November 6, 2015 Interview – Seether
Since the dawn of the new millennium the Hard Rock genre has had its filled of sound-alike and look-alike bands. In an industry where many acts are here today and gone tomorrow, South Africa’s Seether has stood strong with one chart topping record after another. Modest in their approach, this band has distinguished themselves with a unique style possessing a soul and rawness that strikes a chord in the heart of each listener’s ears it approaches. Progressing on their own terms, in their own time, Seether’s sound is one which can not easily be defined fifteen plus years into their career. This was never more evident than with their highly diverse 2014 effort, Isolate and Medicate, which continues to show that Seether is one of Hard Rock’s elite. Recently we caught up with the busy band to sit down with Shaun Morgan, Dale Stewart, John Humphrey, and Bryan Wickmann to talk the long road they have traveled, standing by their convictions, touring, Horror movies, and more.
CrypticRock.com – The concept of Seether began some sixteen years ago, and after years of hard work, the band put out their major label debut, Disclaimer, in 2002. That record helped launch the band into becoming one of Hard Rock’s most adored acts. Tell us what has the ride been like?
Dale Stewart – I thinks the ride has been pretty wild. Yes, it’s been crazy. There’s no real way to prepare for something like this. There’s no sort of textbook, so you have to learn the hard way. It’s been fun, it’s been interesting, and somewhat unexpected. There are a lot of bands that aren’t together as long as we have been. We have seen dozens and dozens of bands that we have played with over the years that have gone away.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely, like you said, bands come and go so it is really special when a band can stick together and have success. It certainly takes a lot of hard work. Shaun and Dale, you have been working together since the beginning. The band has seen many members come and go through the years. Was it at all frustrating and discouraging to sustain all the changes?
Dale Stewart – Yeah, it’s hard. It is hard to incorporate new people into this marriage, of sorts. Especially trying to find people that you can live with on a daily basis, in each others space the whole time on a tour bus, or before a tour bus on an RV. It’s hard, you don’t know these people at all, and all of a sudden you are living together. It was frustrating in the beginning, but I think once we got Johnny and a drummer or two before that, shit just doesn’t work out. Now we have Brian too. It takes a while, but you eventually find something that works.
CrypticRock.com – Right, like you said, you have been in the band now for over a decade. Seether obviously found stability with the band the way it is now. Like many bands, there were just a few rough patches in beginning.
Dale Stewart – Yeah, our record label at the time, they were sort of meddlesome you would say. Silly things, like they would insist on changing the name, to getting another guitar player, to basically trying to change the band. We went into it not really feeling too confident about it. Basically we played with a bunch of guys, did the rehearsal thing, picked a guy that we thought was best, and obviously it didn’t work out.
CrypticRock.com – That happens sometimes, of course. One of the key aspects of Seether is your ability to tap into honest, raw human emotion in your lyrics. Do you finding the writing of the songs to be a therapeutic release for yourself?
Shaun Morgan – Yes, I mean it’s basically like a diary I guess. I try and not make to make it too obvious what I’m writing about, I don’t want to give too much away. It’s my coping mechanism that keeps me alive, keeps me going. If I didn’t have it I would be a very different person. I used to get into fights a lot as a kid. When I wasn’t in the band, I become pretty aggressive because I didn’t have the release that I needed. It keeps me balanced, for the most part.
CrypticRock.com – Music can be special like that, it is definitely a great release.
Shaun Morgan – Yeah, I just write stuff that I want to hear.
CrypticRock.com – That is what matters most. Following the success of Disclaimer, the band followed up with Karma and Effect in 2005, and then in 2007, at the time the band’s most diverse record, Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces. Do you feel like at this record was sort of turning point in Seether’s career?
Shaun Morgan – I don’t even know what songs are on there. I think each album is supposed to be like a snapshot of where we were at. The first album, are songs that have been around for 10-15 years. It’s old stuff. There were songs that I wrote when I was sixteen, and we recorded them when I was twenty-three. Those songs had been around for a while. Then the next album comes out, you only have six months to write it, and you are in a different space. You listen to new music from different bands, your influences are different, your outlook on life is different. Each album changes slightly as well, some are more pissed off than others and some are more diverse because it felt like the right thing to do.
I think diversity is important on any album. The last thing I want to do is twelve tracks that sound exactly the fucking same, because that’s not what we do. I think we definitely started experimenting a little more and we started writing more interesting stuff on that album. I think since then, it sort of feels right. I don’t want to sound like other bands, I want to sound like the way we sound. I don’t want to be part of some trend that hits the radio that everyone is signing and everyone is doing.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, staying unique is very important. What are your ideas of that record in retrospective Dale?
Dale Stewart – I like that album a lot. Yeah, I think there was definitely a change. We definitely weren’t afraid to try different things and do different stuff. When you start out, you think, “Oh, we are a Rock band, there are some things we can’t do.” These days, we were like, “Fuck it, let’s have fun.” If it feels right and if we like it, we will put it on a record. We don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves too much.
CrypticRock.com – The band has definitely steered clear from pigeonholing themselves.
Dale Stewart – Yeah, our producer that we have been working on the last two records, Brendan O’Brien, he is the same. He will produce anything from AC/DC to Bruce Springsteen. He has a very diverse musical influence like we do. We work well together, and we sort of share that vision.
Shaun Morgan – He makes albums for us. We do not make albums for him. We have made albums with producers in the past where they say, “Use these guitars and these amps.” That is lame, that is how all of the albums sound the same. It was nice having a producer that understands that each band is different where you bring in your own gear, and your own guitars. Instead of playing on the fucking thing that he bought on eBay where he had to get his money back.
