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Ed Archer (Fifth Angel)

Interview with Ed Archer from Fifth Angel
by Grigoris Chronis at 16 June 2010, 4:06 PM

Seeing FIFTH ANGEL onstage? A dream come true and nothing less! The reactivated legendary American band – fingers crossed – shall probably spread new music in the near future and that’s alone exciting news for all fans of this impressive outfit. Ed Archer was kind enough to answer to METALTEMPLE’s high-pressure questionnaire and here’s all the info you need to know on FIFTH ANGEL’s whereabouts.

Ed, the band’s set at ‘Keep it True’ festival (Germany) was quite impressive, to be honest. Did you expect you’d finally expose such a high level of performance? The crowd’s response was quite thunderous, too.
Thanks Grigoris, that’s a really nice compliment! Yeah, very nice crowd response, we really did feel very welcomed…and were treated so well!We weren’t sure exactly how things would go with this, there were really a lot of things to it….the fact that this band had never played live, never performed these songs….and band personnel changes, some of them last minute….we were even considering cancelling when Tim blew out his voice in rehearsal.But Peter crammed a lot of ‘learning’ in a short time, and then that damned volcano blew and we thought our flight would be cancelled!I tell you, sometimes it seems like there is ‘something’ that is trying to stop this band from doing anything again! But to get back to your question: we prepared as much as any band could with the circumstances, and I think things came off fine, all things considered.Yeah, we could have done better, but again, first time ever playing for the band, and with a singer that just jumped in a couple weeks before the show…AND…the show was actually the first time that this lineup all played together! John had not been in the rehearsals with Peter since he had to get back to his home in Florida…so yeah, I think we did fine.But, there were very many years in my life where I truly felt that this day would never come…and really didn’t care either way!

What were the critical issues you had to work with (since the reformation was decided) in order to bring this specific FIFTH ANGEL lineup in Europe and deliver the goods? Apart from Ted Pilot stepping off finally.
Oh man, it’s more like what wasn’t a critical issue…there were so many!There was so much…so many things, and really, because this band has not been active for so long and very few of us have been much involved in music for so long, we had to start from scratch pretty much on everything…where to practice, what songs to re-learn and practice, how and when to practice with everyone’s schedules being so busy, and us not all living in the same area….equipment needed for practicing…and on and on…and then on top of that, the lineup issues! We all had to ‘go back to school’ in a sense with re-learning the songs and getting them down, literally getting our fingers back in shape, then trying to get them tight as a band….and these are not easy songs; the guitar parts have a lot of intricate things going on, turn arounds and twists and whatnot, and ya know some of the vocals have some pretty challenging parts to them! I’ve gotta’ say that Kendall did one helluva job with getting the James Byrd leads down, and he did it note for note!And of course the drum parts…the tracks that Ken Mary laid down are his signature style, and I’ll tell you Jeff rose to the occasion and got it all down! The things is: my main thing for getting back into music was/is for new music…I’ve got a ton of ideas and songs that started popping into my head last year, so that has been my focus, and everything else was/is just a side thing The KIT thing for me definitely was not my main focus, but rather something that came up after the fact, where we thought“oh, a live gig….ok…what the hell!” and then the reality hits of preparing for something like this after being inactive for so long!

Is it rumours or truly the “Time Will Tell” lineup was in the works to reunite and tour around 2000 and 2007? If yes, what happened and the idea was abandoned?
Yeah…you can blame me for it not happening!I don’t recall anything for 2000 but I do recall 2007.I was totally not into doing anything with FIFTH ANGEL at that time, or anything having to do with music for that matter.I was well established in a life, and it was totally outside of music…I definitely was not in the frame of mind of doing anything with music.Yes, the lineup was attempted to be that of “Time Will Tell”, but I think up front Ken was not able to do it, and this was before I was approached, when I was approached my decision didn’t have anything to do with Ken doing it or not, it was simply a flat out “no…not interested” for me, but things have changed greatly in my life since then.Yeah, a lot of shit has happened in my life, leading to me becoming musical again! Don’t really care if anyone is interested in the new music I’m creating. I mean, yeah I’d like people to like it but ultimately that’s not the reason for be doing it….I’ve been doing it to vent out…to purge out some ‘demons’ and express myself and tell some stories. That’s what music is really, storytelling!

