Conan, with support from Boss Keloid, play Manchester's Star & Garter Monday, 11th April. Prognosis bass player Danny Daemon sat down with their frontman Jon Davis to talk about their new album, Boss Keloid and their memories of Manchester.
I've heard people describe you as battle metal but there's none of that trumpeting and galloping shit, what's that all about?
Battle metal sounds cool, but we are Caveman Battle Doom, everyone knows that. Back then primitive man didn’t gallop or ride animals at any other pace, they killed or be killed, and I don’t think trumpets made their entrance until quite a while later!
Were your intentions to write for the battle metal genre or is this a label you have been put to by others?
Nah man, our intentions, from the very beginning was to play simple and very HEAVY music with as little fuss as possible. We have always tried to write songs that are fun to play and so far we have done just that. The Caveman Battl Doom tag was given to us on the poster for our very first show in Liverpool, it stuck after that.
The doom scene finally appears to be breaking through to a more mainstream audience in the UK, can you see this trend expanding to the big rock festivals in the UK? Could we expect a Conan at Glasto and would you play it if you got the chance to?
I just finished watching Flight 666 (The Iron Maiden documentary) and I did see some parallels between their custom painted 747 and our plain white dented Mercedes Sprinter. However, I would be very surprised if we saw the likes of Conan or Electric Wizard or High on Fire or Sleep on Glastonbury, I don’t think the festival caters for actual underground metal. it looks like a cool festival for middle class students but I’m not sure it would be suited to us or our peers. We’re happy playing clubs and when we play bigger festivals the likes of Hellfest or Roadburn or some of the other awesome festivals will be our sights. I do see this sort of heavier music becoming more popular and that’s cool because it is great music mainly but it is also a very diverse genre. We sound very different to the other bands I listed earlier, and I think that diversity is what makes it an interesting type of music to listen to. When you think about it though, not many ‘doom’ bands are actually ‘doom’ bands…… There are a lot of bands that play a wildly divergent form of heavy music and call themselves doom so they can fit in a little. I think that is fucking bullshit.
In recent months I have been to many a doom night at the local dive bars of Manchester and seen many new bands clearly influenced by yourselves. Who are you guys listening to at the minute?
Right now Iron Maiden, Live after Death but I also listen to the likes of Weezer and Tides of Sulfur (who I am talking to about a new album on Black Bow Records).
You come on stage, play, and leave, you appear to keep yourselves quite low profile, would you say this approach to your shows helps in keeping your music and stage presence ominous?
We like to play ad give a good show and then pack away and let the staff at the venue go home, they don’t want to kept up late by some dickheads patting themselves on the back and high fiving all their mates, scabbing beers off fans in the crowd like they are something special. We see ourselves as a hard working band, the same as every other hard working underground band in the metal scene, but maybe we’re a little bit more honest and straight forward than others. We believe in being professional, reliable and good to work with, it’s as important as being heavy as fuck and melting faces every night.
Your sound in Revengeance is droning, intense and doomy, which seems to have darkened and developed more since your first album, Monnos (2012), how was the writing process different this time?
Our first album, Horseback Battle Hammer (2010) was extremely heavy, this progressed into what became Monnos, then onto Blood Eagle and now we arrive at Revengeance. I always see Horseback Battle Hammer being our darkest ’sounding’ album and Revengeance as being our most radio friendly (in terms of production) and because of this I find it interesting when people say Revengeance is our darkest material yet. I mean, Revengeance IS a dark album but lyrically it is no more dark than Monnos or Blood Eagle. I think what sets Blood Eagle apart is the pace change and the writing, having Chris and Rich on board for the writing of Revengeance has really helped as they were able to compliment my writing style very much, bringing their input to what was a settled formula of me writing the riffs and everyone following suit - this new approach, icy a greater input from bandmates, has really helped to bring these songs out more.
Which of your upcoming shows would you say you are most looking forward to and why?
We have a few unannounced shows on the horizon that are pretty exciting, and I would have trouble picking out any one show as the most exciting. We are a band, and lots of bands say this, that really enjoy to play live…. We tour a lot and get across the world several times a year, we really do look forward to each show in the same way as our preparation has to be the sae for each one. We will have memories from each show of course that will very from show to show, but the build up is always pretty much the same.
Have there been any real breakthrough moments for you, either live or in rehearsal?
Our first stage diver was fun. In London (Electrowerkz) in 2014 and the place was way too rammed, the place went insane and it was a really cool show. Hellfest was awesome too, to get on stage and play to so many people was pretty mind blowing.
Your sound is unique, in respects to the gear you use what are your favorite toys in your arsenal and how do you get that filthy sound?
For the dirt I use a fuzz pedal called the Fuzz Throne, it is one of a kind, and is made by Dunwich Effects.
Revengeance's cover is a work of art. Who does the artwork for your band?
Chris recently recorded Boss Keloid's new album at Skyhammer studios, how did that come about and what are his memories of the sessions?
The session was finished a little while ago but his main memory will be the folded kebabs from Sammy’s Pizza down the road, these memories are the same for every session.
Manchester's Metal scene is a booming at the moment. What are your favorite memories of our grey, doom metal loving city?
I love playing in Manchester. One of my favourite memories is going there with Bongripper and they used my back line. Nick’s guitar cab kept spitting out its speaker cable due to the volume so I had to jump on stage and plug in the speaker cable round the back….. They started a song while I was doing this and I had to stand at the side of the stage for the whole song, trying to blend into the wall.
We know fans can be a mixed bunch, some really lovely, others completely crazy, tell us about some of the best things fans have said to you guys.
I was doing merch for WInterfylleth recently and a guy came up to me and told me that he loved Conan and our music had helped him get through some difficult times recently. I thought that was an awesome thing, and it was cool that our music helped him through whatever it was he had to deal with. We never intended to give out a message or be some kind of spiritual healer, but I guess even the most simple of music can help.
Metal for me was a discovery of my own doing as I was brought up on a mixture of soul and electro by my parents, what about you guys? What music were you brought up on?
I was into motown actually, but my friend’s Dad had Number of The Beast on vinyl and I used to stare at the album cover wondering what it was. Years later I rediscovered Iron Maiden and got into Sepultura / Metallica / Fudge Tunnel and then Kyuss, Sabbath, High on Fire, Slomatics and heavier music.
My better half is one of your biggest fans, she wants to know if female fans can expect a range of Conan merchandise at your upcoming shows?
Tell her ‘hi’. We will have a range of merch but ours will not be gender specific.
Finally, Who would win in a fight between Arnie's Conan and Jason Momoas' Conan?
Neither, their insurance and legal teams would not allow it.
Interview: Danny Daemon