Brent Terry Of Better Left Unsaid Discusses Tour, Videos & Albums
Band Photo: Better Left Unsaid (?)
Modesto, California’s Better Left Unsaid has spent the last eight years tirelessly working to carve its own niche in the modern metal movement. Through constant gigging and a desire to one-up each release, the groups first flirtation with success came when they signed to Jamey Jasta’s Stillborn Records to release “The Fight Within” (2008), which included a video on the Headbangers Ball.
The follow up recording, “Only the Dead to Witness” saw the band issue its second video “To the Last Man.” The song also found release via Ozzfest and Rockstar Mayhem Fest samplers. Said album also showed the band evolving from a standard metalcore sound to something more complex with Meshuggah fan appeal.
While battling poor cell reception somewhere outside of Spokane, Washington, Better Left Unsaid drummer Brent Terry spoke to Metal Underground about the above, as well as the band’s current tour opening for Hed(pe) and Mushroomhead. Even though this interview occurred a month ago, the band is still braving the road as part of this massive trek across America. Read onward to learn more about these hot newcomers.
Darren Cowan (Rex_84): How has the tour been so far?
Brent Terry: Excellent, the first three shows have been phenomenal. We’ve had a great turnout. We’ve gotten a great turnout from the crowd. We’re on a bill of mixed styles, so we’re always wondering how it will go over, but all three crowds have been strong metal crowds, so it’s been really good.
DC: What type of crowd responds have you gotten? Are you selling merch and making new fans?
Terry: We’re doing well on merch. You can always do better. We’re definitely making new fans. That’s for sure! Every night I go through a couple of pages of Myspace and Facebook requests. We’re trying to reach out and talk to as many fans as we can while we’re at the show. We see a lot of new people who have never heard of us become fans, which is good.
DC: Are people coming down early to check you out?
Terry: Yeah, we’ve had amazing crowds in each of the three shows. Obviously, the headliners are pulling in the later crowd, but we’ve played for packed houses each night, so far.
DC: Your new album, “Only the Dead to Witness” came out in June 2010. Also, you released “The Fight Within” in 2008. Do you feel you’ve grown as artists between the two releases?
Terry: Yes, I think the transition or the musical growth between “The Fight Within” and “Only the Dead to Witness” was a representation of where the band was live and in our musical tastes. As our tastes grow and influences start to find their way into our music, as a band you need to constantly fine-tune and change your sound to what you want to play and what your audience wants to hear. I definitely think we’ve grown.
DC: The complex rhythms, chugging and timing of “Only the Dead to Witness” is reminiscent of Meshuggah at times. Is Meshuggah a primary influence?
Terry: Definitely, Meshuggah influenced both the guitar playing and the writing. We wanted something polyrhythmic but not necessarily breakdown-y, something that wasn’t necessarily American hardcore style. The polyrhythms would make it interesting for us to play. It seems like the metal audience is starting to branch out its tastes into more technical styles, while still being heavier, which is good because it keeps the music interesting.
DC: Would you say you got a better production? I heard “The Fight Within” on Myspace, so maybe I’m just going on a lesser quality recording.
Terry: The production values on both albums were good, but I believe the production values on this one are 100 times better. We had months to do pre-production. We had reserved a studio for a block amount of time, so we weren’t rushed to get things done as we had on the previous release. We were able to take the time to find the correct drum, guitar and vocal tones. (laughs) Yeah, the production values definitely went up on this album. That’s what we wanted—an album that represented who we are as a band live and what we wanted our sound to be.
DC: Did you use the same producer for both albums?
Terry: No, we didn’t. The first album was completely self-produced. The next album we worked with Zack Ohren from Castle Ultimate Studios. He’s worked with All Shall Perish, First Blood and a number of metal bands. He co-produced it with us, but we took his direction on a lot of the tones and spaces we needed to fill. Musically, he had a much different take than what we expected, which was good because it pushed our boundaries.
DC: You shot a video for “To The Last Man.” Tell our readers about making this video.
Terry: We shot the video in a small town outside our home in Modesto. We literally spent three 18-hour days shooting the video. We wanted to have a concept for the video, instead of just a live performance video. We had our friends from the Athiarchists, Dano is the drummer and the main guy. We found a garage that looked like it came from the 1920s. We found a storage container to shoot some of the scenes in. We did it all with one cameraman and one guy helping him. Zach did an amazing job of putting it all together and putting our vision together. We had story boarded the ideas and came up with a concept of what we wanted to do. I think it came out perfectly! It was exactly what we had thought of.
DC: What was the concept?
Terry: The concept is about a man who is the only surviving member of a race. It’s not necessarily from a post-apocalyptic, but more from the angle: “Are you the sole surviving member of a race or is it all in your head? Are you struggling with your own demons and your own battles?” The concept was to have this guy look like he was living in the open, not homeless, living in a voided area, who found salvage and refuge. The thoughts going through his head is the song that we’re playing. At the end, he leaves this area to continue on. You can draw upon influences from different movies that have been made. We wanted to convey that desperation in the video.
DC: This track is also featured on the Rockstar Mayhem Fest and Ozzfest samplers. Did BLU play any of those shows?
Terry: No, we didn’t. We were just invited to be on the sampler, so we provided them with the entire album, and told them to pick the track. They picked two of the tracks that happened to be two of our favorites, which was good. “Reaper of Malice” and “To the Last Man” appeared on both the samplers, depending on which sampler you receive. We were very happy about that. We were about to play the Rockstar Mayhem tour, but by the time we were invited to be on the sampler, it had already been booked and put together with much bigger bands than we were (laughs).
DC: Better Left Unsaid played SXSW this past year. How was that experience?
Terry: It was amazing! It was our first time playing SXSW. We were invited to play some showcases. We can’t really put into words what Austin, Texas is like during SXSW. The bad part of it is there is no parking. You might have to carry your gear nineteen blocks to the venue. To be honest, though, when you see bands like Crowbar doing the same thing you’re doing, then you don’t feel so bad. They just have a few extra people to carry their stuff than we do. The good thing about it is you’re playing one of the best music festivals in the United States. Being a part of it was an honor. Being able to play Full Metal Texas, Red Guerilla Festival, Hoek’s Death Metal Pizza—being able to play for an audience you’ve never played for is always good.
DC: “Testify” from you previous album aired on MTV2’s Headbangers Ball. What did you think when you saw yourself on TV?
Terry: I think it’s a dream when you make a video and then you actually see yourself come on a TV show you’ve watched your entire life. To see the MTV2 or Headbangers Ball logo at the bottom of the screen was kind of surreal. We had a bunch of people over watching it, and when it was over, we were speechless. People would say we had made it now. This is what it’s all about. To us, it was like a realization of a dream. We’ve done something that a lot of people dream about. You don’t take that for granted, but you have to enjoy the moment.
DC: What’s next after this tour? Are you working on new material?
Terry: We are definitely working on new material. We are definitely working on new tours. We’re out on the road now for two months straight. Hopefully, we can come back, take a small break, and get on another tour that will put us back out playing for our fans. We’d like to tour through the summer and hopefully get the opportunity to go back on the road with bands that we’ve toured with before or like we’re doing now, tour with bands we’ve never had the opportunity to share a stage with. We’ll take whatever is thrown our way as long as we can do it and be out on the road, so we can play for our fans, which is most important.
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