Reality Bites

Title: Reality bites: despite drama, top five rock hit has Seether poised for success
Author(s): Gary Graff
Source: Billboard.
119.42 (Oct. 20, 2007): p79. From Expanded Academic ASAP.
Document Type: Article
Full Text:

After three gold albums, Wind-up Records has platinum in its sights for Seether's "Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces," due Oct. 23.

"The band sits on the verge of the big picture of things," Wind-up president Ed Vetri says. "There's a great awareness about the band--now it's about building more of a profile and taking it to the next level."

Seether frontman/chief songwriter Shaun Morgan says that would be fine with him, but adds that he and his bandmates didn't make the record with that in mind.

"I think it would be a validation for us as a band to have a platinum album on the wall," the South African-born Morgan says. "But it's not something l focus my energies on, especially not when I'm writing songs or touring."

Writing, Morgan says, was the key focus on this album. The 12-track "Finding Beauty," which was produced by Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, Daughtry), still has its share of such Seether headbangers as "Like Suicide," "Breakdown," "FMLYH M" and "6 Gun Quota." There are also mainstream-friendly rock anthems like "Rise Above This" and first single "Fake It," which is No. 3 on the Mainstream Rock chart this week.

But Morgan, bassist Dale Stuart and drummer John Humphrey experimented with their sound on the seven-minute, Tool-echoing epic "No Jesus Christ" and the carefully crafted dynamics of "Walk Away From the Sun" and "Eyes of the Devil."

"We wanted to write and explore the more melodic and musical side of everything," Morgan (born Welgemoed) says. "We can be heavy and rock out, but we can also write songs that can compete with any other song out there. That was a really big motivation."

Morgan is well-aware that the new songs will be examined for references to the course his life has taken since 2005's "Karma & Effect," which has sold 713,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. His highly publicized relationship with labelmate Amy Lee of Evanescence came to an end, and that band's hit "Call Me When You're Sober" was directly inspired by events that led Morgan to check into rehab in August 2006. He also lost his brother Eugene, the inspiration for "Rise Above This," this past August.

Morgan calls rehab "an interesting experience" where some of the new songs got their start. But he says he had no interest in writing a response to "Call Me When You're Sober" or to dwell on Lee.

"I decided to take the high road," Morgan says. "There's one song about that, 'Breakdown,' and it's not even that aggressive; it's more like, 'What did I do to you, man, to say all those things about me?'

"But I don't hate her; in fact, I miss that girl sometimes. And I wish her well. She deserves happiness."

Morgan says he wrote about 50 songs for "Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces," with Seether and Benson ultimately recording 15 of them before the final dozen were chosen. He says there was some head-butting with the label ("There was a lot of pressure, obviously--'Write singles! Write singles!'" he recalls with a laugh) but that "ultimately this album was fun. We really feel like we accomplished what we wanted."

Vetri says the campaign for "Finding Beauty" is designed to "superserve [Seether's] core fan base," with online promotions that will offer opportunities to preview the new music and even help design T-shirts for the band. Wind-up is also working on "some very special, exclusive video arrangements" with online and mobile platforms, including a cheerfully ironic cover of Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" for Yahoo's Cover Art series. A release-week appearance on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" is also in the offing.

With radio having already embraced "Fake It," Vetri predicts that "Rise Above This" can have the same crossover appeal as "Broken" did in 2004.

And with the band already on tour, Vetri says Seether's "road dog" habits will be a potent sales aid.

"That's what's most important--they get out there and play the music," Vetri says. "Seether needs to be on the road. They prove it every night, and when people see them, they wind up wanting the music even more."

Graff, Gary
Source Citation
Graff, Gary. "Reality bites: despite drama, top five rock hit has Seether poised for success." Billboard 20 Oct. 2007: 79. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.