Iconic hard rock trios like Cream, RUSH and others have cemented themselves in music history by taking a bare-bones lineup of guitar, bass and drums to the top of the rock charts. At the core of these bands are huge guitar sounds weaving chordal structures one minute with soaring lead lines the next. It's a beautiful thing if you are a guitar manufacturer like Epiphone, or just a fan of the six-string.
Santa Cruz, California based band Archer is keeping that hard rock trio vibe alive while adding their own youthful twist. Drawing on influences as wide as The Beatles to Black Sabbath, Archer's sound is centered on the vocals and considerable chops of Dylan Rose. We caught up with Dylan just as their new album is reaching completion.
Thanks, Dylan for taking the time to talk to us. I always like to start these interviews with some history. What was it that initially sparked your interest in music? Did you grow up in a musical home?
Growing up, there were always guitars and a piano in the house and our family would have these big jam nights where our friends would come over for a night of playing music together. Music was an integral part of our household and looking back, it seems like becoming a serious musician was inevitable.
So, I assume Mom and Dad were happy with that choice?
Yes. I had all the encouragement and support in the world.
You mentioned a piano and other instruments around the house, but at some point you settled into playing guitar.
I wrestled with a chord or two, off and on, for a while, but I picked up the guitar for good a few months before my 12th birthday. I can still recall learning "I Saw Her Standing There." That was the beginning of it. I kept at it and soon thereafter discovered Nirvana, which served as the perfect obsession for a kid trying to get a grip on how to play electric guitar.
Nirvana certainly let young players know that you didn't have to have Zakk Wylde chops right out of the gate in order to play great rock and roll. But obviously it didn't take you long to develop razor-sharp technique. Would you say that you are now more of a technical guy or a "feel" type of player?
Great question. My short answer is hopefully both! Feel should never be ignored. Ultimately, I think that's what it's all about. That being said, I did benefit tremendously from having an influential teacher as a teenager and from my formal musical education at Musician's Institute.
Yeah, I think it's best to combine the two. You have to play with feeling and emotion but it's nice if you can also reach into your bag of tricks and pull out a technical riff.
A lot of players lean heavily to one side or the other, but in my humble opinion, having the two sides coexist yields the greatest reward. That's what intrigues me the most.
What Epiphone instrument is your go-to?
It's been Les Pauls for me since I got my first one in high school. It was an Epiphone Elitist Les Paul Custom that I still use as my #1 to this day.
I was initially drawn to all the history of the Les Paul. All the iconic images of Jimmy Page, Duane Allman, my personal hero Randy Rhoads... the list goes on. And when I really began to focus-in on hard rock and heavy metal, I realized the sound and feel I needed was all there. It was fat and heavy and singing and classic all at once. I'm sold.
Another pretty famous Les Paul player has had you on tour with him. What was it like to tour with Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society?
We've done a couple different runs with BLS. One was on the West Coast and up through Canada, the other in Europe. Every show we've done with them has been awesome. I studied and looked up to Zakk a lot as a kid, so to be around him every day and share a stage with him has been an incredible experience. The rest of the band are excellent players and killer guys too.
I just heard a few tracks off the upcoming Archer album. They sound great! Big, fat guitar tones always go over really well around here. What's the story with the new project?
The first advance single is called "My Atrocity" and is now available on iTunes and everywhere else. (Go here to listen and download.) The album was recorded at producer Mike Clink's (Guns N' Roses, Metallica, Megadeth) Sound Instinct Studios in Los Angeles. It has been a thrill working with a legend like Mike and I think the product reflects our combined efforts to make the songs as good as possible. We also went back to our friend Maor Appelbaum (Yngwie Malmsteen, Rob Halford, Geoff Tate) for the mastering duties. He's a wonderful talent with a lot of acclaimed work under his belt and made the final product sound killer.
Well, it sounds great and we are anxious for rock and roll fans to get their hands, and ears, on it!
It's an exciting time in the Archer camp right now with all the months of writing, recording, and planning starting to pay off as the bigger picture becomes clearer. We'll see exactly what 2015 has in store for us soon enough!