Saturday, February 16, 2019

February 16th, 2019 - "Flying Off Into The Fantastical Realms Of The Imagination": An Interview With Brittney Slayes Of Unleash The Archers

Good afternoon and hails rockers!  As you know, my wife and I recently attend the 2019 70000 Tons Of Metal Cruise... 60 metal bands in 5 days on a cruise ship!  While there, I had the great fortune of meeting and chatting with one of my metal heroes, Brittney Slayes, lead vocalist of Canadian power metal monsters, Unleash The Archers!  The following is my interview with Ms. Slayes... enjoy!

B&T: Thank you very much for meeting with me Brittney Slayes from Unleash The Archers here on 70000 Tons Of Metal.  So this is the first time your band has been on the ship, correct?

BS: Yes

B&T: Have any of you been here before [as concert goers]?

BS: No.  Yeah, personally I've always really wanted to go, but I really didn't want to go on the cruise until I had played it.  I didn't want to jinx it or something.  [laughs]  But now I'm free to be a tourist.

B&T: Very cool!  Any bands you saw yesterday... or any bands that you want to see?  Who are you looking forward to seeing?

BS: Oh yeah!  Tons!  I caught Fleshgod Apocalypse yesterday and they were absolutely phenomenal... just so good!  And of course Týr.  They're really good friends of ours so I had to see them.  I think Sunday is going to be my big day because there are quite a few bands I want to bounce around between... Ne Obliviscaris, Gloryhammer, Nile, Nekro[goblikon], what was the other one?  There's one other one that I wanted to see.  You know, you are constantly look at your day sheet trying to figure out who to see.

B&T: "How do I get there from here?"

BS: [laughs] Exactly!  Its really funny because everybody's got their step-counters on you know?  And comparing steps per day because you do really walk quite a bit between each venue.  

B&T: So let's talk your newest album, "Apex", which is really quite an amazing album.  I mean, I love all your albums, but that album... it's a little darker in how it feels.  It's a concept album.  And you've done a concept album before.  There's a lot going on with "Apex" both musically and lyrically.  Maybe talk a little bit about that?  And do you see a sequel to "Apex"?  

BS: Absolutely, yes!  Yeah, we kinda took a different direction with "Apex" writing-wise.  We had done "Demons Of The AstroWaste" as a concept album, but [laughs] it was very much just us kind writing off the cuff and whatever came to us.  And a lot of times Brayden [Dyczkowski - former guitarist]
would bring a riff and I would be like, "this sounds like a battle riff.  There should be a battle." It was really just very disorganized.  So for "Apex", I was like, "okay, it's going to be a concept record and this is the story."  I wrote it out chapter by chapter, which was basically the tracks guideline.  And so chapter one was track one and I expressed exactly how I wanted it to feel and sound and what was going to be going on in the story at that time.  So the boys just used that to write the riffs and let it be the inspiration for the album.  So I think it was a lot more cohesive this time around and we really enjoyed that writing process and doing it that way.  Yeah, we are definitely going to do the next one the same and it is going to be a sequel to the story that was "Apex".

B&T: Cool!  Are you willing to share any hints of what we might hear?  Have you started writing?

BS: Yeah.  The story is pretty much laid out.  There might be a few changes here and there depending on like you know... I don't want to be set in stone with anything.  So if Andy [Kingsley] comes up with a riff that is super rad, but it doesn't really fit, I might twist it a little bit to work.  For the most part it is all done from chapter one to chapter ten and beyond.  So we've started writing.  We have a few songs.  But this summer is when we are really going to do it and focus all of our time and attention on it.

B&T: As far as your writing goes, is that kind of the process... where you will bring lyrics, the band will write riffs and kinda vice versa?  What is your writing process?

BS: Well, the lyrics don't come until the end.  That's the last thing I do.  But I just know what the story is going to be that the lyrics will be based on.  So really what I do is say like "this song should be super fast and dark or this, that, or the other... and this is what is happening in the story at that time" and then the boys will then take that and come up with riffs based on it.  And then they will come up to me with the riff and say like "Hey, I think this is right for this song."  And I may be like "oh yeah, it's perfect" or I may be like "no, I thinks it's more like this song."  Or maybe I'll say, "no, I don't think that's right for this record at all."  And we'll put it in what we call the "bag o' riffs", which is a little drawing on our white board in the corner.  So [laughs] if a riff doesn't make it, it goes in there and may be used in the future sometime.  And then we will write around the riff [that makes the cut].  But on our last record, Andy would come with complete songs.  He would say, "here, this is for this track."  And I would be say, "oh yeah, that's perfect!"  And then we just arrange it... add parts, take parts out, whatever.  It is very much all of us doing it together.   

