Archer Nation


27 Octobre 2019


Blaster Of Muppets

Interview Dylan Rose & Dave DeSilva (face to face)

Hi guys, thanks for answering a few questions for, "At The Gates of Metal" in English…

Dylan : Nice !

Dave : I like that !

How’s this tour with Annihilator going so far?

Dylan : Oh, excellent ! As you know, we were on tour with Annihilator four years ago as well, so it’s really cool to come back, not just to get back on a big tour like this once again and tour Europe, but to do it with Annihilator is great because we get to see some of the same fans who come to the show again…

It’s the second time you tour with these famous Canadians. Is there a special bond between the two bands?

Dylan : Well, I’ve kinda known Jeff Waters for a while because we both work for Epiphone so much, and he’s just a really really cool dude… When we made this new album, I just sent him a copy when it came out and asked what he thought. He thought it was really cool and we just kept in touch… And you know, Annihilator like to do these big european / UK tour so he just called and said « Hey, I’m doing this big tour once again, would you like to come out ? » so I just said « Yeah ! » (laughs). Then we saved some money so we could make it happen again and here we are ! And everybody really gets along, I think that’s a big part of it, I mean Jeff likes our band obviously but I think he really wants a band that he can rely on and that is easy to deal with.

Last time we saw you, with Annihilator, the band was called Archer. Why the change of name?

Dylan : Ok, so, we made a change not a long time after our previous tour with Annihilator actually, it was around 2016. The name of our website had always been, most of the links were already Archer Nation because the name Archer was already taken so we had this phrase in place… And the reason we made the formal change, for the band, and start putting Archer Nation on our t-shirts, CDs and so on is honestly due to the way things are these days with search engines and finding bands online, competing with other bands and trying to stand out. Because if you just type "Archer" in a search engine, we’re never gonna come up, you’re gonna find a TV show or other stuff first. Now, if you type the two words "Archer Nation", we’re gonna be the first thing that comes up. So, yes, it’s really about digital viewership…

"Culling The Weak" was released in 2015 and "Beneath The Dream" was released a bit earlier this year… What happened in this lapse of time?

Dylan : When "Culling The Weak" came out, we almost toured the whole year of 2015 and we really didn’t have any time to write new music. Same thing in 2016. So, those two years were really about touring non-stop. In 2017, we got home and started to write and we did that for a long time… you know it was actually the first album that this line-up wrote together because our drummer Keyhan joined the band right after we were done making "Culling The Weak"… so it took a while for us to get to know what album we wanted to make exactly and what album would make the three of us happy. Because even though we have a lot of things in common, we also have different influences so we had to take some time to figure out what the sound was gonna be with these three people. So that took a while and then recording took a while because Mike Clink has a very busy schedule so we had to fit in where we could with him… And then, after that, it took a while to figure out how we were gonna release it. We had contacts with a lot of different labels, back and forth, waiting for answers, before we finally found EMP and then also, we didn’t want to put out an album without a big tour to support it, so we had to wait and see when we could go out on a big tour and release the record.

So let’s talk about this record… What is the "dream" ? And what is "beneath" it?

Dylan : Ok, so there’s two things going on there. There is of course a song on the album called "Beneath The Dream", so the title track was actually written during the "Culling The Weak" sessions and it didn’t make it on that album…

Dave : Yeah, the way it was didn’t totally fit with "Culling The Weak". We didn’t change our sound too drastically but I think that now, with the little changes we made and the way we sound, it definitely works a little more. We’re just a little bit heavier and darker, it works better with this album for sure.

Dylan : Yeah, exactly. Now the song itself is about these dreams that I used to have all the time. I had a childhood friend who passed away ten years ago now and right after his death, for years, I would have these dreams with him, I was hanging out with him, all the time, it was really strange… so this song is really about that. Now, when it came down to naming the album, well, for one, our producer Mike Clink was like « Why are going back and forth with titles for this album ? Why don’t you name it "Beneath The Dream" ? Just name it "Beneath The Dream" and be done with it ! » and then this title generally fits with the rest of the songs on the album….

Dave : Yeah, I would say that most of these songs are about confronting the repressed aspects of the mind, you know what I mean… And this actually works on multiple levels with this album. We’re trying to get a little more, not only psychological but maybe existential. For example, there’s this song "Severed" which was influenced by a book I read, "The Myth Of Sisyphus" by Albert Camus, that is about the idea that the struggle of Sisyphus was not necessarily a bad thing if you looked at it a certain way. There’s a lot of cathartic things that can happen when you have nothing to think about at all except for rolling this rock up this hill, you know what I mean ?

Dylan : So we decided to write a whole album about a guy rolling a rock up a hill (laughs).

