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Culture Northern Ireland's Mark Ashby Interviews More Than Conquerors Ahead Of Belfast Music Week

"I've heard lots of bands say that their new album is more mature, and I never really understood the concept. Now I do. There's just something more with these songs. They're more honest and more raw. We're maturing as people, so it makes sense that our music comes along with us."

More Than Conquerors play Belfast Music Week.

The alt rock quartet gear up for the Belfast Music week showcase gig having made the Radio 1 A playlist and recorded a new album.

Mark Ashby interviews:

So, vocalist and guitarist Kris Platt, let’s start at the beginning: for readers who may not be familiar with More Than Conquerors, perhaps a potted history is in order...

We are four guys – myself, Danny Ball on guitar, Danny Morton on bass and Jamie Neish on drums – aged between 20 and 24. Three of us come from Belfast and the other comes from a small village called Magheralin [County Down]. We met on a TV show called ATL Rock School, when we were in separate bands. We then joined forces for a battle of the bands competition and came first. Then we signed to indie label Smalltown America. The rest is history…

You played major Scottish music festival T In The Park in 2012. How was that as an experience?

It was incredible. We got to see so many amazing bands that we wouldn't get to see otherwise, which was a real treat. Our show was amazing. By the time we came on, the tent was packed and everyone seemed to be getting really into it. We saw an increase in Scottish fans for sure after that show.

That was followed by "Bear Knuckle Fight" being featured on Radio 1’s A playlist. How important has that been for you?

It was a big step for us. Hearing Greg James and Fearne Cotton say your name never gets normal, so it really meant a lot to us. After the DJs played the track, people were texting in, mainly focusing on our live show, which was huge for us. We see ourselves mainly as a live band: recordings should just be a plus.

Why do you think they picked that track?
I'm not sure. Cowbell maybe?

You’ve released two EPs to date, 'More Than Conquerors' in 2010 and 'Boots & Bones' in 2011, both of which have been very well-received, and now the first album is on the way. Tell us about it.

The new album was recorded all over the place. We did drums and a bit of guitar in a church. We did the bass and some more guitar in the Smalltown America studios in Derry~Londonderry and then the vocals were done in our flat. It was very scattered and sometimes a bit strenuous, but I think that's what's given the album its sound.

Do you feel that the album is a progression for you as a band?
I've heard lots of bands say that their new album is more mature, and I never really understood the concept. Now I do. There's just something more with these songs. They're more honest and more raw. We're maturing as people, so it makes sense that our music comes along with us.

The first single, "When The Well Runs Dry", was released at the beginning of October 2012. Are you pleased with how it has been received?

I think it was the perfect track to be released first. It gives a taste of the album, sound and theme, without giving too much away. We're really happy with how it's been received. We haven't heard a bad report yet, so hopefully it continues.

What are the challenges ahead with the release of the album?

The constant touring that will be involved. It's all we want to do, but you can get tired very quickly. It hasn't stopped us before and it certainly won't this time around. We just can't wait until it's out so we can start playing and people can start listening to it.

Belfast Music Week is here again, running in venues across the city from November 4 - 11, 2012. You’re playing the big Belfast Music Week Showcase gig in the Limelight complex on Thursday, November 8. Are you looking forward to it?
We're just back from a five-week tour of the UK so, honestly, we've hardly had a chance to think about it. It's the first time we've been involved with Belfast Music Week, so it's pretty important to us that we make a good impression.

The line-up is quite impressive, with the likes of The Wonder Villains, David C Clements, Katherina Phillipa, A Plastic Rose and Runaway GO also performing on the night. What other bands on the bill are you looking forward to seeing yourselves?
The line-up for the night is incredible so we're excited for all the acts. It's always nice to see LaFaro though.

How important do you think events such as Belfast Music Week are for profiling the wealth of talent that we currently have not just in Belfast, but in the whole of Northern Ireland?
We've toured many times on the mainland and played with hundreds of bands. Without sounding biased, the music in the UK doesn't even come close to Ireland. It's time people started realising this and started turning their attention over here without bands having to fight their way across the mainland just to get noticed.

Do you agree that last year’s MTV European Music Awards created a momentum that has enabled Northern Irish acts to gain the spotlight?
Everyone knows the bigger bands that hail from here like Snow Patrol and Two Door Cinema Club, but the MTV EMAs showcased the smaller bands that really make our music scene what it is. It was extremely important and I just hope the spotlight stays on Ireland for a little longer.

There has always been a music scene in Belfast. When we started there were pioneering bands like Six Star Hotel and Panama Kings showing the way. As they started to break away there were always bands to take their place and make sure that the local scene was constantly thriving. I can't see music dying in Belfast anytime soon.

When The Well Runs Dry is out now via Smalltown America Records. More Than Conquerors play the Belfast Music Week 2012 Showcase at The Limelight complex on Thursday, November 8. Admission is free and you can register for tickets (maximum two per person) at The Limelight Facebook page or by emailing The Limelight.

 

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