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Seether come together like family

Published: Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Updated: Monday, October 10, 2011 15:10


Clay Patrick McBride


Seether is a band of many sounds as showcased with the release of its sixth studio album, Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray. From the bluesy riff on the single "Country Song" to learning the value of judicious screaming in place of singing on tracks like "No Resolution." The band comes from a variety of geographic and musical influences with roots in South Africa and a drummer from Oklahoma. Not to mention, they recorded their recent album in Tennessee, the hub of early rock music.

They're branching out, and it's faring well.

Seether's drummer, John Humphrey, was raised listening to melodic groups on AM radio like the Beatles and the Eagles. How he ended up in a rock band that writes songs about heartbreak and anger-filled guiltless liaisons is just as strange as an alternative band that has a No. 1 hit on the rock charts titled "Country Song."

"I think we're diverse. I don't think we're gonna come out with a polka album or a country album," he joked about the band's musical direction on its new album, released in May.

At the end of the summer of 2009, Seether got an apartment in Franklin, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville, where they lived together off and on again for 1½ years, writing, demoing and recording Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray. The album came four years after Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces, which charted at No. 9 in the US Billboard charts. The break, which was the longest Seether had ever taken as a band, was worth it, with the new album charting at No. 2 in the US and No. 1 on the US rock charts, their highest position yet.

"It has been truly different working together on this album," said Humphrey, who joined the band in 2004 and has been on the last three Seether albums. "We'd get up every morning and get our coffee from Starbucks and head to our rehearsal space or studio."

Maybe it was the caffeine, or maybe it was working with super-producer Brendan O'Brien, but the alternative rock trio had a relatively short attention span when it came to the writing for Holding Onto Strings.

"Writing a solid album where every song is as strong as it can possibly be takes a little time, so, for every great song we wrote there were two or three sort of duds," Humphrey said. "We never really spent too much time working or reworking a song if it just wasn't going to happen. If it just didn't feel right, there's no reason to spend too much time because a lot of the great songs really come very, very quickly and fall into place naturally."

The band, which has worked with a different producer on the last three albums, may have finally found the producer they're going to stick with on future albums in O'Brien, who has produced records for Pearl Jam, Bob Dylan and Rage Against the Machine.

"I think each time we [made an album] maybe didn't find the guy we wanted to go back and repeat the same thing again," Humphrey said. "When [vocalist] Shaun [Morgan] called me over the holidays [in 2009] to say, 'I just got out of a meeting with Brendan O'Brien, man, he's gonna do our record, man,' we were just ecstatic and really excited to do that. I mean, what could you say? ‘No, we'll maybe work with Howard [Benson] again. I mean, at that point, it was Brendan all the way. We're such a big fan."

O'Brien was a secret ingredient, no doubt. But Seether also came together for this album in ways they hadn't before, as musicians and bandmates.

"Finding Beauty, more of that was Shaun, musically, having to take the brunt of the work and having to do it all himself," Humphrey said. "I had had back surgery right before that album was recorded, so he kind of did that himself."

This album is more of the whole band, according to Humphrey, who hopes the brotherhood will come through on the string of tour dates they have coming up.

"We are family," he said. "We spend more time together on the road and have been for the last eight years than we do with our own family and I'm even married and have two kids. I love them to death and that's the other side of me, but the three of us have been through a lot together and we're family and we've worked together well and lived together and survived together."


Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival w/Avenge Sevenfold, Three Days Grace, Seether, Bullet For My Valentine, Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion, Saturday, October 8, 2 p.m., $32-$80

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