Johnny Conqueroo looks to the future


Bands Lylak and Johnny Conqueroo perform for students on Dec. 3, 2018. 

Emily Baehner

Johnny Conqueroo, a local band from Lexington, released a new single and music video last week, and were featured in a show at the University of Kentucky student center on Dec. 3.

Gant Curless, the lead vocalist and guitarist, Wils Quinn, the drummer, and Shawn Reynolds, the bassist, formed the band during their early years of high school. Quinn and Reynolds are both students at the University of Kentucky, in their sophomore years, majoring in media arts & studies/Appalachian studies, and marketing respectively.

“Our bassist Shawn, he’s extremely intelligent, beyond the scope of modern testing,” said Quinn, “When he writes music, he doesn’t just write a song, he creates worlds in his mind and then populates those worlds with the music he creates.”

A three-piece blues rock group, the band’s sound has evolved past just one genre of music. Reynolds says that the group has followed the evolution of rock and roll, starting with the blues, moved on to psychedelic and punk rock and now has a sound that combines all those genres. He credits the uniqueness of their sound as stemming from the organic nature of the production.

“The majority of songs come from us jamming around at practice. We take influence from everything we listen to and incorporate our favorite elements into our own music,” said Reynolds.

The band’s first album, Washed Up, debuted in 2016, and was followed up by their EP, Haint Blue, a blend of blues and psychedelic rock. Last week, under The Fir Trade label, the band released a new song and accompanying music video called “Only Child.”

In addition to producing its music, the band enjoys live performances at a number of local venues like Willie’s Locally Known, Tadoo Lounge, Big Hair Records and Chuck’s Music, as well as performances outside the state of Kentucky.

“The idea that I can go on stage and get this rare opportunity to break the usual social contracts that we have day-in and day-out and break that fourth wall and break people out of their day-to-day lives … amazing,” said Quinn. “It allows me to interact with people in a way they would normally not be used to.”

The Dec. 3 show at the Gatton Student Center was the last Johnny Conqueroo show in Lexington for the 2018 year. This will conclude a successful year that included over 40 shows in major cities in six different states, several music releases, studio work, appearances on radio shows and performances in music festivals both in and out of state.

Looking forward to the new year, the band has plans to perform in a New Year’s Eve show in Chicago, release new music, schedule festival performances and plan music videos in the works. Their success, according to Quinn, is a day-to-day process that they hope continues to allow them to succeed.

“Break down dreams to goals, goals into steps, steps into action, then take action. It’s the only way to the top,” Quinn said.