UNEARTH Guitarist: ‘We’re Not So Concerned With The Record Sales Anymore’

Brian Fischer-Giffin of Australia’s Loud magazine recently conducted an interview with guitarist Buz McGrath of Massachusetts metallers UNEARTH. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

On the role social networking has played in getting the word out about the band’s latest album, “Darkness In The Light”:

“I think it’s a good thing and it maybe even offsets the loss of album sales which have been lost to illegal downloading. You’re going to have some people get the album for free, but you’re also going to have the word get out a lot easier through social networking. We have a lot of other friends in bands on Twitter and they re-tweet it so word just gets spread around like wildfire. So I think it’s definitely a positive thing and it does offset it a little from the people who are gonna get it for free.”

On how illegal music downloading has affected bands like UNEARTH who are on small independent labels like Metal Blade:

“It gets to the point where you used to have a budget from a label to make a record and that just kind of goes down and down because record sales are lower across the board, for every band on the label. The label is the first one to hurt; they’re impacted by it, they’re hurt by it and it kind of trickles down to us. It may come to the point where we’re making records on a little tiny budget. Same with making videos. We didn’t make a video for this record yet, just because the budget that the label’s gonna give us, which is so small we couldn’t really get a video out of it. Or something that would showcase how we felt about that particular song. So that kind of impacted us directly right there. Not that I think videos are that important anymore — which I guess is a whole other topic in itself, but I think it’s still a cool thing to have.”

On the songwriting approach for UNEARTH‘s fifth album, “Darkness In The Light”:

“The initial approach was that you kind of look back at your previous record and maybe pick apart what you didn’t like about it. Whenever a band puts out a new record, in every interview it’s ‘This is our best material to date. It’s perfection… better than all our other records…’ Every band thinks that when their new record is coming out. But as the years pass and you look back and say, ‘OK, it was a good record, but maybe next time I’d do this differently.’ So we look back at that and maybe work from there.”

On working with KILLSWITCH ENGAGE drummer Justin Foley during the recording sessions for the new album:

“We didn’t have a drummer at the time — we fired our old drummer — so it was just me and Ken [Susi, guitar]. I’d go to Ken‘s house, throw riffs at him and we’d program drums to it and just constructed the songs that way. Then we had Justin Foley from KILLSWITCH come in and record the drums. So we gave him all the demo stuff and he learned it and put his own stink on it, and we told him that we’re guitar players not drummers so we weren’t going to have great drum parts! So he said he’d take care of it and he put his own flavor on it, and the end product was amazing. He recorded the drums to the scratch guitar tracks, and then we got the real drums back and put the real guitars down. So we were never in the same room playing this. That’s how we grew up writing music: you’d get together at the jam space and you smash out riffs all day. Which is cool, but it’s also taxing. So these new songs really never got played together in the same room until a few weeks ago when we got together to rehearse. It was a different way to do it for us.”

On being out on the road, working hard, touring and recording despite the changing face of the industry and the fickle nature of fans:

“I mean, there was a time where we were selling a ton of merch when we were the hip cool band to be wearing their shirt. Fortunately, we’re still here. We’re not super-rad haircut dudes. We still have a fan base and we’re really appreciative of that. A lot of bands have that peak of success and then they just fizzle out, but we’re still here doing it and we’re still getting a considerable amount of money from merch. We’re in the ticket and t-shirt industry. We’re not so concerned with the record sales anymore, just because of the state of the business, but to be able to go out and buy a ticket and a t-shirt, that’s how we sustain ourselves.”

Read the entire interview from Loud magazine.