There is an old adage that tells us: "The
more things change, the more they stay the same." Perhaps one of
the newer bands on the scene, Seether, can attest to that wisdom.
Seether, formerly known as Saron Gas, came
to life in the late '90s in the decidedly unexpected rock haven of
South Africa. The group trekked across South Africa, playing
countless shows and eventually headlining all the festivals;
performing in every city and every single club there was to play.
Along the way the hard work paid off in a record deal, which
eventually included American label, Wind-Up Records. After tasting
success in their homeland, Seether released its stateside debut,
2002's "Disclaimer" and it was time to embark onto their next
great challenge, a tour of America.
This is where the band's history and
discography becomes a bit more complicated. Having released and
toured on "Disclaimer," Seether was preparing to return to the
studio and begin work on a follow up album, but their record
company had a different idea. Seether did return to the studio,
but this time it was with Amy Lee, vocalist of Evanescence and
girlfriend of Seether front man Shaun Morgan. Morgan, together
with Lee, worked on a remix, a duet of "Broken," a song from the
first Seether album. The rest, as they say, is history. Adding a
couple of additional tracks to the original record, "Disclaimer
II" was released and the single "Broken" raced up the charts. And
both records, "Disclaimer" and "Disclaimer II," were eventually
Once again hard work and perseverance had
yielded success, but as any band can tell you, this is where the
going gets tough. Often called the sophomore jinx, it was time for
Seether to prove their worth. It’s a time when a record company
will call a young band and ask, "What have you done for me
lately?" Seether was prepared to answer the call. After some time
off and a line-up change, original members Shaun Morgan (guitar
and vocals) and Dale Stewart (bass) welcomed John Humphrey (drums)
and Pat Callahan (guitar) to the band and Seether entered the
studio and recorded their latest album, "Karma and Effect."
During the first week of its May 24, 2005
release, "Karma and Effect" sold 82,000 units, giving Seether the
#8 album in the country and making it the band's highest ever
debuting album. "Karma and Effect" has recently been certified
Gold by the RIAA. At the time of this interview the first single
from the album, "Remedy," was top 5 at Modern Rock radio and had
spent over 18 weeks as the #1 song at Active Rock. And although
"Remedy" showed no signs of slowing down at radio, in early
September Seether released "Truth," the second single and video
from "Karma and Effect." And history repeated itself.
In early September I sat down with Dale
Stewart and John Humphrey backstage at the Marquee Theater in
Tempe, Arizona. They were in the waning days of a headlining tour
with Crossfade and Dark New Day and about to embark on their next
tour supporting Audioslave.
I offered congratulations and asked if the
band had begun enjoying the fruits of their hard work.
laughed and replied, "Yeah, we’ve got a nice bus! I think the most
important thing is the people at our shows. We’ve had great shows.
I think we have definitely won over a lot of fans over the past
couple of months touring. It takes a long time. The perks will
happen a couple months later."
I asked about the new album and the
recording process; I wondered if the songs were written long
before entering the studio or if there was rush of creativity and
"We had most of the album written.
Most of the process was just changing the songs that we had, you
know, modifying them a little bit. It was a little bit weird. We
were just finding a way to make everything fit." Stewart
Aside from having two new members, "Karma
and Effect" is the first album that Seether has written as a band.
I expected that the dynamic of new members yielded welcome
surprises as well as placed some tension on the band as everyone
scrambled to establish a role in the writing process.
"I don’t think it cause any tensions
really," Humphrey shared. "I mean Dale and Shawn, coming into this
with me, they were very receptive to my input. There wasn’t an
attitude or ego about you know, ‘this is how the band is and this
is how we do things.’ Pat and I felt very welcomed and we were
able to put our stamp on it as well. This was definitely a band
effort and Pat and I were a part of it."
The results of this new dynamic can be
heard on radios all across America. Those following the band have
witnessed an obvious growth and maturity to Seether’s music. I
wondered if there was more to the change than just two new
Stewart leaned back in his chair and
smiled, "I think the new members, John and Pat, have definitely
changed the band in the way we approach songs and writing and
stuff. The rest is just experience. We’ve been playing a lot and
learning to play our instruments. There’s just no substitute for
experience. Over time you get better at what you’re doing."
Early successes can often be like a pair
of golden handcuffs. You’re never willing to give them up, yet you
remain restrained. The key of course is always the second hit. Was
being out on tour with a new record liberating? Did they feel
they’ve finally got that "One-Hit" monkey off their backs?
Pausing for a moment Stewart replied,
"Yes, I think so. You know the re-release of our first record
wasn’t entirely our decision. We weren’t planning on touring for
another year. We were ready to record. Ultimately it was really
good for the band. It raised the profile of the band. We were a
little frustrated at the time but ultimately it was a good thing.
Now that the new album is out and being well received it’s cool to
just be able to have a good time."
Seether is no different than other bands
in that they take great pride in their performance. The music has
always been about the energy of performance but the intellect
falls within the lyrics. I wondered if the fans had found the
message within the music.
Stewart said, "I hope people are getting it! We definitely have
that dynamic where we have some really heavy songs and we’ve got
some acoustic stuff. Hopefully there is something that people can
find within that span. But I think generally that the melody of
the music is what people relate to quite easily. Often we’ll have
the melodic song or the single and that will draw in people. Then
they buy the album and find a completely different song that they
Building on Stewart’s comments I asked
about the first single, "Broken." The remix, a duet with
Evanescence lead singer Amy Lee, became the hit. I’m sure that
single brought many fans to Seether shows, but it must have been
difficult to support on tour while missing one half of the duet.
"Actually we toured with Evanescence
so we did get to perform the duet," Stewart corrected me. "We
still play the song. In fact we did it the original way, how we
originally recorded it."
Humphrey added, "In fact we’re doing the
song that way now. We end the show with it. But last summer we
toured all summer with Evanescence so it was easier to support the
single. And I think that was certainly premeditated so we would be
able to play that song while it was doing so well."
We had been at the interview a good 20
minutes when I found myself left with that well-worn closing
question, What do you do with your free time? This of course
preceded the well-worn closing answer. "Umm…"
Humphrey was quick to jump in and save the
moment, "He rented a motorcycle yesterday. He had to let the wind
blow through his hair!"
"I about got heatstroke too!" Stewart
lamented, as temperatures in the Phoenix area had approached 110
degrees. "I rode up to Pine and Strawberry. I went and had lunch
out there and came back. It was a fun day. You know, we have days
off were we just lay around, watch movies and go to bed. It’s kind
of fun to get out and see a little."
Seether will be out on tour with
Audioslave at least through mid-November. Beyond that, well, check
out Seether’s Web site! My thanks to the band for a great