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Interview: Conan’s Jon Davis talks new album ‘Evidence of Immortality’

Posted by on December 21, 2022

[photo: Charley Shillabeer]

Conan released one of the best doom metal bands of 2022 with Evidence of Immortality, which arrived this past August via Napalm Records. Earlier this year, we caught up with guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis to discuss the record. 

 

What was the process like recording Evidence of Immortality?

Well, this time around we actually recorded it after writing it for two years or two and a half years or so. It felt like we were working on this album forever, really. But we only really got serious on the writing front towards the end of 2019 when we had a day or two in Folwell Studio just knocking some demos together. And then following that we obviously went our separate ways whilst COVID was on and we exchanged ideas online, we bought Johnny an electronic drum kit so he was able to record some stuff and then send it back to me. And that way we sort of built up a few sort of ideas and passages of verses and, well not verse and chorus, we’re not a pop band, but just passages of songs that we could slot into our ideas. And that was okay, but it’s not the same as rehearsing in a room. So we tried to get together when we could, but with Johnny being in Dublin, traveling to the UK was impossible for most of 2020 and 2021. But when we got to the end of 2021, we were able to get together and we quickly booked some studio time, I think in December if I recall correctly. And we recorded the drums. Obviously at that point all the structure was set and then we started working on guitars and, before you know it, we were recording the guitars and bass. We recorded vocals the day that Russia crossed the line into Ukraine, which was quite a significant day to record the lyrics on an album that deals with warfare and death. So yeah, the recording was eventful even though we had COVID in the middle, which cut our time down a lot.

 

How would you compare the new album to 2018’s Existential Void Guardian?

I think the difference between the two is there are a few dead spots on Existential Void Guardian in my opinion, a couple of songs on there which vocally are kind of out there and I don’t think people really appreciated them or liked them or whatever, which is obviously people’s opinion. But the Volt Thrower stood out for a lot of people, Vexxagon and Paincantation for obvious reasons. So I think there were a lot of ups and downs on Existential Void Guardian, but Evidence of Immortality I think really is a lot more of an epic kind of doom metal-sounding album. It’s obviously got our kind of the Conan sound in there. We’re not like a Sabbath-worshiping band or we don’t kind of just do the kind of riffs that you would expect from a doom metal band a lot of the time. But we’ve been able to create an album that’s got a really solid feel throughout. I think it’s more consistent than Existential Void Guardian and also Existential Void Guardian, the guitar tone on there is mostly solid-state amplification, whereas on this one we’ve gone back to valve amplifiers. We used the old Sunn Model T that I’ve always used and I’m really delighted with how it came out. So it sounds more epic and definitely heavier in a lot of ways.

 

How has the pandemic influenced the writing for the new record?

Well, the pandemic just made the writing process a lot longer. That was all really. We hoped to have this album out in 2020, that was our aim, but obviously what happened happened so we were unable to, so yeah, basically it just kind of got in the way. But I think the album’s better for it in a way because we were able to spend more time exchanging ideas, which was a blessing in disguise.

 

What was your experience creating the video for “Righteous Alliance?”

Well actually the first video that we did, Levitation Hoax, we obviously weren’t able to attend the recording of that video because that was in Iceland and we weren’t able to get over there. Not Iceland, I beg your pardon, Finland, but for Righteous Alliance I wanted it to sort of be a bit sort of humorous at the beginning. So you got me walking into the music shop and my friend Sam, who actually owns that shop in Chester, Sam’s Guitars, who’s my guitar tech actually most of the time, he just played the part of the shop owner, sort of showing me this cool guitar. And I just wanted it to be a collage of all the videos that we’ve been sent over the last year or two through social media and just to get the fans involved and know so they can see the clip that they may have submitted. I thought that might be fun for them. So that’s how that video came together.

 

 

 

Can you talk more about the songs “Equilibrium Of Mankind” and “Grief Sequence?”

Equilibrium of Mankind, the name comes from the game EVE online and in my mind it’s all about just how many people are enough for Planet Earth. “The dawn of time is here” is a line that really came to mind at the very beginning of recording this album and that line is in fact the opening line in the song. “Align with the chosen one, king of the rising son.” We’re just basically talking about the dawn of man and charting our progress from then until now really. And I think obviously the album deals with death and warfare a lot and I think they are in some ways mankind’s own way of limiting its own progress.

 

 

And Grief Sequence, that song is super long. I wanted to write Cruel Number Two and then once we’d recorded it quickly realized that we couldn’t really put any vocals on there so it wouldn’t really work. It’s quite a flat landscape that song, in my opinion, in our opinion. So we spoke to Dave Perry who played bass and guitar briefly back in 2011, and he is and was a huge fan of synths and he played synth on the split that we did with Slomatics, the song Older Than Earth and Retaliator and Obsidian Sword. Two of those three songs have synths on them. So that’s all Dave’s work. And we just gave him the song and said, “Go for it. You take this away and make it your own.” And he did and what he’s produced is brilliant. We had a day in the studio and he’s created a song, overlaid his style on what is probably quite a run-of-the-mill sort of guitar and drum and bass sort of song. And he’s made it sound like a horror movie soundtrack and we love it.

 

 

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Monnos, can you talk about any fun memories from creating this record?

I don’t know. I think I had an amplifier blow in the studio when we were making that record, but honestly I don’t have a lot of memories of recording it because I used to smoke a lot of weed back then. Fortunately I don’t do that anymore. So hopefully if you ask me in 10 years any memories of recording Evidence of immortality, I’ll be able to help you a bit more with some anecdotes. But, yeah, Monnos was recorded at Folwell Studio, which actually is good actually because to record Evidence of Immortality there almost 10 years after we last recorded an album at Folwell, that’s kind of fitting. I think that’s a cool little anecdote on its own.

 

Do you have any plans for this year you can share with us?

Yeah, we got festivals coming up. We’re in Portugal, Brazil, Czech Republic. I beg your pardon. Not the Czech Republic, Poland. We’ve got a UK tour. We have actually got some shows coming up in Canada, October, November, which we’re working on. I think one or two of them have been announced already. So we are planning to tour. Next year we’ll be busier still. We’re going to go to the US, Australia, and New Zealand, maybe Europe as well. So we definitely are getting back in the flow of it. But obviously COVID slowed things down and you got to build them back up again slowly. We can’t just start touring again a hundred miles an hour. We got to let other people get their tours out the way first because there’s quite a bit of backlog.

 

Is there anything else you want to say or add?

Not a great deal, no, at the moment, we’re just waiting now to get playing Portugal next week. We’re playing at SonicBlast, that’s going to be a cool festival. So we’re flying out there from Luton Airport and we’re excited to get playing. I’m excited to play these songs live and thank you very much for the interest in the album and thanks for the opportunity to do this interview. Cheers. 

 

 

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