Things Are Fine Again For Seether

By Will Fresch
Managing Editor

Are rock stars mesmerized by rock stars? Is it possible for an artist to enjoy working for their record company? Did the invisible man have invisible bowel movements? These common questions and more were discussed when we shared more than a few drinks with Seether's Dale Stewart and Pat Callahan before one of their headlining gigs a few weeks back. Riding on the success of Rock singles "Fine Again" and "Driven Under", the group has just added another headlining leg to their current tour. Oh yeah, and this one time, at band camp...

Crazewire: Being from South Africa, what stands out about the states?

Dale Stewart: For me, the main thing is just the size of this place. I mean, it's a lot bigger. South Africa's rock scene…you can pretty much tour all of the places you're going to play in about three weeks. Then you're done, because South Africa is like half the size of Texas. There are very few rock fans over there. As a rock band, if you sell 10,000 albums, you're really doing well. It's hard to get a break. It's hard enough to just play in a band and try to make a living. Even if you've got songs on the radio and a deal in the works, we started our tour in a little van; a van that we rented. We had no tour support from our label over there. In America, it's better organized. There's more money behind it. It's such a bigger market over here.

You originally played under the name, "Sarin Gas". What made you decide to make the change to "Seether"?

DS: Misconceptions about the name, I guess. Sarin Gas is the gas that they used in the terrorist attacks in Japan's subways. We didn't really want to be tied to anything like that. And, you know, after 9/11, everyone was kind of nervous about anything terrorist, so we decided we would have to change it. Our label was concerned about it too, so it was a joint thing.

Speaking of your label, how do you like things at Wind Up?

DS: Wind Up's really cool.
Pat Callahan: Wind Up builds things up like a big family, so it's not like you walk into this huge corporation like some of the other labels. You walk in there, everyone knows your name and there's a real family-type vibe to the whole label.
DS: Whenever we're in New York, the owner and his wife, the Meltzers are like, "Come on over to the house." We go to their house, hang out, and talk shit. We listen to some of the newer bands they're working with, have a few beers, and order Chinese food. Initially, we went with them because they were pretty much the only record company crazy enough to fly some South Africans up here, and to sign a South African band; no one's ever done that before. They really are cool and they really do care about the bands.

There are ten different album covers for your record, "Disclaimer". What was the idea behind that, and whose idea was it to use the signs that we see on the covers?

PC: It was actually our producer's idea. We shot the video for "Fine Again" first and we kind of carried the concept from the video into the album. It's kind of like, you can pick whatever cover most addresses you; whatever sayings you can relate to more.

Can we assume that you guys are fans of video games, given that "Fine Again" is used in Madden 2003?

PC: Dude, let me just tell you, I get so many people who come up and are like, "Oh, you guys are the Madden guys. I heard your song on Madden." Between that and Ozzfest, I don't know which one has brought us more attention.
DS: Madden is huge. I think that game has sold around 5 million.
PC: We couldn't ask for better exposure.
DS: People ask us how much money we got from that, and we're like, "nothing." But, we're all Playstation junkies. For one, just to be on a game is huge. And also, you can't buy the kind of exposure it has brought us.

I would bet money that Ozzfest garnered more attention for your group. Plus, I'm sure it was more memorable by far to have been part of the tour.

DS: Ozzfest is awesome. It's fucking nerve-racking, though. Aside from the thousands of screaming people in the crowd, we were more nervous to play in front of all these bands that we grew up listening to. You've got to hold your own among these bands that you admire and respect like Phil Anselmo and Down, Mushroomhead, and Glassjaw. We played between those groups. You get up there and just shit yourself. You're like, "I hope these guys don't think we're idiots".

It has to be cool though, once you get over some of those anxieties.

DS: Yeah, we met a lot of cool people, met a lot of bands, made a lot of friends, and drank way too much. We played and partied. It's like rock n' roll band camp. It's almost like Groundhog Day. You wake up one morning and all the buses are parked near the stage and all the same stage guys are doing the same thing. You walk around, go play a show. The venues look more-or-less the same. You drink, you get wasted, you party, go to bed, wake up the next morning and the buses are parked in the exact same spot. You're like, "Fuck, haven't we left yet?" It's crazy! And, again, it's an incredible way to get your name out there. That, and playing on Letterman.

Didn't you guys get screwed out of playing his show the other night?

PC: We got bumped. We're going back in a few weeks. I felt so dumb. Dude, I took my cell phone and dialed every single number that was in it; third-grade teachers, you name it. I'm like, "Yo, we're gonna' be on Letterman!" And then we go there, do the dress rehearsal, the sound check…
DS: And ten minutes before we go on, they're like, "There's not going to be enough time."
PC: But, he did give us a limo for the night and he booked us right away for next time.

Pat, you were added to the band after the group had finished laying down tracks for "Disclaimer". Were you made to feel welcome immediately or did you undergo some sort of hazing ritual?

PC: I think it was more like I hazed them (laughs)! I have this kick where like the second it becomes down-time, I get joy out of popping out of somewhere and scaring someone. We'll be in dressing rooms, and I'll hide behind a curtain and just scare the piss out of someone. These guys made me feel accepted right away. I had one rehearsal with the band and then I was in Europe with them in a matter of days.
They said, 'How quick can you get to New York?'
I was like, 'How quick do you need me?'
'Uh, tonight.'

Why the rush?

PC: They were opening up for Jerry Cantrell [former Alice in Chains guitarist] in Europe. So, I get there and like 10 minutes before we go on, my pedal board burns out. I had no effects to hide behind. The nervousness. Here you are opening up for someone you grew up listening to. Can you even grasp that? It was absolutely crazy.
DS: He was crapping himself. It was great!
PC: You know, if you can handle that, it all kind of falls into place from that point on.
DS: From that show on, it just worked, you know? We actually had another guitarist before that, and you try and try, and sometimes it flat out does not work. We tried to make it work, and it just wasn't happening. With Pat, we had one rehearsal. It wasn't even a real rehearsal.
PC: (Laughs) We played like triple-speed ska versions of most of the songs.
DS: It's one of those things where you get up on stage, you play, and it just seems right. You don't need to say anything or look at each other, you just know. Do you know what I mean?

Yes, you all share a common interest; a common goal.

PC: And common questions…
DS: Like, if you were an invisible man, and you ate something, would there be a bowl of, like, chewed food just sitting and hovering around in your invisible stomach?
PC: Or if you started pissing, would the piss be invisible, or would it just be urine shooting out of nowhere?
DS: It would probably be visible just as it left the body.
PC: They probably had this same meeting when they did "Hollow Man" and they didn't even address it in the movie. Idiots.