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The Black Flag Meets Conan

No guys not the mythical warrior portrayed by Arnie, the far better and infinitely more powerful band. We were lucky enough to have an early listen to their album, and we just had to catch up with the UK’s up and coming behemoths of metal. This is what happened when we did.

Hey guys thanks for taking time to talk to us. Can you tell us a bit about the band, who’s who, where are you from and how did you meet?

Sure. I am Jon and play guitar / do vocals. We have Chris Fielding on bass and vocals (Phil Coumbe recently left and Chris replaced him), and Paul O’Neil plays drums.

We have been going as a three piece since 2009 when we recorded Horseback Battle Hammer (with Chris Fielding at Foel Studio). Since then we have recorded and released a few different things and Chris has been our producer all along. Chris now works with me at our studio (www.skyhammerstudio.com) and him joining the band has been a really good move after we lost Phil. I have known Paul since 2007 when we met up to start work on some tracks that became our first release Horseback Battle Hammer.

When did you start playing together?

Paul and I met in the middle of 2007. We had a few shows, and then had to break up in 2008. Early in 2009 we reformed and recorded Horseback Battle Hammer. Chris joined us in November 2013.

How would you describe your sound?

I’d describe us as a heavy metal band, but with the emphasis on heavy. We have a very rich, heavy vibe with desperate echoing vocals, and a persistent emphasis on being loud, simple and brutal. We just want to write the heaviest riffs that we can, and play them as loud as we can. Plain and simple.

What was the big highlight from when you first started playing live together?

Well, when we started playing live as a three piece (Star and Garter in Manchester 2010) I had never played outside of Liverpool. So here we are, on stage in Manchester, with a pretty decent sized crowd and playing these overly simple songs and wondering how we are getting away with it. It all seemed pretty weird really, we never expected anyone to be into what we were doing, and yet we went down really well. That was a real eye opener for me.

How has the band evolved since the early days?

I’d say we have got a lot better at what we do. We use the heavy parts of our sound better, we sound a little more accessible now maybe but still much heavier than we were at the beginning. We take our time more when writing tracks and concentrate on how we sound much more. We have a pretty exciting array of back line and gear, and because of this our recorded output always sounds as good as our live sound, we think this is important.

What are the fans like when you play live?

Good question. Lately we have started to notice pretty big changes in the crowds at shows. Clearly, for any band that continues and produces releases and tours like we do, you will get slightly larger crowds. These slightly larger crowds have started to react to the music in a different way. When we started out we had a crowd and people there would be into it but not quite like how it is now. A good example would be our latest UK tour which saw, for the first time, mosh pits and crowd surfing and stage diving. This, to us, is what you see at ‘real’ shows and it is certainly new to me. This has not happened before and it really makes the shows more enjoyable, when you see the people there being moved in this way.

Have things changed much since signing to Napalm?

They have in some ways and not in others. We haven’t changed our approach in any way. We haven’t started acting any differently, aside from being a bit busier in general. One thing we have noticed is that our profile seems to have increased in size a bit, we seem to have more demands placed upon us by the world of journalism and we seem to have reached a wider audience with the new release. This is all down to the increased profile of Napalm Records, who have a large fan base.

You’ve got a new record coming out, can you tell us a bit about it?

The new album has been received really well. It’s heavier than what has come before it and that was our aim. We recorded it in Skyhammer Studio with Chris Fielding, and mastered by James Plotkin. It is around 46 minutes long, longer than any of our previous ‘full lengths’ and has more mid paced charging riffs than we realised we could fit onto one of our releases. We tried to make this album more engaging for the listener, give them something to get their teeth into and I think we achieved that.

How does it compare to ‘Monnos’ and ‘Horseback Battle Hammer’?

I’d say it sounds like a mix of all the best bits of both. It has the charging riffs of Hawk As Weapon, the mid paced thrash / whatever of Satsumo and the slow burn of Krull of Sea Lord. We’ve done a pretty good job of mixing these elements up.

How do you guys handle the writing process?

Pretty much the same on every release I will record some riffs on my iPhone, recording clips here and there whenever they come to mind. I can be shopping or taking the kids to school and I’ll get an idea. When I do get an idea I’ll try and repeat it at practice next time around and it is from these seeds that the tracks will grow. We all then get together in the studio and jam each track out until they form usable songs. We then take them to the studio for recording and Chris will help us to knock them into shape.

Is there a track you are most proud of, or one you think will be a fan favourite?

I think there is something for everyone on the new album, there are lots of cool ‘Conan’ moments if you like. If I had to choose I’ll maybe go with Horns for Teeth.

Can you tell us about the artwork, who did it for you?

Tony Roberts (www.blackmindseye.org) does all of our artwork .He has been working on this album for almost 18 months on and off. We think it reflects the simple brutality of the riffs on the record. We are not ashamed to wear our hearts on our sleeves in our music. We don’t try and be clever or complicated, we just love playing riffs loud and so you look at our artwork and you see beheaded noblemen and an assassin with no human head – it all fits really well with the music.

What does the future hold for Conan?

Touring mainly…. We have several tours lined up for this year and we get to see most of Europe and also Australia. We have no plans to record just yet, so we will get out on the road and play these new tracks.

Where can we see you live?

All our live dates are here…… http://www.soundofliberation.com/conan.html

And where can we get our hands on a copy of ‘Blood Eagle’?

Either from us at a show – or here…… http://shop.napalmrecords.com/conan-blood-eagle-copper-vinyl.html

 

The fantastic Conan, make sure you get on this as soon as you can guys because tickets for their gigs are going to fly out. Here is a classic Conan track for your pleasure. Enjoy

[youtube]http://youtu.be/-of5C1OHX_8[/youtube]

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