Last week British metal outfit Employed To Serve released “Mark Of The Grave,” which frontwoman Justine Jones has called, “A positive metal anthem for people to blast when they’re having a shitty day.” The song is the second single off of Conquering, the band’s forthcoming album, set to drop September 17th, via Spinefarm. The song comes with a super psychedelic music video that will take you right back to the glory days of Headbangers Ball and rocking out at 1am in your parents’ basement as a pre-teen. I recently got a chance to chat with Justine about Employed To Serve’s new album, some of her favorite music (both expected and unexpected), and some of the coolest things the band has experienced.
Izzy Cihak: I’ve heard that you think your upcoming album, Conquering, is your best work yet. What can fans expect of the album? How do you think it compares to previous releases?
Justine Jones: I think they can expect a much heavier and more evolved album. For this album we wanted to try our hand at writing a straight up metal record, whilst still sounding like us, and we feel that we have achieved that.
Izzy You’ve said that many of the sentiments and sounds on the album were inspired by the music of your youth, so I’m curious who were some of your favorite artists growing up? Who were the artists who had the biggest impact on you or that you most liked to get to see live?
Justine: We all grew up on bands like Machine Head, Lamb of God, Testament, and Slipknot. I think the three bands that were my personal favourite growing up were Deftones, Slipknot, and Korn. I’ve been lucky enough to see Deftones and Slipknot live a fair few times but have never seen Korn live yet, sadly
Izzy: I know that you’re very interested in making music that exudes positive sentiments, so I’m curious if you think there are any other artists or works are art that are successfully doing that these days?
Justine: Hatebreed is a great example. Truly heavy music with really life affirming lyrics. They’re also not too full on with the PMA thing either. They acknowledge the bad parts of life and that sometimes you are going to feel down and out but still push you to overcome.
Izzy: I saw the collaboration you did with Ashnikko (of whom I’m also a fan), which I thought was totally amazing, but also completely weirdly unexpected. How did that come about and how was it doing something with her?
Justine: Thanks! It was really fun to do and something completely different for us. I think it worked really well and was a good opportunity for us to tap into a completely different fan base. I think her team just got in touch with us with the idea they had and we were down to do it.
Izzy: For that matter, are you fans of any music like that, or anything else that you think may surprise your own fans?
Justine: Oh for sure, I personally listen to a lot of different music. I love Hip Hop, electronic music, and some more indie/pop adjacent records. To give you an example, I keep up to date on releases from Blah Records, Ninja Tune, One Little Independent, Domino Records, and loads of others. I just follow their new releases playlists and go through them every Friday. In terms of non-metal artists, I’ve been listening to recently, I love the lo-fi artist Eevee, the alternative indie band NewDad, as well as the more shoegazey Ringo Deathstarr.
Izzy: You’ve been on Spinefarm for a little while now, which is one of my favorite labels for heavier stuff. How is it being part of that family?
Justine: It’s been great! They have a brilliant roster and have been awesome to work with.
Izzy: I realize this is a huge question but, considering that you’ve been around for a while now and put out a good amount of music, what have been a few of the highlights of the band for you so far? You’ve played on a lot of really amazing bills and also gotten a lot of really amazing critical acclaim. What tends to stand out for you?
Justine: I think the highlights have to be getting the Kerrang! Album of the Year. I think we were by far the smallest band that were ever given that award at the time. Playing mainstage at Download Festival this year was also a big one. I just love all of the festivals we get invited to play and also the fact that our headline shows are an absolute blast. Selling out the Underworld in London was also a big one, Sammy and I have been going to shows there since we were kids so that was a huge deal for us.
Izzy: Finally, how are you hoping and planning to spend the rest of 2021, after the new album drops? Any chance we might get to see some live shows… Even if those of us in the US have to watch them on YouTube?
Justine: We’re hoping to squeeze in a headline tour! We’d love to celebrate the album properly. Fingers crossed we get to the US in 2022.