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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Archer Readies Debut

It’s about time. After the calculated hair band years, followed by dour grunge, then formulaic emo-screamo, true metal is back, led by a new generation of hard rockers, with Santa Cruz’s Archer at the forefront.

Formed earlier this decade, this real deal power trio features singer-guitarist Dylan, bassist Isaiah and drummer Jimmy, unleashing full fury and cathartic celebration with raw gusto combined with ever-growing musicianship on stage.

The young outfit has already earned Best Local Band honors in 2008 as well as the Metro Santa Cruz Goldies Award, as the newspaper proclaimed, “Archer could realistically incite the attention of a major record label and subsequently become objects of a renewed interest in classic metal."

Radio is raving as well: Kenny Allen, Program Director at KHIP-FM (104.3 The Hippo) in Monterey, Calif. said, “If you want to see what a real rock show looks like, check out Archer...a trio of talent that will rock your world!" European press is also taking notice and Heavy-Metal-Rock magazine’s site said, “This exceptional band shows in an impressive way how to combine traditional heavy-metal with modern influences; their music is loaded with brilliant ideas.”

Both Dylan and Isaiah come from musical families: Dylan’s father is a former musician in the guitar industry while Isaiah’s father, Vince Black, is a world-renowned reggae guitarist with punk credentials as well and introduced his son to music at an early age. “We really grew up with music,” Dylan says. “I got sucked in when I was about 11 and started playing guitar.”

Archer had its beginnings when Dylan and Isaiah were in high school, forming a group that mostly played cover songs of their heroes, including Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, and Van Halen – band’s Archer still covers with full exuberance during their more extended shows.

Initially, another singer was involved, but with his departure, Dylan stepped up to the mike. “We really forced him to sing,” Isaiah says. “When I tried to sing, I sounded like a pre-pubescent boy; Dylan had the best voice for it and he keeps getting better and better”

Archer’s debut album Doom$day Profit$ is a genuine tour-de-force, rich with powerful songs imbued with that essential combination of brain-burrowing melodies, ripping riffs, pulsing basslines, tsunami drums and grab-by-the-throat vocals. Citing influences that include Ozzy and Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Metallica and other legendary names, the group sums it up on their MySpace page as “Shred Zeppelin!”

Archer studio finesse and stage prowess has already led to endorsement partnerships with major music companies, including Epiphone guitars, Gibson strings and Steph straps. The group is already receiving global attention, from the Tokyo guitar show in Japan to invitations to play at the Sweden Rock and Bang Your Head festivals.

As songwriters, the band shows incredible maturity for a new outfit. On the album, there’s darkness and light with both probing and playful moments, from the evocative then, full-bore “Man Who Knows All” to the hammering yet sly “Brewtality” and grinding witchery of “Van Salem.”

“Songs are a group effort in the end,” Dylan says. “Isaiah and I will write a riff, usually the lyrics come second, though every once in a while we’ll come up with cool phrase or lyric and then jump off of that. Isaiah and I have found it’s best to work wide open. There’s no ‘I wrote this, I wrote that.’”

“It’s not like Megadeth with a lead singer-guitar player coming in with every single tune,” Isaiah says. “Some songs will go in with one riff or idea or tempo and just go off from there. With a song like “Trusting in Faith,” Dylan came in with the bulk of the song finished and we filled in the gaps. Each song has its own personality.”

Two of the boys’ favorite tracks are the epic “Trusting” and “Pride Before The Fall,” which both receive tremendous response live. “We’ve been closing with “Trusting in Fate” for years now,” Dylan says. “We want to be really heavy, but not lose sight of certain melodic aspects,” while Isaiah comments “It’s very complete with a dynamic range – it starts out really mellow then builds up very big only to drop out for another dramatic buildup to the end – like a classic song. The dynamics of any song are essential and can take someone to pure ecstasy even if you play the same exact three chords - it’s purely emotional.”

And then there’s “Pride,” with a key lyric line that inspired the album’s title. In contrast, there is “Andrea,” which Isaiah jokingly calls “The black sheep of the album. We pay homage to Van Halen, with classic shredding, the drum riff and all, while trying to do our own thing.”

While Archer is taking its music and career to the next level, each player has interests outside of the band. Dylan teaches guitar to students ranging from young kids to adults. “I just, for instance, picked up new students, and say “you’ve got to check out my band.’ It’s fun -- all these kids want to learn to play Metallica, from six years old or 20, and they’re all enthusiastic and it keeps my passion level up.” And what happens when Archer gets bigger? Will he drop teaching? “Naw, I’ll just have to charge more,” he jokes.

Isaiah, on the other hand, has an insatiable curiosity about the world at large, from politics to religion to other cultures and anticipates the rewards of interacting with young people in other countries as the band sets its sights on touring all over the world.

And then there’s new drummer Jimmy, who, in typical deadpan fashion says he got into it all to “get women” and he’s...”doing alright.” But of course! Like typical guys their age, the trio likes to hang out with friends, chase girls, and go out from time to time, just as long as it doesn`t interfere with what the band has going on.

Already having performed with some of the biggest names in rock including, Heaven and Hell, Heart and Sevendust, the band’s looking forward to sharing the stage at the Sweden Rock Festival this summer alongside their heroes such as Judas Priest, Def Leppard, Triumph, Saxon, and many more as they take the opportunity to return to Europe, especially Germany, where they found new fans and plenty of support. “We want to get the ball rolling more and build on all that credibility,” Isaiah says.

Meanwhile, Archer is garnering cross-generational fans wherever they play. “It’s pretty eclectic,” Isaiah says. “When we play bars, roadhouses, it’s mostly bikers and an older crowd for sure and they love what we play, they love the sound. There’s just enough of the old that they can latch on to it, with lots of the new for an audience that’s more our age.”

“That’s what we grew up loving – all those greats band – but it has to evolve in some way,” Dylan adds. “That`s what we`re trying to do. We would love to see this genre be as big as it was before and we’re having a great time with it.”

“We’re reigniting the flame for a new generation of classic metal,” Isaiah says, “paying homage, while giving it a new sound as well.”

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