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INTERVIEW: Justine Jones – Employed To Serve

Woking hardcore bulldozers EMPLOYED TO SERVE have had quite the year. Following the release of their scorching debut Greyer Than You Remember in 2015, the band have spent the 18 months since building a more than formidable live reputation for themselves on bills of all kinds all over the UK, culminating in a jaw-dropping trouncing of nearly every other band on the bill at this year’s Damnation Festival (read our review here). We checked in with vocalist Justine Jones as the band prepare to head back into the studio to record album number two and continue their conquest.

How are you doing?

Justine: I’m very good thank you.

You’ve just played Damnation Festival this past weekend. Was that something you were particularly looking forward to in advance?

Justine: Yeah definitely. Myself and the guitarist Sammy have been hoping to play this festival for a very long time since it started really.

It’s fair to say you were one of the best bands of the day at Damnation. Did it feel particularly good for you?

Justine: Oh yeah we loved it, every second. We were really happy with the crowd response as they were very receptive. We were a bit worried because Damnation‘s a bit more of a doom-dominated day so we didn’t know how we’d go down because we’re more ADHD than that but it was amazing.

Jamie shattering his bass into many pieces and handing chunks out to the audience was certainly a hell of a way to end it.

Justine: Yeah! His bass, he’d had it since he’d joined the band about two and a half years ago now and it’s been used at every single show and release since so it had really had its day, and it would have cost more to repair than buy a new one so I guess he just thought “ah, fuck it, I’m gonna give it a good send-off!”

That’s your last show before going into recording the new album right? Does it feel like a nice way to cap off this period of EMPLOYED TO SERVE so to speak?

Justine: Correct. We were supposed to be in Spain right now actually doing some dates with ROLO TOMASSI but unfortunately Eva has a nasty infection and couldn’t do it, but Damnation was a good way to end it. We’ve been very happy with how this year has gone, the whole album cycle from release has been very fun and we can’t wait to do it again with album two.

Has there been a particular highlight for you of 2016?

Justine: I think it would have to be Damnation along with HRX, the Holy Roar 10th birthday bash. That was phenomenal, one of my favourite shows we’ve ever played.

There was a day where you played one of the replacement shows in Bristol for the cancelled Temples Festival during the day, and then drove to London immediately afterwards to play another show that night. There was also the tour with WE NEVER LEARNED TO LIVE where you played some very far out of the way places where very few bands ever bother to play. Do you think your work ethic of playing as many shows as possible has been important to your success this past year?

Justine: That Temples day was so tiring! Yeah I do think that’s true. We just love playing live, even if it’s to one person or hundreds it doesn’t really matter to us, it’s just being able to play our songs. I think our willingness to do whatever is thrown at us has definitely helped.

Do you think that’s something that some bands lack these days?

Justine: I don’t think so, it’s just more what you’re actually capable of doing because obviously we have work and other commitments, people had kids. Just do the best that you can.

We seem to be in an era where some of the larger rock magazines seem to be content to push less and less challenging music instead of rock music which is fresh and exciting. With that in mind, how do bands like yourselves who are challenging and uncompromising gain traction? How well is the underground doing at supporting itself?

Justine: It’s a tough one, because with magazines the industry is suffering somewhat because less people are picking up print. I think they do the best they can in terms of introducing new bands. Metal Hammer have always been very supportive of our band, and Kerrang! and Rock Sound have reviewed every release we’ve done so far. They’re torn though because they have to go with what sells to a younger audience who won’t always take risks on a band they haven’t heard of. It’s a tough one. The underground though is doing very well at supporting itself. The whole UK scene in general is really thriving at the moment. There’s online negativity but that’s always going to be there, people sitting at home complaining about shows they’re not going to.

How’s Holy Roar? Sticking with them for album number two?

Justine: Oh definitely, seeing as I work for them now too! We love that label, we love every band on that roster. The nice thing about the Holy Roar collective is that we’re all friends and we all go to each other’s shows. It was like that at Damnation, along with ourselves there was SVALBARD and CONJURER who clashed but we managed to catch half and half and both bands are great.

How’s the new album coming along then?

Justine: We are actually going in to record it at the end of this month. All the songs are written, we’re just sitting at home practicing them now and I have to write one more set of lyrics and we’re good to go.

How do you think the material is shaping up compared to what’s come before?

Justine: There’s more of the same in terms of the scattershot nature but we’ve gone for more of a darker feeling for this one. It’s more like the very last song on the first album As Cold as the Rest which has more ebbs and flows. We haven’t gone onto clean singing or anything yet. Themes are continuing from the EP and the first record really, people not achieving what they should be and letting things grind them down, a bit about mental health, the hot topics.

Do you have any specific goals or aims as a band and as a musician?

Justine: We focus on musical output so we have something to look back on, and we like to play as many different places as possible. During this next album cycle we’re going to aim to go further than Europe and hopefully tour places like the States and Australia, just as many shows as we can. Keep pushing.

Any other projects you guys have going on?

Justine: Sammy’s got loads. He’s got an album coming out with REGURGITATE LIFE, his death metal project, and actually has a drummer this time around. Nothing myself really, I’ve been toying with a few ideas but EMPLOYED TO SERVE is my main focus. Our new guitarist Rich has a few different recording projects which he likes to do, we’re pretty busy.

Well that about covers it so it’s been lovely talking to you. Thanks for your time.

Justine: Thanks for the interview man, appreciate it. Have a good day.

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