Ahead of Conan’s show in Manchester (read our review here), we caught up with singer/guitarist Jon to ask him a few questions. Check it out below.
Could you introduce yourself and tell me a bit about the band?
I’m Jon, and I sing and play guitar in Conan. We are a three-piece heavy metal band that most people would describe as sitting in the doom or sludge genre, loosely. We don’t mind what people think of us, really, we just think of ourselves as a heavy metal band. We’ve been called Conan from 2006 onwards – we had a few names before that when it was just me and an old friend that was our drummer. Things started getting more serious when we released Horseback Battle Hammer in 2010 and since then we’ve had quite a few releases.
We’re currently signed to Napalm Records, which is a record label based in Austria, and they’ve just put out our new album which is called Blood Eagle and it’s been received really well. It’s great to play live and we really enjoy the songs, which is the most important thing. We’re on tour at the minute – ten shows, after here we go to Cardiff, Brighton, London and Basingstoke.
How’s it been going so far, then?
Great! We’ve had no mishaps along the way, apart from when one of my guitar cabs developed a problem last night which I’m going to rectify tomorrow. But it’s been fine and the drives have been fine. We drove two hours after the show last night to the hotel, it was like howling gales driving through the countryside south from Aberdeen to where the hotel was. That wasn’t much fun but the shows have been brilliant. We’ve done Nottingham, Bournemouth, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Birmingham and they’ve just been brilliant.
Are there any interesting stories from the road?
Nothing really! There’s still time, but nothing exciting! I had to sleep in the van last night because of the snoring in the room. I was overtired when I went to bed, so I couldn’t just go to sleep straight away. But of course, everyone else in the room was nice and relaxed, and fell asleep straight away, and were snoring their heads off! So I had to stay in the van, it was fine but perhaps not as comfortable as I’d like!
What would you say the strangest or weirdest show you’ve ever played has been?
I’d say…we played this place in Turku, Finland. I can’t remember the name of the venue but it was a very large venue and a very good venue, and I think only fifteen people came. We sold out Helsinki the night after though!
That’s really weird!
Yeah! Turku was left of Helsinki by about two hours and it was just…empty. People were just sat at the edge and at the bar rather than being in the middle and that was weird. I’d say that’s probably the weirdest one.
What has been your best experience in the business?
I’d say getting the invite to play Roadburn because at that point in time, back in 2012, I think it was about January when I got a call. I work in HR, I’m a HR manager by day. I do it part-time from home, fortunately, but I used to do it full-time and I’d just got out of an employment tribunal. I went back into the office and had an email from Walter saying ‘would you mind giving us a quick call about Roadburn?’ and at that moment in time, seeing that email, giving him a ring and having a chat about playing Roadburn for the first time was extremely exciting.
We’ve played some great shows since then, but at that point in time – and even still to this day – it was our most important show. It was a really pivotal moment to be thought of as ‘worthy’ to play a festival such as that. It was a massive step.
How’d you go down?
Great! Absolutely brilliant. I can’t remember who we followed, but no one left after the previous band. Normally everyone will clear off and go see someone else, but I think people were anxious of losing their places, I think! That’s what I like to think, anyway.
Well you could think they’re there for you!
Yeah! Well that’s it, they just didn’t want to lose their place because maybe they thought we were coming on and…I don’t know, but that’s just my ego talking. But regardless of the reason, the place was rammed and we had to carry all our gear through the crowd. Nobody would move out the way! We loaded it and set up in front of them all, then played the show and it was amazing.
If there was going to be a movie released about Conan, what actor would you want to play yourself?
Probably Pete Postlethwaite but he’s dead now.
Maybe you could go back in time!
Yeah, I’ll go back in time. Just because he’s thinner than me and he had a really big nose! I just think it would be interesting to have someone like him play me. See if we can get him to look like me, that would be a real challenge for the makeup people! Give him a pot belly and glasses. That would be a lot of fun, that, that would be funny! God rest his soul.
And finally my last question – if Conan could put their name to a product, what would you choose and why?
Earplugs. Black earplugs, with small speakers in that could play Tibetan singing bowls! So after the show, you can just turn that on and it’ll soothe your ears and cure the tinnitus!