This autumn saw Unleash the Archers undertake their North American tour in support of 2017’s excellent album, Apex. October saw the tour roll through Calgary, with supporting act Striker and a couple of local bands. Huck N Roll somehow shoehorned his way into the club and managed to find some time to sit down with vocalist Brittney Slayes (before he was discovered and rudely extracted from the premises), to talk about the tour, the next album, and King Diamond.
June 2017, when Apex came out, it was the Record o’ the Month for Angry Metal Guy, and it was Doc Grier’s #1 album of the year. How are you going to top that?
Brittney Slayes: I have no idea. Ha! We’re just going to write a sequel, and hope that we can do the same thing only better. I really do think that we have constant growth in us, and I think we have better music in us, actually, too. I’m not too worried about it.
What’s the writing process like for the band, do you write all the lyrics and some of the music as well?
What we did with Apex, which I really liked and I think we’ll do it again for the next record, is I wrote the story out as a track by track guideline, so each chapter was a song, and as I wrote out each chapter I also wrote what I wanted each track to sound like, what I wanted to make the listener feel, and any reference tracks like “think of this part from that song,” and also I would say what’s happening in the story, so the boys would take that guideline and write riffs around it, then bring them to a jam, and they’d say “I was thinking this one for this track,” and I would say yes or no, or “maybe it would work better this way,” or “that would actually be perfect for this track,” and kind of worked around it that way. So I had the whole story worked out, but I actually wrote the lyrics at the very end.
So you’re working on new material right now?
Yup, the story is written and ready to go.
Another concept album?
Yup! We’ve started throwing some riffs around and putting things together, we’ve kind of got two and a half-ish songs ready.
Are you the kind of band that writes a lot on the road, or just takes it easy?
No, we’re definitely focused on trying to get as much sleep as possible right now! We’re more of a relaxed writing band, we like to take our time, we don’t like to rush anything. We’re going to take a bit of a breather next year and sit down and write everything. We like to jam it out together and that kind of thing, so as much as it’s nice to come up with things on our own, it’s really nice to come together and work stuff out as a band.
I get the impression from other interviews that you’re the kind of person who likes to be in charge of everything.
How much of an influence did you have on this tour, such as picking Striker to open for you and such?
We’ve known Striker for a long time and have considered them friends for a long time. We were originally hoping to go out as openers for another band, and we had something booked but that fell through.
No…but one day! We had something booked and that fell through, then we had another opportunity and that also didn’t work out, so we said screw it and let’s do a headline, and Striker was our first choice. If we’re going to headline, we want to have fun, and whose music would we enjoy listening to every night, and obviously that’s Striker, and they were totally on board.
Any embarrassing moments on tour so far?
Ha! Nothing really embarrassing, although myself personally, we had a night off in New Orleans and I got way too drunk, and I don’t even remember getting home, I just remember the pavement. Way too many drinks from those goldfish bowls. All I remember is being carried along and staring at the pavement. That was a really good night but I paid for it the next day.
I’ve heard you’re a big melodic death metal fan, what’s on your playlist these days?
Well, I’m not sure if I’d call them melodic death, but a lot of Trivium, Soilwork, Dark Tranquillity. I’m actually listening to a lot of synth-pop right now, there’s this girl/chick/band called Austra, from Ontario, I’m listening to a lot of her stuff right now, and Katy Perry is kind of a guilty pleasure. You can only listen to heavy metal for so long! The new Dance with the Dead album is really awesome, I think it’s called Loved to Death, it’s really good.
What’s up for Unleash the Archers in 2019?
Well, we’re playing 70,000 Tons of Metal.
There’ll be some Angry Metal Guys there.
They definitely need to come and say hi and introduce themselves! Maybe a festival or two, I’m not sure right now, but what we really want to do is release an EP, we have a small 7”, like one on each side.
Not Queensrÿche, but you’ll find out. But yeah, we’ll release that, take a breather, and work on the next album.
Any plans as far as your bassist goes? (Huckster: Nikko Whitworth left the band earlier this year.)
Nope. We’re just going to keep having our friends come and hang out with us.
Who’s playing with you tonight?
Nick Miller, from First Fragment in Montreal. We first played with him when he was filling in for Crimson Shadows on bass. We toured with them in 2015 and met him, he’s a rad guy and very talented. He’s actually a guitar player. We really liked him and knew he would fit in well with us, so we asked him if he wanted to do the tour and he said sure, and he’s like part of the family now. We’ve had a couple other bass players over the last few shows. Kind of whoever’s local that we’re friends with that we like as a person, we ask them to play.
Last question, King Diamond: yes or no?
But I‘ve only really listened to Them and Abigail, and I know he’s got some stinkers out there. We actually had a really funny conversation about him with Striker the other day, it’s kind of like “Yeah, man, he’s really awesome, but he’s also so not awesome!”1 It’s like some weird place he’s in. But no, I’m a fan.
That will make Doc Grier happy. Thanks for your time tonight!
Thank you! Enjoy the show!