UNLEASH THE ARCHERS are back with a new album. That alone is reason enough to interview them again. But you will also get to know more if you read this interview. Answers from Brittney Anders Ekdahl ©2017
Do you feel that is has gone the way you intended when you formed back in the days?
-For the most part, yes I think it has, although it did not happen nearly as quick as I had hoped 😉 When we first began, we were in a very small town, with a tight knit music scene. We were something new and different, and everyone thought we would go far; we made the mistake of thinking the same thing… When we got out into the ‘real’ world we realized we were one of many, and began to work much, much harder to set ourselves apart. We have always set goals for ourselves but we have made sure to keep them manageable, and realistic; tour the USA, tour Europe, sign to a label, tour Japan… We are just going to take it one day at a time and see where it leads us!
How do you feel about your latest recording? Did it come out the way you expected it to?
-This being our first time recording with Jacob Hansen of Hansen Studios in Denmark we had very high hopes and I think it exceeded our expectations for sure. The album is great, it is true to our sound, it is fun and catchy and has some great hooks. We all performed to the best of our ability and put our hearts and souls into it, but I do not think we have yet reached our full potential. I am sure I will always find fault within our own music, and don’t get me wrong I am very proud of this record, but I think there is room to grow, and that is a good thing. I think our fans will love this record but there will always be these little niggling things I wish we had had the time and opportunity to change but there’s nothing to be done about that now. You always learn something new every time you hit the studio and the next album will incorporate those lessons and build upon the successes of the last!
Do you feel that you by now have found a sound that is the band and that you can build on it?
-We are ever-changing, always evolving, but yes I think we may have attained what could be called ‘that UTA sound’ so much so that when someone hears us they know who we are. We will always mix traditional heavy metal with death and melodic metal and whatever else we feel like throwing in there, but I think we do it in such a way that makes us unique, and sets us apart from others like us a little bit. On our record you will hear super dark chuggy songs right alongside upbeat hard rock songs and finger-flying power metals songs, but we love that part of our sound and will continue to allow genres of every type to influence our music. We have big plans for the next record but our sound will always incorporate little bits of the music we love.
Is having a message in the lyrics important to you? What kind of topics do you deal with?
-Absolutely. The message does not always have to have a moral or speak to your personally but I feel it is very important for a song to tell a story, otherwise it has no direction, no purpose. I sing about science fiction and fantasy for the most part, but do add touches of reality in abstract ways (especially on our 2015 release, Time Stands Still). This new record, Apex, it is a concept album telling a story entirely made up of whatever weirdness was going on inside my imagination 😉 It is very much a fantastical story but I think it still has aspects that you will be able to relate to and that will connect with you and whatever may be occurring in your life at the moment.
How important is the cover artwork for you? Can a really cool cover still sell an album in this day and age of digital download?
-Cover art is very important but not in the sense that it is a tool to sell records, I think it is an integral part of telling the story of your band and the music you play and the message that you are trying to deliver. We have had the same cover artist since 2009 and when circumstances forced us to make a change we decided to veer in a very different direction. Some have said that they feel a bit of a black metal vibe in the cover artwork for Apex and we are totally ok with that. Being that this album tells a story we wanted the art to do the same and I think Ken (Sarafin, Sarafin Concepts) achieved our aim with ease. It’s just my opinion but I think the new cover is beautiful! Might have to frame it and hang it on the wall!
Why is it so hard for bands that come from places not the US or UK/Sweden/Scandinavia to break big? What is success to you and is it something you’d like to achieve?
-Honestly I don’t know why exactly but I think it has a lot to do with record labels; they seem to be more open to signing on young bands that have not done much when they come from the US or Scandinavia, they give them a chance early. Whereas if you come from Canada or Australia or somewhere more obscure or not known for heavy metal than you have to “prove yourself” before anyone in the industry will even give you the time of day. Which consists of endless hours of touring in a grungy van and building a solid fan base on your own. I understand that it is difficult to support a band that won’t support themselves, the label is not just going to start doing everything for you, we still very much do all of the same things ourselves that we have always done, but we were considered a worthy investment because of all that hard work. A band from Canada has a much harder time touring the US due to logistical issues, and can’t get over to Europe without a huge bill for flights and gear, so the labels need to make sure the band will have the ambition to jump these hurdles without their help. Not saying that labels are the only path to success but they are the most common one. In my opinion, success is not one moment; it is not something that just happens one day. Success is measured in little achievements, in accomplishing goals that you set for yourself. For instance right now our next goal is to tour South America, so once we do that we will have found success in that particular endeavour, thus making us “successful” Of course there is always the delusion that one day I will pay the bills with music but I find that ‘hope for the best, prepare for the worst’ is the best motto to live my life by these days
Today the competition is harder. You got plenty of digital platforms for new talent to display their music. How do you do to really stand out in a world where everything but the music is blind to the listener?
-Stay true to yourself, and do what you love to do, and that passion will be contagious. If you spend the time and energy to write memorable songs and create lasting videos for them and tour them as much as possible then you will be noticed. Music is a way of life, not a hobby, but if you treat it as such then so will everyone that listens to you. However if you live and breathe it and make the sacrifices necessary to continue playing music no matter what then it will show in your song-writing. Plus the little things matter… Answer your fans when they message you, sit at the merch booth and talk to them after your show, hold them close and they will do the same for you and spread the word about your music to all they come in contact with
What is your local scene like? How important is a national scene for a band to be able to break out and make it international?
-The scene in Vancouver is small but tight. We have several bands that are insanely talented that deserve to be signed, and some that are doing very well for themselves as independents, and some that are just having fun and are great support for the other musicians around them. We have a couple of extremely dedicated promoters that bring a lot of big tours through and do their best to get local bands the exposure they need. I think a strong national scene is very important, because when a country constantly puts out great metal (aka Finland, etc;) then other metalheads all over the world will begin to look there for new metal and be more open-minded. For Canada, bands like Kataklysm, Voivod, Strapping Young Lad, and 3 Inches Of Blood have paved the way for a new generation, and laid the foundations for a strong presence in the heavy metal world. “Standing upon the shoulders of giants” has never been a more poignant quote than when referencing the growth of a music scene!
Rock and metal has come a long way since the early 70s but still some people’s attitudes towards it seem to be left in the stone age. How accepted is metal in your area? Is it like in Finland where it seems to come with the mother’s milk?
-It is still quite underground here, and by underground I mean it is not played on mainstream radio (except artists like Metallica, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden) but even then they are being played on ‘classic rock’ stations. There is no metal station, at least not in Vancouver. Also the local magazines and newspapers print about the latest trend bands and alt-rock or indy-rock artists and the metal bands usually are tucked away at the back in a small corner 😉 That being said, I am ok with that. I don’t want metal to become some fad that they sell in corner stores to make a quick buck. It’s perfectly mainstream to me in my life and I won’t ask for anything more than that.
What does the future hold for you?
-Hopefully plenty of touring! We would like to come back to Europe and play way more shows in the UK and hit a bunch of the countries we didn’t get to on our last tour (France, Italy, and Spain to be precise). Would love to get back to Japan and to South America and Australia for the first time. Almost all of our man-hours are going into getting those tours booked right now and then once we’ve tuckered ourselves out on the road we’ll get back in the old jamspot and write the next album! The cycle never ends! But that’s why we do this right?