Death metal blows tweed curtain wide open with Juno nomination

A technical death metal band started by a drummer who grew up in Oak Bay, has received a Juno nomination for metal/hard music album of the year.

“It’s pretty mind-blowing for us to be nominated considering the genre of music we play. It’s pretty extreme music,” said Spencer Prewett, Archspire’s drummer and founder. “It’s not anything that ever comes up on the mainstream radar so we never dreamed that we would be recognized by the Canadian government.”

Archspire, currently back in Canada for three weeks in between their European tour and upcoming Japan and U.S. tour, played two shows on Vancouver Island this past weekend.

“Since this album came out things have gone into hyper-speed. The offers have just been flying in,” said Prewett.

Attending Glenlyon Norfolk and Vic High while growing up in Oak Bay, Prewett started diving into death metal at the end of high school. After he finished school he felt that he needed to go beyond Victoria if he wanted to submerse himself in the death metal scene. A friend who was living in the Netherlands at the time suggested Prewett do an exchange and get a work visa for the Netherlands as his favorite bands toured there all the time.

“With the Netherlands being so small, you could go to another town, see the band, take the train home and still be in bed in time for work the next day. That idea thrilled me,” said Prewett, who took the advice and moved to the Netherlands for a year. It was during his time there that he was first introduced to the genre of technical death metal.

When Prewett moved back to Canada he settled in Vancouver to pursue music and start a band. In 2009 he brought some friends together, found a guitar player on Craigslist, and started Archspire. Prewett told the musicians what his goal was and what genre he wanted to play. He even created a code of conduct which included how many times a week they would play and firm rules about not using drugs or getting drunk before shows. He made it very clear that everyone had to be devoted to their instruments and the band had to be their main focus.

The band consists of Oliver Rae Aleron on vocals, Dean Lamb on eight-string guitar, Tobi Morelli on seven-string guitar, Jared Smith on bass, and Spencer Prewett on drums.

“We found guys with the same mentality that were willing to work their butts off for it and make it the main focus in their lives,” said Prewett.

Their dedication has been rewarded nine years on. The band first found out about the Juno nomination on Facebook, shortly before they got the official email.

The Juno website says Archspire’s brand new album ‘Relentless Mutation’ is the death metal record of 2017, and “sees Archspire emerge as one of the genre’s apex predators. The complexity and fluidity of the compositions is astonishing.”

Prewett has 19 family members that plan to attend the 47th annual Juno Awards in Vancouver on March 25, to help celebrate the band’s accomplishment.

“I have an extremely supportive family. A great team. My mom was in a touring band when she was a teenager and used that to pay for medical school. She’s always been especially supportive,” said Prewett. “My family does pretty well and they cast a pretty big shadow. They’ve never had a problem with me pursuing music, they never pressured me to be a lawyer or a doctor. I got a lot of support from my family.”

“I couldn’t be prouder of Spencer and his band’s achievement,” said Prewett’s aunt and Oak Bay Coun. Hazel Braithwaite. “As you can imagine, technical death metal is not a mainstream genre, so to achieve this recognition is exceedingly difficult. Since his time as a student at Glenlyon and then at Vic High, Spencer has worked extremely hard on his drumming – enabling him to become one of the fastest and best drummers in the world – again not an easy feat. I know his family and his fans mean a lot to him and I couldn’t be prouder to call him my nephew!”

It’s a busy year ahead for Archspire who will be touring in Australia and New Zealand in August and will return to Europe for shows in November and December. They also have some Canadian dates lined up before heading to India.