Interview: Brittney Slayes of UNLEASH THE ARCHERS on The Pandemic, Twitch, and More

unleash the archers

Vancouver melodic metal band Unleash the Archers has been fighting the good fight since 2007, and just released their fifth studio album in August 2020. When one of our Patreon subscribers suggested we interview their killer frontwoman Brittney Slayes, I wondered if “The Little Blog That Could” would even get a response from this Billboard-charting band with so much going on.

But as it turned out, Slayes was happy to talk with us! Read on to find out how the pandemic affected UTA, how the group connects with their fans, and more!

Your new album Abyss is getting a great response!  Can you tell me about the writing and recording process for that album?

Thank you!  Both Apex and Abyss started with the story.  I wrote out each record as a track-by-track guideline, with each chapter of the story being a song.  Andrew then took that guideline and wrote out riffs that he thought would fit with certain tracks, and then would send the riffs to me and together we’d work out which ones sounded right and which ones didn’t.  Grant and Scott would help with the arrangement and final layout of the song, then Scott would write his drum parts. 

Once everything was done I’d write my vocal melodies and lyrics.  Everything is always written before we hit the studio, to make sure that we take the time we have to get every take perfect.  We recorded at Hansen Studios in Denmark with Jacob Hansen, and we only had three weeks so we had to make sure everything was done before we left.  Drums always record first, then bass and guitars simultaneously, then vocals last.  A lot of my lyrics were written while in Denmark, as I wanted to make sure that the final drum takes were what I wrote to, plus I’m a procrastinator  😉

How did you guys get connected with Napalm Records and what makes it a good fit?

We pitched our 2011 record to them to no avail, but I guess they kept their eye on us, because after we released a demo version of ‘Dreamcrusher’ from Time Stands Still on youtube they contacted us via email.  We had planned on releasing TSS independently like we had done for our first two albums but when Napalm reached out, we decided that might be a better course of action.  The album release had to be pushed back a bit so they could do their usual PR but it was worth it.  We are proud to be a part of the Napalm family, and it has brought us a lot of opportunities we wouldn’t have had otherwise!

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected UTA’s plans for 2020?

Big time, hahaha…  We were on tour in the US when the pandemic hit North America, so we had to stop everything and fly home.  Most of the shows lined up were sold out so it was heartbreaking to not be able to play for everyone, plus we were insanely in debt from all the expenses.  Luckily our fans were awesome and they helped us out by buying our tour merch off our webstore when we got home! 

The tours we had booked in Australia and Europe in the fall had to be cancelled, and all the festivals we had booked for the summer were cancelled as well; all fourteen of them.  It was awful.  The album almost got pushed back too, but I managed to convince Napalm that people would be hungry for new music during the pandemic and the release date was only changed from July to August.  Needless to say, Covid ruined pretty much everything!

UTA is known for blending many metal influences.  What were some of your own musical inspirations growing up?

The first metal album I ever heard that first got me into the genre was Countdown To Extinction by Megadeth.  It wasn’t a huge influence on me musically but it unlocked something in me.  After I started UTA I had to discover my metal voice, due to the fact that I had been singing classical music for so long, and the bands that really helped me do that were Queensryche and Lost Horizon.  Geoff Tate has such amazing emotional control and a really cool mid-range falsetto that I love.  Daniel Heiman has an incredible range and I love how he roughs up his vocals even during soaring wails; he is definitely the biggest vocal influence I have.  Iron Maiden is obviously a huge influence as well, but Bruce is more of an influence on me as a frontman, not a vocalist.  He puts on such a captivating show, and the audience is completely engaged when he is up there, so I always strive to do the same every time I hit the stage.

You guys have been at it for a long time — since 2007?!?  How do you stay motivated for so long?  What has kept the band pushing for success?

It comes in waves hahaha, sometimes you just want to crawl into a corner and take a break for a while, and sometimes you can’t think about anything else.  The constant drive to write new music is big one though, I always have ideas for new songs and Andrew does as well, so it’s never really long after we have put out a new album that we start working on the next one, and that always comes with the need to tour and support the record.  It’s a never-ending cycle!

UTA also seems to have a very engaged fan base.  How do you guys build that close relationship with fans?  What social channels/platforms are the most helpful in this?

Our fans have always been the most important thing to us, we always try to answer whenever they message us on FB or IG or Twitter, and if they email we get back to them there as well.  We hang out with them at shows instead of hiding backstage, and have been known to hit up an after party or two in our day  😉 

Lately we have also taken to Twitch, which is pretty much the best thing ever.  I like to play video games, and Andrew likes to write music on stream.  Either way, it’s a place where our fans can come and hang out with us as the real people we are, not the “rockstars” on stage.  It is insanely fun, and Twitch is a great community; we are really proud to have been embraced by them!

What do UTA members like to do when they’re not working on awesome, genre-blending power metal?

Personally, I like to read, watch movies, and play video games.  Haven’t had too much free time since the album came out, but I intend on getting back to doing all three of those things very shortly.  Plus more Twitch!   Hope to see you all there!

That’s a wrap! Find UTA’s music here:

Band photo by Shimon Karmel, courtesy of Napalm Records.

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