Norwegian prog demi-gods Conception are once again returning after an EP a couple of years ago with their first full album in some 23 years. Having established a proper channel of communication this time, we were able not only to get the review done ahead of time, but to get in touch with both Tore (guitars), as well as having Khan (vocals) chip in an answer. Let’s see what state Conception are in, cause looking at the world… it feels like some wounds may never heal? Or will they?
Conception band pic
Hello Tore. How did it feel to be back on stage and playing for the fans again after all these years ?
Tore: It simply felt fantastic to be back on stage and share the magic atmosphere with our fans! The shows have fueled us with a lot of energy, and we can’t wait to be back touring!
In retrospect, how was the response to the EP?
T: We are overwhelmed with all the great feedback about the EP! It was very exciting to create it, from songwriting to recording, and even more rewarding with all the warm response we had from fans and media.
Some people might have expected you to join an established label after the EP, but you didn’t. Is this how you’re going to roll from now on? Do you think it might be a determent to your overall appeal?
T: We are so thrilled that we can set this whole thing up in close connection with our fans, so we are determined to continue our way. We have received a lot of offers from labels before and after the release of the EP, but we have kindly declined. We have set up our own label, and have a great team working with us. We also like to be in control and set our own paste and pressure, and act within our own values. Having the best fans in the world allows us that freedom!
I think I saw a post about those guys that had issues with the EP due to Pledgemusic folding maybe getting reimbursed? Is that so?
T: It was very unfortunate for a lot of people, including ourselves that Pledge went out of business. Some of our fans didn’t get what they ordered from Pledge, and it was then very important for us to complete their orders ourselves. That’s why we reached out and sent records and merchandise to those who didn’t get their stuff from Pledge.
Wow. Great to hear that this came to some resolution then! You chose to do a self-controlled crowdfunding – was it as successful as the one for the EP?
T: Yes, again our fans have been a great support and a big element in making this happen. We did choose new platforms where we could control the money and be responsible for delivering the orders ourselves.
State of Deception” as a title is rather dark and bleak. Is it a pessimistic metaphor for life? Is this your way of exorcising your darker sentiments? Or just a reflection on reality?
T: We are living in challenging times, which is reflected in “State of Deception”. There is a lot of dark and scary elements in today’s society, but there is also hope. There is a lot of unrest and worry in the world, and we reflect some of that. There is a lot of pressure on people these days. Political climate, climate change, disease, not to speak about the various individual pressure so many people of various age, sex and background experience today. It feels that it is more important than ever in our lifetimes to stand together in solidarity! Now in this darkness there is also hope for better days, equality and tolerance, which we are also reflecting. Things may look gloomy at times, but there is definitely an optimistic element to it as well! Melancholy is an emotion that is deeply rooted in the Nordic people, and is found throughout the ages in music and art. There is a lot of comfort in melancholy, and we have always embraced it in our songwriting.
While, Seth’s work is striking as usual thematically, I m not sure if these desaturated covers are that fitting chromatically, especially after all the blues and greens you had. Are you experiencing a gray period? Do you give him free reign, or do you give him some directives?
T: The world is going through strange times, and seem more segregated than for a long time. It is very important we reflect on what is happening around us. Seth has done brilliant work – he is a true artist, and I love the way he is illustrating our challenges, and still keeping an element of hope (accents) in the darkness!
I don’t recall if there was a promo video for the EP and so far I haven’t seen an announcement for one either (this was sent before the lyric video released), do you think it’s not as important as it used to be ?
T: We actually released a video for “My Dark Symphony”, based on live footage from Spain last summer. So far we have done a lyric video for “Waywardly Broken” for the new album. Videos are important, but we have been more focused on the music.
Can you indulge a bit in the themes of the songs?
T: The lyrics on this album reflect reality. Everything seems to be getting polarized and segregated, politicians go to extremes, there is a lot of worry about how the climate is changing, there is a lot of pressure on the individual human being. At the same time there are many positive things happening, but they don’t get the same focus and attention. Unfortunately negativity is easier to sell than positive. That is fundamentally what this album reflects as a whole. For example, “Of Raven and Pigs”, have metaphors from the allegorical novella “Animal Farm” by George Orwell. It’s a song about politicians and religious leaders going to extremes in their ruthless search for power. Given time the people will however inevitably stand up against these type of regimes.
While the album sounds like Conception, the evolution and complexity of it might make it a challenging listen for some. Given that you had “Flow” reviled, only for it to be recognized as a minor masterpiece later on, do you think “SoD” will live up to the expectations, this time around?
T: We don’t really think about expectations or how our music is perceived. It is very important for us to create and express from our hearts, without regard to format. I think our fans have also got used to that Conception is a journey of constant development. We are very proud of the new album, and the feedback has been tremendous so far!
Any update on Noise “remasters”? (And are there any vintage songs that were left in the vaults?)...
T: Our team is in dialogue with BMG about re-releasing the back catalog. We do have some unreleased vintage stuff as well. We will see what the future brings. (editor’s note : so far it’s said that there will be digital re-releases with physical, being discussed)
What does the future hold for Conception?
T: Right now, we are focused on releasing this new album. Our team is fully at work re-scheduling the tour that unfortunately had to be postponed due to the Corona outbreak. We can’t wait to be back onstage!
So with the tour being rescheduled, could we hope about a Greek date?
T: We are definitely hoping that dates in Greece will be included when we can finally be back on the road! Can’t wait to enjoy the live magic with our Greek fans!
Roy, speaking of your “solo” career, vs doing more Conception related music in the near future, is there an update?
Roy: Fortunately I don’t have to chose between the two, but up to this point I have been fully focusing on Conception and the release of “State of Deception”.
Where can one find the elusive “Black on Black” track?
T: Hmmmm… I’m quite sure there is a version on my Japanese copy of «Parallel Minds», but I am aware that another omitted it. There is another version on the Norwegian compilation “Norske Riff Og Tordenskrall”, released by Vertigo back in 1992.
Also how does one get “ Among the Gods / Gravity” to complete that 12" set ?
T: That was a limited edition release, so Ebay would be my best tip.
Time for our Weird Questions!!! If you could go to the future or the past, what would be your choice and why ?
T: I am quite good where I am in the now, I would not change for future or past. But if I could visit, definitely the future to see what it holds.
If you had to give an album to an alien civilization to convince them that humankind deserves to live, which one would it be ?
T: “State of Deception” – followed up by inviting them to a show!
If you had to identify yourself with one of the 7 deadly sins, which one would it be ?
T: I am not a biblical person. I believe in love, respect, tolerance and equality, and that what might be a sin to some ain’t a sin to others…
If you where god for a week, what would you change?
T: I would have showed the world to stand together.
If you could join any other band famous or not, which one would it be?
T: It would have been very interesting to have a session with John Bonham, Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Phil Lynott and Jon Lord. And if we decided to make a record, maybe have Igor Stravinkij do some orchestrations… and maybe add some Spanish guitars in there with Paco De Lucia…
Any famous last words?
T: These are challenging times – take good care of yourselves and those around you, and together let’s make this a better world! Better times ahead!