AC/DC once sang, “It’s a long way to the top, if you wanna rock and roll.” For Conquer Divide, it’s a long way just to rehearse. The all-female sextet, for those concerned with such things, is spread across two continents with five of the six members living all over the U.S., and one member over in the U.K.. Managing and keeping a band together in the same town is no small feat these days, so one can imagine the juggling, hard work, and compromise a locationally diverse band must deal with, even in this age of rampant technology. Perhaps this speaks to the origins of the band’s name.
Conquer Divide began to come together as the brainchild of Detroit area guitarist Kristen Woutersz (nee Waters) in late 2012, and over the course of the next two years she began searching out and putting together the initial incarnation of the band. Sacramento, California-based drummer Tamara Tadic joined early, along with clean vocalist Kiarely “Kia” Castillo who resides in Denver, Colorado. The band searched across America for a second guitarist and eventually reached across the pond to Liverpool-based fretstress, Izzy Johnson. Shortly before recording their debut album, harsh vocalist Janel Duarte of Austin, Texas joined the mix, and last year, Detroit bassist Ashley Colby signed on.
On Friday the 13th, Metalholic spoke with Tamara Tadic, the band’s Serbian-born stick-wielder about her journey to America and Conquer Divide’s new video, “What’s Left Inside” which released this week. For Tadic, being a part of Conquer Divide has been a long and interesting trip unto itself.
“My family was always fighting to find a way to move out from the country we lived in,” confides Tamara. “It’s a funny story, we won the green card lottery and from there we were like, ‘Hell yeah we’re gonna move out!’ So, I moved with my whole family, and I became a citizen too since I’ve been here.”
Tadic grew up in a country that did not support her passion for creating music, and it is a small miracle that she has come as far as she has already. It all started when she inherited her brother’s drum set.
“Basically, my brother wanted to be a drummer,” shares Tadic. “I came home one day and I saw a drum kit in my brother’s room, and I was like wow, that’s cool. After like two months of my brother playing drums, he decided to switch back to guitar and I had drums for myself.”
To help her improve her drumming skills, Tadic took online lessons from Nile drummer George Kollias. As Tamara shared, her ability to connect with him across such a distance played an important role in her development as a professional musician:
“His lessons and his support was really huge,” offered Tamara. “It came at a time when I really needed it. Where I lived there were no drummers or drum teachers around that were reliable that I could learn from. George is one of my favorite drummers, so I sent him an email and I asked him about some exercises and stuff, and he replied. So I was really excited about it. Then I was taking lessons on his forum and also had some private one on one lessons as well. To this day we’re really good friends.”
Conquer Divide’s debut album released last spring and the band has slowly been building a buzz along the way. Songs like “At War”, “Sink Your Teeth Into This”, and “Nightmares” showcase the band’s ability to craft heavy, yet melodic and relatable songs. The debut album also features producer Joey Sturgis (Asking Alexandria, Miss May I, The Devil Wears Prada) at the helm. “Joey Sturgis—Kristen actually got in contact with him,” tells Tadic. “She built a relationship with him so he already knew what we were about to do–so he was supporting us.”
Even with Stugis on board and helping guide the band through their first recording, the process of making the debut record was neither quick nor easy, as Tamara reveals:
“The first record was definitely an interesting story. I mean it was everyone’s first record for the whole band. None of us had ever been through it before, so we definitely learned a lot and gained a lot of experience through it. It definitely took a while to make the album, because we worked on it for about two years. Some of the time was taken away because we couldn’t afford to pay for the whole album and have it done. Thank God we got the label (Artery Recordings) on our side, so they paid off everything else.”
Tadic believes that now that the band has had time to tour and gel together, the second album will come together more quickly and have more continuity:
“Our next album, I can promise you it will be better than this one, because you live and learn. We are more organized, and we now know the kind of music we are making. Cause everyone in the band listens almost to a different style and genre of music, so we were always trying to accommodate everyone’s wishes, including all these styles together to make it work for everyone. Since we’ve built our sound now, we know the direction we are going for the next album so it’s going to make it easier for everyone.”
This week, Conquer Divide unveiled its latest video for the album’s slower track, “What’s Left Inside”, penned by Kristen about her troubled relationship with her father.
“This song is definitely one of our radio singles, I would say, and I really enjoy playing that song on drums because it’s really groovy. I love it. It’s different than the rest of the songs on our album. I really hope people will like it. It’s a great song for sure.”
You can check out the video for “What’s Left Inside” and listen to our full interview with Tamara Tadic below.