Conquering, the latest album from Employed To Serve, is out now. We caught up with vocalist Justine Jones, who fills us in on the new record, tour plans, running a record label and other topics.
Chad Bowar: How did the songwriting process for Conquering compare to your previous albums?
Justine Jones: It was really nice to be able to concentrate on just writing and recording the album this time round, usually we’d have to fit it in between touring and social lives. It was a very welcome distraction over the past few months when it felt like the world was ending!
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
It’s a really weird one for me, I think it was the commuting to the studio and experiencing how dead all of the motorways were… it felt very 28 Days Later!
How did the pandemic impact the creation of the album?
I think it made us write a more positive record. At the time of writing and recording we felt very fortunate to be able to have an income and roofs over our heads when so many people sadly didn’t. We also felt that the world didn’t need another negative record right now, so we decided to go for a self-empowering album instead!
You worked with Lewis Johns again. What does he bring to the table?
We couldn’t ask for a better producer to work with. We’ve used him for all four albums at this point because he’s just that good. He brings out the best in everyone he records and has such a patient demeanor that really helps. He somehow improves every time we go back to him. I would give him a 10/10 on Tripadvisor any day of the week.
How has the band’s sound evolved from Eternal Forward Motion?
We’ve purposefully gone for a more metal sound as we didn’t want to write anything similar to our previous albums. It was a really fun process trying to up our game on this record and getting to know our new members.
What inspired your lyrics this time around?
The big theme of this album is self-empowerment and conquering your own ego. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the negatives in life that are thrown your way, so we wanted to fight back against negative thinking.
How was the video shoot for “Mark Of The Grave”?
It’s the most fun I’ve ever had filming a music video! It was utterly joyous and we’re so pleased with the end result. Ryan Mackfall is a brilliant director. We shot it all in front of a green screen so we had no idea how it was going to turn out, which was a fun change.
How important are videos in the promotion process these days?
I still think they’re very important, they’re a good way of introducing band members and to add a visual aspect to the album.
What was your first post pandemic show like?
Euphoric! We knew we missed playing live but didn’t realize just how much until we played Download festival. It was insane going from our practice room straight to playing mainstage at Download.
Do you have any other shows planned prior to next year’s Gojira tour?
We’re hoping to announce some headline shows later in 2021, so keep a lookout!
Do you think streaming live shows (with an audience) will continue? It seems like a good way
to reach more fans in places you aren’t touring.
Yeah, I think they’re great! It’s all extra ways venues and bands can sustain themselves and gives fans opportunities to watch bands if they can’t make it down to a show.
Has running a record label changed your perspective on your own music?
Yeah, for sure! It hasn’t directly affected our music but it does make me more on the lookout for new bands and ones that we can take on tour. I get a lot of enjoyment out of helping bands tick things off their bucket lists!
What releases does Church Road have coming up?
We currently have a release every month which is insane! We have Blodet – Vision out 24th September (FFO: Swans, Amenra), Slow Crush – Hush out 22nd October (FFO: My Bloody Valentine, M83), Voices – Breaking the Trauma Bond 26th November (FFO: Nick Cave, Akercocke) and Mondaze – Late Bloom 10th December (FFO: Pinkshinyultrablast, Slowdive). Plus loads more next year! you can check them out here.
Is Glorious working on new material?
We’ve just recorded a new EP so that should be out at some point next year!
What are some of your non-musical interests/hobbies?
I’ve recently gotten back into gaming on my Nintendo, I’m a big fan of all of the Dragonball Z games, Pokemon and I’ve recently started playing Zelda. It’s a great way of switching off! I also really got into playing The Sims on my phone during lockdown. I could live vicariously through them as I couldn’t go out and they could (tragic I know!).
What’s the best thing you’ve binge watched lately?
Ooo, loads! New ones I’ve watched and loved are Schitt’s Creek, Sabrina (the Netflix version) and Dark. I also re-watch the whole of Friday Night Lights and Gilmore Girls every year.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Portrayal of Guilt – We Are Always Alone, Fleshwater – Demo, Gulch and God’s Hate are the main ones!
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
If you love heavy music, go and check out everything 20 Buck Spin, Relapse, Closed Casket and Triple B put out! All of their bands have kept me sane during lockdown.
(interview published September 21, 2021)
Watch Employed To Serve – “Mark Of The Grave” Video