Unleash the Archers: An Extraordinary Band

Unleash-the-Archers

Unleash the Archers are one of Vancouver’s most promising acts. Sporting face-melting technical musicianship and some of the best vocals you’re bound to hear in power metal today, they warrant a listen for anyone interested in the genre. Seeing them play with Sabaton and Empyria a little while back, I had plenty of questions about what Unleash the Archers are all about. Special thanks to Brittney Hayes for taking the time to respond.

 How’s it going! That show this past Wednesday was great- how’d you get set up to open for the almighty Sabaton?

Well if you mean how did we prepare ourselves?  We jammed our set pretty hard for the two weeks prior, and put all the finishing touches on the new song we debuted that night.  If you mean how’d we set up physically, it was hilarious; Sabaton left their whole kit and setup on stage (of course, they’re the headliner) so there wasn’t much room after that.  Scott (drummer) was smack in the middle right at the front of the stage, with Brayden and Brad on one side and Grant and I on the other.  We could barely move, but I still had a kick ass time; we opened for Sabaton for eff’s sake!  Sorry if I totally missed the point of that question btw ;)

What’s the story behind the formation of Unleash the Archers? Any funny stories worth recounting?

Scott and Brayden were playing in a band together already, and when that band broke up I called Brayden the very same night and asked him if he wanted to start a project with me.  Scott was the obvious choice for the drummer of course, and we found Mike (old guitar player) and Zahk (old bass player) on a local website called LiveVic.com… Nothing too funny occurred really, except trying to play in Mike’s living room was challenging, he had old arcade games taking up all the outlets, and Scott wasn’t allowed to hit hard cuz of the neighbours haha… Needless to say we found a jam spot as fast as we could and once we did the creative juices flowed with ease.

How did you decide on the band name? It certainly fits the epic scope of the sound and style.

The band name was painful, we all wanted something different… Mike wanted a death metal name and Brayden wanted a death core name and Scott wanted some obscure literary reference…  Eventually someone said Unleash The Archers and when none of us hated it, we made it official!  I particularly like it due to the imagery it invokes, and it fits with my immense love of fantasy.

There are plenty of bands out there that swear they blend together styles, but few ever manage to do it convincingly. That is something I really enjoy about UTA’s music- there are evident influences in everything from death and thrash metal to power, prog and even metalcore, and they manage to coalesce together into something natural. Was this genre-bending a conscious decision, or a natural result of your influences coming together?

Because we all help to write every song, and one guy doesn’t just hand us our parts and say play, it really is just the natural way our music progresses.  We all add touches of the music we really love and work hard to make it sound right, so if you can actually stand to listen to it then I suppose we did well!  Each album is a true reflection of what we are all listening to at the time, for instance right now a few of us are loving wicked power metal like Helloween, Blind Guardian, Lost Horizon and (of course) Iron Maiden, so that will really come through in our new tunes ;)

Speaking of influences, what are some bands that have influenced you in particular? Do you think the band would sound much different if one of them disappeared suddenly via a dreaded space-time flux?

Hahaha absolutely, if Iron Maiden were to suddenly have never existed I probably never would have called Brayden that night and Unleash The Archers wouldn’t even exist… Brucey is my number one influence, with Daniel Hyman of Lost Horizon coming in at a close second.  We all find inspiration in different types of music; for instance Scott has been listening to a lot of Woods Of Ypres, Grant’s all about Stratovarious and Sonata Arctica, and Brad’s got Blind Guardian on loop… Brayden still loves Lady Gaga of course!

Although Unleash the Archers are undeniably melodic, there’s quite a bit of technical prowess at work and complex arrangements firing away at just about any given moment. What’s your process, or ‘secret’ behind composition and songwriting?

Usually Brayden or Grant will tab out a bunch of riffs on Guitar Pro and pass it around, we’ll all write bits and pieces to what we can, then we’ll get together and jam it out; cut parts that don’t mix well, change riffs a bit or re-write them completely, basically it starts as a shell and we fill it with delicious metal goodness together.

Although your music takes a relatively mixed and varied approach to power metal, the lyrics tend to stick to power metal canon- swords, mountains and epic shit. Do you think the lyrics play an important role in the appreciation of Unleash the Archers, or do they tend to take a backseat compared to the music itself? Do you think it applies to power metal as a whole?

