“Musically I think nothing’s changed and I think we’re more comfortable than we were back then, back then it was more of a question of ok we have to find where we fit in the musical landscape, we have to find where we fit in and I think now we just don’t care about that, we just write music we enjoy and we love to play and haven’t really given any thought about what’s going to happen to this album once it’s released.”
From Release: Having sold over 5 million albums, SEETHER is the biggest rock act to come out of South Africa ever! From headline runs to festival appearances all across the globe, the band has amassed an exceptionally loyal fan base, and this is a band that ensures every single performance delivers their fans all they could possibly want. Their live shows however are a whole new wall of sound world of thrilling melody, fervent rock rhythms and crunching guitars that shake you by the neck until you emerge exhilarated from the other end of the show. And SEETHER want to make their massive show something special for fans in Australia.
On the eve of their Australian tour, we caught up with Shaun from Seether about the upcoming tour, new music, old music, dance music and much, much more…
Thanks for your time again, Shaun, now of course we’re here because you’re heading back to Australia, a place you guys are never shy of visiting, what can we expect this time around?
I’m not sure yet, we haven’t been there in a while I think it’s been a couple of years now and so when we come back we’re always excited to play because it’s a bit like coming home for us in a sense, it’s so similar to being in South Africa so it’s something we’re looking forward. I think we’re gonna come, have fun and do our usual get drunk and have a good time with everyone kind of thing.
With a new album in tow, and as the catalogue grows how do you go about putting a set list together these days?
Well it depends, on what people want to her and what we want to play, we try and play tracks people are going to expect as they’re paying money to come and see the show and you don’t want to be the band that gets up and doesn’t play the songs they expect to hear, I feel like that’s kind of a dick move I think in a sense, you almost have an obligation to play the songs that people want to hear especially considering the popularity of some songs, now they’re not always the most fun for us to play because we play them every single time but we tend to throw in songs that we like, especially from the new album because it’s obviously the newer material for us, and it’s still the most fun to play because in the set it’s the least played of all the material we have, so I think this time we might not even come in with a set list, we might kind of go and play it by ear and see how it goes and just call songs out and make sure the other guys know what they’re doing *laughs*. I’ve been a slave to certain society for so long and I’m trying to break free from that right now, so I’m hoping that we can… it’s just supposed to be a good tenuous rock and roll time, so I’m hoping we can figure out how we can get out there and play shows without worrying too much about a set list or an order or songs that need to be played or not played you know?
‘Isolate and Medicate’ has been out for almost a year, and we spoke around this time last year, so how has the last year been for the band?
Busy, very busy we’ve been pretty much going non-stop, we’ve done a lot of touring, I think we’ve been to Europe twice, we’ve done The States now… wow, I can’t even tell you how many times, I think we’ve done three U.S. tours already and we’ve got two more planned for the rest of this year. Then we’ve got a European tour planned for the end of the year, so I think we started touring in February last year, so I’m trying to figure it out because it’s almost been two years on non-stop touring so I think we’re looking forward to getting off the road at some point soon and beginning to write a new album, because that’s what’s becoming the most fun part for us is getting in the studio and writing and recording because then you take it from a point of just being an idea, a demo to a recorded property and what it sounds like when it’s properly mixed. All of it is exciting, when you don’t stop touring like we have, in the past we’ve had about two months off, so it’s been a lot of work but it’s what we signed up for, and I think this is the part of the tour when you start to thinking you want to get off the road and I want to get into the studio and make new music. We still enjoy it and we still have fun but we can see the finish line now and that’s something we’re all looking forward to now.
Are you the kind of band that can write while on tour, or do you wait until the cycle has finished to do so?
I try to write some stuff, it’s hard because we try and sound checks, but when you get downtime you’re trying to think about it as little as possible *laughs* because you do it all the time, all day. So I think for me it’s easier to have ideas but I feel like it’s better to have an idea of where my head is at musically, so when to comes to being off the road, and as fate has it, when we get off the road everyone will want an extended vacation *laughs* and I would be happy to get down to the studio and start the whole thing again. So I do have little snippets on my phone that I record, I used to carry an older tape recorder, so I don’t normally have a lot of things that I’m finished, but at least I have some sort of basis for when I’m done, so when it comes time to start writing music for the album, I can look back at stuff I deem was worthy or recording or that I knew was interesting enough to keep for a later date. I think there’s about thirty to forty ideas, so it will make it a bit easier at the end of the tour, but yeah, man, it’s just difficult to write, you constantly have somewhere to be or someone to talk to or a show to play, and afterwards you get a couple of drinks into you and try to go to bed. So mostly it’s written after the tour, I always have the best intentions *laughs* and I find that it’s more difficult without all the distractions around, it’s got to be in a situation where you can write and that’s all you’ve got to worry about.
Six albums in, how do you keep the studio and making records interesting after so long?
