WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR

William The Conqueror by Luke Kellett @ Headjam

Ruarri Joseph – vocals, guitar

Harry Harding – drums

Naomi Holmes – bass

Bleeding On The Soundtrack (2019)

Proud Disturber Of The Peace (2017)

“I’ve always liked the ambiguity of William The Conqueror. William is kind of a character I guess – a younger me that doesn’t exist. It’s almost like a mythology.”
Ruarri Joseph

 

A character, a mythology, the flicker of a younger self, William the Conqueror is many things, but in simplest terms it is the name of a band put together by songwriter Ruarri Joseph, alongside his close musical conspirators Harry Harding (drums) and Naomi Holmes (bass) in the Winter of 2015.

 

Bleeding On the Soundtrack is the second in a trilogy of autobiographical albums which began with 2017’s Proud Disturber of the Peace — a sublime record that captured Joseph’s early life in rural Cornwall; the long, fearless days spent stirring the quiet hum of village life; the glory of bike rides, den-building, rope swings; the dappled half-light of memory and imagination. Joseph and his band playing with a similar musical impetus – joyful and boundless and bold.

 

Bleeding On the Soundtrack addresses a less idyllic period in Joseph’s life – the confusion of adolescence, addiction, divorce, upheaval. The time when life shadows and turns, when, as he puts it “you’re always at a crossroad, constant junctions where you have to make decisions”. It carries hope, humour, sorrow, honesty. It has an extraordinary musical diversity that somehow spans roots, folk, grunge, and boasts production by Ethan Johns. It is his finest collection of songs to date, amplified by quite stunning performances from Harding, Holmes and Joseph himself, as they recorded live over the course of twelve days at Real World Studios in Wiltshire.

 

Joseph is older and wiser now, his writing fuelled by a life that has taken him from Scotland to Cornwall to New Zealand, and back once more to the West Country to raise his own family. Along the way he pursued a music career that flirted with both major labels and independents, gathered a devoted live following, but never quite caught flame. “I’d had all this frustration playing as ‘Ruarri Joseph’ but feeling detached from who I was supposed to be,” he says. “I was somewhat lumped in as a folky singer songwriter, which helped pay the bills, but it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing.”

 

William the Conqueror began as a temporary plan – not so much a band or a pseudonym – as a way to play live with new material in between Ruarri Joseph albums. And yet it unleashed his songwriting: separated from his own name and identity, Joseph found that the songs he wrote as William the Conqueror “were bizarrely more personal than anything I wrote as Ruarri Joseph.”

 

These are not straightforward songs. Rather they are intimate lacings of half-recollection and new revelation, episodes, images, music, not narratives. “I’m trying to decide what’s true, and what I’ve embellished for the sake of the story,” says Joseph. “My brain doesn’t operate in a linear fashion – especially when looking back on a youth I wasn’t paying attention to, that seems so distant. When I try to remember that time they’re kind of vignettes, pressed together, rather than being a structured tale.”

 

The idea of a trilogy came to him early. “I like working in threes,” Joseph explains. “Hermann Hesse has a book of essays called My Belief in which he talks about the three stages of life being innocence, disillusionment, and faith, and how the cycle of life brings you full circle back to the start. It seemed like a good model for a collection of albums about the same thing from three different perspectives.”

 

Bleeding On the Soundtrack, then, concerns itself with disillusionment. As life at home became more turbulent with his father’s alcoholism, the teenaged Joseph didn’t want to recognise his parents as human beings with flaws and contradictions. Rather than face it, he found escape through music, listening to Kurt Cobain and Billy Corgan, playing the guitar, distracting himself with early romances.

 

It would take him years to confront the events of that time, and the songs on this album are the remarkable, unflinching result – misguided worship and romanticised visions of death pervade the title track itself, while Looking for the Cure deals with the cruel psychology of addiction.

 

“I’ve written about it my whole life but I don’t seem to have taken it head on,” he says. “I’ve always touched on things, or skirted around the issue. But that’s what Bleeding on the Soundtrack is — it’s not leaving anything out, digging deep to try and cleanse myself of it all.”

 

The album holds lighter moments too of course — the stumbling romance of Thank Me Later and Sensitive Side, the celebration of brotherhood on Be So Kind, the strangeness of life’s obstacles and re-routings on Path of the Crow. There is a kindness and a gentleness to many of the songs – The Burden, for instance, views those years and the father-son relationship with the warmth and wisdom of experience. It is a song so tender that there are even moments when it catches Joseph unawares – “it still sneaks up on me when I play it sometimes,” he says.

