Photos by Enlight Photography.
Johnny Conqueroo has become somewhat of a Lexington sensation, surprising most of its audience with the bands’ average age (17) and their impressive collective skill. They have a deep, primal sludge blues sound hearkening back to retro vinyls hidden in a dark corner of a dirty blues bar. We chatted with the fellows following their busy rock ‘n roll summer.
The bands’ rise has been pretty quick on the scene in Lexington. Was there a defining moment?
We hope the response maps to our sound and energetic live shows. We are thankful for the shows that have been offered to us. This keeps us away from the many contests and competitions tempting young bands these days. We try to avoid doing common covers, and we think original songs help define who we are as a band. A real turning point happened as we began to record our EP during spring break 2015. The EP allowed people to hear and experience our sound and broaden our fan base. This opened many doors for us, as we connected with several locally owned stores and organizations including WRFL, Morris Bookshop, Chevy Chase Shops, Smiley Pete, CD Central, and more.
Talk about your childhoods. Do you come from musical families?
Grant’s parents are not musicians, but he credits them for guiding him towards great teachers and performance opportunities. Shawn and Wils both grew-up in houses full of musical instruments, with frequent family jam sessions. All members were pretty comfortable with music performance at a young age.
Who is the primary writer? Talk about the writing process.
Most of the songs start with Grant’s licks. The early ideas are always changing as we add the best fitting parts, rhythms, and arrangements at our frequent rehearsals. At times we invite other people to record and collaborate with us, it just to keep things open and spicy. One song in particular is a true story, which Grant’s sings in first person, although it’s about a family member.
What records shaped your musical minds?
When thinking back, before the days of Spotify and youtube, we listened to our parents records: Black Sabbath, Black Keys, Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Jack White, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Sly and the Family Stone, The Meters, and P-Funk. Nowadays we’re mostly finding music on-line, and are influenced by live music. Most recently we are digging Reignwolf – this band is amazing.
When thinking about collaboration, we have to include bands we love, but are our of our genre. For example, any members of the following would be fun to work with: Ty Segall, Jeff the Brotherhood, Mac DeMarco, Fidlar, Jack White, Moses Hightower and Leon Bridges.
Talk about your new self-titled EP. Any new plans in the works?
The interesting thing about the EP is that we were really just recording our rehearsals, as we continued to save our money to go into a real studio. We decided our “basement recordings” sounded good enough, and it allowed us to self-fund and self-produce our own record which was a great experience. Recently we have been fortunate to work with several people interested in helping us take the band to the next level. Meanwhile we keep writing, recording and rehearsing for upcoming shows and our next EP.
Any upcoming gigs you’d like to highlight?
For more information of Johnny Conqueroo, visit their website, and find them on Facebook.