It has been a long and winding road for UK metal band Conjurer, but it is one they have traversed on their own terms. Just prior to the band’s set at this year’s ArcTanGent festival, The Midlands Rocks sat down with the band’s drummer Noah See to get the low down on the band’s current state of affairs.
I caught you live earlier in the year, touring with Carcass (reviewed here). How was it?
It was fantastic. Aside from them being UK metal legends, and being associated with them was enough already. But knowing it was their first headline tour around the UK since the ‘90s, it was great to be part of it. It felt like a celebration, with their legacy and what they’ve done for UK metal. It was great watching the venues selling out in the months leading up to it.
Sometimes the Carcass fanbase can be hardcore and partisan. How easy/hard was it to win over the crowd? How do you feel you went down?
I think we went down well, as well as we could. As you say, they are the type of band who have a dedicated fanbase, so it can be difficult to convince people, especially if you don’t sound particularly close to the headliners. It was a different kind of challenge, we are used to turning up to a gig where they are expecting a certain something and are ready to go, where all you have to do is light the fuse. It was a different kind of crowd, but we had loads of fun. They are great guys, and it was amazing for me as a drummer to watch Dan Wielding play every night, because he’s insane, but overall, I think we did well.
The band originate from the Daventry/Rugby area. That’s not my first thought when thinking of a heavy metal hotbed. How did that environment shape the band’s sound?
I can only speculate, being in the band only a few years, but because it wasn’t such a big and wide scene, they kind of had a freedom to do whatever they wanted, there was no expectation to compete or keep up with other bands. I think that played a really big role in the facilitation of experimentation, the focus was just on writing the best stuff they could. What I’ve found from other bands around the country, having a smaller scene can help push you out the door a bit quicker.
In between your debut and sophomore albums, the band stepped up to Nuclear Blast Records. That in itself must have been quite daunting, but what were the pressures of recording for Nuclear Blast?
I guess the first album put the band on the map, nationally and across the underground in the UK, and was on an independent label, but stepping up to Nuclear Blast hopefully put us in the international arena, so now we’ve got to prove ourselves both musically and in the live environment. If people come to see us live and know we’re a Nuclear Blast band, there’s a kind of expectation there to deliver to a certain standard. It’s a standard we know we can deliver, but we still want to be a band that exceeds expectations; so it has made that a little bit harder. At the same time, it has helped us facilitate ideas moving forwards, knowing we’ve got a label like that behind us, we’ve got our sights set as high as they can go.
Now the album has been out in the world for a year, is there anything you’d like to go back and change?
I don’t think there’s anything we’d go back and change. The only thing we have an issue with is longer songs. We love playing longer songs, but when you’ve got 30-40 minutes in a support or festival set to make your mark, and you can only squeeze in six, or fewer songs, that’s something we’re considering, but it is not directing us moving forward. Looking back it feels like Pathos was a natural progression, I think it was a far more unique album, Mire was fantastic and it connected with a lot of people because it was wearing its influences on its sleeve, Converge, Mastodon, but Pathos has dug deeper into the things that make Conjurer unique .I think moving forward we want to keep digging that hole and seeing where it goes, if we can find something that is quintessentially Conjurer.
It’s a nice problem to have, but Pathos got great reviews right across the board. There must be big pressure to top it. Will you try, or will you go on another tangent?
It got some great plaudits in the press, which is always fantastic, and playing them live has been great, it’s always pleasing to see how the songs go down. We are adding some different influences, but doing it in a slightly different way is the thought moving forwards. We never want to do the same album twice, but we still want to retain what is exciting for us, and what’s exciting for the fanbase. While they won’t direct us, the fans are always in our minds, we are not going to drop a jazz album or anything, but expanding the palette is what we want to do.
The band are now veterans of the festival circuit. How does ArcTanGent fit into the scheme of things?
I feel like ArcTanGent is a spiritual home for Conjurer. Across all the UK fests, of which the band has done many, it feels like home for the band. Even turning up and walking around the site, there’s always an abundance of Conjurer merch walking around. I think when we played the Arc (main) Stage last year was testament to the rapport this band has built with the festival. Even today, coming back on a Wednesday, being asked by the festival to play early to help promote the extra day, is a really nice thought; they think as highly of us as we think of them. I hope we’ll have a great time tonight, and I hope they’ll be more appearances to come.
The band has come such a long way and achieved so much. Can you believe it, or did you always have this vision?
Personally, joining the band before the release of Pathos, Conjurer were always one of my favourite UK bands, they melded a lot of influences of what I was into, but it’s a weird one being involved and hearing people say the band is of a certain level, and getting booked at certain slots at festivals. I like to think that Pathos has cemented a position for us, and I don’t mean that egotistically, but we are all our biggest fans and we wouldn’t put the music out if we didn’t think it was the best stuff we could write. We’re channelling all these influences and making the type of music that we want to hear. It’s a double-edged sword, we are delighted and surprised that people receive it in such a way, but we’ve also put so much work into it that we are glad it is coming out that way.
Now you are here, how much higher do you think you can go?
That’s a tough one because I think the band has got further than any of the guys would ever expect. From what I’ve been told the band’s goals were to play Damnation and to play the Underworld, and I think they did that within the first six months or so, so anything more is the cherry on the cake. We’d love to go to more territories and tour different parts of the world, and I think the goal is getting out to new places and new cultures.
Finally, if I had a magic wand and could make any wish come true for Conjurer, what would it be?
Obviously, to tour with Metallica would be amazing, we’ve done a few dates with Gojira, but a full tour with them would be great. But to keep growing in a genuine way is the main thing, we aren’t a band who are hungry for hype or quick success.