 

And with them a musical exploration of sound, too, roots rock meeting blues, Americana, at points a kind of warm soul. It is a reflection of the band’s desire to never be labelled as one thing, a refusal to fit into any genre, to always keep moving. To make music, perhaps, that is distinctly William the Conqueror: joyful and boundless and bold.

Photo credit: Headjam

Click individual images to download hi-res version

Bleeding On The Soundtrack

William The Conqueror - Bleeding On The Soundtrack

Artist: William The Conqueror

Title: Bleeding On The Soundtrack (Album)

Release date: 15 February 2019

Catalogue no.: VJCD246

Formats: CD / Digital / Heavyweight White Vinyl

1. Path Of The Crow

2. Thank Me Later

3. Madness on the Line

4. The Burden

5. Bleeding on the Soundtrack

6. Looking for the Cure

7. The Curse of Friends

8. Be So Kind

9. Sensitive Side

10. Within Your Spell

Bleeding On The Soundtrack

William The Conqueror - Bleeding On The Soundtrack

Artist: William The Conqueror

Title: Bleeding On The Soundtrack (Single)

Release date: 14 September 2018

Catalogue no.: VJDS104

Formats: Digital

1. Bleeding On The Soundtrack

Proud Disturber of the Peace

William The Conqueror - Proud Disturber Of The Peace

Artist: William The Conqueror

Title: Proud Disturber of the Peace

Release date: 4 August 2017

Catalogue no.: VJCD232

Formats: CD / Heavyweight LP with download / Digital

1. In My Dreams
2. Tend To The Thorns
3. Did You Wrong
4. Pedestals
5. Sunny Is The Style
6. The Many Faces Of A Good Truth
7. Proud Disturber Of The Peace
8. Cold Ontario
9. Mind Keeps Changing
10. Manawatu

PROUD DISTURBER OF THE PEACE (2017)

“William The Conqueror have pulled off a slick and impressive debut. Proud Disturber Of The Peace is well-crafted and well-thought out record that slyly draws together a litany of styles, tropes and ideas to create something that stands apart. Loose certainly has a habit of picking winners, and nothing is different here. William The Conqueror have a high ceiling and they’ve set the floor pretty damn high as well.”

“William The Conqueror seems hellbent on blurring the lines between genres. While the headline of this very piece dubs them an “Americana” act, they could also easily be labeled as “country” or “folk” or even “grunge” or just straight-forward “rock.” But whatever you want to call William The Conqueror does not matter. All that matters is that this group is good. Damn good.”
THE 405

“thumping Southern rock and Americana grungy gumbo that hits you right between the eyes… extremely impressive
★★★★
SCOTTISH DAILY EXPRESS

William the Conqueror the alter ego of Ruarri Joseph who in a trio setting played stomping country rock at the end veering into stoner grunge
THE GUARDIAN

a mighty launchpad for what’s yet to come
★★★★
Q

“it is a thing of wondrous beauty… William The Conqueror is well and truly here to conquer if not the world, then certainly our hearts.
GOD IS IN THE TV

“A passionate manifesto, or perhaps the declaration of an invasion. Part open-throttle rust-caked blues part surging Springsteenian nostalgia it has to be the slickest album 2017 has to offer …You’ve got to have guts to call yourself William the Conqueror, but this debut sure delivers.”

“the most remarkable thing about ‘Proud Disturber’ – Not its variety, but its consistency. They rub shoulders with giants of many a kind, but they’ve still cultivated a sound that’s instantly recognisable. Like the one-time king they share their name with, they have the kind of determination that can only end in glory.”
#4 – GIGSOUP WRITERS’ BEST ALBUMS OF 2017
8/10
GIGSOUP

“excellent debut
★★★★
BIG ISSUE

Their prospects look incredibly strong indeed.
RECORD OF THE DAY

“Americana, swamp rock and blues collided with Kings Of Leon yet the Cornish trio maintained cohesion and freshness throughout” 
SOUTHERN DAILY ECHO

utterly endearing
THE CRACK

The bluesy indie-americana three piece offers up one of the strongest debut albums of the year.
ROYAL BRUNEI INFLIGHT MAGAZINE

“brimming with confidence and optimism… William The Conqueror look set to rule the roost.”
10/10
SCUNTHORPE TELEGRAPH

the tracks achieve the required objective of getting under your skin, even to the extent of possessing anthem potential. Indeed, there are so many facets of the ten ten tracks to discover, that any review can only be a mere introduction. Whether you view this album as Americana or one of several stages of clear cut rock, the important thing is that it is one of the year’s most intriguing and relevant releases.
THREE CHORDS AND THE TRUTH