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) Right, no one wants to be that type of situation. So Brendan let you guys be yourselves?
Dale Stewart – Yeah, he sort of guides a little bit where it is needed. Like Shaun said, we had producers before where it was like, “You guys are here, you can’t believe how lucky you are, and this is the album you are going to make.” In exchange, we would say, “Ok, tell us what to do then.” (laughs)
CrypticRock.com – That is certainly not the way you want to make music. In 2014, the band released the sixth studio album Isolate and Medicate. This record sees the band progress even further. What was the writing and recording process like?
John Humphrey – Shaun had written the bulk of material, in his home studio in New Hampshire at the time. We needed four or five remaining tracks for the tracklist of the album. A friend of mine had a small demo studio where I am from in Oklahoma, so the guys came out there for a couple of weeks in December, just a few weeks prior to going into the studio. We kind of held up for the next couple of weeks and finished out the remaining four or five tunes just as a band. We did demo songs and threw out ideas. One of us would try to man the board and engineer, record vocals while Shaun’s yelling at me to hit this button, hit spacebar and click. I don’t know Pro Tools, I just play drums (laughs).
It was actually cool memories for me. We did four or five tunes that way. We were prime and ready to go on the 1st of January and went into the studio. It was only a few weeks later we went in the studio with Brendan and recorded the album very quickly.
Dale Stewart – Yeah, we knocked it out in a hair over two weeks, from start to finish.
CrypticRock.com – Wow, that sounds like a very quick process. It all worked well as the record certainly shows the band’s further progression. Like any vocalist, you have certainly broadened your range. What has been the key for you to expand your vocal styling?
Shaun Morgan – It just happens I guess. Every time we write music, I’ll be screwing around, and for some reason, I dick myself over and sing stuff really high, then I will have do it live, and it’s a pain in my ass (laughs). I mean it’s like anything else, the more you use it the stronger it gets. So far I’ve been lucky I guess. I take particularly good care of it. Naturally you find different places to go. This album has us doing some different stuff, and it’s important for me. You have to keep evolving and growing. I just have to keep up.
CrypticRock.com – Speaking of keeping healthy, Seether has been dedicated to performing live year after year. You are perhaps one of the hardest working bands in Rock-n-Roll. Touring can often be extremely tiring and stressful. How does the band keep themselves healthy on the road?
Shaun Morgan – Hand sanitizer.
John Humphrey – Lots of airborne.
Dale Stewart – You shake a lot of hands everyday so, you know, it’s the easiest way to get sick. We all take our vitamins everyday. Nothing is foolproof. You are going to get sick.
CrypticRock.com – One can imagine you come across all sorts of illnesses on the road. It is obvious the band’s chemistry has been extremely solid over the past decade. What do you attribute the positive chemistry to?
Shaun Morgan – Mutual respect for each other. That is important.
John Humphrey – At the core of it, we love music. We love what we do, really, especially playing live every night. On stage, it comes down to that.
Shaun Morgan – We’ve played with so many different people, when it works, and feels right, that is 90% of the battle. It is especially fun when we haven’t played for a few months and come back together. We will just jam for a half an hour on one piece of music, just digging it. It’s fun. That’s important, and the fact that do not have any prima donna’s. We have had a few of those, and that doesn’t work out.
CrypticRock.com – No one wants to deal with that. So everyone is on the same wavelength right?
Dale Stewart – Yes, and getting along, bands break up all the time. We’ve had people like that who are miserable, and none of us have any false pretenses on what we deserve. I think people come out here and, if it is maybe the first tour they have been on, assume it is all limos, champagne, hookers, blow, and piles of money. That is not the case, it is hard work.
John Humphrey – I get asked all the time from young musicians, what advice do you have to give for a young musician? I always say you gotta put the ego away. There are a lot of great players out there, guys who have previously been in band, that the problem is not the musicianship and talent, it is the ego and attitude. When you are living on something the size of a postage stamp, like Dale talked about earlier, kind of up in each other’s space. The ego, attitude, that will ruin it right away.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed, that goes with anything in life. People’s egos get in the way and ruin something special. My last question for you is pertaining to movies. CrypticRock.com covers music and Horror films. What are some of your favorite Horror movies?
Bryan Wickmann – Starting with like, the original Night of the Living Dead (1968). I even brought that into high school, where they told me I had to bring pick out a Tragedy movie because we were studying Romeo and Juliet. I was like Night of the Living Dead, the hero dies. Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977), anything from Lucio Fulci. I am into a lot of gore. As far as the newer stuff, the Evil Dead (2013), The Conjuring (2013) was a lot of fun.
Shaun Morgan – The new Evil Dead was good. I still like Army of Darkness (1993). I can watch that movie over and over again.
Bryan Wickmann – The newer campy version of that with Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2011). We have that on in repeat. Then Lesbian Vampire Killer (2009). It is hilarious.
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) Who were the killers, the Lesbians or the Vampires?
Dale Stewart – They both were, the Lesbians and Vampires.
Shaun Morgan – That was a great find. We just have a hard drive on the bus in Europe and normally flick through and find something stupid. Those are a rare find when you find something really funny and really good.
Dale Stewart – Yes, like ThanksKilling (2009).
Shaun Morgan – Yes, and Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006) is another great, absolute piece of shit that you have to see as a Horror movie. ThanksKilling is a classic for sure.
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