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Interviewed by Kat and Mike Heitzman

Interview with Buzz McGrath of Unearth from 2011

MSJ: So I heard you guys just came out with a new CD, Darkness in the Light. So what do you think stands out with this new CD?
Yeah, man it came out about a month ago. I think it’s a step in a more aggressive direction from our previous record. We kind of just last time we wanted something more groove oriented. This time around we wanted something heavier, just more aggressive. Especially drum wise, we wrote the drums ourselves, pretty much and then had Justin Foley from Killswitch come in and play them live. I mean we can’t take all the credit for the drum beats but J. Fo came in and he, you know set the place on fire. We were like, “Man just do what you do, man.”
MSJ: That brings me to my question about your drummer, is the Killswitch Engage guy going to be permanent throughout the whole tour?
He’s doing this tour and then he’s doing a headlining Europe tour and then he’s going home. I think Killswitch is going to start writing or whatever they’re doing.  So they’ll be back.
MSJ: I see. That’s cool. So what kind of metal do you guys classify yourselves as? I know it’s really going to be hard.
I just say it’s metal, straight up metal. A lot of people say that it’s metal core which is another thing that, you know I agree with that too because metal is at the core of our sound.
MSJ: Yeah that’s true (chuckles)
I just came up with that the other day.
MSJ: How did you choose your band name?
Our original drummer came up with it. We were just kicking around ideas and it’s two syllables and it’s chantable, so it’ll work.
MSJ: So what do you think you were “chosen” for in life? (going back to the March album)
I don’t know, man.  For me, I don’t know man. Maybe to be a Dad, play guitar.
MSJ: So you’re planning on doing that your whole life then?
I hope so. We’ll see, maybe something else will happen and I will be like “Why did I waste so much time playing guitar? I could’ve gotten rich on something else,” I don’t know.

Has being on this tour been good publicity for your band?

Absolutely! I mean this is such a hot profile event, that like people who don’t normally, like the concert going public don’t like necessarily go to a club show, they save up, they go to the big show and see us, which is great.
MSJ: So what is your opinion of downloading music?
You know, I am in the ticket and t-shirt industry, at this point.  I’m not counting on selling records. It’s something that is happening. I don’t have the answer for it. It sucks because it affects the label and then from there when it comes time for us to do our thing, maybe a budget from a recording isn’t as much or the money for videos isn’t there. So, it affects us that way, I mean but essentially we just go to the show and hopefully you come out and you buy a t-shirt. That’s what keeps us coming. But, as far as like the industry I think it’s definitely hurting it. I don’t see how it’s going to get stopped. Unless they come up with something new, I have no idea. It is a million dollar question.
MSJ: So what bands have you played in before?
This is it, man. We started Unearth in ’98. Before that we started a local band called “.04” and we just did a few shows and that’s kind of how we connected with our singer, Trevor. He was in another band and that’s also how I met Ken. All those things needed to happen for us to get together to do this.
MSJ: So how do you compare Chicago metal head fans to the east coast fans?
Chicago likes Mike Ditka way more. Nah, pretty much across the country people who are united about their love for heavy metal, I guess. They come out and they mosh and hang out. It’s fun.
MSJ: That’s a good answer. I guess we are all equally as wild.
MSJ: So what’s the last live show you attended for your pleasure?
Last live show? I think I went to ….that’s a good question, hold on it’ll come to me. I went to see Alice in Chains in Vancouver. We played a show the same night and they were playing and we knew the bass player and we hit him up and he said, “Yeah, go to this door, they’ll take care of ya” and a bunch of us went. It was really cool. It was a nice arena show.
MSJ: What was the last CD you purchased?
Last CD I purchased? I think I bought the new Arch Enemy on iTunes. I think that was it, yeah.
MSJ: Do you have any Spinal Tap moments you wish to share?
My whole life is a Spinal Tap moment. You could compare our revolving door of drummers to the Spinal Tap situation.
MSJ: Yeah, you guys have had some bad luck. He even got sick on this tour, right?
Yep, yep. That was amazing because we got a guy that was in town who knew the songs. Like he was another kid who was sending us videos like “check me out” videos, you know. “I really want to play with your band.” He was a great dude! He really nailed it, too which was just dumb luck right there.
MSJ: That’s cool. He must have been really practicing.
MSJ: Do you have anything else you want to share?
Come to the show. Buy Darkness in the Light out now on Metalblade Records.
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 5 at
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