Dave : Well, sometimes, you’ve got to, you know (laughs). No, but "Beneath The Dream" is also about the dream of the unconscious mind being the dream and how we can go in there and dig up lots of things.

Dylan : So, after all that, we thought « Oh, "Beneath The Dream" actually kinda works out for the whole album on multiple levels » cause you know, Dave actually wrote more lyrics for this album than he ever did before, especially that song "Severed", he wrote all the lyrics for that one, so that kind of lined up with the rest. So when he wrote "Severed" and I started writing the lyrics for "Acedia" for example, we realized we were dealing with the same kind of things.

Also, I have to say that the artwork for the album is great…

Dave : It is !

Dylan : Yeah, Kiren is actually an old friend of ours… he used to play drums in a local band in California that played with our band when we were kids. He’s just a really talented guy, check him out : his name is Kiren Bagchee, Kiren in Digital is his website.

Dave : We couldn’t be happier about what he came up with. You know, we told him about the album and he thought about this illustration all by himself… and it’s just great.

Musically speaking, it’s in the vein of "Culling The Weak" but this time the influences from the 70s seem a little less prominent…

Dave : Yes, that’s accurate. This time, we tried a little bit to avoid too much of the pentatonic scale, you know… And as Dylan said before, this was really a collaborative work. "Culling The Weak" was really written by Dylan and me but this time we had Keyhan and he’s younger than us so he has different and more recent influences… so we kind of slightly went to a little more progressive direction, not to say that we have become a progressive band, we haven’t, but there are more odd time signatures, interesting rhythmic things going on and Keyhan brought a lot of that into the record.

Now, if I told you that some songs really sound like some old Megadeth from the 90s, would you take that as a compliment or on the contrary, would it upset you a little?

Dave : We would definitely take that as a compliment !

Dylan : We’re on Dave Ellefson’s record label you know…

Dave : And Mike Clink produced our record. He’s the guy that produced "Rust In Peace", you know what I mean, it kind of makes sense…

Dylan : It’s one of my favourite albums by one of my favourite bands of all time… But yes, I think "Beneath The Dream" tends to be a little more metal, more thrash and a little less heavy or hard rock so I guess that it makes sense it sounds a little more like Megadeth and less like Black Sabbath for example… That’s not offensive at all.

Dave : But at the same time, we’re trying to evolve a little bit and slightly stray away from classic stuff. I mean, our influences are always gonna be there, I mean Dylan is a fan of Zakk Wylde, Marty Friedman, I’m a fan of Geezer Butler, so that’s all in there, but I feel like we tried a bit more different things on "Beneath The Dream" and I’m sure we’re gonna continue trying new ideas and evolve in the future…

That’s right, we can actually hear some interesting atmosphere on "I Am The Dawn" for instance, with its very discrete keyboard in the background, not too noticeable but enough to bring something to the song….

Dave : That’s why Mike Clink is brilliant. He’s able to do something like that, that is very subtle but really opens up the music at the same time. And then, when there are parts that are missing, a transition here or something else there, he’s very good at getting you write it yourself, he’s just very good at getting the actual band’s creativity. Sometimes you have these producers that help the bands and some songs end up sounding partially like what the producer wanted or wrote himself and then you have producers that are really good at maximizing what the band can do and Mike Clink is like that.

Dylan : That’s right. He knows how to push the right buttons to inspire you to fix whatever problems you have with the songwriting.

Now, talking about Mike Clink, that’s the second time you work with him, I was wondering if you’d like to try a different approach next time or if you’d rather choose him again in the future…

Dave : Well, it’s extremely possible that we work together again.

Dylan : Yeah. He’s a brilliant guy. When somebody asks me about how it is to work with Mike Clink and I want to be funny about it I just say it’s like working with Yoda. That’s my line about him… because he’s so knowledgeable and he’s done so much in this business… Even just hanging with out with him, talking to him, asking questions is really fun. He’s so smart and knowledgeable, he’s done everything, you can constantly learn from him.

I have to say that I love the sound of your records, organic, not overproduced, with every instrument clearly audible and a live feeling in the sense that when you play a solo, for example, you don’t have five guitars playing at the same time in the background, you know what I mean?

Dylan : Ah, great ! That’s good !

Dave : That’s cool ! That’s exactly what we want. For lots of bands, it happens that something gets buried in the mix, or sometimes to make up for something that’s missing, you overcompensate and it ends up way too loud in the mix. That’s often the case for bass for example, either you can’t hear the bass or « woa, that’s way to much bass »…

Dylan : And we don’t want to record any music that we can’t do live. It’s like the keyboard thing on "I Am The Dawn" we just talked about. At the beginning, it was actually louder the first time… I liked it but I was like « Ok, we have to make that quiet ‘cause I don’t want anybody coming to our shows and saying hey where’s the keyboard ?! » (laughs). Also, being in a trio forces you to write in a certain way and you have to think « ok, how are we gonna do this live ? » so if we put a million guitars in a song, we’re not gonna be able to do it.

