Words by Sean Moeller // Illustration by Johnnie Cluney // Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
What follows is an old essay we wrote about Christopher The Conquered, one of Iowa's most promising exports.
The last time that we saw Chris Ford and some of his Christopher The Conquered bandmates was this past spring, in Iowa City, during a Poison Control Center performance at an old/current spaghetti restaurant and venue. There were plenty of people crowded into the wooden booths on the sides of the stage and toward the back, working their ways through Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboys and whatever was cheapest that night, but there was also a dance floor well-populated for what is arguably Iowa's rock and roll pride and joy, as well as taking the cake as the most unpredictably awesome live acts. The Conquered dudes had pressed them up against the stage and they were award-winningly soaked in sweat - all of them one hundred times hotter and wetter than anyone else in the room and they weren't performing. Or at least, they were unbilled performers. They certainly were working and they certainly were performing. They were breaking their necks. They were thrashing. They were dancing and jumping their asses off, singing every word of every PCC song at the tops of their lungs, even getting up on stage during certain rowdy moments - when guitars were being spun and thrown, bodies were getting kicked, things were being banged on - to take to the microphones and act as the most willing choir you could ever want. It's this exuberance and madness that make Christopher The Conquered music seem like the perfect way to vent or getting anything off your chest. After all, it seems to be working quite alright for these guys. They look happy and they act happy. Boy, do they act happy. Of course, for Ford, this could be a ruse as there's plenty more bubbling under the surface of the lyrics that he writes - words that run the gamut from wild elation and dark, churning bleakness, often all within the same line. In the song, "Mother Cholera," he sings, "Pretending that there is no hope is what gives us hope/The hope's what we know will end up slitting all our throats/Now I'm not one to criticize/Lord knows I'd do the same/It's between the lines of every song I sing/Upon deeper reflection of what I've tried to do/I've come to realize there's nothing further from the truth/Now, shake it." At this point, of the shaking it, a big band - plenty of brass, all New Orleans-y - breaks out. It's a zippermouth blues sort of scenario, but it comes after a thoughtful analysis of the tightrope that gets toed across by nearly everyone daily and the suggestion here, from Christopher The Conquered, is to maybe just say, "Fuck it" and rage a little more often.