Rock Rage Interview with Shaun

When it comes to the stomping grounds for rock bands, South Africa is most likely one of the last places you would ever imagine one of the industry's most promising acts would emerge from. Such is the case with Wind-up Records' latest pride and joy, Seether. With their first single hot on the charts, an album filled with promise, Ozzfest already under their belt and a future that's theirs for the taking, Seether is merely beginning that long journey down Rock and Roll Boulevard. On November 23rd, Seether frontman and brainchild Shaun Morgan took some time out of his overloaded schedule to chat with RockRage about

the band, their new life in the industry, rocking their homeland, Ozzfest, choosing between music or death. [In fact, Shaun opened up so much that this interview will be featured in two segments with the second half to post next week.]

RockRage: How did the show last night go? You were in Hartford, CT last night?

Shaun Morgan: Yeah. It was a cool show. We felt a little out of place because we were with SR-71 and…the more punk kind of bands.

RR: So how did the audience react to that?

SM: Oh, we had some little girls giving us the finger, but I think Nick [Oshiro, drummer] took care of them. He was throwing drumsticks at them.

RR: There you go. I'm sorry to hear that. But, especially with the young ones, I think they're a bit more narrow-minded when it comes to music. You know, they have their favorite band and…

SM: They have their favorite band and also they have those "Oh my God! He's so hot!" You know. It's not even really about the music. It's about what the fucking guy looks like.

RR: Right, exactly. Might as well go watch N'Sync or Backstreet Boys.

SM: Yeah, exactly. I mean it's N'Sync with guitars. I mean they're nice guys and all, but that's what they are.

RR: And you're playing with those guys again in Chicago I think.

SM: I have nothing bad to say about the band or the guys at all. It's just not my deal, but I respect them for what they do and all that kind of thing. I don't know if I'd go and watch them necessarily, but they do what they do well I suppose. You have to give them their props for that.

RR: Seether started out as a trio, but you guys are now a four-piece, right? New guitarist?

SM: It's a guy called Pat Callahan, but he prefers to be called "Undercover Brother [Unda Cuva Brutha]."

RR: "Undercover Brother?" Okay.

SM: 'Cause he's kind of diggin' the flying below the radar thing. He hasn't appeared in any of the photographs yet. Basically, if you've seen him play you know who he is, but, yeah, he's part of the band now.

RR: When did he join the band?

SM: He joined about two months ago.

RR: Was it more because of playing live you needed that additional guitar?

SM: Yeah, there's so many cool parts on the album that we wanted to have live too and try to get a little closer to the album sound. He's basically the guitarist I've been searching my whole life for. You play in bands with other guys and it never really gets – you get on with some of the guys, but this just clicks.

RR: And how did you find him?

SM: We opened for his band in Philadelphia before we went out on Ozzfest. We watched him play and we were like "Hey dude, you're cool!" Gave him a CD and we gave him a call a week before we went to Europe. The first show he played with us was in London opening for Jerry Cantrell.

RR: Wow. That had to be a pretty big show for him.

SM: Yeah and then just before he got on stage his pedals broke and he was really freaking out.

RR: For those who don't know, Seether began in South Africa and I'm sure a lot of us here in the States aren't familiar with the music scene down there. What was it like with hard rock? With radio? Clubs? The local scene? Or like our national acts because I'm sure they don't come through that area as often as they tour around here.

SM: We normally get Michael Jackson and Bryan Adams comes out a lot. I think the first band I ever saw there was Smashing Pumpkins. They came out once. It was just before they broke up actually. We have a very commercialized chain here. Whatever the radio plays people know. If you want to find the good stuff you have to have either friends who went overseas and found it or you just have to search the net or whatever. But when I was a kid I wasn't really into that. So basically it's just friends who went overseas and found a CD and are like "Hey listen to this man!" I mean I never heard of Nirvana until some guy gave me an album and said, "Listen to this." That honestly fucking changed my life. But the scene is pretty much the same. You have the same skanky clubs and you play them and you get sometimes chewed up badly by the owner and the other bands. It's the same wherever you go.

RR: At what points did you guys decide to come to the States then?

SM: We actually went to Europe first 'cause Europe is kind of like an easier – I think the perception is that it's easier to make it in Europe. America is the ultimate market that you want to get into. It's the Holy Grail. We got to a point where we were hitting the ceiling in South Africa because we were headlining the major festivals. We toured the country five times in a year. We really got to a point where we can do this again for another year or we can move overseas and get jobs and try to start building it up from there. We have an album out in South Africa and we just sent that to every single record company in the world we could think of 'cause we always look bigger than our country, you know what I mean? A lot of bands I think never strive to get further than play – we have a localized Woodstock festival – and there's a lot of bands that don't strive to get much more than play that one.