Alright, more general questions now. Who made you want to be musicians?

Dylan : Well, my dad plays the guitar. So that’s how it started for me. We both come from musical families… So there were always musicians, guitarists at my parents’ house when I was a kid. At first, it definitely came from my parents. And then you’ve got all the influences and stuff…

Dave : Yeah, my dad is also a guitar player and an audiophile. Any pop culture and music from the 20s to the late 90s, he just knows about. But also my grandfather was a professional big band singer, my other grandfather is a keyboardist, he toured with a band called The Fraternity Of Man and opened for Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull, my aunts are all singers… everybody in my family, on my father’s side, has done music in some capacity. So it’s a little bit of a cliché in my family, like the obvious thing to do, like « Of course a DeSilva’s gonna play music ! ».

Dylan, when I first saw you in 2015, I immediately thought you probably liked guitar players such as Zakk Wylde, Randy Rhoads or Marty Friedman… Was that accurate ? Who are you other heroes?

Dylan : Those are really the big ones. I just think Tony Iommi is the coolest guy in the whole world, I mean, just inventing this heavy metal sound, how can I not mention his name ? Also Dimebag Darrel is another one. I absolutely love him. And then, there are so many guys are not metal at all like Stevie Ray Vaughan, I just love his sound… I could go on and on…

And Dave, your favourite bass players?

Dave : My favourite bass player of all times is not metal, it’s Jaco Pastorius…

Dylan : That’s very cliché… (smiles)

Dave : Yes, that’s a nerdy bass player answer (laughs)… And then, if we talk about rock, hard rock or metal, I would say Jack Bruce from Cream. The man revolutionized the way of approaching improvisation. Of course, Geezer Butler. He’s a bit like Jack Bruce actually but darker, he even says himself he wanted to be a bass player after listening to Cream… and then I would say, I don’t know, Billy Sheehan probably, he’s amazing.

It looks like you released music before these two records (I remember some songs on youtube) but it’s quite difficult to find… How can your fans put their hands on that material?

Dylan : Oh… you can come to my house ! (laughs)

Thank you, it’s gonna be a bit difficult to organize though….

Dylan : Yeah, well… (laughs). So, to answer the question, there was a record in 2006 called  "Doomsday Profits", it was the earliest time of the band, myself and two kids that I went to high school with, we were teenagers when we wrote that record, the sound was more hard rock… and then, later, there was an EP "Who’s Gonna Save You Now?", that one was on YouTube I think. We actually did that one with Gilby Clarke in 2010, I think, and for a lot of reasons that are really silly to look back on now, it didn’t get released.

Do you consider this music part of Archer Nation’s history or would you rather say these are releases from a different band?

Dylan : Well, that’s a good question because it deals with the history of the band. In one form or another, I’ve been doing this Archer / Archer Nation thing since I was fifteen… and I’m now thirty-three. So it’s been going on for a long time already. I think there are distinctly different eras : the early days with "Doomsday Profits", kids playing in their mom’s garage, I’m still proud of being in a band for so long, but looking back at it, being so far removed from it now, it does kinda feel like a different band altogether. But then, in 2009, when I met Dave, that’s really when things started to change, the first time. So it’s not like sixteen years, more like ten years with Dave. And then, we’ve had our drummer Keyhan for the last five years and to be honest, these five years are the most productive era that the band has ever had.

What’s next for Archer Nation?

Dylan : We get home at the beginning of December and we’ll just stay home a little bit, enjoy the holidays… But we’re already working on what we’re going to do in 2020, we’d like to tour for another six months. Probably the States again, I’m not sure who we’re gonna tour with exactly but we’ll find something. I’m sure we’ll tour a lot. Then we’ll see what happens next summer. And then, we should probably think about writing a new record.

Dave : Yeah, I’m ready to write !

Thank you guys. Anything you’d like to say, now’s the time:

Dylan : What’s really important for us is to reach as many people as we can. Hopefully, some people who read this interview will check us out, like us on facebook and do all that social media thing… it’s a bit sad to say but that stuff is so important these days…

Dave : Yeah, it’s important. For any band you like and that’s not quite famous yet, go to their shows, buy merch from them, tell your friends… If we made a good impression on you, come and see us again !

Dylan : And we really appreciate you taking the time to shine a little spotlight on the band and helping promote our music, man. Thank you.

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