I recently caught up with Unleash The Archers frontwoman Brittney Slayes, to talk a little bit about the bands recent North American tour, as well as a few of their plans for 2019. You can also catch the band on 70000tons of Metal in January.
Firstly, How was your summer? Were there any highlights for you?
Summer was great! Pretty busy preparing for the tour and playing festivals, but awesome. Highlights were definitely Rock Fest in Barcelona and Guitars Under The Stars in Oregon. We had such a killer time at both of those fests. Rock Fest was huge, and we played in front of the most people we have ever played for before, which was nerve-wracking and exhilarating at the same time!
Then GUTS was the opposite, much smaller and very intimate, but again we had such a rad time. We partied with everyone afterwards and didn’t get back to our hotel until the sun was coming up. Just an incredible night of chatting with fans and singing around the campfire and being idiots for the most part. Really, really good time and a night we will never forget!
You just finished a North American tour with Striker and Helion Prime, how was it to share the stage with them?
We have been friends with Striker for a long time, and we talked about touring with them many times before we were actually able to make it happen on this run, so it has been a really good time. They are such great guys, and being fellow Canadians from the western Canadian scene means we have a lot in common.
They approach music the same way we do as well, it’s meant to be fun and creatively fulfilling, neither of our bands take ourselves super seriously but we both still understand you gotta work hard to get your name out there. It was an absolute blast with them.
Helion Prime is the second project from a very good friend of mine, Jason Ashcraft, and when he told me they would be releasing their new album right around the same time as our tour. I knew they had to be the ones to finish out the package. Jason is such a great guy and he works so hard, and his band mates are just really nice, cool people, so having them on the road with us was a no-brainer.
This tour was so much fun, not a speck of drama and never a moment of contention. Seriously it was perfect. I see now why bands often tour with the same package over and over again, when you find people you love spending five grueling weeks on the road with you hold on to that!
Did you try something new or different in terms of your live set-up and road gear this time around?
Thankfully not hahaha! We’ve got our live sound pretty dialed in and we do our best to minimize gear hauling by using digital as much as possible. The boys might have fallen in love with Striker’s Kempers on the road though so the next tour around might see some changes. For the most part we all just go direct in and then rely on our in-ears for our personal mixes and the stage monitors for a bit of stage sound.
Do you experience any major difference between the Canadian and US scene?
Well, being that we are Canadian our shows in Canada were all sellouts except for one, and we only had two US shows sell out, but that was to be expected. For the most part the fans are just as enthusiastic and fun to play for in both countries. They both support us well in merch and I see just as many singing along in the US as I do in Canada.
We love our North American fans to death because they have been there for us since the beginning (albeit in much smaller numbers!) so we really can’t wait to get our next album done so we can get back out on the road to visit them all again!
What are some of the songs that fans have been treated with on this tour?
We played mostly singles, so “Awakening,” “The Matriarch” and “Cleanse The Bloodlines” from Apex, as well as “Tonight We Ride” and “Test Your Metal” from Time Stands Still, plus a few others including the oldie but a goodie, “General Of The Dark Army” (from Demons Of The AstroWaste). We also played the title track from Apex as our encore, and I think it is fast becoming one of the band’s favourites to play!
Speaking of Apex, it has a really engaging concept – do you find it challenging to set up a setlist that also features older songs, without breaking the creative flow?
Not really, to be honest… I wrote the album in such a way that the songs could stand on their own as well as flow into one another when listening front-to-back. I never picked any one track out as a ‘single’ but instead considered each of them to be a sort of story within itself, so that you didn’t necessarily need to hear the track before to understand what I was singing about. They each had a singular purpose to fulfill while still completing the whole of the album… if that makes any sense!
Apex has been received extremely well by fans and critics alike, it was one of my personal favorite records of 2017. What do you think makes the album stand out?
Thanks Jeff! Glad you enjoyed it. Honestly, I think we just wrote this album better together than the last few. Andrew (Kingsley, guitar) was very new to the band when we wrote ‘Time Stands Still’ with him and we were working with some of our old guitar player’s (Brayden Dyczkowski) material and it turned out to very much be a combination of the old and the new.
Whereas with Apex we all sat down and had a vision for the album and each had a role in the creation of it, and I think that made the record more cohesive in addition to the process. The direction of our sound has changed a bit with Andrew being the principal songwriter now as well, and I think we all were ready for that change and worked super hard to write parts that excited us, and that comes across in the sound of the album as well.
The album has been released for over a year, but it still feels quite fresh on the music scene! Any plans for a follow up anytime soon?
Of course! We will be writing for the first half of 2019 and recording in the second half, and should hopefully have something ready for you guys by early 2020. We are not going to rush this one, we want it to be new and fresh so we need to have quite a buffer between Apex and this one in order to find new inspirations and keep the creative aspects behind each of them very separate.
Your music has often been described as a crossroad between different styles. How important is melody vs. sheer aggression?
Melody in incredibly important to me, if you can’t sing along then I am doing something wrong. I often ask the boys to be more melodic as well, especially in solos, because I always say that a really good guitar solo can be sung along with just as much as any chorus. Aggression is super important as well though; we have always been influenced by death metal and I am a big fan of heavier sounds and vocals, and I just don’t think it would be an Unleash The Archers record without that heaviness in there too.
I don’t think we will ever go full power metal, like a Rhapsody or a Dragonforce, I would miss those tough-as-fuck moments way too much! Secretly, I have always wanted to play guitar in a death metal band, so I can just head-bang in power stance all night long hahaha!
Thank you so much for the talk, is there anything you’d like to say our readers out there?
Thank you so much for taking the time to spread the word about UTA! We had such a great time on our North American tour and we can’t wait to come play for all of our amazing fans out there again! Keep an eye on our Facebook page and Instagram feed as we will be revealing more details about the new record in the months to come. Happy holidays everybody!