Metal Edge Magazine
October 2002

The Seether Is You, The Seether Is Me

Seether frontman Shaun Morgan isn't intimidated by sharing a stage with Meshuggah and Hatebreed on this summers Ozzfest. And why should he be? He lists Pantera among his musical heroes, and is quick to point out that his band was often criticized for being too heavy for South African concerts. Too heavy won't be a problem this summer, as "never heavy enough" seems to be the mantra for the Ozzfest sidestage that also features Mushroomhead, Soil, and enough noise therapy to put the hardest of rockers in a straitjacket fit of moshpit madness. So where, exactly, do Seether fit in amongst all that? Oh, they'll find a way...You can bet your bus fare that "Fuck It" will be included in there summer sampler of a setlist, and "Pig"stomps through the sty with contempt and rememberance of Alice In Chains. Even "Gasoline" promises to ignite the incendiary crowds. But for every song that blisters, there are two or three more that prefer to slowly burn, seeping subconsciously into the mind of a pained lyrical relevance and the strained musical sympathy of Staind and Cold. Are Seether a metal force to be reckoned with? Hardly. But there sights are far beyond such a binding scope. Signed out of South Africa, they're a musical force to be reckoned with-One that has Morgan, bassist Dale Stewart and drummer Nick Oshiro destined for the fast track with the release of there Disclaimer debut August 20. Morgan, the band's principale songwriter and creative force, sat down with Metal Edge for this introducion to the American Public...

Metal Edge: You started out in South Africa--I'm sure I'm not alone in having no clue in what the music scene is like down there. Is it similar to America?
Shaun Morgan: I would say, yea. The industry is the same everywhere you go, ours is just a lot smaller--You fit it in the size of Texas, twice. Everyone knows what everyone is doing, and everyone knows what everyone is saying. It's very easy to step on someone's toes, and then those people make your life as hard as possible. There's one company running everything, that's pretty much standard. The kids are very into our local music, because of what happened a couple of years ago, was because the record companys were pushing international acts the whole time...Theres not a very big rock market, but what there is, is a strong one. There's just so much shit about the country, and there's so much politics, it's just good to be out of there, you know?

ME: You've been in the states for the last four months now, do you think you're going to stay in the country?
SM: Yeah, I think so, I mean, it will b easier for us now, we are going to be touring, anyway. All of our agents are all out here, and it's definatly a bigger place with a lot of oppertunity. It makes sense to be here, to be in music and trying to make it.

ME: How did you go about getting signed to an American deal from South Africa?
SM: Our manager had sent this record that we had done over to a record company in Germany, and then they sent it to Wind-Up. Wind-Up called us a week later, and flew us out to New York. We played a showcase and then we went home, it was like a four day trip. They told us they wanted to sign us straight after the showcase, which was very cool. I still sometimes look back and go, "Fuck! What happened?"

ME: Was it intimidating just upping and moving to America, leaving South Africa behind?
SM: Well, basically everything we own is here already, we just left some equipment behind, some amps and shit. But I was feeling kind of claustrophobic in my own country anyway, and was feeling drained from the industry that we have at home for awhile--We're out here to prove a point, now. I know a lot of people are skeptical...

ME: I thought I recalled a band called Tribe After Tribe being signed out of South Africa in the early '90's, but apparently no one else does. And they didn't see a lot of success. You're being hailed as the first band to emerge in America from South Africa...
SM: Yeah, I've heard of them, but it was many years ago...alot of the black artists have been doing well, but no one has ever been signed to an international label, or to an American, which is cool. So we are hoping to make history because of that.

ME: You havent toured America yet to compare, but what are the fans at home like?
SM: The fans are fucking amazing, because it's a small country the fans at home become like friends. Everytime you play the same city, you get to see the same people all the time, and if you're touring once every four months, people stay kind of fresh in your mind. There are some crazy-ass fans. This one guy was going to have my face tattooed on his arm, and that kind of freaked me out. There's some good people, it's really cool...

ME: Your lyrics do seem a bit deeper then a lot of bands, it's not surprising that people make that personal connection.
SM: When I was in the studio, I was so worried about the lyrics, because I was worried about what people might think about them. Then, I kind of went back and said, "Well, it's not about what people are going to be thinkign about me, it's about me getting some shit off of my chest."Then, I was comfortable, because I went, "Well, why are we in this, and what are we going to be doing?" If I had changed anything, that wouldn't go along with what I want to do, and then I might as well be writing someone else's songs, and singing someone else's lyrics.

ME: Did you write most of the songs yourself?
SM: Yeah...back home, I've got a guitar in every room, and I write alot just sitting around with an acoustic. I'm constantly playing stuff, and I'm constantly coming up with new stuff and heavier stuff, and better stuff.

