Interview by Tony Cannella
I first had the pleasure of seeing Conquer Divide in 2015 on the All-Stars Tour. It was at a gig on that tour that I had the chance to interview the two lead singers, Janel and Kiarely. I have to say that it was one of the funnest interviews I’ve ever done. Now, with a year of touring behind them the band is looking towards writing and recording new music. We recently caught up with the bands lead guitarist Kristen to talk about this past year, what is coming in the future… and beer pong! Read on…
How are you Kristen?
First off, I wanted to ask you about your new video for the song “What’s Left Inside”. What can you say about it?
It’s a song very close to my heart. It’s probably my favorite on the album, but I’m a bit biased because I wrote most of it. It’s a song about a strained relationship with my father growing up, I guess it still is to an extent to this day. I guess I wasn’t really a model citizen in his eyes, following the standard path of going to college, getting a career, settling down, having kids type of thing. I kind of pursued my dream which he’s not very approving of. I think a lot of kids and adults can relate to the song. It’s generally about not feeling like you’re good enough; maybe an authority figure or even your peers making you not feel good enough, I guess this song was kind of a result of that. It was fifteen years of pent up anger that I got out in about ten minutes. It just kind of flowed right out onto the paper.
It is my favorite song on your self-titled debut, too. It must have been cathartic for you to write that song.
Yeah, absolutely. Like I said, I didn’t even really have to think about it, it just kind of flowed right out. Traditionally when we write songs, we start with the guitar and we just mess around with different riffs and we build the song from there, but this one started out on an acoustic guitar, and the lyrics took front and center.
Your self-titled debut has been out for about a year now. Lyrically, you sing about a lot of things that I think your fans can relate to. How important is it to make a connection with your audience?
It’s absolutely important. I think that’s the whole point of doing this, in general, is making a deeper connection with fans, and trying to take a negative situation or circumstance that may have happened to us that a lot of other people can relate to and turning it into something positive; like an anthem or something, to help other people get through it, too, to know they’re not alone, they’re not the only ones this is happening to.
How does it feel when you see that the audience is getting it and you are making that connection?
You know, I was approached by a gentleman – probably in his 40’s – at one of our shows on the last tour we did, he wanted to talk to me about “What’s Left Inside” because he had such a connection with it. He said it reminded him of his dad, and he was almost in tears, he almost made me cry. It’s still a hard song for me to get through, I sometimes tear up just when listening to it, just the fact that somebody else can relate to it on that level, it really means a lot. Even though I went through a shitty situation growing up, maybe it wasn’t all in vain and some good came out of it.
I spoke to Kiarely and Janel at the All-Stars Tour last year. That was the first and only time I’ve seen the band and I thought you were great. What has Conquer Divide been up to since that tour?
We just got done touring with Capture the Crown. Right now we’re just kinda taking a break, writing and catching our breath a little bit after this last tour. We’re working on an acoustic album, which should be out hopefully by the end of this year. We’re going to take some of our songs and just strip them down, and kind of look at them in a different light. I think it will be really interesting for the fans and for us as well.
That sounds really cool. Is it going to be an EP or a full-length?
I think we’re just going to do an EP; I think that’s the plan right now. I don’t know, I guess we’ll see how it goes once we get into it. We just have to let the songs define themselves and see which ones stick and which ones don’t. I don’t know if every song will be convertible into an acoustic format, but we’ll mess around with it and see. We’ve actually already released one of the songs for Japan, unfortunately we were not able to release it here, but it’s on the Japanese version of our album, it’s an acoustic version of “Eyes Wide Shut”.
Have you begun writing for your next album yet?
Oh yeah. We’re always writing. We’ve got a few songs in the works. We’re not trying to rush it, we’re trying to do what we did last time, I guess, we’re just going to take our time and do the best we can on every single song.
Your self-titled debut has been out for a year. Are you pleased with how it has been received?
Yeah, absolutely. We’ve had so much positive feedback. I couldn’t be happier with the feedback we’ve gotten for it.
I definitely love it. When I spoke with Kiarely and Janel, they spoke a lot about having to deal with a lot of stupid comments on the internet. Has the positive drowned out the negative at this point?
It think it comes with the territory and it just comes with being on YouTube in general, and that’s what I try to tell the girls. You’ll see a video that has a 99 % like ratio and maybe only 1 % dislikes, but then all of the comments are just shading on the video. People, when you think about it, they won’t go out of their way to write a nice comment, it’s usually the haters that talk the loudest.
It’s true. It’s not cool to say anything nice about something, people would rather criticize. I’ve never understood that mindset.
It’s kind of a herd mentality almost, where when one person gets in on it, then they all kind of start. I try not to take it to heart too much, because I don’t think it is an accurate reflection of what our fans think of our music. It’s like that for just about everything. You could go on a video of a puppy playing with a ball and see hater comments. (laughs)
Lyrically your debut record had a fair amount of anger on it. Will the lyrics on your next album follow a similar path?
I think it will be a little more spread out, I want to say. It will be a little more varied. We had a lot of pent up anger we wanted to get out on this first record, but I think it will be a little different on the second record. Obviously there will still be sometimes where we have to get some of that rage out (laughs); I guess that’s the whole point of metal, but like I said I think it will be a little more varied on the second album. All of the girls have different influences. Having such a wide range of influences is going to impact the lyrical content, because we all contribute to the vocals, it’s not just one person, it’s a collaborative effort.
After the release of your debut, are there any moments that stood out for you as highlights?
We had a lot of cool stuff happen. One of our songs was featured on an NHL commercial, so that was pretty cool, it was for the Detroit Red Wings. There are different moments and things that have stood out to me. We had a fun time on all of our tours. We did some fun tour pranks to each other. At the end of this last tour, which was pretty memorable, we pranked Capture the Crown. During their set we rolled on with a beer pong table and just started playing beer pong right in the middle of their set. Stuff like that is what sticks out to me, touring, having fun, meeting fans and having the time of my life.
We’ve come to end of the interview Kristen. In closing, doing you have any final words for your fans?
Watch our video, please share it and like it. We love you guys and come out and see us on our next tour.