With just one album in 2018’s ‘Mire’, British quartet Conjurer quickly became one of the most exciting prospects in extreme metal. Three years later without even a peek of album two, they’re on the main stage of Download Pilot.
That lack of new original material isn’t something that’s necessarily come about by choice though. Thanks to COVID, the band have been forced to put their yet-to-be-announced second album on hold whilst the band wait for all of this pandemic malarkey to blow over.
At the festival, we spoke with Conor Marshall about the forthcoming second album (spoiler: it’s completely finished and ready), working with Nuclear Blast Records, Tiger King, Twitch, and more.
DP!: So we’re at Download Pilot where you’ve just performed your first live show in well over a year. How was it playing a stage so big as the first show back?
C: Yeah, it was our first show since we started a European tour in early March 2020, so ages ago. Absolutely ages ago. I was ridiculously nervous, if not the most nervous that I’ve ever been for a gig. We’ve gone from not playing a show for 15 months and then going straight into the biggest gig that you’ve ever played, and you can’t really prepare for it. Obviously we had a few practices as a band to make sure we could still play the songs properly in time, but it’s just not the same. Just trying to get to here in the first place – don’t get COVID, don’t get pinged by the NHS app, all of that sort of stuff – makes you anxious, and then as soon as you know that you’re safe and that you’re actually coming, it’s just nerves.
DP!: Yeah, because you just know with sod’s law that on the day you’re about to turn up on site you get a ping, can’t come in, and have to turn yourself right back around.
C: Exactly. Where I work started having a load of pings. I don’t know if anybody actually got it, but it was real touch and go these last few weeks. We’re here now, we’ve done it, and nobody can take it away from me.
DP!: How was your lockdown? Did you pick up any lockdown hobbies at all?
C: There was no banana bread. I don’t like bananas so that was never an option, haha. Well, like almost everyone else I decided to start a Twitch channel, way too late though. I should’ve done it right at the start really but I didn’t do it until like a year into the pandemic, but the main reason was that was when stuff looked like it might be starting to go well again, and then it didn’t obviously. So I set it up and on there I do playthroughs of Conjurer songs just to keep in shape essentially. I feel like that was the only lockdown-y thing I did. I was very lucky with work because I wasn’t furloughed or anything like that, and I was able to work from home too, so it wasn’t too different other than having a lot more free time on my hands. I played a lot more Xbox than I’ve done in the past however many years though, completed Netflix too. I mean, how long ago was Tiger King? That was ridiculous.
DP!: Of course the thing that Conjurer fans are all waiting for the most is the second album. What’s the situation there? Where are you up to with that?
C: It’s done. The album is done, mixed, mastered, and ready to go. I’ve heard it, haha. The artwork is done, we’ve got an album title, all the song titles are finalised, we know what our singles are going to be, we know what order the singles are going to come out in. We just don’t have any dates for any of it, because essentially vinyl production – I don’t know the exact specifics, but it’s really difficult for anyone in the world to get a hold of the vinyl materials, so it’s not just us it’s anybody who wants to release a vinyl. That’s pushed us right back. We were hoping for mid to end of this year, but we honestly don’t know. We don’t want to say a date for it to get inevitably pushed back. We’d rather come out with a release date and stick to it than come out with a hopeful release date and push it back, then push it back again.
So, yeah, everything is good to go, we just don’t know when. It’s frustrating and this is always the frustrating bit of any album cycle; we want to share it with everyone and we want everyone to hear it, but at least if you know the release date even if it hasn’t been announced publicly, you’ve got an idea. We just have no idea. We’re with Nuclear Blast with it and they’re being great, we’re in constant contact with them, but they’re also being very honest with us and saying “We can’t put together a plan until we know a little more.” It’s there, the second Conjurer album exists, we just don’t know when we can show it to the world.
DP!: Other than the logistics that it has played into it being released as you’ve just mentioned, has the COVID pandemic and the frustrations and hurt its brought to people seeped into the album at all?
C: A little bit, yeah. We’re very slow songwriters because we nitpick a lot, and so it’s not like we had the album good to go and we’ve sat on it until we’re ready to record it through lockdown. We’ve been writing the whole time through lockdown, so I think that frustration and that feeling of being pent up inside for so long did creep its way in a little bit. It’s not like we’ve literally written a song about lockdown or anything like that and I don’t know how much it’s influenced it, but there’s definitely hints of it there. I also don’t think it’s changed the album so drastically and that it’s completely different to what it would’ve been a year ago. It is what it is, it’s the songs that we would’ve written. On one hand with COVID nothing good has come out of it, but on the other hand it gave us more time to work on the songs. It just also means people are now having to wait a lot longer to hear any of them unfortunately.
DP!: Was there any pressure at all when putting this together following the success you had with ‘Mire’? That album did really, really well for you guys.
C: I think it varies from person to person. I feel it a little bit, but I don’t know how much that is also because I wasn’t on ‘Mire’. I joined Conjurer just as they had finished up in the studio, so I didn’t record on it but I was a part of all of the promo, the gigs, and all of that sort of stuff. I feel a bit of a pressure with it because it’s my first one and I don’t want it to be that this is the album I’m fully proud of and people hate it. When you have such a buzz, because with ‘Mire’ and just off that one album we’ve done more than we though we’d ever do as a band in general, you don’t want to go from that to 5/10 reviews and no one really gives a shit anymore and we’re looked at like a what-could’ve been. It’s still a Conjurer album and there’s variation, but we don’t feel like there’s a complete departure from ‘Mire’. There’s definitely enough change and enough to keep it interesting, and not to sound egotistical or artsy, but I feel like we do a lot of stuff well. We’re not just a death metal band or a post-metal band, so even if we did technically do ‘Mire II’ I think there would still be enough in there. We’re really proud of it and hopefully everybody else likes it too.
DP!: You mentioned earlier about being signed to Nuclear Blast for this next album. What’s it been like working with them?
C: They’ve been great. Obviously we’re not too deep into our relationship with them because the album’s not out yet, and we’ll probably have a better idea when we are in the album promotion cycle and there’s secured dates. But, yeah, at the moment it’s a so far so good kind of thing. We were due to be working with them anyway but now we’re fully signed to them, and everyone that I’ve met and worked with so far has been lovely. They’re the nicest people and you can tell that they genuinely care, which is a big thing for us, because even though we were due to be kind of working with them anyway, when we were then without a label officially we did have offers from other labels and we did entertain some of those as genuine conversations, which Nuclear Blast were fine with. I always think we knew deep down that it would be Nuclear Blast because we already felt at home and we already got to meet them all beforehand, and we knew that they believed in the band. We landed on our feet and got very lucky.
DP!: It’s a bit up in the air at the moment, obviously, but what do you guys have planned for the rest of the year so far?
C: In theory, and assuming that they happen, we’ve got a few festivals like Bloodstock in a couple of months, Damnation, Brutal Assault, and that’s basically it. We’ve just announced Hellfest too but that’s not until next year. We’ve got a tour pencilled in but it’s next year, and that’s already been pushed back once as it was meant to be this year. So there’s nothing really that we can talk about, and not even in a hush hush secret way but that there’s literally no point in even mentioning it if it’s not going to happen or it’s going to get pushed back again.
Conjurer‘s yet-to-be-announced sophomore studio album is expected to be released in late 2021/early 2022 via Nuclear Blast Records.
The band’s debut album, ‘Mire’, is available now via Nuclear Blast Records.