Dale Stewart - Seether

May 18, 2005

Photo Credit: us.ent2.yimg.com

You and Shaun are from South Africa.

That's right.

Where in South Africa are you guys from?

From Johannesburg.

How did you guys wind up coming to the States?

We got signed by an independent record label in South Africa and released an album there. Then we pretty much sent that album all over trying to get a deal elsewhere out of South Africa somewhere. We got picked up by Wind-up Records in New York and they actually called us up and asked us if we'd come do a showcase for them in New York. We flew up and played for them and they signed us so then we moved to the States and got two American members. It's a little bit more complex than that I guess but that's the basic story.

Nothing can ever be that easy can it? Your debut album was Disclaimer. Was it on that album that Shaun did a duet with Amy from Evanescence?

Yeah, we originally had Disclaimer out and "Broken" was just an acoustic song with just no drums. Very stripped down and just acoustic and Shaun singing. We re-recorded "Broken" for a soundtrack. For The Punisher soundtrack. There was such a good response once we'd done it that our record company told us it would be a good idea to add the new version of "Broken" with Amy on to the end of Disclaimer and re-release it. Disclaimer 2 is the re-release and that's the one with the new version on it.

People heard that song off the soundtrack and came to check you guys out and were a little surprised to find out you were a little heavier than they thought.

I think so, yeah. It's kind of funny to watch people come to the show not really knowing much about the band except for having seen the video for "Broken" or having heard it on the radio and then they come. A lot of our stuff is a lot different than "Broken". Yeah, it's pretty funny sometimes.

I bet they dig on it anyway. You got a couple of guys from the States to basically round out the band. You released Karma And Effect.

That's right, yeah. That comes out the 24th.

Tell us a bit about the new album and how it differs from the first one.

I think we've all learned a lot and touring for the last three years or so and I think we're all better players. I think that definitely comes through on the album and also we have two new members now. For the first time we're actually recording as a band with members putting in their parts. Whereas on the last album we had a session drummer doing almost generic kind of drums. We have members with actual vested interest and emotional attachment to the songs and the parts that they've written. We're all really proud of this album.

It's more of a band effort this time around.

Definitely and as much as Shaun and I doing something with a session guy in the studio, in many ways it feels like this is the band's first release as the four of us.

Shaun does the majority of the lyrical writing. I was reading about how he writes about a lot of stuff that makes him angry. What kind of stuff does he generally like to write about in that regard?

I think anything that you have to get out of your system or anything that's pissing you off. I know for Shaun, he's said before, it's like he's dying. A lot of the stuff. Anything with a bad relationship or something that happened to a friend. He writes about all that kind of stuff.

In South Africa, there isn't much of a rock scene. It's more indigenous and pop music. When you guys first started out, did you have problems getting anywhere or did you manage to overcome any problems you may have had?

Yeah, it's quite a struggle sometimes there because rock isn't as popular as it should be or as we'd like it to be. It's tough. We don't even really have a rock station there that plays rock music. We just have Top 40 type stations. The campus stations are what a lot of kids and the rock kids listen to. The campus stations helped us out a lot by playing our demos and we just basically tried to get our songs on the radio as much as we could. The campus stations would play it and then we just did as many shows as we could. Just got out there in the clubs and got our hands dirty and just played as much as we could. I think that's basically how most of the South African bands do it.

Are there a number of South African rock bands out there?,p> There are. None in the States though that I know of. There are a lot of bands back home. As tough as it is there, we do have a lot of good bands. I think it's largely quite an untapped resource of talent that flies under the radar to a large extent.

You have different types of indigenous music over there. Do some bands incorporate a bit of that into their music?

Yeah, some of them do. Us not though. We've even been criticized in the past for not sounding South African. In all the industry, there's always someone that's not going to like you though. There definitely is a South African sound that a lot of the South African bands have. I'm not even sure what it is. I wouldn't know how to describe it or anything but you can definitely hear it or recognize it when you hear it.

Tell me a bit about the new album.

I think it carries on pretty well from where Disclaimer left off. There are a couple of straight forward rock songs and then we've got a couple of slower ones as well. We have that same kind of dynamic as Disclaimer. Also I think a lot of the songs are going in a different direction for us. A different direction than we were going with Disclaimer so that's cool too. We're branching out and I think developing a more unique sound that's more unique to us. More so than I guess having been heavily influenced by certain bands. I think we're definitely going in our own more unique type direction with this one. This is cool for us.

You said this one actually took you less time to make than your debut one.

