There are musical styles, like Alternative Rock, that become ubiquitous. Still, it's a little odd when an Alt. Rock group hails from South Africa - not exactly a place known for liberal attitudes or cut-loose lifestyles.
Guitarist, singer, songwriter Shaun Morgan paid for his Rock tendencies. An outcast from birth, his father was English and that set him apart from the other Afrikaans (Dutch ancestry), Morgan took a fateful step. Turning toward Rock caused his devout Christian family to practically disown him. Morgan stuck with it, hooking up with bassist/vocalist Dale Stewart and drummer Nick Oshiro. Seether was on its way. Riding the alienation theme, Morgan's lyrics were said to reflect his experiences, Seether scored big in their native country where their post-Grunge, wall of sound guitar, was in sharp contrast to the rest of the South African music scene.
Patrick Callahan was added as the second guitarist in '02. That same year, Wind-Up Records issued "Disclaimer" in the U.S. However, Morgan was unhappy with the mix so "Disclaimer II" was released in '04 with new songs including "Broken," a duet with Morgan and Evanescence's Amy Lee (an ill-fated romance had blossomed between the two). "Karma And Effect" hit the following year.
Oshiro served as tour drummer for Static X before taking on the assignment full-time. Kevin Soffera replaced him. But he soon left to be with his wife and concentrate on session work. Next up was former Nixons drummer John Humphrey who played on Seether's '05 release "Karma And Effect."
In the summer of '06 Callahan departed. Now a trio again, the group expressed no immediate desire to add a new member. "Maybe if the right guy comes along . . . we'll consider it," said Stewart. "But we're not going to throw somebody in the mix just for the sake of it." Guitarist Troy McLawhorn eventually got the assignment in '08.
"Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces" was Seether's third studio album. "It's been quite some time since we've had a single at radio, so we're extremely excited to be back in the saddle, so to speak," said Morgan of "Fake It." The song ended the Foo Fighters' 18 week run at #1 on Billboard's Hot Modern Rock Tracks with "The Pretender." "Fake It" was also #1 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks.
The 12-track set included "Like Suicide," "6 Gun Quota" and "Eyes Of The Devil." "We've adopted an 'anything goes' attitude for this album. We didn't restrict ourselves to straight Rock songs, and we were completely open to new ideas." He felt it was the group's best collective effort to date. Humphrey concurred. "I've never been one to sit and listen to my own stuff - but I have been listening to this one," said Humphrey. "I'm quite proud of it." That's just the sort of thing you'd expect the new guy (relatively) to say.
The success of "Fake It" and "Rise Above This" turned Seether's frontman around. "I'm having fun playing music again for the first time in years," said Morgan. "I [had] started feeling like I was burning out on the whole thing and I started feeling like it wasn't fun anymore."
Speaking of fun, every now and then somebody takes a campy, mess of a song, and does something with it. In '74 Grand Funk Railroad took Little Eva's early '60's chart topping hit "Loco-Motion" to #1 (it's the only song in pop history to reach #1 by two different artists). A quarter century later ('99), Pearl Jam recorded "Last Kiss" ("oh where, oh where has my baby gone"), another early '60's 'gem', and the song became the group's highest charting pop single (#2). Then in '09, Seether's label asked the band to record a song for Valentine's Day. As a joke, they took Wham!/George Michael's overwrought '80's hit "Careless Whisper" and gave it a Metal sheen. Well, the track took on a life of its own, even to the point of it being included in the reissue of "Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces."
After completing an '09 tour with Nickelback, it was decided that Seether would take the remainder of the year off. Still, they performed a series of one-off shows for military personnel stationed in Asia.
Under the guidance of producer Brendan O'Brien (Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots), Seether recorded "Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray" in Nashville. Humphrey talked up the album calling it ""very strong, melodic, and heavy at times."
But before the album dropped, Seether announced via Twitter that "McLawhorn had decided to leave the band to pursue other interests."
Indicative of the continuous sales decline in the music business, "Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray" went to #2 on the Billboard 200 and topped the U.S. Rock Albums and Alternative Albums charts on first week sales of 61,000 units. That was the group's best showing since '05's "Karma And Effect" moved 81,000 copies in its first week but managed to only get to #8 on the Billboard chart.
"Country Song," the lead single from the group's fifth studio album, was named Billboard's Active Rock Song of the Year.
Guitar: Johan Greyling (1999); Pat Callahan (2002-2006); and Troy McLawhorn (2008-2011)
Bass: Tyronne Morris (1999-2000)
Drums: David Cohoe (1999-2002); and Nick Oshiro (2002-2003)
Session Drummers: Josh Freese (2002 - "Disclaimer" sessions); and Kevin Soffera (2004 - "Disclaimer II" sessions)
2000 Fragile (as Saron Gas)
2004 Disclaimer II
2005 Karma And Effect
2007 Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces
2011 Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray
Nirvana may be gone but the approach or attack, lives on. Seether features sledgehammer guitars and guttural vocals riding roughshod over a driving rhythm section. "Gasoline" and "69 Tea," "Disclaimer's" opening tracks, are excellent Rockers. "Fine Again" features some welcome textural variety while "Needles" is a pure, dark blaster. Seether isn't going to make anyone forget the Grunge masters of the '90s but they are off to a solid start. "Disclaimer II" features re- mixes of "Disclaimer" tracks and eight new songs. "II" is the one to get.
"Karma & Effect is another strong, intense album. Check out "Because Of Me" and "Remedy." Even the slower songs, "Truth," and "Burrito," draw you in.
"The song started as a joke -- maybe with us joking that we should write a song girls will like -- but it became serious," said Morgan of "Fake It," the lead single from "Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces." "It's not indicative of the album as a whole." He's right. The loping melodic Metal track stands apart from everything else. Unfortunately, it's the album's standout effort.
Songs break into two categories - post-Nu Metal ("Like Suicide" and "Rise Above This") where lean verses give way to power choruses. When not rolling down that avenue Seether plods through the Metal darkness ("Eyes Of The Devil" and "Don't Believe"). The best of these 'heavier' tracks is "Walk Away From The Sun." Of course, Seether and their audience are far better served when they go at it fast and furious. If that's what it takes, Seether needs to "Fake It" more often.
The opening tracks of "Holding On To Strings Better Left To Fray" are Seether honing the sound that made them famous. But then there's "Here And Now," a power-pop track. "Master Of Disaster" goes power ballad. To pick up the tempo "Tonight" is straight ahead pop Metal (Def Leppard could have cut that one). The biggest surprise is "Country Song," which is a usual Seether track with Country-twang verses.