Seether's John Humphrey talks about tonight's show at the Fair

Categories: Interview
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Chances are if you've turned on 93X here in Minneapolis, you've been privy to hearing the meticulously angry sounds of Seether. Not to say there's anything wrong with a solid dose of sculpted alternative-metal. The band of over 10 years has soldiered on through the post-grunge age and managed to not only survive, but successfully dominate. When many of the era's predecessors somehow seem to burn out long before their third album, Seether brings to us a pleasant taste of familiarity when we turn the radio on and can almost savor the nostalgia from vocalist Shaun Morgan's rusty wind-pipes. We've been hearing his salty voice for just about seven albums now -- that's staying power.

Seether are now hitting the road with Shaun Morgan, who infamously had a tumultuous relationship with Amy Lee of Evanescence; it seems all the kinks have been worked out and we have our Seether back. With a new record coming out in January, they are very much alive in the rock community. We spoke with John Humphrey, the drummer for Seether, about their performance tonight at the Minnesota State Fair.

Have you ever been to the "Great Minnesota Get-Together"?

I can't recall -- we've been to so many fairs. For us getting the chance to get out and play right now, we've been off working on just finishing up our newest album, been in the studio have had rehearsal. So to get out and play is good for us.

Do you like fried foods?

I am Southern of course I love fried foods! Bring on the turkey legs man!

When might that album come out? I know it's been in the works for a little while now.

I think January is the talk about month, hopefully that'll be it. It's done; they're mixing it right now it'll be done this week. And then ya know the finish up of the artwork and details, stuff like that. It takes a couple of months for the label to set it all up and all of that. I don't think we wanted to do it right on top of the holidays; we wanted to wait to get those kind of out of the way. So January would be the ideal time.

Will we be able to hear any of the new stuff at the fair this coming Monday night?

Ya I think we are there was some discussion if it was a good idea to play it with YouTube and ya know, you're worried about it getting out before the music's released. But I think its fine, we want to play some new stuff, it's time. I know it would be easier if the fans had it already in their hands, or were kind of already familiar with it. But I think it's a good idea, a little precursor, and we owe it to our fans. We've been playing the same songs for quite a while we need to add a couple of things, we're anxious to do it as a band. We've been off, so I can't say that I'm really bored with any of the old material. But it's exciting to play the new music; I know it sounds cliché I know, "like this is the best album"-- It's always the newest albums that's the best album, but it's really some of the strongest stuff we've ever done, and we really can't wait for everybody to hear it. Hopefully Shaun will be cool, and we'll get to play a couple new songs and it will be a lot of fun for everyone.

For this new album, is it going to sound like any previous albums, or is it a progression?

I definitely think it's more in tune with Finding Beauty, but there's still heavy stuff, there's still mid-tempo a couple of slower songs. For us the intent was just stronger songs, no filler- I think we had kind of started that period with Finding Beauty where there really weren't any filler songs, at least in our mind.

We tried to, well we did, and we wrote a ton of songs for that last album and picked the best. And we sort of did the same thing for this one; it's being produced with Brendan O'Brien and he's just a tremendous talent. Obviously his track record speaks for itself but he really made sure that there was no fat [chuckles] on any of these songs. Made sure they were trimmed, or if an idea didn't really happen then we moved on. These songs, again I can't wait for everybody to hear it; but they're very strong, melodic, and heavy at times. But I don't think it's anything out of left field, I don't think it'll beat off anybody. But for us as artists that want to mature and get better at our craft, I think hopefully we've achieved it. Brendan certainly helped us a lot along the way.

You guys sure do get a lot of airplay here on our local alternative rock station 93X. How do you feel about performing in front of pretty much the entire population of Minnesota on Monday?

That's great, that's amazing to hear that kind of support. Some markets trends are only as big as your latest single. But we've been out there for a while, we've been touring for many years and we've done a lot of friends in radio and if we have that support even though we don't have a current single. It's been a while since the most current, so to continue to get that kind of support from both in radio and in turn have people still come out. We're in between albums, and one anticipated album, but ya know technically we're still kind of in between, so to still have that kind of support is unbelievable it means a lot and thankfully a lot of work has paid off and we've made some friends along the way.

How does it feel to know that Seether has been alive now for over 10 years, and is still prosperous--what would you say is the key to your success?

A lot of hard work and determination, we didn't really take no for an answer. I've been with the band now for 7 years, and the band's been with Shaun for 10 years and going; for the life of a rock band it's really not a small milestone. To be able to be still alive and have a lot of fans and be able to tour and just be able to do this amazing well it's not really a job, technically it is but we're very fortunate to able to have this thing called Seether and be able to go out and play, and I still get to do what I wanted to do when I was 14 years old, to be a grown man and be able to do this. It's just really amazing.

I know Seether was bred in Southern Africa. Is the rest of the band's lifestyle different from yours [Humphrey being from Oklahoma]?

I think it isn't really that much different other than Shaun and Dale have accents, although I guess I kind of do to them too. And they can obviously speak Afrikaans, which is Latin to me. Other than that they were very influenced by American music, and by listening to the music and those influences coming out we actually have a lot in common; we all grew up on 80s' music, we grew up on the Seattle-grunge early 90s' stuff. We were fans to a lot of the same bands: Deftones, Foo Fighters... Ya know we have a lot of the same influences, so musically we speak the same language, no problem. I've been fortunate enough to go back three or four times with them and do shows back home. It's a beautiful country and to meet their families, Shaun and Dale's parents are just amazing. To hear about their life and growing up, they went to school like we did. Pretty similar to what a suburban life is like in a sense; I mean maybe they have lions and tigers in their back yard other than that I mean musically we are very similar.

I was wondering how the grunge scene was in Southern Africa...

To hear Shaun and Dale talk about it, obviously it was tough, it was underground. Of course the country being about the size of Texas I mean there would be a rock station late at night playing Nirvana, and Alice in Chains - the stuff that was really making Shaun want to pick up a guitar and start writing. Late at night, playing it secretly where your parents didn't want you to listen to that.-- It just sounds like rock 'n' roll might have been to the parents & kids what it was in the 50s' and 60s' or something. But to be able to find that and to attach to it and identify with it, that's some amazing talent that Shaun Morgan has. I mean in this country, to relocate to the United States when you're in your early 20's, you're basically kids coming here starting your life over. Giving up everything you're familiar with for a rock 'n' roll band. It's a pretty amazing story really...

SEETHER play with Hinder and Black Stone Cherry tonight at the MINNESOTA STATE FAIR GRANDSTAND; $30-$34, 7 p.m.

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