B&T: It sounds very organic!  That's very cool!  As a vocalist, you have a massive range.  Who are your inspirations? How did  you get into music?   Who inspired you to be a singer?

BS: Well, I first started listening to heavy metal when I was eight years old.  My brother was kind of into heavier music.  Up until that time, I just listened to whatever my parents listened to.  But my brother brought home a Megadeth record and I thought, "oh, I think this might be who I am as a person!"  And of course you go through stages as you grow older.  When I was in high school... just as I was graduating, a friend of mine introduced me to Iron Maiden and I was like, "oh, this!  This is my kind of heavy metal!"  And from there I just started searching out heavy metal again and discovering bands like Judas Priest, and Dio, and Queensrÿche, King Diamond... just a million different, amazing bands all with amazing vocalists.  So that's what made me realize that I could do heavy metal.  Because I had always been a classical singer.  I had done choir my whole life and musical theater, that kind of thing as well.  You know, you watch Bruce Dickinson on stage... and that's all things musical theater, and classical, and heavy metal, and it is all kind of this awesome ball of entertainment.  So he's one of my biggest influences... definitely when it comes to stage.  And vocally, yeah... I like Geoff Tate.  He's a huge influence on me.  And Matt Barlow from old Iced Earth.  And Daniel Heiman from Lost Horizon.  I heard him and it was like, "oh yeah!  This is where I need to be vocally."  And I started pushing myself .

B&T: How about songwriting?  As a songwriter, who has inspired you?

BS: Well, Iced Earth for sure.  I mean they've done more than a few concept records and I really like their style.  And Soilwork actually has been a big one for me as well.  I mean Björn [Strid] is such an amazing songwriter and vocalist.  And he's so entertaining.  And the way he brings you into the music through the lyrics... so that as well is a big one for me.  And Bruce of course and Dio... I mean you want to sing about dragons and flying off into the fantastical realms of the imagination forever.  [laughs]  I could do that!

B&T: So I have to ask you this for my wife.  So you are a cat-lover.  What are the names of your cats?

BS: Cow Panda is the one with us now.  And Silas was given to me right as I graduated high school.  But then I went off to university and he's been at my parents' house this whole time.  And my parents have a nice, big back yard.  He's like this little hunter kinda guy so I didn't want to take him away from there and coup him up in a condo.  So Silas is mine, but he lives with my parents.

B&T: So my blog, as ridiculous as it is, I pair craft beer with heavy metal.  

BS: That's awesome!

B&T: So Brittney gets home from a long day recording or you are on a ship playing big shows and you just want to chill out for a little while, what album do you listen to and what beer do you drink?

BS: Well, I'm a bit fan of  Radlers... I don't know why.  I just like it.  And album?  I don't know.  I don't really have a go to, but I've been listening to a lot of Insomnium lately and it isn't metal, but a retro wave band called FM-84.  I've been listening to them a lot.  [laughs]  At the end of the day, it's kinda chill.  Most of the time, I like to play a lot of video games to chill.

B&T: Any particular games?

BS:  I was kinda off the switch there for a while, but I got Donkey Kong for Christmas.  And Scott [Buchanan - drummer] is playing through Red Dead so I kinda sit there with him while he plays and help him out with stuff when he needs a hand.  

B&T: As far as Unleash The Archers touring, what's next after 70000 Tons Of Metal?  Are you going to continue touring?  I know you are going to start writing soon.

BS: No, this year we are taking a break from the road and we are just going to focus on the album.  We kinda rushed "Apex" a little bit more than we wanted.  We are not going to do that this time.  We are going to take our time.  We are going to record in the fall.  We are basically going to take the rest of the year to make this record and tour the CRAP out of it in 2020.

B&T: Cool!  Are you looking at a worldwide tour?

BS: Yeah.  We are going to try to get absolutely everywhere.

B&T: Are there any bands you would like to tour with?

BS: We just did a U.S. tour with Striker.  That was so fun!  I would love to tour with Striker again.  And Gloryhammer... I would love to tour with those guys.  And my dream tour would be with Iced Earth.  You never know.

B&T: Apart from Iced Earth, who would be another dream tour?

BS: Ghost... I think that would be phenomenal.  I am so into Ghost and into what [Tobias Forge] does.  He's so talented and such a visionary.  He's following a path he created for himself and I just love it!  I want to do the same thing!  Own it... start a new project where nobody knows who anybody is and write super fun, heavy, rad rock.

B&T: Well, thank you so much Brittney!

BS: Oh yeah... perfect!


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