Employed To Serve's Justine Jones: "Post Malone invited us to play beer pong"

Employed To Serve 2023
(Image credit: Andy Ford)

Since the release of their debut Greyer Than You Remember in 2015, Employed To Serve have been staking their claim as one of Britain's most thrilling metalcore bands. Recently seen bringing the house down every night as support to Gojira on a UK and European arena tour, we caught up with frontwoman Justine Jones to talk what comes next... 

Metal Hammer line break

There’s a two-year gap between every Employed To Serve album. Now it’s been two years since Conquering, so can we expect album five soon? 

“No, we’re just going to be doing singles at the moment. 2023 is about making up for lost time with touring. I feel like we haven’t played most of the new material live yet, and since Eternal Forward Motion came out nine months before Covid, we’ve had two albums affected by it. We just want to get some mileage out of them and hit some places we’ve never toured before. So, we might write an album but it’s not our main focus.” 

Both Conquering and Eternal Forward Motion were massive arena metal records. What’s it like finally getting to perform this material in big venues with Gojira? 

“It’s amazing! It’s awesome to see how people react to songs that have opportunity for crowd interaction. You’ve got the ‘HEY!’s going on, you’ve got people with their kids in battle jackets going mental. It’s wild, you can actually hear people breathing before you go onstage and you see so many people you can’t make out their faces, they’re like pebbles.” 

What have been your standout moments from being back on the road? 

“At Roskilde, we bumped into Post Malone, which was fun. He’s lovely. Annoyingly, he invited us to play beer pong with him but we were playing and I didn’t want to get too drunk. And then I missed out on that photo of Dua Lipa and Turnstile [playing with him]. It was one of my biggest regrets not getting drunk before playing. We’re too fucking professional!” 

You read a lot of metal autobiographies during the pandemic. Which were your favourites?

“I really like the Ozzy one – I loved the bit where he thought he killed the priest. And of course, Heavy Tales by Jon Zazula, which I loved because it’s from a record label perspective. It’s about Jon and his wife starting Megaforce records and releasing Anthrax, and Metallica before they signed for Elektra. The Rex Brown one was also good. It’s cool hearing about Pantera from a non-big character.”

In 2020, you launched Church Road Records with your bandmate and husband Sammy Urwin. What was it like doing that alongside a pandemic and changing Brexit regulations? 

“Everything that could go wrong and could have changed, did during the pandemic. People have no money, there’s all these stupid Brexit regulations, including on the band’s side as well. Everything’s expensive, everything’s hard to get hold of. And with Royal Mail strikes and train strikes, you wonder if the records are going to get to fans and you worry if fans are gonna come to shows. You’ve just got to laugh at this point.” 

How have you adapted your business plan as things change? 

“We’ve definitely had to work smart. We’ve had to take our stock back in house to save money, but that’s worked really well. I think the more DIY you can be at the moment, the better. Go back to printing zines at home. It’s that kind of proper recession, DIY, photocopier and a seven-inch sleeve era.” 

What record labels do you model Church Road on? 

“Deathwish, 2012 era. That’s what got me into this kind of music. You had Code Orange, Touché Amoré, Loma Prieta, Punch, Rise and Fall, Deafheaven and loads of Converge reissues. I was 19, maybe 20. I didn’t go out to pubs as much and I had expendable income. I’d save up and get a huge order from Deathwish US every couple of months – it was sick!” 

Last year, you and Sammy jumped on the TikTok train. What’s the creative process behind your videos? 

“I love TikTok. Me and Sammy just have random ideas in our heads and then we execute them. We try to be quick: when you’re doing things that are supposed to be funny, you start overthinking, whereas if you surrender to it, and even if you’re a bit cringe – which we are – you just commit. We try to have fun with it because it’s a necessary evil, especially with running a label.”

Conquering is out now. Employed To Serve play 2000 Trees this summer and tour the UK in October and November.