So, should FIFTH ANGEL Fans expect a new album? If yes, how many songs are already penned & a general direction chosen? If no, what’s the main obstacle scotch such a plan?
Man…I really hope there will be another FIFTH ANGEL album, but it is really hard to predict right now.Like I mentioned, it’s almost as if there is ‘something’ at hand trying to stop any progress….there’s been some really bizarre shit happening….strange coincidences, some good, some really bad…weird timing of things, including death, illnesses and things.After doing ‘KIT’ I developed a major problem in my left ear (that’s why I’m delayed with doing this interview…sorry for that), I’m still partially deaf since playing ‘KIT’ and the stage volume was not that loud!It was, and is a really bizarre thing which has me really thinking about music, and what I may or may not be able to do if my ear does not recover.I’ve been seeing doctors and taking medications for it but they’re not giving a diagnosis until I have more testing done. For awhile I was thinking I might have Menieres’ disease which would be totally devastating…but now I don’t think I have that.I’m hoping it’s just an inner ear infection, and really hoping I’ll regain my full hearing. Time will tell… So, I’m having to approach things carefully and cautiously, having to go easy with things with sound and volume levels for now….but…if things go in a positive direction, I hope to get back into song writing and demos in the next couple months, and work with everyone on songs…maybe even start tracking in the summer…again, if things go OK.So, I don’t think we’d have a finished product until late in the year if we’re lucky!Maybe not until early 2011. So, yeah, I’ve got 10 completed songs demo’d right now, but stopped when we started getting things together to put the ‘KIT’ show together. I’ve got another 5 to 10 completed songs floating around in my head that I need to get demo’d, then another 5 to 10 half complete song ideas and tons of other bits and pieces of ideas, and Kendall and John have songs/ideas as well…no shortage of ideas, it’s just a matter of tweaking and adjusting, demoing and moving forward with it all…but I’d really like to have my full hearing to do it properly if possible! So as far as a direction, I can tell you that much of the stuff I’ve been writing is dark and heavy. Stories about the more unpleasant side of human nature….having, what I feel, are some interesting musical twists and turns.

Are/were you in negotiations with any label/company for a new release or re-releases on of the first two FIFTH ANGEL albums? Are you aware (cause we are!) many many people would kneel to have new easy-to-be-found CD versions of “Fifth Angel” and “Time will Tell”?
No negotiations with anybody on anything….we’re not looking for this, not interested in this….but maybe a distribution only deal? We’ll see. Any new album would be totally self-financed.Today’s technologies allow having really amazing audio quality at the fraction of the cost as compared to years ago before such technologies existed!So right now I have a very basic home studio setup, but I’ll probably go for a more advanced higher quality setup….but I think we’d probably do drums in a studio with a large ambient room with a nice analogue console. No, I was not aware of the demand of the first two albums….don’t know anything about a re-release of those….it would be nice to do a buyout of the masters from the label and re-release them on our own, but I’m really more focused on new music!It’s really nice to hear of the ongoing interest in those first two after all these years!

You believe FIFTH ANGEL was an unlucky band (since your skills were obvious!) with two great LPs and a promising career in front? Your first demo attracted Mike Varney, Shrapnel Records then brought the Epic/CBS label’s interest etc. Why you think you did not make it to bigger sales/audiences? Enough facts are written at but a two-line summary would be fine.
That is a really good question…something really interesting to think about with being “unlucky”. I think fate has a lot to do with things, you know, the way things are ‘supposed’ to happen in life?!I don’t think FIFTH ANGEL was supposed to do any more than it did back then…grunge was coming on the scene, Epic was merging or being bought out by CBS…things were happening (or NOT happening) that lead to lack of label support and declining support in general…things just slowed down to a halt, and I quit! So, the end result, and everything related, such as sales and whatnot….and now, after all these years, becoming active again…I think?….how crazy is that?!I mean, I NEVER, EVER planned on doing anything in music or with FIFTH ANGEL again…but here it is, I’m doin’ it now!Yeah, life has its twists and turns, and my life has certainly had A LOT of twists and turns…makes for a lot of experiences, some of them being pretty wild, but you can draw from them with creativity and songwriting!!

