When I got the CD of Conan's First Date I had no idea what to expect, it was my first encounter with the Hungarian band. To learn more about Conan's First Date I sent over some questions which were answered by singer and guitarist Márton Bencze.
Please tell us a bit about the beginning of CFD!
It all started in 2008, when Erik showed some of his new ideas and riffs to us. At that time, we were playing in different bands, but we knew each other very well since we have all been playing in almost the same bands during the past few years. So Erik's ideas were a bit different than anything else we did before, and we thought it would be great to start a new band using these riffs. So there was me, Erik, Gergö and finally we asked Nikosz (our former drummer) to participate in Conan's First Date.
And how did you come up with the band name!
Actually, it was our first singer's idea, and to be honest I don't know what made him to come up with this idea. But we thought that it's so awkward and somehow cool, that we should keep it. However, we are huge fans of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Conan of course, so that is another thing that made us to keep this name.
Effigies is a 'double EP' - so to speak. It's your first recordings The Werewolf Rising and the new tunes as Effigies. The biggest surprise is the cover version of the Dune tune Million Miles From Home. Why this cover version?
Well, we all loved Dune when we were around 12-13. We thought that this cover would be a great opportunity to show that we like to think in different terms. The melodies, and the song itself is very catchy, and we wanted to try out how it would go with a more metallic sound. I think it makes more sense to completely re-think the song that you do a cover for, and not just replay the original one. So in the end it turned out to be very different from the original, and it earned a completely new feeling.
One wouldn't expect a metal band to cover Dune, but which bands / artists influence(d) you?
We have a lot of bands that we like in common. For example: Soilwork, Opeth, Morbid Angel, Nevermore, Edge Of Sanity, Fear Factory or Devin Townsend and even some black metal bands like Emperor. I cannot mention any artist or artists who would inspire us more than the others. Lately, we have been listening to a lot of music that I often hear as referred to as djent, which include artists like Animals As Leaders, Tesseract or Periphery. I think these bands give a whole new taste to metal music and it helps the genre to stay innovative.
How important is it for you to be open-minded? To combine elements of different genres?
That's the single most important thing when making music. Indeed, we are a metal band, so we won't play anything else than metal of course, but this genre itself is so diverse and wide that it can be inspiring for a long time. But of course there are several elements like song structuring or engineering which can be borrowed from other styles of music. The hardest thing is always to stay true to your genre and not to get into the same circles again and again. Besides, you always have to come up with something different. I think one the best examples of an artist who always does something different but still has his own style is Devin Townsend. We have always admired his work because there is a slight humor and self-irony about his music which is also a very important thing for a musician to possess.
You did a video for The Werewolf Rising. Is it important to have a video these days?
Yes, absolutely. It's very important to have some visual material of the band, especially when you are making such music as we do. Beside this, we have been producing and recording that video with some friends of ours. Luckily we have some guys around us who are experienced in this kind of thing. Also, since there is Youtube, if you hear about a new band you check them on Youtube, where else, and see if there is a video of them. At least, this is what I experience. In our case, a lot of people got to know us because of this video. For a lot of people, it's more fun to see the band as well, especially when the video looks good or is entertaining to watch.
With social media it's a lot easier to get in touch with metal fans, how important is it for a band like you which isn't from a 'metal hotspot'?
Yes, the Hungarian metal scene is not too well-known around Europe or anywhere else in the world. But you would be surprised how many bands are there in Hungary. Especially rock and metal bands. Making yourself heard in other countries, that's another story. Although a lot of Hungarian metal bands are not part of the European metal scene, there is a plenty of nice bands here.. I hope that more and more Hungarian bands will have a greater recognition outside the country because there are bands, which would really deserve it. But as I've mentioned, breaking a certain barrier in your band's career in Hungary is a very tough job and takes a lot of time and money which needs a very firm decision and a huge commitment from the band.
Effigies was released in 2009, are you satisfied with the reactions you got?
Yes, so far so good. We have received diverse reviews, but that's natural, I think. Our first reviews were from Hungarian magazines, and mostly they gave us the highest scores. Later on, we started to receive some criticism as well from fanzines of other countries, but we like to consider them as constructive criticism. If you don't take them as an offense, you can learn by them. We are looking forward for the reviews which our newest records will get.
You play a couple of shows in Hungary and Poland lately, how was it? Did you play a new song or two, kinda testing the waters?
Yes, it's always been important for us to test ourselves in different countries. Poland was really great, we'll definitely manage to get back there and play more concerts, because as I've experienced, metalheads are really devoted in Poland. And yes, we have played some songs off our forthcoming debut album, and it was good to see the reactions, and to feel how it sounds on stage. Also, we hope that we'll have the chance soon to visit some other countries as well.
I saw you have some video footage from the studio online.... Se we can expect a new release in 2011, I guess. Can you tell us a bit about your full-length debut album? Title or working title?
Our newest release will be out in early February this year. It's an EP called Jailbreak, which will contain four songs, one from the LP which is about to be released later, and three exclusive songs, available only on this record. The whole thing will be downloadable for free. We'll distribute it through the net mostly, on Facebook, MySpace and places like that. Currently, we are working on the debut LP (I'm literally sitting in the studio, answering your questions), we are now at the drum recording stage. Before we would release this LP, which will be called The Devil Is On The Loose, we aim to find a record label who would take care of the distribution and the promotion of the record.
What's on your schedule for 2011?
Concerts, recording, concerts, recording, and so on. First, we'd like to present our debut album to the metalheads over Europe, and maybe farther. We'll go on tour with Watch My Dying, who are a really unique band from Hungary. We'll visit Romania, Serbia, Poland and Slovenia hopefully. And of course, we'll keep on looking for ways to spread our music worldwide.
Looks like Conan's First Date are pretty serious to make it... And to make an EP downloadable for free is a good way to get people's attention as you can't play live everywhere. But I'm quite sure that they soon will play other territories soon!