South African ensemble Seether have been in the rock game for 15-plus years now. Adding to a solid roster of full-length records, the musicians released Isolate And Medicate in early 2014, an album that has been received as their most distinctive yet. The outfit have been making waves with their post-grunge, gritty trademark signature, whilst remaining super melodic and lyrically relatable. Seether are scheduled for a nationwide tour in early 2015 with Papa Roach as a co-headliner. The group will be bringing Kyng and Islander out for support on this set of tour dates as well.

Aside from a packed schedule of Stateside performances, the guys will be hosting their third annual Rise Above Fest this coming May at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor, ME. The festival is a charity event designed to promote suicide prevention as well as raise money for the cause. Players at the fest include Godsmack, Slash with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, Papa Roach, and, of course, Seether themselves. The members of the band are known for their weighted, melancholy songwriting, but often combat the intensity of their music with their stage presence and music videos. A perfect example of this lighthearted humor would be the satirical video for their track, “Same Damn Life.”

Bassist of the bunch, Dale Stewart, took some time out of his pre-tour regime to have a conversation with me about Seether’s plans for the new year. The following are the more intriguing points of that discussion:

Seether are set to begin 2015 with a loaded tour cycle. How did this one come together?

Usually, when you are thinking of planning a tour, it starts as a couple of ideas in a hat, throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. It made sense to go out with Papa Roach— we’ve known those guys for years, we’re good friends, they’re a great live band. I think the combination of us two, I think it really works. We know this from the past from doing tours and shows and things with them. It just made sense, I think the two of us banding together—we could each do our own tours, but the two of us playing together if for twice the people, it just made sense.

Are you as friendly with the other bands that you are bringing along?

We’re also really good friends with Kyng, who’s one of our opening bands. We don’t know the Islander guys really—we haven’t really played with those guys yet. It’s sort of like rock ‘n’ roll band camp, so I’m sure we’ll be hanging out after the show, taking shots, and slamming beers and whatnot. We’ll make some new friends (laughs).

Tell me about the Rise Above Festival that you guys organized.

Yeah, Rise Above Fest is a charity festival that we run to raise money and awareness for, well, to create suicide awareness, I guess. We partner up with a charity and donate all of the money to them. We lost Shaun’s [Morgan, vocalist/guitarist] brother a couple years ago to suicide, so it’s very near to our hearts.

We’ve got a lot of great bands on this year. It’s cool to see guys come out, friends that you’ve made along the years. We got a lot of guys coming out saying, “Hey, we could be making this much, but instead we’re going to come out and contribute to the charity, make it a special day.” It’s a very cool thing.

How do you keep your performance fresh when playing back-to-back shows?

I think it’s important to change it up a little bit, maybe change the setlist. Fortunately, we’re a band that, I guess, we pride ourselves on not using any backing tracks. A lot of bands are doing that kind of thing these days. The problem with that—to each their own, I don’t want to judge— when using a backing track, you have to stick to the sort of program. We have the freedom to kind of mess around, we have the ability to be on stage and just jam. It allows us to screw around on stage.

I think it makes you a better live band.

Thank you. I think it’s cool because many people come to more than one show. We have a lot of fans—when we’re in the vicinity, [fans] will come to three or four shows in a row. It’s cool that we don’t have a schedule, so fans can see us doing this and that and having fun. I think when you have fun on stage, the people watching you have more fun.

I think the show is only as good as the crowd watching it. When you see people having fun and really getting into it, it makes you want to have more fun and really get into it. It’s this weird back-and-forth thing with the music and the energy.

How is the sound of Isolate And Medicate an example of your growth as a band?

I think it’s a natural thing as a band to change and evolve over time. I think our initial stuff was very much written by kids, because we were kids. Now, it’s 15 years down the line, we’re in our mid-30s. I think the songs are a reflection of that maturity. We’re very proud of ourselves, we put in a lot of work and we tried to make it as good as we could. I think it is possibly the strongest album that we’ve put out to date.

Where did the concept for the video for the single “Same Damn Life” come from?

Yeah (laughs). It’s been something that we’ve been talking about for a while. We just wanted to have fun with it. I know Shaun ran into Nate [Cox], the director, in L.A. They started talking about it, it was such a funny concept from the get-go and he was the perfect guy to pull it off. He jumped on board with it, then we spoke to the label about it. I don’t think there is a TV station that plays music videos anymore, so YouTube is the only real place for them. So, videos need to be entertaining—they need to be something that people will appreciate and maybe get a giggle out of.

We went in and got some really top-notch makeup people in L.A. We sat there for about five hours while they applied this makeup, it was amazing. It was kind of eerie to see yourself like that. I spoke to a couple people that didn’t realize that I was wearing latex and makeup and whatnot. They just thought I was really an old guy. There were a couple of extras, a couple of really old people in the nursing home scene. There were at least two of them that thought I was really an old guy (laughs).

Then your makeup artists did their job.

Yeah, that’s how good it was. They were really top-notch movie people. It was really fun to shoot. I like that it wasn’t too serious—we’re not sort of morose sort of people. A lot of the music is kind of serious, but getting that out of our system allows us to be happy and goofy and make jokes. It allows us to be silly in our real life. Once you get all of the serious stuff out of your system, then you can have fun. I think people need to see that side of us. It’s good because that’s how we are.

How does the band plan on spending 2015 after this initial tour?

Nothing set in stone yet, but just a lot more touring. We’d like to go to places we haven’t been really, like South America perhaps, maybe like Asia. We haven’t done much time in those sort of areas. Possibly back to Europe again, we’ve been hitting that pretty hard. It’d be great to go back and play South Africa. There’s a lot of areas that we need to hit, a lot of areas that we’ve been neglecting for a while. So, lots of touring, I’m sure we’ll tour pretty much all of next year.

What are some long-term goals for Seether?

I don’t know, I don’t think anything specifically. Just to keep playing, keep doing this, keep making music, keep making albums. As long as people keep listening, we’ll keep playing music. I don’t think we have any specific goals. I think if we can be doing this in 10 years and be somewhat successful. then I think we’ll call that a win.

 

Seether will perform at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia on Jan. 13, the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, NJ on Jan. 17, and Terminal 5 in New York City on Jan. 20. Isolate And Medicate is available now. For more information, go to seether.com.

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