was it? For the London show you raised money for Alder Hey Children’s Charity and raised £165. Tell us about it?
JD – It was cool, but we can’t really call in ‘UK’ as we didn’t go to Scotland, Ireland or Wales. So our little England tour was pretty good overall. It started slowly at a frankly tepid Sheffield show, then built nicely to a show in London, Birmingham and Manchester. We love playing shows and even bad gigs are goods gigs for us, so we really enjoyed seeing so many people at the shows we did.
LK – You are currently at the mastering stage for your next album, when can we look for a release? You left the statement on social media expect heavy riffs and pounding drums. Can we expect a follow on from ‘Monnos’?
JD – Yeah, the tracks are with James Plotkin as we speak. The album is due to be released by (at the latest) the end of March 2014. The tracks are a definite progression from ‘Monnos’ in some ways. We won’t say they are ‘better’ as that implies that ‘Monnos’ is ‘worse’ but there is a definite different feel to this album. You can tell we have grown up quite a bit during the writing process and with Chris Fielding’s guidance the tracks are extremely heavy, well written and perhaps a bit more aggressive in some places.
LK – You have worked with Chris Fielding on your last album and your most recent. He has worked with a variety of bands across doom, black hardcore and so on. What specifically do feel he brings to your work?
JD – Well Chris and Conan (Paul, Phil and myself) go back to 2010 when we recorded Horseback Battle Hammer (our debut ep) and since then we have recorded everything with Chris. Chris is a really great guy, who we get along with really well and fortunately we haven’t annoyed him too much yet and he still likes working with us. When I had a recording studio built (in the grounds of my house –www.skyhammerstudio.com), Chris asked if he could work there and really there was no thinking to be done. The most important thing for us (as a band) is that Chris is just a great producer. He knows the sort of sound we have, and with these new tracks, he has really helped to bring out the best in us. We’ve enjoyed the way he tells us ‘no’, when ‘no’ is the right thing to say – so we know for a fact that he won’t let us make any stupid decision relating to riffs or ideas in the tracks, just because he is getting paid. One thing is that he has considerably long fingers, so he can move quite a few sliders at the same time, this speeds things up a bit when he’s mixing.
LK – 2014 is already looking bright for you guys, you’re confirmed for Hellfest, Temples Festival and Roadburn Festival. What else can we anticipate/counter from you guys in the near future?
JD – Well yeah, we have been very lucky this year and have been invited to play some shows with the big bands. Some of these bands we have admired for quite some time, so to be sharing a stage with them is really remarkable for us. We’re looking forward to getting out there and playing – whatever the crowd, but to be able to play on the bigger stages is something that we will find really satisfying.
LK – From ‘Monnos’ we are very much looking forward to hear some new material. Will we be fortunate to hear this new material at Damnation Festival?
JD – Yes, I think we’ll play a couple of new songs.
LK – What are you most looking forward to about Damnation Festival?
JD – Well, we’ve not seen Becky Laverty (PR person for the festival) for a while so it’ll be nice to say hello to our friend again. We’re looking forward to the whole festival vibe, we played Damnation in 2011 (quite low on the bill) and enjoyed it. So this year, on a stage dedicated to the heavier side of music, we’ll enjoy playing alongside many like minded bands.
LK – Cheers for your time Jon, see you at Damnation.
Jon Davis – Guitar / Vocals
Paul O’Neil – Drums
Phil Coumbe – Bass / Vocals