Unleash The Archers

We recently spoke with Andrew Kingsley, from Unleash The Archers, about the new album “Abyss”, his side project Sleeper Ship, and how 2020 has affected everything. Read more below. The interview was conducted by Bill Groen.
Unleash The Archers band pic
I’m here today with Andrew Kingsley, from Unleash the Archers. How're you doing today Andrew?
Andrew: Not bad, sitting around, was working on a song earlier. Got a day off, so that's nice.
You guys are over in Vancouver, right?
A: Yeah, I actually live on Vancouver Island, but the rest of the band lives in Vancouver.
Are the wildfires affecting you up there?
A: They were, the smoke actually just cleared out yesterday. So that was the first clear day and today is very nice blue skies. So that's nice.
That’s always a good thing. Those wildfires are a bad deal right now.
A: Yeah, they’re really bad this year. We were actually pretty lucky this year in BC that it wasn’t as bad as the previous summer, and the summers before that. We have fires every summer.
Coupled with the wildfires and everything. With the whole COVID thing going on. How have you guys been doing? I know you’ve been on twitch, writing music and everything.
A: Not bad. We should be on tour right now. So that is kind of the biggest downer. I haven’t really been home this much in the last five years. Because we always have like a tour circuit. We took a break before this year. And we’re like, alright, 2020 is gonna be touring. It wasn’t. So I’m just trying to keep busy with Twitch. I’m writing, spending all this free time making more music.
With all the music that you create, and everything. Obviously, it’s a little different between Unleash The Archers, and what you’ve been doing on Twitch with Sleeper Ship which is your solo material.
A: Yeah.
Sleeper Ship is kind of like, more 80s metal?
A: Yeah.
Is that where a lot of your influences come from?
A: Yeah, a lot of them come from that Iron Maiden to the Judas Priest, Dio into like 80s pop stuff, like, Tears for Fears, some Genesis, and whatnot. When we were writing the new album, we put two kind of 80s, throwback songs on there, and then I kind of was like, “Hey, this is fun. I like writing this stuff”. So I wanted to take it further. I don’t want to put too much of that into UTA. So I was like, I’ll just do a little bit with UTA and then I’ll expand on it on my own. So that’s what I’ve been doing with this is kind of toying around with some more retro sounds. I really like synth wave and stuff like that, too. So, I’m kind of marrying the two together.
You joined Unleash The Archers in 2014 wasn’t it?
A: Yeah, I think it was the very end of 2013. And then ‘14 was when we started getting to work.
Did you appear on “Time Stands Still”?
A: Yes.
Since you joined the band, the sound between the albums before “Time Stands Still”, “Demons of the Astrowaste”, and when you joined, the sound took a bit of a shift. It was cleaner and things seem to be more articulated and easy to pick out. Maybe a little more technical. Did you kind of bring a lot of that in with you, with your influences and everything?
A: Yeah, I think it was me and Grant. Because before that, the guy that I replaced in the band, Braden, he was the main songwriter in the band. Grant joined after “Demons” had been written, but he did a few solos on it. So then “Time Stands Still” was really the first album that me and Grant were writing on. Me and Grant were in a band together, years previous to that, and we were always more like straightforward power metal, traditional metal, thrash guys and stuff. So, there was definitely a shift in sound that way. I think I remember when I joined, the previous stuff, like the first two albums are awesome, and I’ve known all those guys since when they were recording those and everything. But I remember like, Brittany is such a good singer that I was like, I wanted to put more of the focus on her and the melody. So that kind of influenced the writing, it just makes sense, because she’s such a powerful singer. And I wanted to really focus on that, and making the whole thing more melodic and concise.
You’re sponsored by Vigilant guitars, correct?
A: Yeah.
Did you use Vigilant guitars in the studio? Or did you use a smattering of gear in the studio? Like a lot of people say “oh let’s try a 5150 here, or a plexi” etc.
A: On the new album, I used my Vigilant and that was it, but I just got sponsored with them after “Apex” and before “Abyss”. On the previous album, I used Jacob’s guitars, he had Solar guitars and whatnot. Because when we were on tour, we just didn’t know the end of the tour and our gear wasn’t exactly in tip top shape. So, we just went in the studio and used his guitars, they all have EMG’s and the same basic pickup sets. So, yeah, this was the first one where I got to use my Vigilant and they have performed great.
So you use your Vigilants live obviously, what kind of amps are you running? Are you running through any amp Sims like a Kemper or Axe-FX or anything?
A: Right now I am running my Hughes and Kettner Tubemeister 36. I was using Axe-FX, but I use the Axe-FX mostly in my studio now. Then I use the H&K live because it’s smaller than my Axe-FX actually. And it’s got a direct out in the back of it. I don’t really use a lot of effects. I pretty much just use clean and overdrive. So, I would like to get maybe some delay and reverb. For now, it does the trick for me. I might go with a Kemper at some point.
Sticking with doing live stuff. All the time, you’ve been touring, mostly over the last five years? What’s the favorite thing that has happened to you?
A: Rock Fest Barcelona was a really big one, it was our first big European festival. So it’s kind of a moment, you know, one of those times, like, Oh, we reached it. Then Helloween, we were playing with them, with the old lineup back, with the three singers and stuff. They’re one of my favorite bands. So that was really special to me, but then also, the first big tours, doing that, meeting the guys in Rhapsody, and then touring with Tyr. The guys in Tyr have become really good friends of ours, and that was really cool. It’s very special you know, we don’t take it for granted. We get to see a lot of cool places. And we get to meet people all over the world, and it’s the best part of it.
