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Catching Up with John Rau and Dustin Mendel of Conjurer

Have you ever seen the York Peppermint Patty commercials where they say “When I bite into a York Peppermint Patty, I get the sensation that I’m skiing on the alps” or some shit like that? Well, when I listen to Conjurer’s music, I get the sensation that I’m stranded on an alien planet where the sun is perpetually blacked out, blanketed in darkness. Their brand of cosmic doom just spins up this bleak atmosphere that feels more cinematic and epic than many of their peers in our Indianapolis music scene.

Back in 2016, I was fortunate enough to chat with the band ahead of their date at the inaugural Doomed and Stoned Festival, and the group was already hard at work crafting the follow up to their album Old World Ritual. Almost two years later, the guys are finished and ready to release it to the masses. And after listening to Sigils firsthand, I can tell you this – if you thought that Conjurer couldn’t get any heavier than they already are, then you’re wrong. Sigils is a crushing dose of hulking doom that sees the band kick up their song writing a notch while staying true to their signature sound. Check out “Will Of The Hag,” one of the new tracks, below if you need proof.

Seeing as how it’s been a little while and the band are getting ready to release their new album, I thought this would be a good opportunity to catch up with guitarist John Rau and vocalist Dustin Mendel to talk about the new release and what the band has been up to. Read it below, and if you’re in Indianapolis, make sure you check out their upcoming date at the White Rabbit Cabaret with Swedish doomsters Monolord and local favorites Archarus on August 30th.

Indy Metal Vault: Thanks for chatting with us. The last time we spoke was before your appearance at the first Doomed and Stoned Festival in 2016. What have you been up to since then? I remember you guys had already started working on new material. Were there any hiccups along the way that prevented finishing the album in 2017 or were you just taking your time to write and refine the material?

John Rau: Hey Bryan, thanks for having us. We wrote Sigils between 2016-2017 and began recording September 2017. We didn’t have a lot of hiccups, but we spent a little extra time recording and refining this record with Carl Byers at Clandestine Arts.

Conjurer - Sigils - Indy Metal VaultIMV: And speaking of the new material, I’m really digging the songs on Sigils. I didn’t think it was possible for Conjurer to get any heavier than the music on Old World Ritual, but man, the new tracks are both darker and denser than anything you guys have done. Was that a choice that the band made? How do you feel your sound has changed since you started out?

JR: We definitely got a little doomier than Old World Ritual. It wasn’t something we set out to do specifically, but it happened organically as we were writing.

Dustin Mendel: To me, Old World Ritual is like a good Frank Herbert short story collection. Several different and amazing stories, all done by the same Lorecrafter. Familiar but original. After reading it, you are satisfied but then you want a bigger, more cohesive work. Something more heady and thought provoking. I think Sigils fits that need. If OWR is our Eye, then Sigils is our Whipping Star. I can’t wait to hear our Dune. But we didn’t set out with my weird metaphor in mind. The guys just brought the thick, dense atmosphere, and it came together in a manner that compliments itself well.

IMV: You recorded Sigils at Clandestine Arts Recording. That’s Carl Byers’ studio right? They’ve worked on a lot of notable Indy releases including albums from Pillars, Sacred Leather, and Obscene. What was it like working with him?

JR: Carl is a close friend of ours and it is great recording with him. It’s like having another member of the band, but with fresh ears/eyes.

DM: I cannot say enough about Carl’s professional attitude, personal taste and patience. He really is the sixth Conjurer.

IMV: You also did the theme music for a mini episode of How Did This Get Made. How did that come about?

JR: I listen to How Did This Get Made, and heard that you could submit a theme song for the show. I thought it would be a cool little thing to do and it wasn’t going to take much time, while we were recording Sigils. It was just for fun and we were stoked they ended up using it.

IMV: You’re opening for Monolord at the White Rabbit Cabaret this August. I was pretty stoked that they decided to do an Indianapolis date and equally excited to see you and Archarus on the lineup. That’s probably a pretty big deal for you guys. Are you fans of the band?

DM: We all love Monolord! It was definitely a bucket list kind of show for us. I’m fucking amped!

IMV: I’ve talked to you guys about the Indianapolis music scene before, so let me ask this – are there any local bands that you’re currently following and would like to give props to? What’s your favorite venue to play in Indianapolis?

JR: As far as venues, we love playing State Street Pub, Black Circle Brewing, Indiana City, and Kuma’s Corner. As for bands: Shroud of Vulture, Obscene, Archarus, Photian Schism, Drude, Potslammer, Black Recluse, Steed, and Battersea. There are so many amazing metal bands right now, we are truly lucky to be a part of the Indy scene.

IMV: What’s next for Conjurer? Can you give us any details on the when the new album will be out and on what formats (vinyl, cassette, etc.). Do you guys plan on doing any touring to support it?

JR: We think Sigils will be out in December. Its looking like Vinyl/CD/Digital are the formats that will be coming out on. The 2018/19 plan is to play more of the surrounding Midwest cities and hopefully some fests. We’ll have to see though as things are still unfolding.

Check out Conjurer’s music on their Bandcamp page here and connect with them on Facebook and Instagram.

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