Conquer Divide’s New Kind of Bangers

… And the award for our favorite pandemic reunion goes to… Conquer Divide!  Okay, so that’s a little dramatic (and they never actually broke up), but this extended break...

… And the award for our favorite pandemic reunion goes to… Conquer Divide!  Okay, so that’s a little dramatic (and they never actually broke up), but this extended break from life on Earth did provide us with the first we’ve heard from the metalcore outfit in quite some time.  Last August the band released “Chemicals,” their first new song since 2015 (followed by a cover of Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy”), and earlier this month they released their latest single, “Messy.”  In addition to simply being back together, their pandemic singles have the group expanding their repertoire beyond headbangers.  In fact, their latest bangers happily embrace pop sentiments.  However, in a recent chat with clean vocalist Kia Castillo, the singer tells me that they definitely have not moved on from the heavy stuff and they are definitely excited reconnect with their fans.

Izzy Cihak: I think it’s interesting that the pandemic actually saw the band reactivate and release new material for the first time in a while.  Do you feel like you’ve evolved significantly from the band that recorded and toured behind your debut?  Was your most recent music affected by the pandemic in any significant ways?

Kia Castillo:  We have definitely evolved since the debut album. This time around we are really trying to perfect the craft of writing and focusing on trying to make every song a hit on its own, as well as creating an album that is cohesive in sound. The pandemic did definitely create challenges for content creation like video and photography shoots, but as for our songwriting, I think it helped. We already had a lot of experience with long distance co-writing, which I think helped us navigate these circumstances a lot easier.

Izzy: What would you currently consider to be your biggest influences?  Were you listening to, reading, or watching anything that you think had a particularly meaningful impact on this music?

Kia: I have been listening to a lot of pop music recently, specifically Chloe x Halle and Ariana Grande. I think their vocal styles influenced mine a lot on this album, in addition to Hayley Williams’ most recent album releases. Kristen and Izzy have been inspired by bands like Architects, Northlane, Bring Me The Horizon. We’ve also been very inspired by the political climate over the last year.

Izzy: Have you had any favorite reactions to your new material, whether positive or negative?  Or, for that matter, are there any kinds of reactions you most appreciate?

Kia: My favorite reactions are the positive ones, haha! We have had quite a few fans that miss our old sound, but I think it’s important for musicians to evolve, and a lot of times that means outgrowing the old sound. We also have some reactions of wanting more screams, and I just want everyone to know: it’s coming!!

Izzy: On a related note, what kinds of people seem to be most into your music?  Have you noticed patterns among your fans?  Your music crosses numerous genres and would seem to speak to a number of different demographics.

Kia: I think with the release of “Messy” we’ve been able to reach a broader audience, for those that prefer a lighter sound. I honestly think we make music for everyone, but I think the biggest pattern I notice for our fans are current or former “scene” kids, which makes sense, since all five of us ladies were scene kids (some of us still are). With our debut album our audience was a lot younger, so it feels like now we have older fans because they stuck around while we figured things out on our end. We also have a lot of people discovering us for the first time with our new singles, who go back and fall in love with our old releases, so that’s been pretty cool too.

Izzy: I realize this is quite general, and also a bit tricky to answer at the moment, but what are you most excited about for the remainder of 2021?  I understand fans may be able to expect some more new music and possibly live dates at some point.

Kia: I’m honestly so, so excited to finally play shows again. I’m also really excited for fans to hear more of our new music. Our sound has really been amped up, and I think Kristen’s songwriting has gotten to a whole new level and really brought us up a notch. We are hoping to get on some festivals and perhaps even a tour now that things are opening up and all 5 of us are vaccinated!

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.