ME: Is the music part easier for you then doing the lyrics?
SM: Well, for me, the music always comes first, it will kind of go with what I'm thinking, and sometimes the words will just come right out. Other times, I'll sit and tink about things and just write shit, and then the next day, I'll be like, "Fuck! What the fuck am I saying?" And other times, it's totally subconscious--someone will come up and say, "Did you mean that?" When they can tell me what I meant, that's pretty insane. I just like to sit down and get it out in five minutes and make sure it's there, if we're on a song and it's not coming together, we'll just leave it for tomorrowand alot ofthe time songs just come out in ten minutes. It's whatever makes you feel good.

ME: How long have you been playing?
SM: I've been doing it since I was twelve.

ME: So about fifteen years now?
SM: Yea, I've been in this band for three years, but I have been in so many bands, and every kind of band that you can imagine-I've been in a christian band as a bassist and backing vocalist, I played as a drummer in some band, it's the only thing I ever wanted to do with my life. It's such a fucking clich'e, but it's the only thing that makes em happy...I stopped fucking playing fo two years, and I was going insane, I was getting into fights, it was bad.

ME: In the United States, we always hear about the political unrest in South Afrcia, but to read your lyrics, there's nothign that doesn't immediately pertain to everyone here in America. They're personal, about the same problems.
SM: Alot of bands that think because you are from your country you have t sing about your country, and alot of bands will make it sound like they coem from another country. If we play somethign and it feels good, and it feels right, then we play it. It's not about trying to sound like something, and we got a lot of shit for that, because there were alot of people sayingthat we were trying to sell out. That's something that we've never done-besides, we grew up watching American TV, listening to American bands. So we've grown up basically living in America, but not in America-like living in a small town that's part of America. That's what I think alot of people don't understand-we listen to the same bands. I met Drowning Pool yesterday, and that was a trip, it was so cool. We know about these bands, but alot of people don't, because it's pretty much underground at home. But once it's on radio, it becomes cool.

ME: Hey, sounds like America! What are the big bands on the radio out there?
SM: It's been Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Creed... Basically, it's all been the same, and then what's big on European MTV. Kylie Minogie, she came out I think six months ago, so we've been through all that. It's interesting to see which singles work, and which country they go to first, then they go somewhere else, and it all comes to the states, because this is where you want to be. We were even thinking about going to Europe, because at home we were selling albums, and we were selling out venues and stuff, you can do that over and over, but it's kind of like you're in this box.

ME: So you got out here, and what did you do in America? Record?
SM:Yeah, we came over and did soem pre-production in New York, and then we came out and did the album in L.A. It's really great to be somewhere where you can see the bands-I mean, bands could come and play and people would go and watch, but they wouldn't make enough money. To see a show in South Africa, it's like spending $65 on one band. But it's really cool to be here and be like, "Oh, Machine Head's in town. Oh, Slipknot is going to be here next week..." Some of these bands that are on the Ozzfest, are bands that we fucking love and never would get to see at home-System Of A Down, Ozzy, Down...Their bass player [Rex Brown] is like a god to us, man, so to be playing on the same stage as them is like, "Yeah, fuck!" It's like we are little village kids coming into the city. The city in South Africais a lot like L.A.-Theres this city in the middle, then alot of it is spread out.

ME: The album isn't heavy like alot of bands on the Ozzfest--There's a definate Alice In Chains style vibe, like their Sap record.
SM: I never really got into a lot of Alice In Chains, but I did like the singer [Layne Staley]. I've got every Tool album, and I've got every Pantera album. Theer are some bands that just make you go out and get everything. I don't know Alice In Chains, but everyone else that I usually hangout around listens to them and Metallica. At the same time, I was listening to Soundgarden and alot of pop bands. I'd been listening to AC/DC, and really bad stuff like Paula Abdul, but I got [Nirvana] Nevermind when I was about twelve-years-old, and that was the album that made me want to go out and play.

ME: How do you think you will hold up next to a band like Meshuggah on the sidestage?
SM: That is going to be strange for us, because we are probably going to be one of the softer-or probably the softest-on Ozzfest. At home we were always the heaviest. We were oen of the heavy bands that weren't allowed to play the festivals because we're not commercial enough. But when we play live, it's alot different, there's alot more fo that agressive feel to it-The studio part, we wan to make sure that everything is right. I think it losses alot when you put something down and your nervous-comparing a demo to an album, it's never quite the same. I mean, Meshuggah and Mushroomhead are playing, but I think we'll hold up nicely. because when we do play live, we play theheavier songs that we have. It's not going to be as heavy as those bands, but...

ME: It'll be a fitting introduction of Seether to American Audiences...
SM: Yeah, we played some other shows, but this will be the first time we get on a bus and do the tour thing, watching shit on MTV, and seeing how these bands go on tour and being a part of that. But, the more you try and kid yourself--that you're actually comfortable, and you're a part of this now-the more you realize that it's a totally different world and it's just insane. It's weird.