Three man Liverpool-based caveman battle-doom outfit ‘Conan’ (comprising Jon Davis on guitar and vocals, Phil Coumbe on bass and vocals and Paul O’Neil on drums) have recently been shaking the world asunder with their totally unbridled fuzzy-beast of an album entitled: ‘BLOOD EAGLE’.
The Grand Inquisitor at METAL AS RELIGION has had the opportunity to chat with Jon Davis about making the new CONAN album and about life on the road:
TELL US ABOUT BLOOD EAGLE, HOW DOES IT DIFFER IN RHYTHM AND ENERGY FROM MONOS?
I’d say that it is a lot more in your face than Monnos and is maybe a little bit more challenging to the listener. It’s certainly got all the heaviness of Monnos and maybe more, but has more uptempo parts and more changes of tempo too. We were conscious of writing a record that compliments Monnos and doesn’t treat the same old ground. We don’t want to rip people off by releasing shit that we’ve already been over. But I think this album ties the best bits of Monnos (and Horseback Battle Hammer) and delivers them with more aggression. After all, Conan was quite an aggressive person.
WE KNOW THAT YOU HAVE STRONG LINKS WITH THE SKYHAMMER STUDIO & CHRIS FIELDING – HOW DID THE RECORDING PROCESS GO?
Yeah, I own Skyhammer and Chris runs it with me.Everything went to plan and we had the album ready right on schedule. It was so cool being able to record in my own studio for all the reasons you would expect, but the studio itself is actually of a very high quality and is capable of producing great sounding music – we wouldn’t have recorded there if it wasn’t up to scratch. Chris obviously knows our music really well, and working with him is ‘easy’ if you see what I mean. I’d hate to have to record with someone we didn’t know, and I think we’re really lucky to be on the same wavelength as Chris.
DO YOU THINK THAT MORE HUMOUR CAN BE FOUND IN ‘CAVEMAN BATTLE DOOM’ THAN IN SO-CALLED “NORMAL” DOOM METAL?
Yeah, I guess so. We don’t actually believe that we have our own genre by the way….. Caveman Battle Doom was what we were called on our first gig poster and it’s kind of stuck. The fact we use that as a bit of a name is funny I guess, but aside from that we are totally serious. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, we’re not all into this ‘my band are fucking awesome so fuck off’ stuff you see elsewhere but this clearly has progressed beyond the light-hearted joke it was at the start.
We spend a lot of time away from family and friends when we tour, and have sacrificed a lot in terms of a regular working life, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The themes of our songs are, I guess, a little more light hearted than some other bands in our genre. We don’t write about loss, or pain, or hardship (we are not qualified to preach about that – we all have our crosses to bear) but we prefer to sing about victory, success and triumph and I think this gives the listener a good feeling – especially at alive show. Who doesn’t like songs about hammers smashing into the earth played by guys in hoodies using nice old BIG amps and lots of speakers?
‘FOEHAMMER’ IS LIKE A RIDE THROUGH A BUBBLING TAR-PIT ON THE BACK OF A BRISTLING MUD CRAB …. HOW DID YOU ACHIEVE THOSE PAINFUL, QUAKING, RUIN-FILLED VOCALS AND SUCH GORY RHYTHMS?
Well, firstly the vocals are pretty much the same as we have done so before on other recordings. Chris gets me to do each line at a time, repeating them until they are usable and then we just repeat and repeat and repeat until we have enough takes to make the track. It’s hard sometimes as we normally do vocals at night and I’m usually tired. I get headaches from all the shouting, but Chris doesn’t fucking care – he just wants a good take and I guess that’s the sign of a good producer, his focus is the quality of the music only. For drums, that’s all down to Paul really – we’ve been jamming that song and actually playing it live regularly, so we’ve got it pretty tight. I think Paul’s drums add an essential edge to our music. It takes us from sounding ‘plodding’ to more of a driving, heaviness – even groovy in some places.
YOU HAVE GOT A WHOLE LOAD OF DATES TO PLAY IN 2014 – BUT WE COULDN’T SEE ANYTHING IN LIVERPOOL … ARE YOU STILL AS POPULAR IN YOUR HOME CITY?
I guess so, I don’t know really. The reality is that when you have a tour booked you play the shows that the booking agent gets interest for. I’m guessing that Liverpool didn’t put in an offer. Saying that though, Alec (Antipop Records who did our last show) must live by me as I saw him in Starbucks near my house and then the next day he was next to me in his car at traffic lights… Maybe he’s stalking me? Wanting to know why we aren’t playing Liverpool in March? We love playing Liverpool though, and played the Zanzibar last time – somewhere that Paul and I played many moons ago when we first got going.
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO PLAYING ROADBURN FESTIVAL IN TILBURG – AND THE NEW TEMPLES FESTIVAL? WHAT WILL THE HIGHLIGHTS BE?
We certainly are looking forward to playing ROADBURN this year. When we played it last time (2012) we enjoyed it so much that we didn’t want it to end…… Everything about it, from arriving to going to sleep that evening, was just amazing. It has a very unique atmosphere, the venue itself is amazing and the level of organisation is just brilliant. As a musician, you want to know that everything is under control at the venue because THEY are paying US to come and do a good job. So you get all your gear ready and rehearse and ensure your equipment is set up right… So by the time you get to the venue you are a little on edge because you want everything to go well. When you turn up to the venue you can just relax because you know the people there have got it all in hand. They have a sign up by the loading bay which says something like ‘Relax, we’ve dealt with bigger shows than yours’ and I love this – it’s such a cool slogan.
Temples Fest is a new one for us of course, we were asked to do play it and are looking forward to doing so. The line up for both tests looks INSANE, but I think Temples focusses on the heavy bands a little more so maybe the vibe will be a little different. Either way, we really can’t want to get out there and play.
We have plenty of tours coming up and we do of course play HELLFEST this year too, in June. Hellfest is easily the ‘biggest’ festival we have played and it will be a challenge to play to a crowd of the size expected in the Valley Tent, but we can’t wait to do it.
WHAT ELSE IS IN STORE FOR CONAN IN 2014?
Well, like I said before we have HELLFEST coming up in June but in March we do a tour in the UK, April is Roadburn and a European Tour, May is another run through Europe and then we have some talks to do about Australia in September. We’ve been approached to tour with a couple of AMAZING bands and we’re just trying to work through everything to see what will work best. I’ll bet we’ll end up writing a song or two or just recording a couple of things for a laugh before the year is out, but our main focus is touring as we have been waiting so long to get out!!!!
– © Neil_Mach February 2014 –