Feature: Better Left Unsaid
During the second night of the Jagermiester Hed to Head tour featuring HED PE, Mushroomhead, Livan and Better Left Unsaid, SoCalMusicToday.com sat down with Adam Raffety (vocals) and Rob Fernandez (guitars) of the Modesto, CA based band Better Left Unsaid. Rob and Adam answer questions regarding the band, their music, touring and the state of the music industry today.
Q: What does the band’s name Better Left Unsaid mean? How/who came up with the name ?
Rob: Our Drummer Brent started the band with original guitar player Jason Jones. They were going through different names and couldn’t come up with one they liked and one of them stated “Some things are Better Left Unsaid”. They liked that phrase and the way it sounded and that became the band name. Better Left Unsaid has been the only name of this band since the beginning.
Q: Describe and/or Categorize Better Left Unsaid’s music.
Adam: Heavy F’n Metal . . . it’s influences from each band member resulting in a culmination of every type of metal.
Rob: It’s a combination of influences of all types of music – Skynard, classic rock, Blues, Jazz (Alex Skolnick Trio), Thrash with some Meshuggah thrown in. In one word – METAL. No weird sub-genre or category . . . just METAL.
Q: How long has Better Left Unsaid been together as a band ?
Rob: About 7 years ago was the origin of the band. With the current lineup (minus our new bass player who recently joined the band) about 3 years. So it’s been pretty solid for a good 3 years.
Q: Tell me about making the first album “The Fight Within” and then your second most recent album “Only the Dead to Witness”.
Rob: “The Fight Within” is a great album – it was a true collaborative mesh from all members of the band but there was not much thought behind each of the songs. Adam had just become a member of the band and belted out the vocals in two days. We pulled a couple of all nighters to finish the mixes.
Adam: I had just joined the band and the album was all recorded and set to be handed over for distribution on May 30. I entered the studio on May 28 and spent two entire days/nights hell bent to get the vocals done and done the way we wanted in 2 days.
Rob: For “Only the Dead to Witness” we didn’t’s set out to make any certain style record or certain sounding record. The album was again a true collaboration from all five members of the band.
Adam: We had more time do this album (at least I did on the vocals). We did about 3 months of pre-production so by the time we all entered the studio we were very efficient as we all knew exactly what to do and what we wanted.
Rob: Making “Only the Dead to Witness” was a lot of fun and a great experience. We all collaboratively felt really good about the record content and the sound. “Dead to Witness” was released on June 22, 2010 on itunes and we are still working out the final distribution details for the actual CD. We have hard copies and are selling it each night at the Merch booth.
Q: What does the album title “Dead to Witness” mean and what is the significance of the album cover art?
Rob: It is loosely based on the movie “I am Legend” and “The Book of Eli”.
Adam: The album artwork was done before “The Book of Eli” was released and is amazing how similar the artwork is.
Rob: The meaning of “Only the Dead to Witness” is what it would be like to be the sole survivor on this planet and the only witness to your existence is the dead. It’s the inner struggles of being alone.
Q: Tell me about the songwriting process for Better Left Unsaid ?
Rob: Our other guitarist Greg Fender always has lots of ideas and he seems to always kick-off the writing process.
Adam: Better Left Unsaid had no main song writer – ideas are usually spawned from riffs. Myself and Greg write a lot of lyrics but we all contribute to lyrics – it’s a full collaboration. And that’s what’s so great about this band, everybody is open to others ideas on both riffs and lyrics. Nobody gets offended if we shoot down an idea – it’s a great band atmosphere. I’m not a frontman, I am just the singer in this band.
Rob: We get a lot of ideas from listening to audio books while out on tour. Hopefully everybody enjoys what we do musically – that makes making music that much more enjoyable.
Q: What are your personal musical influences, what other music do you listen to ?
Rob: I listen to everything, M &M to Periphery and Protest the Hero and everything in-between. Listening to other metal bands just inspires me to make music. This whole band is influenced by Meshuggah, The Haunted. . . any European Metal.