RR: That's their Holy Grail is to play that one.

SM: Yeah, totally. For us it was a Holy Grail at some point and then we were like, "Cool. Now we're going to get to the next fucking festival and get another song on the radio and then we're going to get it going and take it overseas." Basically, the album landed up at some guy in Germany who worked for Sony and he loved the album. They only signed German bands because they're boosting their own musical economy, which I think is great. So he sent it to the record company that license through Sony and he sent it Wind-up and Wind-up phoned us up and flew us out for a showcase. We played it and when we finished playing it we all thought we fucked it up. I think I broke a string. You know, you're totally paranoid so you're not putting on the show that you normally do. I think the band then was a little maybe juvenile compared to what we've become now. Juvenile in the sense of the live show and that kind of thing. I mean being on Ozzfest is a serious fucking learning curve. So we played it and the we were done and they sat us down and said "We'd like to welcome you to Wind-up." I just started fucking crying. That showcase for me was make or break. I don't think anyone else in this country would have flown three schmucks form South Africa out to do a showcase for them, you know what I mean?

RR: Right. And then being under that pressure I can understand that.

SM: Yeah. Honestly, I thought that this was my fucking chance to make my dream happen, to make it come true. But I've always believed that I'd end up in the States. That I'd be playing. I just believed in it so much.

RR: Well, congratulations because you are here.

SM: Thanks, man.

RR: Dealing with Wind-up, as far as I can tell, they put through a fairly costly and high profile promotional campaign for you guys and the album. Was there any concern to you and the band as to the cost or perhaps everything just happening too big too fast?

SM: I was more concerned of the pressure of living up to the hype. We can see that the single is taking off now, but I do think that we're also earning it. We're not like the band that comes out, gets put together and the amount of money they put behind our first single I don't think is anywhere near some other bands. I think we're honestly earning it. We've been on

tour since the 19th of July and we've played a show almost every day. Some days we play two shows. We're really working it and we can see that when we started playing the first shows that no one knew who we were to some radio play and they were like "Yeah, we saw you at Ozzfest and we had to come and watch you again." I feel we're earning it, which for me is kind of satisfying. I'd hate to release the first single and suddenly be selling out arenas 'cause there's no credibility in that.

RR: You've mentioned about touring and nobody knowing who you were. You've already done some touring in Europe and Disclaimer is not out there yet. It doesn't come out until January. How come it doesn't come out until then?

SM: Yeah, I don't know how it works man. It came out in South Africa about a few weeks after the American release. Then it came out in Canada about a month later and as far as I know we went over there and we met all the Sony people. They were really great. They're really excited about the album. We went over there mostly to do some promo with French press, Italian press, German press and British press. We just basically hit every major magazine that Europe has to offer and we threw in some shows I think just to keep ourselves busy and to kind of introduce ourselves. We only played London once with Jerry Cantrell in the Astoria I think it was. We played a little club in Germany with some band I never heard of. Then we played the Kerrang fest, which was really great for us. I think we were just laying some groundwork. But I really don't know why the releases are so staggered. But I know you can already pick up bootlegs in Japan.

RR: You're doing a whole bunch of radio shows here in the States and I was reading in the last journal you had on the web site that you haven't forgotten about the weird show at the Windjammer. What happened there?

SM: Oh man! It was total fucking Murphy's Law! The club was packed. It was totally primed for the show. The opening band fucking rocked and as we got on stage – I mean we were standing backstage, guitars swung over our shoulders about to go on and the power cut off. Apparently, the transformer outside the building blew. There were no lights except for the two emergency lights over the bar. And basically we just sat down, we busted out some acoustic guitars and we played unamplified, acoustic. Only the people in the front could hear us. People got pissed off, which pissed me off because at least we didn't say "Oh, see you later." We rescheduled the show. We're going back early December and we'll go back and fucking rock the place. The thing that really pissed me off was we sat there and we played for about an hour and then literally ten minutes after we packed our acoustic guitars the lights came back on. But also when the lights went out the air-conditioning went out so it was hot as hell in the club. People were uncomfortable. They were bitching and moaning. They couldn't hear me sing. They couldn't hear the guitars, but it wasn't like we had planned it. There were some people that were standing close enough to hear us and they thought that was great.