Hot on the heels of their latest single “What’s Left Inside”, six-piece metalcore outfit CONQUER DIVIDE are making some serious waves in the heavy music world. Made up of Kiarely Castillo, Janel Duarte, Kristen Woutersz, Isabel “Izzy” Johnson, Tamara Tadic and Ashley Colby, the band has been busy as all get-out. Their Joey Sturgis-produced self-titled debut album hit #13 on the Billboard HeatSeeker charts and the band has toured with the likes of SLAVES, ALESANA, and UPON A BURNING BODY, just to name a few.
I was able to have a chat with guitarist/songwriter Kristen Woutersz not too long ago about everything going on in the land of CONQUER DIVIDE. So check it:
Amps: First things first, for those of us new to the band, how did you all get together? And how long have you been playing your instruments?
Kristen: We all met on the internet actually! I spent a few years looking for everyone. Most of the girls have YouTube channels where they did covers, so that’s how I ended up finding them. Everyone is pretty well accomplished, some of us having played our instruments for over a decade.
Amps: I know “What’s Left Inside” is a very personal song. Can you expand on why that is?
Kristen: The song is about a strained relationship that I had with my father growing up and still do to an extent to this day because perhaps I wasn’t the model citizen daughter in his eyes in terms I didn’t follow the expected life path, get a career, get married and settle down, have kids. I pursued my dream instead and for some reason this is troubling to him and I am led to believe that he thinks what I’m doing is a waste of time. But I think a lot of teenagers or young adults can relate to being made to not feel good enough by someone in a position of authority over them , or even their peers. so the song is very relatable and has hit home with a lot of our fans.
Amps: How many of you are involved in the songwriting process? Is it a total group effort, or do one or two of you come in with demos?
Kristen: For the first album much of it was written before most of the girls joined, because I had to have some sort of material available when I was searching for and auditioning everyone for the band. So for the second album, it will be interesting to where it goes to see because it will have everyone’s input, and we all have very different influences.
Amps: You’ve shared the stage with some serious heavyweights. Who would be your dream band or bands to tour with?
Kristen: We would love to tour with ASKING ALEXANDRIA honestly, they are a lot of fun to hang out with. As far as a dream band? For me personally, TOOL or 30 SECONDS TO MARS.
Amps: Tell me something about you that can’t be found on the internet. Is there anything our readers might be shocked to know?
Kristen: We were contacted by the FBI once after a photo shoot we did in Detroit near Marathon Oil because the smoke coming off the refinery turns all sorts of cool colors in the sunset. But apparently they thought it was weird, so their security contacted the DPD who passed it onto the FBI, hahaha! We got a phone call about two weeks later and almost shit ourselves. Luckily they could see right away it was all a big misunderstanding and everything was cleared up.
Amps: What hobbies or interests do you have outside of the band? Are you secretly a birdhouse builder and/or a woodcarver making canoes?
Kristen: I am a travel enthusiast and artist. I am also a critical care nurse and I work at a level one trauma center.
Amps: What song or songs from this album mean most to you and why?
Kristen: I can’t speak for the other girls but for me, “What’s Left Inside.” The song was very cathartic to me; got about 15 years of pent up anger and resentment in a little under 10 minutes. It just flowed right out onto the paper. And that makes me happy others relate to it so much because at least some good came out of a not-so-great situation and I think that’s the ultimate goal of music, to connect with others on a deeper level and help them get through well, life.
Amps: Who inspired you to pick up your instrument or microphone? Who was that one person or band that made you go, “I want to do THAT!”?
Kristen: I grew up in a musical family, so it was always around. Dad was a drummer, mom played guitar, piano and sang. I started playing in church at a young age and eventually local bands as I got older. METALLICA was the band that got me into metal.
Amps: Does the band do any writing while on the road? Or are we too busy?
Kristen: So far it’s been too busy because we typically don’t take crew out and do everything ourselves. But eventually that is something we’d like to do.
Amps: What do you hope people take away from this album when the last note of the last song rings out?
Kristen: We are just doing what we love and we are humbled that others can relate to the songs and enjoy them so much. We had a lot of pent up anger we got out on the first record and I don’t think there’s necessarily a collective take away message from it all. But if there is one message I could get out it would be for our fans who are also fellow musicians, in that if we can do it so can you. We are just a couple of girls with humble beginnings that managed to come together from all over the US and the U.K., and we never thought in a million years we’d be here. Anything is possible if you dream big enough!
Amps: What would you like to say to all the CONQUER DIVIDE fans out there in the world?
Kristen: First off, we wouldn’t be here without our fans! We have one favor to ask! If you are digging our latest single, please do us a solid by calling your local rock radio station and requesting “What’s Left Inside”!
Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the next set of moves from CONQUER DIVIDE. I have a feeling big things are on the horizon. And stay tuned for A&GS’ review of the album…