Yeah, the thing is when we were recording the debut Disclaimer, we were in the studio and we did a lot of writing and pre-production and that in the studio. On top of that, we paid a lot of attention to getting all the parts and the drums and everything mathematically right and on time and everything. Getting the guitars perfectly on that. On this album we definitely try to go for more of a live feel. More of a live sounding album. We've panned the guitars left and right. It kind of sounds like you're at a rock show hearing the band live. Also when we went into the studio, we had the songs written as well so we didn't have to actually spend that time on pre-production because we were originally going to record the album when we went in to do "Broken" with Amy. Actually around that time is when we were going to record the album. We did the re-release and ended up touring for another year. We had those songs written and then in that year or so that we were touring, we'd written a bunch of other songs too so we had all the songs and all our parts down. Basically the recording process was exactly that. It was just laying those tracks down. We did the whole thing in three weeks. We were recording everything. We nailed it.

Not only that but I guess it cuts down on costs too.

Yeah, it does.

I imagine recording an album can be a rather expensive venture sometimes.

Studio time is ridiculous and paying an engineer and a producer. It really can get very expensive. We got burned a little bit on the last time around. It really cost us a lot of money and took us a long time to eventually pay it all back. This time around we definitely did save a lot by doing that but also I prefer that way of recording. Just going in, laying your parts down, capturing moments instead of trying to get the parts perfectly right. We'd rather choose the guitar solo that had more character than the one that was perfect. All the notes were exactly perfect but it's a little bit sterile. We'd rather take the one with the character. In a nutshell, the kind of philosophy behind this album.

You want more of a human element.

That's the thing. If something's too perfect, it sounds machinelike. It lacks character a lot of the time. We definitely tried to have as much character as we could on this record.

The first release playing on the radio is "Remedy". You guys did a video for that.

Yeah, we did the video with Dean Carr and he's done a bunch of stuff like the Manson videos and he's done a bunch of stuff. He's just a crazy guy. Hell of a nice guy. Very cool. We really got on well. The first night we met, we just went out and partied the night before the shoot. We just totally hit it off. He's cool. He's just got really good ideas. He's super creative. A very, very talented guy. He wrote us a treatment because we actually wanted to work with him for a while. Our record company finally said okay. It's cool. We can see what Dean has in mind for a treatment then. His treatment just blew all the others out of the water in our opinion. We decided to go with him.

That makes sense. I like videos with a lot of imagination and creativity.

That's the thing and what's nice about it is there's nothing like that out there right now. It's different. I think because of that we've had a good response so far from music television. So far so good.

There are some bands out there who like to do videos where it's a band performance thing and there are bands who like a movie type of theme.

Yeah, we have a little bit of both in this one. We've got the kind of carnival boat ride down the weird creepy river. There's a bit of that theatrical part of it. Then there's also the band performance part. We mixed it up a little on this one.

You guys are going to be on the Jimmy Kimmel show on the 24th.

Yeah, we've never done that one before. We've done Leno and Letterman and all those. This will be a first for us. We're really excited.

You guys will be co-headlining with Crossfade.

Yeah, they're actually coming out. They're going to be supporting us for about a month or so. We're just gearing up to do that. We're doing a couple of one-offs now first. We're actually in Canada at the moment. Just doing a couple of shows here. Mainly promotional. We've been doing a couple of one-offs like we went to Alabama and did the Crawfish Festival there and we did the Kentucky Derby. Just getting back into the game. On the 27th we're going to jump on a bus in Arkansas and start the actual proper tour. Just do the whole bus tour thing.

And you're going to keep up your average of 300 shows.

I hope so. We're a hard touring band. That's what we do. Especially when we were starting out. We couldn't really afford days off because that's a day not getting paid and another day you're paying for a bus and a hotel. We used to just hit it hard. We'd do sometimes two shows in a day. That's what we do. We're just road dogs. We party hard and we work hard.

That's the whole point of being in a band. To be able to put out a product and go to all sorts of different places and see all sorts of different people.

It really is good. I probably would not have left South Africa yet if it wasn't for this band. I've never been overseas before until we got signed or when we did the showcase for Wind-up. That was the first time I ever left South Africa. I've never even been north of the border to Zimbabwe or any of those places. Mozambique. I was just in my little microcosm of South Africa.

Your little cocoon.

Yeah, but it's awesome. We've seen some really amazing places. Been to Europe. Saw the Pope. Saw the Mona Lisa. Just crazy stuff like that which I would never have done.

You're a very adventurous lad.

I know and I probably would never have the opportunity if it weren't for this. That's just one of the perks. Apart from being what you want to do and do what you love to do. That's a huge perk.

Any other thoughts or comments?

Thank you very much.