This is the story of Conception.
Heavily rooted in hard rock and metal from the 70s forward, the band has always introduced influences from other genres and mixed a heavy groove with musical excellence. This particular brew attracted a large, and loyal fanbase.
Guitarist Tore Østby, bassist Ingar Amlien and drummer Arve Heimdal started out and felt they had something special in their foundation, so they went looking for a singer that would complete the band and their sound. A mutual friend recommended Roy Khan, and he remembers the encounter as a turning point for him:
”It was love at first listen. I heard the intro to «War of Hate» (from The Last Sunset album) and was 100% sold. After 20 seconds I was telling myself: -I want to be part of this no matter what!”
They all hit it off and started their creative journey together, releasing the first album ”The Last Sunset” in 1991. Facing little or no interest from record companies they decided to release the album themselves. Determined to make it work they raised funds mainly among families and then recorded, released and got distribution deals in Europe and Japan. The hard work paid off resulting in great sales, and having proven their worth they now had awoken interest in the recording industry.
Noise/Modern Music signed them, and in 1993 ”Parallel Minds” was released. Now Conception established themselves not only as a band with an undoubted potential and new quality, they also established what became almost the signature of the band; the constant push for musical development. When asked about whether they ever considered the risk of said development resulting in great leaps between albums, Tore says:
”I understand it’s not a recommended formula, but we are Conception and we need to do what we feel is right to make the most out of ourselves and our music.”
This curious and fearless attitude towards the creative process, the willingness to explore wherever they might land, may very well be the key to how this band became legendary both among fans and other musicians.
In 1995 their third album ”In Your Multitude” achieved enthusiastic reviews and manifested the band’s position as innovators in the hard rock/metal scene.
Roy, Tore, Ingar and Arve all relay their own individual musical references and lifestyles, but still vouch for the strong bond and community within the band. Since the beginning they have kept challenging each other musically, an exciting approach that could easily result in conflict and hard-to-overcome rifts, but in their case led to new ways of composing. Ingar elaborates:
”I think it’s fascinating how different we are, but still work as a perfect unit when we play. We are great friends, but the glue between us is something else, something impossible to define.”
Their fourth album ”Flow” was released in 1997 and is to this day probably the most talked about of their albums, known to be so much before its time, and a great example of innovation in both sound and composition.
Conception in 2018, full circle
Speaking of the reunion, in fact the band acknowledge that they never actually split up in 1999, as many assume; disillusioned after being kicked off an important tour just a week before its due start date, they drifted to different projects. Roy became the singer in American melodic hard rock band Kamelot, Tore founded ARK, Ingar continued with his band Crest of Darkness, and Arve played with Nickels & Dimes.
Having kept in touch all through the years, and with the friendship intact, it was never a difficult decision to make once they felt the rush of the new music; Tore and Arve jammed and found they were onto something interesting, and it was a natural course to take this to Roy and Ingar. Not only did they rediscover the joy in playing together, but also that they truly believed in this new material. Describing it as thrilling and new, it still sounds unmistakably Conception, in Arve’s words:
”What characterizes us after all is Roy’s unique voice, Tore’s brilliant guitar playing and mine and Ingar’s ground solid, groovy foundation.”
With all their combined experience, and with new possibilities to record and release without record companies, they decided to go for full control without intermediaries. They launched a crowdfunding campaign with Pledge Music which resulted in an overwhelming response. Embracing the warmth from the fans, the band also appreciate the closer relationship they now get to have with their audience. With planned releases of a single and an EP in the autumn on their own label, Conception are back and have come full circle.