The lineup changes in FIFTH ANGEL’s ranks was – in your opinion – for the better of the worse, now looking back? Really, do you have any kind of contact with James Byrd and Ken Mary the last years?
No contact with James, but I think he is an amazing talent, I’ve always felt that. Ken also, an amazing talent…I do stay in contact with Ken and his family…we practically grew up together with meeting so young in life…I just recently visited his mom and sister!

Apart from the video for “Time Will Tell”, is there any other kind of archived promo or raw footage from that era?
Actually…there is a lot of behind the scenes type of footage, doing the “Time Will Tell” video shoot, recording the “Time Will Tell” album, doing photo shoots…that type of stuff.I shot a bunch of footage recently with this whole ‘KIT’ thing…behind the scenes with rehearsing, band meetings, going to Germany…so there’s a lot of stuff right now and more to be added I’m sure.My thought is to put something together at some point with footage from years ago ‘back in the day’ coupled with more recent activities.We’ll see on that one!

Not that it’s a big matter anyway, but do you consider FIFTH ANGEL being a Hard Rock band, a Heavy Metal one or something in between? (Off the record, I had enough disputes all these years with other F.A. fans declaring one or the other ‘inscription’).
That’s a really subjective thing….what use to be considered Heavy Metal years ago is maybe now considered “easy listening”? Ha! I remember LED ZEPPELIN being described as ‘Heavy Metal’ years ago…but are they really?Maybe back then that label fit but now?I describe to my 12 year old son that FIFTH ANGEL is Heavy Metal and he insists that it is not!So, I really don’t know…maybe the old stuff would be called ‘traditional Metal’? Not sure what the new stuff would be considered…really not looking for a category when I’m writing, I’m just doing what feels right to me…just trying to let it flow.

So, what you’ve been up to after the FIFTH ANGEL 80s days and up to now?
OK….so, I guess it’s time to start writing a book for that!So here’s the short version: I went back to school and got a degree in Electronics, got established in a good job/career, designed and built my dream home in the middle of a forest…got married, had a child, became a family man, got divorced…went a little nuts through all of that crazy shit…got back into music, and I have a new philosophy in life with focusing more attention on today and doing what feels right to do (don’t EVER forget your dreams and aspirations and passions…and don’t EVER let someone take them away from you…live life to its fullest). So, I’m enjoying life, trying to be a good father, having fun being single again! And of course, back into the magical realm of music and creative thought and expression.

What was the main motive for you to pick up the guitar? Can you recall your early influences (bands, guitarists, sounds)? Are any of them still being your personal faves?
I think being a musical kid, entering into puberty and discovery rock music got me into guitar.I started on violin at a very young age, then piano, then cello…then I discovered Rock ‘n’ Roll music around 9 or 10 or something…and got my first guitar around 11 or 12. Yeah, I was totally into bands of the day, LED ZEPPELIN, BLACK SABBATH, Peter Frampton, THE KINKS, THE ROLLING STONES ….on and on and on!I’m still a huge Led Zep fan!As for guitarists: Jimmy Page of course, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton…now this is going way back! I remember thinking a lot about Page’s guitar sound on their 4th album, I thought it was such a cool dirty guitar sound…then eventually Eddie Van Halen’s sound…totally BALLS OUT and RIPPIN’!

Would you imagine yourself - as a guitarist/musician – having a different (better or worse) portfolio/recognition/career/whatever(!) if located in Europe? The European continent’s Rock/Metal fan base has shown some more ‘dedicated’ appreciation to bands and musicians and genres, not willing (many times) to allow trends coming and going…
WOW! That’s a good question!I really don’t know…I think it’s hard to say. There are so many different factors with success…and as I mentioned before, ‘fate’, the way things are ‘meant’ to be! I suppose doing different things in life changes your direction and your fate, or maybe it just seems that way….and maybe we are all actually doing EVERYTHING exactly the way it is supposed to be….the way it is pre-planned for all of our individual destiny’s.

Thanks a lot Ed, hope we hear new FIFTH ANGEL stuff soon!


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Edited 28 January 2023

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