We’re continuing our build up to Ritual Festival this week with an interview with Andy from Conjurer. No surprises there eh! We’ve been hooked on this band since we came across them at Metal 2 The Masses last year and they were one of our favourite bands of 2016. So we couldn’t miss an opportunity to catch up with the band, especially as there is word of a new album in the pipeline…
CB: Thanks for talking to CB again, we’re not stalkers. Honest…
Andy : Haha! To be fair I can think of worse stalkers to have – and at least it would explain the footprints in the flowerbed next to my bathroom.
Straight to the point, Ritual Festival is getting close now! Silly question.. but are you looking forward to this one?
That is a bit of a silly question, but we forgive you because we’re just as excited about Ritual as you are! Yes, we’re very much looking forward to Ritual, it’s going to be a fantastic day. We’ve done a few events run by the lovely people at Ritual before and they’ve always been really special, my expectation is that this will be no different.
It’s a hefty bill, you are in some good company on that line-up don’t you think?
Hell yes. The whole bill is crackers, Dan has outdone himself on his selection of bands. The whole bill is amazing – Ihsahn is going to be great, obviously, but I’m excited to see All Pigs Must Die and Misery Index. We’ve played with Anaal Nathrakh a couple of times and they were fantastic both times, so my expectations are pretty high. And Bossk? Those guys are just fantastic live. There’s some great bands further down the bill too – Kurokuma are doing big things on the psych sludge scene and really pull it off live, The Afternoon Gentlemen are great and Groak have been pretty spectacular the times we’ve shared stages with them. The band I’m most excited see, though, is Canvas. I’ve been a massive fan of those guys since the turn of the century – which is weird to say, now I see it written down – and I’m so excited to see them reunite. They are one of the key points of inspiration that led me down the path that brought me to where I am now. So, I guess my part in Conjurer is at least partly their fault.
Last time we saw you was in… Leeds at Damnation. Can we expect the usual heavy spectacle from yourselves at Ritual?
That’s the plan! Damnation was a great day. Such a good line-up and it was so much fun to play. In terms of Ritual, it’ll be one of the last shows we play before we head into the studio, so we’ll be playing some of the material that will go onto the album. We’ll be bringing our usual energy to the proceedings; we’re on pretty early, so we’ll be looking to kick things off with a real bang.
Who will you be looking forward to catching after you’ve done your business on stage?
Haha! ‘Done your business’? Fear not, we won’t be doing a Dillinger style shit on the stage! Or will we? Actually, let’s not rule anything out. Probably most of the bands I’ve already mentioned really. I’m pretty new to Ihsahn, so I’m looking forward to seeing them, but All Pigs Must Die are definitely on my list, as are our friends in Bossk, Groak and Kurokuma. I’ve never seen Crepitation or Corrupt Moral Altar, so I’m looking forward to seeing them. But I’m definitely reserving a space next to the stage for Canvas. Seriously, so, so excited to see them.
Leeds has a really strong Doom scene from what we can see. More and more of the eye-catching gigs that get our attention seem to be in and around Leeds lately. You seem to be regulars in Leeds on various bills, is there something in the water up there?
Leeds has a really strong scene, full stop, really. Not just Doom, although there’s a real appetite for that in Leeds at the moment. Leeds is pretty much our second home – certainly mine, anyway. I used to play for a band based in Leeds – Bludger – and have spent a lot of time in the city. It’s a fantastic city full of great people and there’s a real passion for music in the city. Is there something in the water? No, there’s something in the scene. And it’s something we’re always grateful to be part of.
What are the main factors in getting a scene to flourish from your side of things? What do you think is happening in Leeds that works so well?
Big question, not easy to answer. For me, it’s a combination of things, and it’s by no means unique to Leeds – London, Nottingham, Manchester and many other cities all have the same things. There needs to be venues, to start with. Leeds has some awesome places to play – Brudenell is great, the Union was fantastic for Damnation and I’m looking forward to playing Canal Mills. Temple of Boom is fantastic, a really nice DIY feel and Si is a legend. Then there’s the smaller spaces – I have fond memories of Santiagos and the tiny basement at Bad Apples is seriously in my top ten places to play.
Promoters are hugely important – Leeds has a better than average number of promoters with real vision – I include Dan from Ritual in this – vision to build bills, predict trends and spot new talents.
Next on the list is record stores. Record stores are the hub, for me at least, where people talk., where they get excited about music. Yeah, there’s plenty of online stuff as well, but any city that has a thriving record store tends to have a thriving music scene. Leeds has several stores – Crash being my personal favourite, and a regular pit into which I sink my cash.
Finally it’s about the people, both as punters and as musicians, and the crossover. Leeds has a brilliant, supportive, friendly scene of gig-goers and musicians. It’s a wonderful thing, and an absolute privilege to be a tiny, tiny part of.
We have, we’re in the studio with the wonderful Lewis Johns at the end of April to record an album of material which will surface later in the year through Holy Roar Records. We love working with Holy Roar, it’s been the biggest honour and even more so that they still want to be involved with us for our next step. Lewis is great – he mixed the EP and pretty much became our hero at that point. We’re so excited to see how the end to end process will work with him. We’ve been playing some of the songs live over the last few months to make sure they work, I’m very proud of what we’re brewing; it’s definitely a step on from the EP. We’re keeping the riffage and pushing it in different directions. Exciting times.
Everyone was very down on 2016 by the end of it with good reason, but it seems you had a great year?
Yeah, 2016 had its moments, right? The joys of Brexit, an uncertain economic and political future, the rise of the right wing and the crowning glory of a certified idiot taking residence in the White House. But there were some good things, and artistically I think 2016 did pretty well. Some great records got released last year, so that’s a big solid tick mark in the ‘reasons to be cheerful’ column. I always judge the quality of the year on the quality of my record collection at the end of it, and last year was great in that regard, even if my bank account complains. Certainly as a band we have no complaints – 2016 was the year we signed a record deal, we released an EP, I got to press some music I contributed to on vinyl – that’s a bucket list tick – and we played an awful lot of fantastic gigs. It absolutely blows my mind some of the bands that we’ve been able to share a stage with over the last year or so. It’s been incredible. Some absolute heroes met and mingled with. I got to shake Ben Kollers’ hand. And Stephen Brodsky. And Julie Christmas. The guys from Employed to Serve know who I am. Djamila from Ithaca sought me out to chat with – that still blows my mind, as I’m a bit of a fanboy for that band. I got to drink with Dixie from Weedeater. He drank me clear under the table, by the way, but he was very nice about it. It’s been crazy and our heads spin on a daily basis; we’re phenomenally grateful for the support we’ve had that has allowed us to be here now.
How are you going to build on that success for this year?
The album. Short answer, I know, but I genuinely think it will move us forward in so many ways. It will present different sides to what we do that we’ve not been able to show on a short form EP before. After that we’ll crack right back out on the road again, hopefully head over to Europe for some shows as well. We love playing live and although we’ve been taking it a bit easy over the last couple of months, we’re looking forward to getting back out there as soon as possible. 2017 is going to be big. Think of Trump and Brexit as food. Food for the sludgy misery machine.
Beer, food and some blistering heavy metal! Get your Ritual Festival tickets here: http://ritualfestival.bigcartel.com/
Ritual takes place at Leeds Canal Mills on April 8th… Check out the POSTER!