Downstairs at the Roseland with Dale Stewart and John Humphrey of Seether

“It’s like a bar band vibe when we’re up there, you bring the drinks,

and we’ll bring the music.”

Seether, hailing from South Africa and originally called Saron Gas, signed to Wind-Up Records in 2002. They established a name for themselves in the States with the release of their major label debut Disclaimer which was later re-released with “Broken” featuring Amy Lee of Evanescence. The song made them an instant crossover hit, launching them into the mainstream. Despite the band’s success they have never lost their rock edge or forgotten their musical roots. With line-up changes and a trip to rehab for Shaun Morgan looming, Seether has had a rough year, but from the band’s spirits tonight you could never tell. John, Dale and I descend into the depths of the Roseland Theater to sit on red couches and discuss life and music.

Crave: You guys have chosen smaller venues for this headlining tour, has the crowd response been as positive as in the arenas?

Dale: If it’s a big city and they get a lot of acts then the crowds tend to be a little jaded. If you play in a small town where not that many national acts come through, everyone goes. It’s definitely what we’re about at heart, it’s like a bar band vibe when we’re up there, you bring the drinks, and we’ll bring the music.

Crave: Dale, you’re from South Africa, do you get home very often?

Dale: I get to South Africa about once a year, usually for Christmas. We were there in March and did three shows with Metallica. It was a great homecoming. It was insane, we played our hometown at a stadium where I remember going to watch cricket when I was a kid. It was kind of surreal, like we made it finally.

Crave: John you have babies at home, don’t you? How do you balance it out, the touring with having a family?

John: I have two beautiful children. There’s not too much balance, it’s all music. I have a real supportive family and my wife’s been with me since childhood. She knows that music is a big part of me and it’s all I know. If it wasn’t this band then it would be another. It’s my life.

Crave: How old were you when you got started in music?

John: I was twelve and we didn’t have a singer and we were horrible and I just loved it. It was a rock band, and I was hooked and I have been addicted ever since.

Dale: I was five and I begged my parents for a guitar and they got me a little one but I couldn’t get my hands around the fretboard, so I kicked it till I was twelve. I used to play at school, and I played in church on Sundays. It’s either in your blood or its not. I met Shaun when I was about twenty and joined what was then Saron Gas.

Crave: What does Saron Gas mean?

Dale: I guess the real meaning is”music of the god’s.” We didn’t know what it meant then, we just thought it sounded cool. There was also Sarin Gas which was a deadly nerve agent that they used in the Japanese subway attack. We moved to the States and after 9/11 it was quite a sensitive topic, so we came up with Seether.

Crave: What advice would you give for bands just getting involved in the music business?

Dale: Get a lawyer, first and foremost. It’s really difficult when you’re young because you’ll sign anything. A lot of bands get screwed on their deals and the industry is such that if you sell ten million albums then you make a ton of money, but if you sell under a million you pretty much get screwed.

John: It’s pretty ironic, I mean I don’t want to slam the business, I love my job, but being an artist you have to realize you’re the last one to get paid. It’s a business, more so these days than it’s ever been.

Crave: Tell me a little bit about the writing process.

Dale: Sometimes it will be a riff that just works its way in. I don’t think there is any one kind of method or technique, we just play something and if it feels good we’ll keep it. Whatever makes us happy and whatever we feel is working and then hopefully our fans will feel the same.

Crave: Karma and Effect is one of my favorite albums of the last year. I think it’s interesting how the media really jumped on how “Broken” made you guys a crossover success. This album proved them wrong because you did it again.

John: That was very gratifying to come out of the shoot and “Remedy” hit the ground running and we were so happy it did well. “Broken” I’m not ashamed of, it’s a beautiful song and it’s a part of us as much as “Because of Me” or “Gasoline” and I think all those elements fit the puzzle that is Seether. I think the band has more of an identity now.

Crave: Tell me a little bit about filming the DVD portion of One Cold Night.

John: That was a lot of fun; it was a cool little intimate venue. We were doing the Winterfresh Tour this last summer with Shinedown and Shaun became sick and us being the diehards that we are, we refused to cancel the show. So we decided to do it acoustically, set out some candles on the stage and change the vibe. It went over great, just as well as our heavier stuff just in a different way. It was real passionate and it got back to the label and we decided to document it and capture it and the result was this CD/DVD.

Crave: Do you guys like playing the acoustic sets; is it a break from playing live?

Dale: Playing acoustic is cool because there is nothing to hide behind, you can’t hide behind distortion and noise and heaviness. It really brings Shaun out. He has so much control and passion with his voice; he’s the king of that.

Crave: So what happens next after the tour is over?

John: We’re actually going to have a short break and go home for a little while. We’ll maybe do a bit of writing towards a new album and then probably another tour after that. We don’t have any set plans yet but we are looking to go back to Europe, and do some more acoustic touring in support of One Cold Night.

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