INTERVIEW: ANDREW KINGSLEY (UNLEASH THE ARCHERS)

Unleash the Archers are in my opinion, one of the top 5 power metal bands of the current era worldwide. I’ve been loosely following this band for a few years now, but it wasn’t until Apex came out and I heard “Awakening” and “Cleanse the Bloodlines” for the first time that I was completely converted and did a deep dive down the UTA rabbit hole. Recently, I was supposed to catch UTA in Rochester, NY but as many of you know, the first few dates of their September 2021 tour were COVID canceled when the band was denied entry into the US on 9/1/21. Since then, however, I’ve had a pretty chill dialogue with guitarist, Andrew Kingsley, who went public with a revised list of tour dates and a comforting livestream for disappointed fans during the first week of September. Naturally, the band was crushed and just wanted to see and play music for their fans again. Thankfully, the group landed on 9/6 and have been playing to sold out crowds each night since the debacle. To be honest, I wasn’t sure Andrew would have time to answer my interview questions, but he shot me his replies from the road. Thanks so much, dude. Let’s get into it.

1. I suppose this is a two-parter:

a. How did you first come to join the band around the time of UTA signing to Napalm?

I joined the band in late 2013 after UTA’s long-term guitarist and founding member Brayden left the band. I had known everyone in UTA since at least 2008. Grant and I were in a local Victoria metal band called Archon Legion, and we used to tour around Canada with UTA back in the old days. After Brayden left, Grant gave me a call and asked if I’d be interested in joining. I accepted and here we are!

b. Were there any songs in particular from the band’s indie days that really stood out to you as a musician?

I really dig the first album, Behold The Devastation. Grant and I’s old band jammed in the same spot as them, so I remember when they were working on it. Zahk or Mike showed me some tracks off of it before it was released and I was floored!

2. Back in 2015, and with the new lineup, the band’s style naturally began to shift closer to traditional heavy metal. What were those first few writing sessions like? What was it like during those formative practices which shaped the band into what it is today?

When I joined, the band suffered a big loss with Brayden leaving, as he had been the main songwriter for the band up to that point. He was much more influenced by metalcore and deathcore, whereas I came from a heavy power metal background, so the transition to a more traditional metal sound came from my addition I would say. A few songs from Time Stands Still were already finished when I came in, and I had a few songs from past projects that I reworked with the band and helped finish off the album. I think “Test Your Metal” was the first full song I wrote for the band.

3. Are there any songs in particular on Time Stands Still that you are most proud of?

I am very fond of “Test Your Metal”, as it is my first full offering to the band. “Frozen Steel” was a really good collar between Grant and I that I cherish as well.

4. What was it like being in the Nevada desert for the filming of the “Tonight We Ride” video and utilizing those Death Guild Thunderdome props?

Unfortunately that video was filmed before I joined the band. The demo for “Tonight We Ride” had been completed prior to me joining, and they went down and filmed it before the album was finished. When it came time to record the album and re-record the song, Brayden had left the band, so I played on the album version but I’m not in the video. They had a really good time from what I hear though!

5. Name a track off of Apex you are particularly fond of that IS NOT one of the singles. Why is this song special to you?

“False Walls” is one of my favourites off that album, as it’s the first time the band really took a stab at a more traditional heavy metal/pop metal sound. It’s very Operation Mindcrime era Queensryche, and I love how moody it is. Very much enjoy that song.

6. Now that you have all the material that you do under your belts, name a song you’d choose for a brand-new listener to be their first UTA experience.

I would probably choose “Awakening” and “Soulbound”, one is the power metal epic, and “Soulbound” has the newer keyboard sound, but is still heavy and a good representation of where we are now.

7. Compared to Apex, Abyss feels much more comfortable and laid back, almost closer to an ’80s movie rock soundtrack area of nostalgia, without losing UTA’s signature drive and energy. Did you find the flow in writing this record to come more naturally than on previous releases?

The flow came very naturally. I already had an idea of where I wanted to go with the music side of things, and Britt had a track by track storyline written out that I could follow. There were some bits of songs that had been rattling around in my brain for years, but when it came time to write the whole record, it came very quickly.

8. Do you still plan to release a graphic novel detailing the story told across both the Apex and Abyss albums?

Britt has been working on finding the right person to do it, but it’s a very very expensive undertaking. It will happen one day though!

9. How have you guys been holding up during the pandemic? Music business aside, how have you guys been dealing with the strains on your collective mental health while everything has been going on?

We lost a ton of shows and tour dates when Covid hit, which put a huge damper on our spirits. Some of us lost our day jobs, others didn’t, but the damage was felt by all. Grant, Britt and I turned to Twitch to fulfill that touring and performing desire that we love. It helped us stay connected to the fans during the long pandemic. I myself also stayed close to family and used the time to connect with them and I will cherish that forever.

10. Many fans including myself have now missed their opportunity to see you in the states two years in a row due to the global situation. I know you guys have already had so much to say publicly about this, but this situation must be just as taxing on UTA’s hearts, minds, and funds. In fact, many fans have offered to forgo their refunds and reroute those funds back to you, among other things. UTA has some of the best fans in metal from what I’ve seen, especially recently. In a nutshell, what would you like to say to the fans who have rallied behind you guys during this crisis?

I agree with you that our fans are the best! The level of support is incredible. I am constantly blown away and extraordinarily grateful for every single one of you out there. We try to make ourselves available to our fans on a more personal level than some bands do, and I think its important to have that connection. It makes the experience more fulfilling for everyone involved. Thank you so much Mike, take care!

Crowd shot from after the set at Baltimore Soundstage on 9/9/21

Visit www.unleashthearchers.com to grab some music and merch!

Unleash the Archers are:

Brittney Hayes – vocals

Andrew Kingsley – guitars, clean vocals

Scott Buchanan – drums

Grant Truesdell – guitars, harsh vocals

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