PeteFest Artists: Off Stage w/ Johnny Conqueroo

Meet the young rising stars of blues and psychedelic-rock, also known as the band Johnny Conqueroo. They’ve only been together for four years but they’re making some serious waves.

  • Wils Quinn-drummer
  • Shawn Reynolds-bass
  • Grant Curless-guitar & vocal

The band recently headed out on their first tour, playing states like West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan, with their last stop in Lexington, KY. The band will be playing an all-ages show on Friday April 13th at Al’s Bar at 8p.m. I recently sat down for an interview with the band to see what they’ve been up to on tour and to chat about their brand new single “Brick”and music video.

photo creds: Young-Eun Koepke. From left, Wils, Grant, and Shawn

Has being on tour together helped you all grow as musicians and writers?

Wils: Playing three nights, four nights in a row without any days in between has made us much more tight performance-wise.

Shawn: Towards the end we definitely had a streamlined performance down and that was really nice.

Wils: This was our first time doing it and we didn’t really know if it was gonna be easy or fun or if we were gonna hate each other but it was like a blast and definitely cemented the fact that we all definitely wanna keep doing it.

They all nodded when asked about more tours in the future, “In the summer” added Wils.

What was the inspiration behind the new album?

Shawn: We definitely wanted a more cohesive release because our first EP was like blues songs and then the one after that, the Washed Up album, was sort of a hodgepodge of different stuff that we really liked. This new one has a certain feel to it that every song has and you could almost make story. Wils: They’re rock and roll in execution and kind of western-y, it gets into a ‘doomy’ place every once in a while. Shawn: We just wanted something that was a hodgepodge of genres but had the same feel to it. Wils: We have one instrumental on there, it’s very creepy-sounding and we have like a big ole’ piano on it.

Wils then proceeded to try to mimic/imitate old piano sounds “it’s like bow, bum, bow”.

Shawn: Certainly “Brick” too.

“Brick” is the new single off their latest album.

Wils: “And there’s some ballads on there.”

Grant: “They’re a little bit more story.”

Wils: “I think these might be a little bit more story-driven whereas the last album was kind of just focused on the songs and lyrically we knew there was a little bit more there too”

Do the songs come from life stories that are personal to the band?

Grant: Maybe exaggerated in a way. I can’t say that, for instance, one of our songs is about killing yourself, and I can’t say that I necessarily wanna kill myself but at the same time, like it all starts from somewhere. They’re more personal than our last ones that are more about like dancing or something like that. I wouldn’t say necessarily say emotions, but….

Wils: There are emotions.

Wils: This album was the first thing we’ve recorded recently at a studio because the last two records were in my basement. Compared to the other two it was very fun and easy to do because we did it with Duane Lundy at Shangri-La studios and he has like an old house that’s all set up and it was super fun to work with him. We finished the recording in like two or three days. He had all these cool knick knacks fand stuff to play or us to play like organs and keyboards. We implemented some organs and keys and stuff, pianos.”

Grant: I think it’s the album just been waiting.

The band finished their newest album almost a year ago. The fans might have to wait for new music to be released but the band continues writing new music constantly, even playing some of it at their current shows.

Wils: We just wrote two songs today that we’re gonna be playing Friday cause we’re just eager.

The music video for the band’s catchy new song “Brick”, produced by Jack Dunavant and Johnny Conqueroo was just released a few days ago, so be sure to check it out here!

Wils: We filmed it in our basement with our friend Jackson Dunavant and we ended up having to film in the basement because we were gonna film it outside and then it ended up being like the coldest day of the year so we were like “okay scrap it, new plan” and we created this huge wall of amps and TVs and we have this one red light and we had a smoke machine and were like “okay this is perfect”. And then we just set up all of our gear in front of it and just jammed out to it.

Grant: “That was super incredible”.

Wils: And Jackson’s another person who’s super fun and easy to work with. We knew him from high school, he’s made videos with us and hung out with us for a long time .

Would you say Al’s Bar is Johnny Conqueroo’s home base and is there a favorite performance spot in Lexington?

Shawn: Definitely our first couple of shows, like when we were first starting, or best couple of shows in the beginning were at Al’s.

Wils: And Al’s has always been kind and friendly not only to us but we’ve had for a long time and still do like a younger crowd and a lot of the other bars are in the back. But Al’s has always given us all ages shows or 18+ but for the most part they give us all ages shows and they let the kids come in and they’re really cool for that.

Wils: I think our favorite place to play would probably be The Burl. It’s super fun and those guys are also all really nice and it sounds really awesome there.

What do you think of the current Kentucky music scene and Lexington in particular?

Wils: Lexington has got an awesome music scene. There’s always people that are like out-weirding each other but like you have to look around for it a little bit more cause it’s a smaller town. But there are just as many cool weirdos as there is in any other town.

Grant: But there’s also a lot of opportunities to see cool weirdos as well in Lexington

Wils: And since it’s small, everybody knows each other, it’s not that hard to see somebody and be like “oh that’s awesome” and then have have a show with them in a week or two. But yeah, everyone’s awesome, Lexington’s awesome. Louisville’s cool.

Grant: Yeah, Louisville’s got a great music scene too.

Wils: I think that the venues being more lenient on ages with like 18+ now becoming more and more of a norm brings in a younger crowd, and there’s a lot of bands. Like on the 13th we’re playing with People Planet and they’re all connected. The drummer of People Planet is my brother. The guitar player plays in another like doom band that’s nothing like People Planet and all these bands have friends in common.

What are your future plans for the band?

Wils: We’re pushing hard. We got an EP coming out in June, we’re planning on playing around the state before that and then after that, doing a summer tour to support it. Kind of trying to hit the same cities we did over spring break and some more.

Shawn: We’re gonna start recording more stuff.

Wils: We’re gonna get back in the studio with Duane and keep the momentum going. It’s like last year where we had that year when we were dying to put out music. We’re kind of at the point where we’re basically kind of caught up. We have these new songs, we’re gonna go record them and then we’re at the point where we’re writing and we’re gonna record and just keep putting out stuff. Wils said as he snapped his fingers.

Wils: We had been playing live that whole year and people would come to our show having listened to our CDs and they’d be like “oh so not a single song you played tonight was on this “and we’re like yeah it’s gonna be on a CD in a little while, trust me it’s gonna be awesome. We’d been waiting to put it out for a while and now it’s out and we’re all caught up.

Do you see people recognizing you on the street more now?

Wils: There was gigs where we would come and there wasn’t a ton of people there but everyone there was there to see us and that’s a super good feeling. Like there were only eight people in the crowd but half of them had our shirts on. And it was cool cause every city had one or two people who we knew or knew us somehow and hopefully over the summer we can keep cranking those numbers up.

How did you choose the cities that you toured?

Wils: We worked with a guy we met through the Green Lantern who booked a music festival there and he helped us. Like I said, this was our first time and we don’t really have the contacts and so he just kind of helped us using some places that he’s toured before. Brian was his name. He was just like “these are places I’ve been to before and these are good places and I’ll just call and see what I think” which probably helped us get in better than if it was just us.

Are you all excited to come back to PeteFest?

Shawn: We had an awesome experience at PeteFest.

Wils: We can’t wait, it’s gonna be so fun. We camped out and you guys let us have our own spot away from everyone else. It was like our own private villa.

Don’t miss Johnny Conqueroo’s final show of the tour and Single Release Show this Friday night at Al’s Bar and come see them at PeteFest in September!