Thankfully, the range of genres produced by Joseph and co. are tightly held together by a consistent style that flows throughout the album and which leaves the listener in a dreamy state somewhere between the UK and middle America.
★★★★
MUSIC OMH

Joseph’s croon is fully intact and the songwriting and instrumental skills of Joseph and band mates Harry Harding and Naomi Holmes are top notch.
AXS

“The Cornish trio deliver their own unique brand of bluesy, indie-americana rock with confidence and their debut album is a little gem… This is a band who are pushing the boundaries of genre and creativity – long may they continue.
★★★★
NE LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

“a hugely catchy mix of blues, artrock, altcountry and indie rock & blues… instant classics that are suitable for a wide audience”
DE SUBJECTVISTEN

“one of the debut albums of the year – the epic heartfelt nature of Foo Fighters, the wise and wry lyricism of a 21st century Dylan, the keening guitars of primetime Sonic Youth, all wrapped up in folky storytelling.
THE CORNISH GUARDIAN

in a music industry full of clones and monotones it is a joy to behold a musician blessed with such a distinctive and unmistakable voice… Proud Disturber of The Peace is a triumph and deserves to bring William The Conqueror and Ruarri Joseph some long overdue recognition and a higher profile.
8/10
AMERICANA UK

William The Conqueror are enjoying the endless possibilities of being a rock and roll band. They’re not playing it safe anymore, both lyrically and musically. As a band, they’ve been freed from the constraints of being a folk act. They are not quite so polite anymore, there’s muscle and grit in its place. The prevailing mood is one of liberation, with electric guitars rocking out.
FOR FOLKS SAKE

“while each song has its own story to tell, the collection is delivered with an unrelenting energy that takes you on a very different journey to the one told by the intriguing lyrics.
★★★★
MUSIC NEWS

“a winning and exuberant combination which takes in blues, folk, country and even grunge”
PETERBOROUGH TELEGRAPH

gritty guitar, with a true Americana mix of blues folk and rock vibes… I’m not actually sure what I expected, but I was seriously impressed.
THINK COUNTRY

their fusion of Americana, country, folk and rock music make for beautiful harmonies, melodies and there is a toe-tapping catchiness to their songs.
THE UPCOMING

an exquisite album
SOUND AND BOOKS

the voice is superb and the songs are so strong
RALPH MCLEAN | BBC RADIO ULSTER

I am hypnotised by this album
BUILDING OUR OWN NASHVILLE

a really amazing record”
ROOTS HIGHWAY

the kind of loud and loose roots amalgam that you’ve always wished Kings of Leon or Black Keys made
ROOTS AND BRANCHES

LIVE REVIEWS

“In the heart of the Sunday afternoon before a crammed second-tent crowd, William The Conqueror emerged to show just what ‘breaking out of type’ sounds like… From the alternative southern rock through the rustic folk-blues, the trio’s delectable combination of descriptive lyrics and heavy-lifting soundscapes gives their songs a real sense of scale, which carries into the live setting with hypnotic results. Elegant as a knight, with some of that mystery and mythos of any figure swept in legend, they’re a band that’s already beginning to feel timeless.”
GIGSOUP 

 

“As part of this rock-powered trio he veers very comfortably into the realms of grunge and southern boogie and crests a rise that lies somewhere between Kings of Leon and the Marshall Tucker Band. Delightfully refreshing.”
GOD IS IN THE TV

 

“William the Conqueror at Moth Club tonight was one of my favourite gigs of the year.”
LAURA BARTON

 

“an electrifying display of folk and grunge”
BN1 Magazine

 

“It takes a lot of talent to perform as a trio and to make it a success. Hendrix did it, George Thorogood did it and now William The Conqueror are doing it. Catch them if you can.”
★★★★★
BUILDING OUR OWN NASHVILLE

 

“The contrast in musical styles is one of the band’s key strengths, Joseph’s guitar sound in particular seeming to encompass a number of styles interestingly blended together – a hard guitar rock feel married to a touch of electric folk.”
AMERICANA UK

 

“William the Conqueror served up a treat with a trace of Chuck Berry, Blues and Americana with powerful riffs and a healthy slab of bass. At times Joseph’s drawl drifted stylishly into Frank Zappa territory. Keep an eye on these guys.”
BLUES & SOUL MAGAZINE

BLEEDING ON THE SOUNDTRACK (2019)
PROUD DISTURBER OF THE PEACE (2017)