Interview: Conan’s Jon Davis on new album ‘Existential Void Guardian’

Posted by on October 9, 2018

On September 14th, Conan’s latest effort Existential Void Guardian was released via Napalm Records (order here). We spoke to frontman/guitarist Jon Davis on the new record, the group’s most challenging effort and more. Read the discussion below:

How has the response been so far for Existential Void Guardian?

So far the response has been awesome thanks. It’s always exciting to release new music and this release has been really received well. We love hearing what people think, good or bad, but the most important thing is that we like it ourselves and we are very proud of it.

In another interview, you mentioned the name of the album came from a dark world within our world, a place of doom and despair. Was it difficult or even therapeutic to enter this headspace while writing the album?

Actually, to be completely honest, we wrote the album in a pretty ‘businesslike’ headspace. Some of the subject matter and lyrics are maybe a little darker than normal but I really enjoyed writing this way. The songs, lyrically, came after the music and as a result I was able to be pretty self indulgent and go to town on the lyrics and it was cool to take the established Conan style and make something a bit darker with it. I can’t write songs about Gauntlet 100% of the time, even though I would like it.

The music world have lost quite a few artists over the last few years alone from suicide, has any of this darkness inspired some of your lyrics for this album?

I think it has yes. The first song is all about suicide. Depression is a very serious issue and thankfully I was able to keep my episode to a mild and relatively short period. Sadly, for some other people, it can be an extremely difficult issue and they aren’t able to avoid the existential void, they could not defeat the guardian. I liked this idea when I started writing the lyrics and it definitely runs through the ideas behind a lot of the lyrics. Conan is not a ‘touchy feely’ band, and I do not want the lyrics to go too far in this new direction for fear of losing sight of our established sound, but a little reality is ok I guess.

How would you compare Existential Void Guardian to 2016’s Revengeance?

It’s heavier, more straight forward, more like how I wanted Revengeance to be when I wrote it. I was very keen to write something that complimented Blood Eagle, and I think we did that very well with E V G.

What made this recording process different than your prior efforts?

Firstly, we had a new drummer in Johnny King. He joined us only weeks before we wrote the album. He toured with us in October 2017 and then we went straight into the studio and practically wrote the album from nothing, or maybe just a few riffs that we had already. It was a pretty crazy way to write music but somehow we really thrived doing it this way. We’re really happy with how it turned out.

Which album would you say was the most challenging to write?

In spite of what I said earlier, I would not say EVG was the most challenging one to write. I’d say Revengeance was the most difficult because it was done during a pretty difficult time for me personally. It was a challenge to commit the energy required and it was difficult to fully engage during the whole process but we created a cool album that I’m still proud of.

What plans does Conan have for early 2019?

Right now we are working on some cool stuff for 2019. We recently decided to go fully DIY with our management and booking after setting up Blackskull Services (www.weareblackskull.com) and since then we have been very busy negotiating offers from all over. Hopefully 2019 will be awesome for us, and we can build upon the busy 2018 we have had.

Which bands would you consider the next generation of doom?

I will say Blind Monarch are one to look out for. Grim heaviness, reminiscent of Burning Witch but not a rip off.  https://www.weareblackskull.com/blind-monarch/

Anything else you would like to add/say to your fans?

Yeah. We would like to thank anyone who has helped us stay on this awesome path. We hope to get to the US next year.

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