INTERVIEW: Jon Davis – Conan

After having just released their most monstrously heavy piece of doom metal, in the form of their fourth full length album Revengeance, CONAN set forth on a mighty conquest of the world, smashing the USA with SERIAL HAWK in tow. And as they are beginning to get in the full swing of their U.K. tour, we stopped at their show in Manchester and talked to guitarist and front man Jon Davis about their new record, the now exciting UK doom scene, fantasy and of course video games.

So, very recently you guys have exploded in popularity, especially in the UK. How does it make you feel that people are now going as far to say that you are at the forefront of the UK doom scene now?

Jon: Well, it’s kinda cool, it makes you feel old, but in a way we are honoured because there are so many other good doom bands in the UK, but this was never the intention. We started out as a joke really, like if you listen to some of our old lyrics on like Battle in the Swamp and whatnot. We really appreciate it, but it’s not something we get carried away with.

It wasn’t long ago since you released REVENGEANCE now, how has the reception been to your latest record?

Jon: Good. It’s been great! We never release a piece of music unless we’re absolutely pleased with it and fortunately other people share our view of it. Press reviews have been really positive as well. I used to get so carried away with press that way, I’d read through all the reviews and they would usually be good, god knows what I’d have done if they were shit ones!

Has this positivity translated to your live performances as well?

Jon: Reception to the songs live have also been very good, we enjoy playing music and I think that plays an important part of it. I’ve never believed in scoring music out of 10 though, surely no one deserves a 0/10. It’s stupid like Rate my Poo or Hot or Not.

Let’s talk about CONAN’S music style now, because you are a doom outfit, yet you mix all these other elements into it like thrash and drone elements. How did you think to mix these very different styles?

Jon: Well, we originally had this drummer called Paul who added these jazz style cymbal patterns to our music which worked really well, and then we began starting to write more aggressive songs like Foehammer and his style changed to suit. Then we brought Rich in and he could mirror that style but also add a more aggressive sound, which actually impacts the guitars a lot. It also impacted our writing process because we reacted to his style and wrote songs that brought out the best in him. And that’s our approach, we aim to try different things with each record. With Reveangence it was a do or die moment where we could have played it safe and release a record similar to Blood Eagle or just go for it. I don’t think we’ve ever been guilty of releasing music that sounds the same. It’s good to have your own sound.

In the past, you’ve done a split with SLOMATICS who are also from the UK. Given the recent popularity with doom metal, have any other bands have caught your eye recently?

Jon: There’s a lot of good talent around nowadays, like the two bands that are supporting us tonight, although you couldn’t really call them doom per say (BOSS KELOID, THE BENDAL INTERLUDE). But there are simply too many bands to shout out and it would be unfair to name any because they all deserve a shout. I actually get lots of demos through to my label now and they’re all pretty good, there’s definitely a lot more bands out there playing this kind of music with lots of fresh talent.

One of your most eye catching elements is your fantasy based lyric themes, and how things like Lord of the Rings inspires you. Could you tell us about the lyrics of your favourite song off REVENGEANCE?

Jon: Well, that would be Wrath Gauntlet. There’s this old fantasy RPG game called Gauntlet, and the song’s lyrics basically follow all the different characters you select in it as well as picking a quest line. And on the end, we added an in joke because we saw a terrible “metal” T-shirt with the reaper on it and he had “YOUR NEXT” written on his knuckles. So we added it as the last phrase to that song to round it off and have a bit of a joke about it.

REVENGEANCE is available now via Napalm Records

CONAN are currently on tour in the UK. For tour dates and more information on CONAN like them on Facebook