Holding the Keys to Success
Numerous bands have nearly the same blueprint for how they began. Typically, a group of friends either scrape up enough money or have parents nice enough to purchase them their first music equipment. Countless hours are then spent learning instruments and honing a craft and style.
Conquer Divide, comprised of six young women, have a different and unique story about their formation. Founding members Sarah (bass) and Kristen (guitar) hail from Detroit, Michigan. They were friends from a previous project, but admit that it wasn’t easy rounding out the rest of the members. Many ads were placed on several online platforms hoping to find like-minded females that would mesh with their sound. It was estimated that a couple hundred women from around the world auditioned for three spots in the band: second guitarist, drummer and vocalist.
It was Sarah and Kristen’s goal to find new members that were not only talented, but also dedicated. Their wish was granted with the addition of Janel (screaming vocals), Kiarely (vocals), Tamara (drums) and Izzy (guitar). However, one glaring obstacle for the group is trying to make logistics work with members residing in Michigan, Texas, California and the United Kingdom. It is quite apparent that drive, determination and desire allow for Conquer Divide to be one unit.
Their convergence results in an intriguing blend of metalcore and pop rock. Upon listening, one cannot ignore the fierce guitar riffs and solid rhythm section. The dual vocal tandem of Kiarely and Janel showcases aggressive and melodic affinity. These elements caught the attention of Sacramento’s own Artery Recordings, who are responsible for releasing the group’s forthcoming self-titled debut.
Prior to embarking on The All Stars Tour 2015 for a solid month, bassist Sarah discussed life on the road, significance of keys, legalization of same-sex marriage and much more.
Your bio suggests it was tough finding females that fit the mold. Can you elaborate on that and how Conquer Divide came to be?
Kristen and I met nearly 10 years ago through the Detroit music scene and played in a previous band together. She hit me up a few years ago and pitched the idea of getting a new band together. She sent me some ideas and I was immediately interested, but we knew we needed other members. Some people assume we were a group manufactured from a record label, but that’s not the case. We looked for potential band mates locally in Detroit, but had a rough time finding females that were dedicated and interested in playing our style of music. For example, we had auditioned some great singers that weren’t into screaming during our aggressive breakdown parts. We put out several ads on Reverbnation, Craigslist and Facebook trying to find the right fits. Some people contacted us and didn’t show enough initiative, but others, even Izzy [from the United Kingdom] thought we were a flat out scam … We eventually gained people’s trust and proved we were real through Skype and recruited Tamara and Izzy through YouTube. We found Janel in Austin, Texas. Her vocal range as a screamer and presence as a frontwoman has taken us over the top. We got so lucky to find her the way we did and just a week before we went in the studio to record our debut album!
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a band thus far?
The physical distance between band members is tough. Izzy is allowed to work for us on an entertainment visa from the U.K., Janel lives in Austin and Tamara resides in Sacramento. Since we all live in different states, we have to consistently practice on our own to stay fresh.
We’re afraid we’ll be judged based on our look or the fact that we’re all females, but we want to prove people wrong and challenge people to come to our shows to see for themselves. Everyone buys into the notion of being famous and making money, but we want to inspire younger generations just as we were.
How are you preparing for upcoming the 2015 All Stars Tour?
Once everyone arrives to Detroit, we’ll literally be rehearsing every day to make sure we’re airtight. We’ve been learning from our experiences of the recent full U.S. Confessions tour with Alesana and are currently entering a summer tour with far more bands on each bill without a tour manager, so we have to cut our set length and be extremely punctual about every aspect. We now rehearse as if we’re on stage; we set up, play and then breakdown with allotted set times in mind. This tour will be a good test because we get experience under our belts and help prepare us for what comes next by hardening our skin. We’ve learned to better anticipate the unforeseen issues that can happen on the road like having vehicle mechanical issues or getting ripped off.
Who would be on your “dream” tour?
As far as bands similar to our genre, I’d have to say Killswitch Engage and Parkway Drive.
We appreciate a lot of different styles and people probably assume we just listen to metalcore, but Kiarely would probably say Miley Cyrus because she seems like a fun person to tour with and is such a great performer.
How did your relationship with Artery Recordings come about?
Eric Rushing [label CEO] reached out to us initially. We had a few labels that were interested, but Artery is an incredible, fun and hardworking team. We were nervous meeting them at SXSW, but they proved to be all super chill cool guys. We ask a lot of questions and they’re always super helpful, cordial and communicate very well. They don’t back us in a corner or push us into things. We don’t want to be known as just the six-piece, all-female metalcore band and felt like other labels might try to narrowly market us that way.
What can listeners expect from your forthcoming debut album?
Fans can expect diversity from song to song. The album is metal-based, but a few songs are very melodic and have no screaming at all. We were so excited to have Joey Sturgis [Of Mice and Men, Asking Alexandria] produce our record. Joey worked really hard and pushed us to be better along the way. His structures, dynamics and the way he can put electronics in a song is amazing to us. The hope is that the listening experience will be fun for people and that everyone can relate to our music. My ultimate goal is to be driving by someone who is listening to our album in his or her car.
Your album pre-order comes with a skeleton key. Is there any significance to that?
I love keys. I have a collection of keys and have a tattoo of a key. When I was younger I watched and read The Secret Garden and always wanted to find a key to a secret place. There is a key in all of us to unlock our potential as musicians.
Today, the Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage? Where do you stand on the issue?
I think it’s a sigh of relief. Life should be about love. I have relatives and friends that are homosexuals. It should have been legal a long time ago. I feel marijuana should be legalized as well. I don’t smoke marijuana, but there are so many benefits involved, like CBD’s eliminating cancer cells for instance. People don’t take the time to get educated on certain topics; they only choose to blindly criticize things. I just hope that this ruling makes people happy because this country needs a boost in morale.
See Conquer Divide on July 22, 2015, at Ace of Spades as part of the All Stars Tour, which features Upon a Burning Body, Dance Gavin Dance, A Skylit Drive and many others. Tickets are $20 for this all-ages, all-day show that gets underway at 2 p.m. For more info, go to Aceofspadessac.com.