Unleash the Archers – Feed the Metal Beast Part IIMonday, 22nd June 2015
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve done some impressive touring for an independent band prior to your signing with Napalm Records – beyond Canadian borders into North America and Mexico. How did these tours shape the band’s live philosophy and overall personal chemistry – did the long rides and down time bring about a closer knit group?
Slayes: (laughs) For sure. Scott, Brayden, and I have been touring together since the beginning of time, and that was always our main goal- to get out on the road and show people what we can do in front of their faces. Grant has always felt that same way that it’s important to get out on the road- so when Grant joined the band… touring kind of weeds out, I’m not going to say the soft ones, but if you go out on tour with someone, you’ll know right away whether or not they are going to be able to make it. And whether or not they are going to be a part of your band at the end of a tour. It definitely brings you closer together and it hardens you. We toured with Andrew and Grant in their earlier bands when they were in a different band, it’s like your family. Scott and I are together (as boyfriend/girlfriend), that’s always easy of course. Grant and Andrew are like my brothers, and Kyle the new bassist is really easy and a funny guy. It makes your live performance so tight- I mean you jam pretty hard before you go on the road, but it’s when you are on stage night after night in that routine that you really solidify your performance and where to move on stage and you get a feel for each other. It’s the best part of being in a band, for sure.
Dead Rhetoric: Have you become experts on van repairs?
Slayes: (laughs). Yes, we know not to screw around when a red light comes on the van dashboard that’s for sure! We had a really big breakdown in Amherst, Nova Scotia, back in 2011. This mechanic guy we found down the road, it was a very small town- he pretty much rebuilt the entire engine. All I remember was 4 days in a hotel was like purgatory. Missing shows left, right and center- it felt like it was a weird Twilight Zone episode where it was like if you walked out the door of the hotel room, you just would end up walking back into that hotel room. You can never leave… we were permanently stuck in this horrible, vicious cycle. We’ve gotten really good at taking care of our van- and we did take care of it right until she quit on us on the other side of the country. We cubed her after that, it was very sad (laughs). We learned a lot from her, that’s for sure.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you stand on the seriousness of the music you play versus having a good time? It seems like you embody the clichés while developing catchy hooks and melodies on both a musical and vocal front…
Slayes: Honestly, it’s all about having a good time. I try not to be too serious in the lyrics. Sometimes I have a story I want to tell and it may be a darker story, and that’s okay. I can still write a super, upbeat, major scale, catchy chorus and sing about the darkness that is within us all kind of thing. I try to keep it light, especially on this new record. We have a couple of new songs that are downright dark and almost depressing I guess, for the most part I want everyone to have fun and be able to sing along and connect with the words and music. I want them to think of a song that may make them think of a good time they had this past summer, or this song reminds me of my brother, and all the times we had before he passed away. I want you to find your own personal story within what I write. I am definitely not political- I do not want to tell people my views or opinions in my music. A lighthearted approach is definitely what I am aiming for.
Dead Rhetoric: You plan on supporting this album with a fall North American tour with Brazil’s Hibria – what can the fans expect in terms of a live performance, and do you take merchandising seriously as an effective means for building the Unleash the Archers brand?
Slayes: Absolutely. We’ve always had lots of merch- it’s a very important part of actually making it on the road. It pays for the gas from city to city more than anything else does. Before our last tour we were pretty broke because we had just spent all of our money on the recording so we didn’t have as much as we would like to have, but now that we have a record label behind us they are helping us get our hands on stuff that we otherwise wouldn’t have had access to. We will have quite a bit of merchandise on this tour and I think it’s important that you have a little something for everyone. Not everyone wants the big flashy metal t-shirt- so we like to have a lot of different options.
But it’s definitely going to be a wild tour. Hibria is crazy Brazilian power metal- Iuri’s vocals are in your face and so rad, lots of catchy stuff and really great guitar playing. They are really talented on all fronts. We are going to have a hard time keeping people involved, they are going to be so excited to see Hibria after us so it’s going to put us on our A game for sure playing with those guys- I think we are up to the task.
Dead Rhetoric: Has there been a long-term plan in place for Unleash the Archers – and if so, are you satisfied with where the band sits in terms of establishing a solid fan base and the growing popularity?
Slayes: I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied until everyone knows us in every corner of the world. I think that growth is paramount- we want to get down to South America, make new fans there. We want to get to Japan, we want get Western Europe and Eastern Europe, we want to get to the UK. Even Southeast Asia or India – wherever there is metal, we want to go there. We toured a lot as far as we could go with what we had as an independent band, and now we are going to just keep going further and further. I’ll play to the penguins in Antarctica if I have to! I don’t know if they are big fans of metal down there. Our plan is definitely to play Europe first off, we are working on something for early 2016 and we want to play festivals. Playing festivals is a great way to get your sound out there to a lot of people at once, so hopefully we will be able to get ourselves on some festivals in 2016. Constantly hit the road- whenever and wherever people want us.
Dead Rhetoric: Obviously being a female vocalist, the category of ‘female fronted metal’ comes up. Is it something that you embrace, and how do you hope people view your work as you are singing a little differently that a lot of the symphonic vocalists?
Slayes: I’m proud to be a female in metal. There are certain barriers to it, there are people that hear those two words ‘female fronted’ and they will completely shut down listening to your stuff. And that’s fine, those people don’t matter – they are probably shutting themselves out to a lot of killer metal, not just female fronted. If they do that, then they are probably pretty closed-minded about things in general. I don’t like making a big deal out of it though, I don’t like using the fact that I’m female to sell us. It’s kind of hard not to, I know that – but I don’t like making it all about me. It’s about us as a band and how we work together and I’ve always felt that it’s very important that we all sort of are the face of this band. You can’t really get away from it, and it is more prominent now, women in metal for sure. Maybe it’s always been there, but nowadays people seem a little bit more open to it. Media is more open to it, there is more of a support network there. The one thing that sucks though is the competitive nature that plays on it – you hear a female fronted band and the first thing a lot of people do is they say ‘oh- well, they aren’t as good as this band, insert other female fronted band here’. You never do that with a male fronted band- I don’t listen to one band and go, ‘well- it’s no Iron Maiden!’ You just don’t do that with guys – I don’t know why people do that with the women, because we certainly don’t feel that way. We don’t revolve our entire business strategy around what another band is doing. That’s kind of a detriment. If you like it, you like it- if you don’t, then you don’t have to come to our shows.
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