by Sonya Sutherland / Schwegweb.com
Seether, while recognized for their strong performance on Ozzfest, has just started to get a lot of hype since their single “Fine Again” peeked in commercial popularity. So what makes these guys different from the dozens of other hit single acts? What makes the difference is their heart and soul that is blatantly apparent in both their debut album and live stage show. These guys don’t go through the motions, pick riffs that stick, and throw out some generalized anger management lyrics. Seether instead brings the art back to rock.
Years ago, in South Africa, Shaun Morgan, vocalist for Seether, once sat with a gun in one hand and a guitar in the other: “It was suicide or the guitar. I picked the guitar and got rid of the urge to take myself out.” Thankful, he did so.
Now one might say suicide is so ten years ago, its so cliché for rock n roll. The reference is quite Nirvanian and right off the bat Seether has been compared to Nirvana. You can call the gun in hand line a gimmick, you can call it a marketing strategy, but if you talk the talk, you better walk the walk. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death for Americans, and the 3rd leading cause for people age 15-24. All you have to do is listen to a few tracks of Disclaimer to realize Morgan wasn’t joking about his emotional defects.
The comparison to Nirvana comes with a pretty big pair of shoes to fill. Kurt Cobain was the messiah that led us out of the hair-band era and paved the way for the re-rooting of rock. Not that Seether has had any great impact on the industry, but every band has to start somewhere and there are two valid fundamental reasons for the comparison.
First, Seether’s songs are emotionally potent with powerful lyrics. These guys write the type of song that after a bad day, when you are feeling the spectrum of negative emotions, feeling empty, hopeless or angry; you can turn up the stereo and find solace in familiar words.
Second, their music is simple and effective. The riffs are heavy and yet moving serving as more than just background noise. The instrumental portion of the act holds its own, which is a far cry from the crap that is constantly force fed to consumers who don’t know any better.
Although Shaun was missing in action, bassist Dale Steward, guitarist Pat Callahan, and drummer Kevin Soffera took time out of their busy day to chat a little about their view of the world.
Schwegweb: How do you feel about being rockstars?
Pat: Are we rockstars yet?
The kids are rockin you in the suburbs, you are on TRL, the radio….
Kevin: It’s good to get radio play and I mean you write good songs hopefully I mean you right them for yourself but you want people to hear them. It is a whole weird business getting radio airplay. You know you don’t purposefully write things to get on the radio but once you do get on the radio it seems like a competition to see how long can we stay on the radio whose playing us can we get another one on the radio. To be a rockstar you got two kinds of people. You got the people who play it and then you got the people like us that just go on the road and play as much as possible because we like to play. We get along and we just want to keep playing. It’s pretty simple actually.
How do you feel that MTV doesn’t play your new video?
Pat: I am not an MTV fan. We took time and money to make this video and they are kinda like ‘Who are you? Who cares?’ You get more respect doing the grass routes way and getting fans and it’s almost more respectable. You have bands out there today that only have one video and one single and they sell an absurd amount albums and it’s like they haven’t played any shows yet. They haven’t even toured yet. You get longevity this way.
Kevin: We want to get played but that’s not the end goal. You have to do videos. Its part of the contract and it’s a good way to express the song. Driven Under there was a problem with the scene, the one with the car exploding in it, and that’s totally absurd. You can have a rap video with guns in it, and I like hip hop its not a dis on hip hop, it’s the videos that they put out there are asses hanging out of bathing suits but we can’t have an imploding car that actually is to show its coming together. You can’t say the word gun but you can see people shooting the shit out of each other with a gun.
Who are some cool people you toured with?
Pat: Lately? Socialburn, Double Drive, Ra.
Kevin:We are doing a lot of radio festivals where we get to play with bands like Godsmack and Saliva. We are starting a tour on July 5th with Three Doors Down. They saw us play in Miami and they are kicking off a big tour. We think they are really good musicians and we love their new record. Pat is a huge fan and they asked us if we would like to do a tour with them so we said yes.
About your record. It’s very forceful… Because when you get angry and you have something external you can identify with it somehow makes the pain feel better.
Kevin: Lots of bands don’t like to talk about their records because you half to find what’s valuable about it. Shaun’s not here and he wrote most of it. I’m a fan of the record. I just came in two or three months ago and I liked the record.
Your sound could be described as the Deftones meets Nirvana. How does that make you feel?
Pat: A lot of people say that. We get that comparison a lot.
Kevin: Obviously the Nirvana thing comes in a lot. It’s not on purpose but when you’re a fan of something it just comes into your playing.
Well it is a lot better than the “punk” thing that seems to be going on right now.
Kevin: I’m not a fan of… well we are all music fans. If something comes out and its hip hop or something comes out and its punk and its good then its good. I’m not a bandwagon kinda person. So a lot of bands jump on it and try to put out a record that sounds like the rest. We aren’t trying to reinvent anything, just play stuff that comes across in a very genuine way.
A lot of songs now are supossedly complicated guitar rhythms but actually the same riffs adapted from different songs over and over again. You guys do simple well it seems.
Dale: I guess there are only that many riffs out there and that many cords and that many ways you can play it.
Kevin: There is no problem combining stuff. As a drummer I grew up listening to The Police, Black Sabbath, a lot of jazz and my playing is, you know, just a conglomeration of all that. Shaun, Dale listen to a lot of people. To exactly copy it or rip it off that’s not cool, but to use it and make new music that is alright. You got to learn from the masters to create a masterpiece.
I think there is acceptable violence and necessary violence but do you think violence, especially in this world today, is a way to find peace. Why do you think it’s so violent out there?
Kevin: I’m not a violent person, but if I found myself in a situation where I needed to fight back then I definitely would. I mean I’m not a person who likes violence so I’m anti-violence. To me, there is always another way out. I would rather just walk away.
Dale: I don’t know. It’s like there is a lot of violence in South Africa and I mean it’s like I got a phone call the other day a friend of mine had been robbed and shot. Its just violence happens there everyday someone is killed. Everyday you hear a story.
Do you think it will get better? People like to blame music, maybe even your music for being angry. Do you think that is valid or are there greater forces at work?
Kevin: Oh that’s bullshit. It’s all bullshit. They are all smiling on TV and they are telling you what’s going on and you are like no, no. I was there I know what’s going on. Just tell me about the weather and they are even wrong about that. Tell me whether it’s going to fucking rain or not so I know whether to where a hat…. At home I see a lot of kids getting healed by just getting into the arts. That’s been a really big savior for a lot of people. Music. Art. Sports. Just other things besides just sitting around.