Well it’s interesting because you’ve got a batch of songs, you don’t know what to expect from them and you don’t know what they’re going to end up sounding like. For example I go in with a demo and I don’t even know what the song is going to sound like because I haven’t finished it yet, it’s almost like you walk in with a bunch of works in progress, a bunch of sketches and in the studio you fish them out. That’s what keeps it interesting, you don’t go in with an idea that’s already done and it’s just a mechanical process of rerecording it and making it sound better, that is one way to keep it interesting. Every single time you just challenge yourself and try different ideas, different tunings, different riffs and you try new production techniques, there’s so many things you can try, even new pedals you can try out. So we’re never at a loss for new things to try, so as long as we’re open to trying them and ultimately when a song is done, that’s when it’s ready to record.
Looking back to ‘Disclaimer’ in 2002, what for you has been the biggest and most notable evolution that you feel has taken place within the band?
The biggest change… maybe just the thirteen years that’s gone by and the toll it’s taken on us physically I think *laughs* we’ve been a really hard touring band for a really long time, and when you start out you don’t realise that you’re not going to be able to do it as you could when you were twenty one years old, and I think that that is nature running its course, and don’t get me wrong, we still have a good time, we still have a couple of drinks and we still rock out, but you tend to drink less now because the hangover takes longer to go away *laughs* stuff like that. A couple of us have got issues, as far as physical issues after years of playing and how much we put into it, so you come off the road and you need to go see a chiropractor *laughs*, usually you come off the road an you go on vacation. Musically I think nothing’s changed and I think we’re more comfortable than we were back then, back then it was more of a question of ok we have to find where we fit in the musical landscape, we have to find where we fit in and I think now we just don’t care about that, we just write music we enjoy and we love to play and haven’t really given any thought about what’s going to happen to this album once it’s released. Obviously you have to think about that because you want to keep building your fan base, but by the same token I think that when I was twenty one years old and writing songs and I was a pissed off teenager, now I’m just a pissed off adult and there’s a difference. The way you approach things is very different and I think your outlook is very different, so you try to express yourself in a smarter way and less straight forward, and I think maybe I just want to be a little bit more poetic at times and have a little bit more of a song structure and be a little more creative. I think as far as all of that has gone, in my mind this is a very simple album, very straightforward whereas years gone by the albums had become a little more complicated, lyrically and or musically and sometimes not both at the same time, we concentrate on making music so that the lyric can be more complex or that the music can be more complex, or other times we just make things more interesting. That’ll be for me the biggest changes in that I’m comfortable with what I do with music , I mean you always need validation because you’re always going to be insecure about things, it’s such an introspective thing, but you need someone to say ‘oh that’s really good’ because if you don’t hear it you feel like you’ve lost your touch. So I’ve grown accustomed and capable to what I’m doing, so as long as I’m making myself happy and keeping myself interested, then that’s all I’m concerned about right now.
You’ve been doing this for quite some time, what’s the biggest thing you learned about the industry that you didn’t feel would be a part of it all when you started the band?
I didn’t think that EDM music would be such a big thing, I didn’t think record stores would be gone, so those are two massive changes and I didn’t understand it. You know, and I shouldn’t say this is lack of foresight but I never imagined being able to walk through the city of New York, or Manhattan and trying to find a CD and not being able to find a CD store to buy one in, and that happened a few years back, maybe two or three albums back, we were actually in the city and usually it’s a good luck thing when you go out and you buy the CD on the day of its release and I remember we were there a couple of years ago and there was nowhere to buy one, the only CD stores you could find were little Indy ones that had hard to find music or hipster music, it wasn’t like the old Virgin’s used to be, to Tower Records, so that was a huge loss to music, and I think the pop culture itself, I think the second part to see how it almost became a homogenised version of itself over the years and then kids have no problems stealing music but they also have no problems taking a whole bunch of money and spending $300 – $400 to see the same fucking song for three days in a row *laughs*, I just didn’t imagine that’s what it would become. So it’s interesting, I find that I listen to most musical styles and I try to find things that are not completely annoying about everything and there are certainly some enjoyable elements about that kind of music, but I never for the life of me thought in this day and age that we would be talking about guys with laptops and that’s it, there’s no instrumental skill at all, I mean having said that, I know it’s horribly generalised, but they’re not musicians, they’re good with computers, and that’s just my opinion but I find it kind of stupid because when I was growing up the coolest thing you could do is be in a band, now the coolest thing you can do is have a laptop and you can make electronic noises come out of it, it’s just bizarre to me. *laughs*
Lastly, let’s predict the future, so finish this sentence for me, by the end of 2015, Seether will?
By the end of 2015, I will be 37 years old and hopefully a lot less jaded than I’ve been, I guess that’s the best I can do *laughs*
Catch Seether in Australia at the following tour dates:
Monday 29th June – Perth – Capitol
Wednesday 1st July – Adelaide – The Gov
Thursday 2nd July – Brisbane – Eatons Hill Hotel
Friday 3rd July – Sydney – Metro Theatre
Saturday 4th July – Melbourne – Forum Theatre
Grab your tickets HERE – Presented by Metropolis Touring
From: South Africa
Band members: Shaun Morgan – vocals, guitar Dale Stewart – bass, vocals John Humphrey – drums
Latest release: Isolate and Medicate (Out Now – Caroline Australia)