So what’s the biggest fail that happened on tour going in the other direction here?
A: Oh, a few bad technical issues, and then getting angry at it. Most of the time, I can brush it off. But there’s been a few times I just freak out on stage or something and just walk off, and then come back. I think the biggest one, and it’s not really my fault or anyone’s fault, but a bunch of us got a really bad flu on one of the tours. And I was, vomiting minutes before going on stage. I was just out on the couch. I ended up playing the show backstage with a bucket, which kind of is a fail, but it’s also like, I just had to do it. That was like the worst experience I’ve ever had. I don’t think I made it through the whole thing. I might have done like a few songs and I was like “I’m done”.
When touring finally comes back around. Are there any bands that you guys are hoping to tour with? Any locations that you're really hoping to hit, other than everywhere that was canceled?
A: Pretty much everywhere that was canceled. I really want to get back on tour with Stryker and our friends from Canada here and I’d like to tour with Helion Prime again. Those folks are really good. They’re awesome. I’m not too picky as long as they’re good people. Tours are always fun when you all get along.
Moving into the more recent stuff with “Abyss” and everything. I was watching the video for “Faster Than Light”. Why did it have to be you who was killed first?
A: I like to drink more beer than everyone. So they’re like Andrew is obviously out of shape. So he would definitely be the first one that would want not to run
For those that may not have listened to “Apex”, and “Abyss”… Can you like give a condensed synopsis of the story?
A: I actually haven’t delved too deep into the story. That’s, Britt. Britt really knows that. I know that there is like the immortal is awoken. He’s woken up 50 years after the events of “Apex” in space. This time, he’s on a ship and he’s like, what the hell is going on? But I think this time he’s free and his mission is now to take care of the matriarch and rid the universe of her, because she had control of him in the previous chapter, and she used him to kill a bunch of people. So now he’s fighting for his freedom. And that’s kind of the basic overview of the story.
I love the whole album, the production is great. With every album from Unleash The Archers, you guys have evolved by bounds and leaps, it sounds better every time.
A: I’m glad. I think my favorite bands have always kind of experimented and changed a bit while retaining a core sound.
How are you guys gonna top “Abyss”, it was incredible. “Time Stands Still” was great, “Apex” was even better. “Abyss” is even better than that. You guys are just killing it.
A: Yeah, there’s some heavy, big boost to fill there. We thought that was “Apex” too. Yeah, it’s kind of weird. They both just kind of happened organically where it’s like, I start writing and then, I just hide away for a bit and we’d write. Then we just go over it with a fine tooth comb and be like, that part sucks take it out, or that parts nice. Then yeah, it just worked. Some of the songs and some stuff on “Abyss” was around during “Apex” and even before that, too, so it’s all kind of like, the same pot, right? They’re both definitely different sounding albums, but the general core of them is based around the same stuff.
So even though “Abyss” just came out with everything happening right now, you’re not able to tour or support the album live, even though you just did the live streaming of it. Are you working on stuff for the next album? Potentially already?
A: Potentially, I’m just writing stuff. Right now I’m writing mostly for my Sleeper Ship project. But if I started to write riffs, and I just record them I’m like “I’ll put that away”. And then, you know, if I write a song for a Sleeper Ship, or something that turns out that would actually be a good UTA song. Or if I just start writing, it’ll be “Maybe I’ll put that aside”. So I have no idea. Right now. It’s just music. But you know, we might because if we can’t tour until later 2021, which is what it’s starting to look like, we’re gonna have another year off. So, it would be kind of weird, and by the time we get to then there’s already another album ready, which kind of sucks for the promotion of “Abyss”.
Before you joined Unleash The Archers, stepping back a little bit in time. Were you kind of playing around the Vancouver scene and down in Seattle.
A: Yeah, so Grant and I had a band called Archon Legion. And we’ve been playing together since we were about 13 or so and had a few different bands, we didn’t really go to The States much because, you know, we were like 17 and getting any touring in the States at that time was far out of our budget. So we just stuck to Canada. We did Victoria, all the way up Vancouver Island and we went to Vancouver and we went through BC we made it all the way up to Ontario and stuff like that. Just in a van as a bunch of kids. You know, playing to four people. We did the 30 hour drive from Manitoba to Toronto as 30 hours through just, nothing but and we actually toured with Unleash The Archers when they first started because we were all in the same scene. We all knew each other. I still go camping. I still see Mike, their old guitarist. He lives in town, here. I remember being at a bar in town here when I was like 17 him being like, “Hey, I’m in this band and Brittany sings and all this stuff and you guys want to do a show together?”, and we’re like, “yeah”. Then we went on a few tours together. Just small ones. That was when “Behold” came out in like 2009 I think, so they were still on their first demo.
Yeah, hopefully, things can break loose here soon and tour can start happening again, we’re all missing live shows.
A: I was watching some live stuff the other day and I was getting all teary. But, you know, it’s kind of a blessing and a curse. I obviously really want to go on tour. It’s what we do. And we miss everyone. But I’m spending a lot of time with my friends and family and like, our little area and it’s really nice, you know, focusing on home life and stuff. So, it’s not that hard. It’s not so bad, but I really want to tour. I really miss it.
I think that’s all I got for today. Thank you very much, sir. It’s been a dream talking to you.
A: Thanks for having me.
Good luck with the rest of 2020, whatever it may bring and hopefully see you back out on the road in 2021.
A: Yeah, you as well.