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INTERVIEW: Brittney Slayes – Unleash The Archers

Just two years after the release of Time Stands Still, Canadian heavy metal group UNLEASH THE ARCHERS are due to release Apex to mark the band’s 10 year anniversary. Distorted Sound had a chat with lead singer Brittney Slayes to discuss the upcoming record, the last decade for the band and more.

How do you feel UNLEASH THE ARCHERS have progressed since Time Stands Still?

Brittney: Well we had quite a few member changes during the writing of Time Stands Still so we’ve got a new guitar player and a new bass player, which was the line-up that released Time Stands Still. We were quite new back then so we’re definitely more comfortable with one another, with one another’s writing style, we’ve done a couple of tours together now so we’re a pretty tight little family. I think we’ve gotten better at writing together and predicting what each person is going to bring to the table. Not too much has changed in terms of sound between the two records; we did experiment with a couple of new techniques, new styles, new tempos on this next record but other than that we’re just becoming a lot more comfortable with one another really.

Having that bond can only be a good thing as far as recording and writing goes?

Brittney: Absolutely, and seeing as we recorded over in Denmark we were all living in a house together over there for three weeks which was really great. It was like a group of friends living together in college dorms or something like that!

What are your aims for the new record?

Brittney: I think really we just want to try and reach out to new places and new fans. I try not to have a lot of expectations because then if something doesn’t happen or something doesn’t go the way you wanted it to then you get a little bit down so I’m just going to go with the flow. We’re releasing it through the same Japanese label as last time and hopefully we’ll get some more listeners down in South America and all over the place really. I want to tour new places so hopefully that’ll be what comes of it.

How do you feel Apex compares to UNLEASH THE ARCHERS’ previous work?

Brittney: It’s a lot more cohesive I think; we’re a little bit more mature when it comes to song writing. We still love to play around with genres and different styles and techniques, I don’t think that’s going to go away, we’re just a little bit better at it! We know when to throw a breakdown in there and when not to now as supposed to just doing what we wanted before.

Apex is the first album you’ve done with bassist Nikko Whitworth, how has he settled into the band?

Brittney: He’s great, he’s a perfect fit for our style and for our temperament, and just who we are as people he fits in so perfectly. I love his style on stage, he’s really wild and energetic and he’s a fantastic bass player. He does things I didn’t even know you could do on a bass so he’s definitely kicking all our asses on the music front that’s for sure! He’s probably the best musician in the band now and we love him, we’re super happy to have him on the team.

How much of an impact does it have when you have new members coming in as well as people leaving the band?

Brittney: Well for us bringing Andrew [Kingsley] into the band really solidified that traditional metal sound that we’ve got going on – not super traditional, but more of a heavy metal centric sound, whereas before when we had Brayden, who Andrew replaced, it was definitely a bit more of a death metal vibe with his screams and everything involved so the song writing changed pretty drastically – not so much in the genre blending side of things but definitely in technique and arrangement. Where Brayden would bring a song and rip it apart and say ‘let’s do this and that’, there’s parts where Andrew’s like ‘nope, that’s the part’ and we’re going to work with it as it is, and he’s a very, very talented guitar player. He went to school and did jazz for a little while over there in Victoria and he’s got a great background in lots of different styles and so he’s definitely a different writer. We’re happy to change, we just continue to do what we do and Andrew’s a great fit as well. We’ve known him for years, he was in another band that we toured with a lot when we were living over in Victoria so it was just natural when Brayden left to ask him to come aboard, and we knew him very well and his style and what he writes like so it’s a good fit!

Looking at the history of UNLEASH THE ARCHERS, 2017 marks the band’s 10 year anniversary – it’s a massive milestone isn’t it?

Brittney: Yeah definitely, it’s gone by so fast it’s actually hard to believe! But to know that we’ve been together as a band for that long is pretty cool.

What bands influenced you when UNLEASH THE ARCHERS first started and are there any bands you still look up to these days?

Brittney: I think IRON MAIDEN is one of our bigger influences when it comes to sound and the style, and it’s been that way since the beginning for sure. I still listen to tons of MAIDEN and Bruce is a really big influence on me. Back in the day I think I listened to a lot more hardcore and metalcore, stuff like AS I LAY DYING and ALL THAT REMAINS and bands like that, and then I went through a really big power metal phase, there was a lot of LOST HORIZON and HELLOWEEN, and even speed metal influenced a little bit in the middle there. Now I’m getting back into the heavier stuff for sure, a lot of SOILWORK and I’ve actually just discovered SEPTICFLESH, I’m super stoked on those guys. I think it’s changed quite a bit but my vocal style is always going to be a bit of a defining factor in our sound so that doesn’t really change too much. I will always love Geoff Tate, Daniel Heiman and Rob Halford, so it’s going to be like that for a while despite what extreme metal bands I may be listening to!

UNLEASH THE ARCHERS have dabbled in power metal, and the scene is very big is Scandinavia, but what’s it like in Canada?

Brittney: Very lonely for power metal bands I would say! It’s very much a death metal country, we grew up with huge bands like KATAKLYSM and VOIVOD and heavier bands, and those were the guys that were setting the pace and representing for Canada. Even acts like DEVIN TOWNSEND are a much heavier but clean and more progressive style of metal so power metal isn’t that huge. I wouldn’t say that we play a traditional power metal either, there are some killer bands out there in Canada that we’ve played with over the years that are incredible power metal bands, but there’s really not one defining sound – there’s just some really rad talent all across this country and we never lacked for fellow bands to play with or anything so it’s good.

Moving on to touring, how do you find life on the road as a band?

Brittney: It’s really great, it’s routine. You’re living life through music which is every musician’s dream! The last tour we did in Europe was really cool because it was our first time ever being on a night liner, so you’d sleep and the bus drives then you wake up and you’re in the next town, and you hang out and you do your sound check, get all ready, do the show, party your face off and then sleep on a moving bus again, so it was definitely living and breathing music every second of every day and I loved it, that’s the dream right there – it’s fantastic!

What future plans have you got in store in terms of touring?

Brittney: Well we’re waiting until we release the album, and then we’re going to do a couple of release shows throughout western Canada, and then we’re going to hit the road for real in the fall hopefully through the US and Europe which are more of our immediate plans and then if all goes well we’d like to get down to South America and then back over to Japan again. That’s our number one goal really just to hit the road and we’ll probably tour for about a year, not straight though! But we’ll try to hit as many places as we can over the next year and then we’re going to get back to writing the next record.

Apex is set for release on June 2 via Napalm Records.

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