Introduce yourself and your bandmates and tell me all about Better Left Unsaid.
I'm Brent Terry, the drummer. Our new lead singer, from Santa Rosa, California, is Paul Nieblas. Jason Jones is one of our lead guitarists, and Rob Fernandez is the other. Adam Armstrong is my partner in the rhythm section. Paul's influences range from Corey Taylor from Slipknot to traditional rock singers like Steve Perry from Journey. Jason's a shred guitar player who's heavily influenced by guys like Marty Friedman, Paul Gilbert, Dimebag Darrell, and the guy that started him playing guitar: Randy Rhodes. Jason literally picked up a guitar for the first time after seeing Randy play on Ozzy's "Crazy Train" video. Rob Fernandez has more jazzy and blues influences, and he's a big fan of Eric Johnson. Adam is only 21 so his influences are guys like Paul Gray from Slipknot. Because of his age, we had to introduce him to the bass playing of Steve Harris from Iron Maiden and Cliff Burton from Metallica. Myself, honestly, it's John Bonham who was my biggest influence. Also, guys like Neil Peart from Rush or Chris Adler from Lamb of God. Better Left Unsaid got its start in April 2003. I was in another band that was going nowhere fast, and I was butting heads with the other members. So I started my own band with the right members and the right ideas for building a band. I met Jason at the Guitar Center and told him I had an idea for a band, with a business plan and ideas on marketing to push us when we need it. He agreed to join up with me, and he already had a bass player and another guitarist. As far as songwriting, we write cohesively as a unit. It usually starts with our guitar players having an idea or a riff. I'll add my ideas on a pattern, and having a song structure like that allows us to then add rhythm and bass. At that point, our singer Paul and I try to come up with something lyrically that fits the song. We're not religious, but we look for something inspirational that comes from the heart, and that's the best description of our music. We all have a dedication to our instruments and that shines through. Everything we play is 150 percent us with diverse melodies and strong composition. We've been compared to bands like All That Remains, Killswitch Engage, Bleeding Through, and Shadows Fall. It's one hell of a honor to be mentioned in the same breath as anyone of those bands. They're we want to be.
Music fans can fans listen to song clips from your current record, "The Silencing," at your MySpace page, www.myspace.com/blumusic. Where can they purchase your album?
They can download it at iTunes, or purchase it from CDBaby or they can order it directly from us at our MySpace page.
In today's music industry, recording an album presents its own set of challenges. Perhaps the bigger challenge for a new band though is getting that record heard. What was Better Left Unsaid's single biggest challenge making this record and what's their game plan trying to get the record heard?
Probably deciding which songs to record (laughing). To be honest with you, the overall production of the record. We never worked with a producer before. We co-produced our record with Adam Ruppel, an ex-guitarist from the band Systematic. He has his own recording studio in Modesto, California. The idea that someone else would cut a part of a song, add a part to a song, or re-structure a song that we've played over and over again to get it ready for the studio was definitely the most challenging. As musicians, those songs are our babies. We had to be willing to sacrifice, which we did not have to do, and we had to be willing to change and have an extra person listen to our music and make suggestions. My guitar players may disagree but every change the producer suggested made the songs better. As far as a game plan, we've recently added a publicist who can get the word out about us to people that we don't have direct connections with. We've toured the United States twice, going from California to Boston and back as well as touring in the Southwest. We're heading out any day now on a tour with two other bands that will take us through California, Oregon, Washington, and Utah. We'll tour as much as we can since there's no better way of getting your music heard than playing it for different sets of people. We're trying to utilize all of the digital media by getting it distributed digitally to all of the major marketplaces that we can. Paying your dues comes in many forms and you have to be smart and business-like. We're the band that if the kids are in the moshpit killing it, I'm the guy that walks out and hands them some of our CDs while thanking them for the support. You have to give a little to get a little. Better Left Unsaid is not a band trying to get rich and famous; we just want to play music for a living.
Talk about Better Left Unsaid's live performance and the local music scene in Modesto, California.
We're a better live band than we are in the studio. We hope to one day inspire our fans the way our musical influences inspired us. Live, people can not only hear the music but feel the music the way we wrote it. We don't shortchange anybody with our live shows. If you paid a dollar to get in, we'll try to give you twenty dollars worth. We play 100 percent all of the time. We had hoped to play on the East Coast this time of year. We get a bunch of e-mails every week from kids in New Jersey. We've never played there but we have to get out there. We had a great time last year in Massachusetts when we played Locobazooka. We learned a lot there about networking with your fans. It's an all-day festival in front of thousands of kids. You can't just walk in, plug in and play, then take off when your set is over. As an unsigned band, we were treated equal to or better than every other band. We became bigger, better, and stronger as a band by playing Locobazooka. We learned that we could live with each other for an extended amount of time in a Suburban pulling a trailer on the other side of the country. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. If we're ever lucky enough to garner a label or deal, we'll instantly tour on the East Coast from the northeast to the southeast. As far as our local scene goes, I'll give you the real answer instead of the politically correct answer. California is a grind. Modesto is a small town and there's a lot of really good bands. It's very competitive. There's stiff competition without a lot of camaraderie between the bands. Los Angeles is the place we all want to be but it's also a grind. Ten other bands are playing the same music you are on any given night. The hardcore scene is taking off in California, and the scene is growing in leaps and bounds but it's getting younger. The ante has been raised for the older bands.
What else can I help your band promote and what does Better Left Unsaid have in store for your existing fans in the next 12 months?
At our MySpace page, we have a couple of videos of the band performing at Locobazooka. We really want to promote our record "The Silencing." If people buy it directly from us, we don't charge any tax or shipping and handling. We have three styles of t-shirts in all sizes. Our existing fans should expect to see us out on the road. Our fingers are crossed for an opportunity to play in Europe or Japan. In the next 12 months, we'll keep it fresh by releasing some new material on an EP or demo that we'll give out at shows. We thank our fans from the bottom of our hearts. We return every e-mail and every MySpace comment. We appreciate the feedback and it inspires us to keep writing songs. It's kind of cliché, but without our fans, we're nobody. Better Left Unsaid plays music because we love music yet every musician wants to be loved back and to be heard. We appreciate everybody who comes to our shows and pays the money to see us.
Please share your thought on the senseless murder of Dimebag Darrell.
I had the opportunity to be backstage once at a Pantera show. I didn't have the chance to meet him but I said hello in passing. Visiting his grave years later was a moving experience. His influence as a guitarist and as a human being on the five grown men in our band was so strong that on an off-day from touring, we scheduled a trip to his gravesite to leave a guitar pick and say our goodbyes. That's a testament to a great man, and he'll never be forgotten in any musician's eyes. Music is forever and his hopes and dreams will live on in his brother Vinnie Paul and everybody who follows. We don't sound like Pantera but they played music like we like to play music: from their heart and from their soul.