Following a string of show stealing performances last summer, More Than Conquerors rise to one of Belfast’s shinning stars has always had a sense of inevitably about it. With two EPs under their belts and countless ringing endorsements from Radio 1 – these four lions are ready to shake off the tags of promise and potential, and take on rest of the UK full stream ahead. Before things start to shift into full gear we were able to grab a pre-album status report.
▶ With your debut album almost complete and set to be released in September, have you ever gotten itchy feet and wanted to release it sooner rather than wait?
Kris Platt (Vocals/Guitar): I’ve wanted it out for a long time. I wrote it almost a year and a half ago. We’ve been recording it, mixing and then mastering it ever since then. It is annoying sitting on it but we know it’s for the best. It’s gives us more time to do things with it, build the right team to make it the best record it can be. It’ll be great.
▶ How did the album come together? Are you the type of band who write tens of songs then choose the gems, or do you have a more refined writing process?
We didn’t have fifty songs or anything like that. As a band we probably haven’t written anywhere near fifty songs. Before we started the process of sitting down and writing songs for the album I had a number of songs which I had wrote. However they were awful, really terrible, but it was because I was thinking too much about it. So I talked to Jamie and he told me to just pick up my acoustic guitar. Once I was able to shake off that pressure I was putting on myself it all started to come out.
I remember being in my bathroom – I mostly write music in the bathroom by the way, I don’t know why, I just like the sound. But I remember being in there at 2am, singing a song which eventually become “Amounts To Nothing”. It just all came together there and then. People were banging the walls to keep the noise down, but I didn’t stop, I finished the song that night.
▶ You’ve just announced that the name of your debut album will be “Everything I’ve Learnt”. Was the a particular reason for choosing that title?
The album title comes from the lyric ‘Everything I’ve learnt amounts to nothing’. We’ve been a band for nearly 4 years and in that period we’ve had some hard times. We’ve toured with no money in our pockets, eaten too many bags of carrots and hummus and lost two vehicles along the way, amongst other nightmarish situations. Things like these should break up a band but we’ve only gotten closer. We’ve met the most amazing people, played the most amazing shows and been to places we wouldn’t get to see if we were working 9-5. This album is 11 tracks of pent up aggression, frustration, bewilderment and a sense of weird belonging. It’s everything we’ve learnt.
❝We’ve been excited about that song for a long time. We only started playing it live the other day. It’s so heavy and dirty. It’s lethal!. ❞
▶ During those low times what bands did you look to for inspiration, to keep pushing you towards your goals?
I enjoy the humble side of music. Packing all your stuff in a van, finding places to play and new people to meet. Yesterday when we played a show in Lancashire and we met some amazing people. People which we’d never have known had it not been for the band. To me at least it’s those moments which make it all worth while.
When you’re talking about bands I have two things which I look for. I really like big production and I like to see a good live/stage show. Black Flag and Fugazi are the masters at that for me. I’d put Nirvana on our list too, it’s cliched right now but it’s true. Those guys were getting bored of their hometowns. They got bored of doing the same things so they decided to change it. Which they did. I guess thats why I look up to them.
▶ Are you saying that the band could take similar steps as other acts recently and leave Northern Ireland?
Maybe. I can’t say that it hasn’t crossed my mind. I sometimes think that we should leave and go to Scotland but I don’t think that will happen anytime soon. We’ve been a band in Belfast for so many years now so it’s natural to have those thoughts. We all have to leave Northern Ireland at some point.
▶ Since your first self-titled EP in 2010 your music has become much more heavier with an aggressive edge to it. Why do you think this has been the case?
I think it comes from the music we listen to. I grew up with metal. Real big riffs. I don’t know why but I just really like aggressive music. It’s the feeling it gives you perhaps. It’s the feeling it gives me anyway. Since that EP I started putting more riffs in, dropping the guitar down lower for each song we did and for the album it’s all very low which is great.
▶ Most of your songs are unique in the sense that they are told in the style of parables/stories. As the main lyricist would you say there is a particular reason for this?
No. There is a lot of times where I would write something without an idea in my head before hand. It’s an interesting way of looking at it but I don’t think I made a conscious decision to write in that way.
▶ After four years of being a band describe the feeling of having your debut record in your hands for the first time?
It was great. I opened it and I nearly cried. The art work is amazing. It’s done by our friend Glen Kennedy and looks incredible. Tim Farrell did a brilliant job with the graphic design too. I can’t wait for people to see it and have it in their own hands.