Frankly I can listen to some pretty corny lyrics as long as the vocals are exciting and the musicians are talented, but I think lyrics are extremely important in power metal because it is usually fronted by a clean singer and often one’s first instinct is to sing along.  If you are singing about lame crap like your boring job or how much you hate your ex boyfriend I hardly feel the urge to unsheathe my imaginary sword and sing with my fist in the air during my morning commute… And if I wasn’t doing that I would fall asleep for sure! I dunno, maybe it doesn’t matter for some people, but I love taking the listener away to far off lands to embark on epic journey’s that just don’t happen in real life, cuz without those fantastical forays into far off places I would probably shrivel up and die ;)

Luis Gutierrez

Photo: Luis Gutierrez

One thing I really noticed when your first started playing live was how heavy everything sounded, considerably moreso than on record. What does a UTA live show usually entail?

Playing live is why we do this; that intense 45 minutes of wild abandon, whipping our hair in the wind and kicking as high as our tight pants will let us.  Watching the crowd squeeze closer to the stage with fists flying into the air for every ‘Hey’ and huge smiles on their faces.  The energy of the audience beams directly at us and fills our cups to bursting, and we love it.  Live shows are where we get to say ‘Eff it all’ and whi cares if we screw up let’s just have a good time… Cuz god knows the studio sure isn’t like that!

To date, Unleash the Archers’ recorded material has been self-produced. What are some pros and cons of this do-it-yourself approach? Is there any significant part of your creative vision that you still feel gets left out of the recorded medium?

It’s unfortunate but the largest factor behind how we have done our records in the past is money, or lack thereof.  We save up enough cash to rent the studio time and to pay for the sound engineer, the mixing and the mastering, but the outcome is always what we make of it.  Brayden is basically our producer, he always has been, and we feel that he does a great job, but that’s not to say that if some label offered us $100,000 to record an album that we’d say no. To have the chance to actually take our time in the studio because it’s not coming directly out of our paychecks would be amazing! I would love to take one week just to get one part in one song down perfectly!  But the reality of the situation is that we can’t afford to do that, so we do the best with what we’ve got, and I am proud of what we’ve done so far!

Demons of the AstrowasteAs I gather from the atmosphere of some of your lyrics, and particularly the title and artwork of “Demons of the AstroWaste”, I get the impression that you may be fans of classic pulp fantasy/science-fiction literature- Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard to name a couple. Is this true at all? Regardless, what sort of literature has an impact on what you do in Unleash the Archers?

I am definitely a huge fan of fantasy and sci-fi, whether it be in book or movie form, it is a huge influence on my lyrical content.  I’ve never read the John Carter books but I loved the film, and I’ve actually never read any of Howard’s stuff, but Schwarzenegger’s Conan was rad!  Hahaha but really, I’m more a fan of Glen Cook, Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, China Mieville, Gene Wolf, Frank Herbert, Dan Simmons, Alistair Reynolds, just to name a few.   I love being taken away to places that exist only in imagination, and so I try to do that with my lyrics as well.  Personally I love to sing along to my favourite bands, and I hope that singing about epic adventures will encourage you to do the same!

What advice would you give to other young musicians and bands, trying to make music and get their names out there to the music world at large?

…or tips in particular for guitarists, bassists, drummers, and vocalists?

Number one tip is to never stop working hard, even during down time like writing, always have something on the go, something to keep you and your fans interested. And tour!  For eff sake’s get off your butts and see the world, you’ve got to do it anyways, might as well do it while playing music!

Favourite beers? FAVOURITE CHEESEBURGERS?

Hahaha well I know Scott’s favourite beer is the Voltage Espresso Stout from Hoyne Brewing, and Brayden is a big fan of the Crannog ‘Back Hand Of God’ Porter.  Brad is currently into the Vancouver Island ‘Piper’s Pale Ale’ and Grant will drink anything that’s free ;)   Vancouver ands Victoria have a lot of amazing micro and craft breweries that come out with some outstanding stuff, we are really lucky to not be limited to the usual choices like Bud or Coors!

What have you been listening to lately? Anything mind-shattering you can recommend?

Lost Horizon, their whole discography is amazing, I wail along to them in my car everyday.  And the new BMTH is radicals… Also the Iced Earth album from last year, Dystopia, that still gets regular rotation on my iPhone.

What are your plans for the future, short or long-term?

New album of course!  We are really taking our time on this one though so as much as we want it to be out at the end of 2013 it might be early 2014, but for sure within a year there will be new tunes to windmill to.  Also a new music video or two so subscribe on youtube!

Cheers! It was great to finally see you play live!

Thanks for coming out!  It was such an honour to open for the mighty Sabaton!  See you at Battlefest in June?!  http://www.facebook.com/events/206167792857130/?fref=ts

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