Adam: I love classic rock, Paul Rodgers is my all-time favorite singer to listen to – also Robert Plant – those guys pump me up! As far as influencing how I sing and the way I want to sound, I would say the singer from Soilwork and the singer from Threat Signal. The Threat Signal singer can do anything – he can hit the highest highs and the lowest lows. He has an all around great voice – that is what I strive for – to be an all around great singer. We listen to everything from Craig Morgan to Cradle of Filth.
Q: Last night was the first night of this tour. How did that go ?
Rob: First night of tours are always crazy – it was hectic but a great crowd and it was a great show. There were a few hiccups with set changes, things like that but it was overall a good first night. Tonight’s show should be a bit smoother now that we are familiar with the process and set times.
Q: What other bands have you toured with – who is your favorite band to tour with to date ?
Adam: Athiarchist. They are a two piece hardcore/thrash band.
Rob: Yeah Athiarchist – they are the nicest guys, like family. Always lots of fun with them.
Q: What bands would you like to tour with ?
Rob: My dream is to tour with any band I love. To open for Megadeth or any band I idolize would be great. Would love to go on the road with Brian Posehn and do a comedy/metal night.
Adam: The ultimate would to tour with any band you love as a fan.
Q: From previous tours, do you have a favorite venue to play at ?
Rob: In a week we will play Boise , Idaho at The Knitting Factory. That place is always packed. Always a great crowd.
Adam: Salt Lake City, Utah at Club Vegas. That place is all about metal. Also I love touring in the south – everyone down there has open arms. Texas, Florida, Louisiana anywhere in the south. Anywhere in Texas is especially fun.
Q: What is your favorite song to play live ?
Rob: “To the Last Man” – we always play that song last. It’s Better Left Unsaid in one song.
Adam: “To the Last Man” gets ya going. That song is a perfect ending to the set. That song incorporates everything Better Left Unsaid is all about. It has great leads, thrashy parts, slow parts, etc – the perfect ending.
Q: What’s next after the HED to Head tour ends in June ?
Rob: Hopefully more touring. This is our biggest tour yet so hopefully it’s a stepping stone to something bigger.
Adam: Get our CD out in Distribution
Q: What are your thoughts on the music industry today ? The digital world of music ?
Rob: The digital world has helped us. We have a large fan base in New Jersey but we have never been there. People are getting exposure to us through the internet – videos, streaming. As a result people buy our music. We can talk to people via Twitter, Facebook – it’s great.
Adam: The digital world can hurt you with illegal downloading but that also gives you exposure. Illegal downloading can help a band if you are a touring band. People get their hands on your music and if they like it they go to see you live and if they dig the live show, they buy your merchandise, CD’s, shirts, etc. Itunes and Cdbaby have also helped us out a lot by selling our music.
Q: What are your thoughts on shows like American Idol ? Your out paying your dues and touring trying to get recognized – what are your thoughts on instant stardom ?
Rob: Some members of this band watch American Idol. If someone has talent, shows like American Idol give them exposure. The more people playing music the better!
Adam: I am never really bothered by it. To me someone like Carrie Underwood is very talented – she deserves everything she has gotten. American Idol gave her the exposure and opportunity – it’s great. Take advantage of it!
Q: The Big 4 (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax) plays in the US next week for the first time – what are your thoughts on that ?
Rob: It’s amazing that it’s finally happening in the US. They are the four defining sounds of thrash metal – it’s exciting.
Adam: Some people say metal is dying . . . well go to that show and tell me if metal is dying.
Q: What are the long-term goals for Better Left Unsaid ?
Rob: To be able to play music and live as musicians. Just to play music for people who enjoy hearing it and just enjoy the musical experience.
Adam: If we can tour 6-8 months a year and live comfortably – that’s the ultimate goal. Anything more would be an added bonus.