▶ Can you reveal what songs are set to feature on the album?
Previous single “When The Well Runs Dry” is on there along with “Smoke,Trees, Lungs, Knees” and “Pits Of Old” which we’ve been playing live for a while. We’ve also got “Hearth And Home”, “Try – Antlers” which we’ve just released and “Six Weeks” which has been a big favourite of a few people.
▶ Do you have any favourites to play live?
‘Try – Antlers’ is my personal favourite at the moment. We’ve been excited about that song for a long time. We only started playing it live the other day. It’s so heavy and dirty. It’s lethal!
▶ Songs such as ‘When The Well Runs Dry’ sound absolutely massive when played live. How were you able to channel your live sound into a studio recording?
We’ve always done a lot of the recording ourselves. We recorded each instrument in various different studios and locations. From our flat to STA Studios to a Church. I guess that what makes our music sound the way it does.
▶ As a Northern Irish musician in 2013 what did you think of the film ‘Good Vibrations’?
I didn’t really know the history of what happened at that time in the Belfast music scene but I thought it was amazing. At one point I actually shed a tear, it was when they got their record played by John Peel twice in a row. That was just the sickest thing.
It made me really proud to be apart of the Belfast music scene today. It will always be our home no matter what happens in the future.
▶ Outside of that, what’s your own personal favourite music film/bio-pic?
I really like Joy Division one ‘Control’. I do remember watching “Some Kind Of Monster” though. I actually watched it in the cinema, it was awful.
▶ Jame Neish is not the Lars Ulrich of the band then?
No. Thank goodness he’s not. Lars is one a weirdo isn’t he?
▶ We’ve got to talk about your recent crowd invading escapades. You’ve started to become well known for bringing your guitars and mics into the crowd during songs, with shows at Glasgowbury, Forfey and Auntie Annies serving as memorable examples. How did that all start?
It started in a Church actually, haha. I don’t know what came over me I just did it. It’s fun and that’s why we do it. Sometimes when you’re playing a show you feel as though you’d just standing there doing nothing. I like to move to feel comfortable on stage. I’m so tired of seeing bands get up, play a show and leave leave to a polite round of applause. Wise up! Get in their face!
▶ Do you plan it before hand?
Usually we decide on stage. I’ll look at Danny (Ball, Guitar) or Mo (Danny Morton, Bass) and give them a nod. We change up who goes into the crowd too. It’s a different combination every night.
▶ You’ve had no issues from punters then?
There was one time we played in Whealan’s (Dublin) and there was one guy who kind of annoyed us throughout the show. So when it came to “Bear Knuckle Fight” the three of us went into the crowd and surrounded him. We played the song as hard as we could, screaming the vocals at him.
The guy came up to us after the show – in fact, we was Russian. He loved it. I remember him coming up to me and in his thick accent he said that it was the best thing he’d ever seen and that we were “so rock ‘n’ roll!”. He wanted a CD off us so I came up to him with our two EPs and said that it was €10. He opened his wallet and handed me €100. I turned it down at first but he was adamant we accepted it and forced the money into my hand saying “you take this!”.
That why we do it now, we’re just waiting for another €100! haha.
▶ If you had to call it quits as a band right now, what would you look back on as your stand out moment?
I could say T in the Park or Glasgowbury but I don’t think that it is the case. Just being able to do what we’re doing, as a group of friends playing music, that is the highlight for us. Right now we’re on tour and today in a new day, today is the current highlight of being in this band. Right now is what matters.
▶ How does other local bands “calling it a day” affect you? Does it concern yourselves or make you work harder?
We were actually thinking about this the other day about how many bands have come and gone. It’s really scary but I’ve never thought about not being in this band before. This is what I do and I don’t want anything else.
▶ What can we expect between now and the end of the year?
Some big shows we which can’t talk about yet. A few festivals hopefully. Then when the album is out we’ll go back on tour.
▶ In three words what is the album going to be like?
Heavy…Raw and…Fun? That’s the worst three ever. That makes it sound like Metallica with jokes. Haha. I can’t do it, but the album is good. We hope people will really like it.
▶ Finally if we are to make this meet up an annual affair, what do you hope to have achieved by this time next year?
Attract a crowd that packs out venue and is so loud you can’t hear me answer the questions. That’s what you’ve got to aim for.