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Concert preview: Seether adds melody to the metal
Interview » South African band brings its post-grunge act to The Complex.
First Published Sep 05 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Sep 08 2014 09:07 am

Many post-grunge acts have achieved momentary stardom, only to trip over their Nirvana affectations and disappear moments later into the bargain bin of obscurity and irrelevance.

Seether, on the other hand, has been at it since 1999, and as their sixth studio album, "Isolate and Medicate," demonstrates, the South African stalwarts are still doing it quite well.

At a glance

Seether

When » Wednesday, Sept. 10, 7 p.m.

Where » The Complex, 536 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City

Tickets » $23 in advance, $28 day of show; http://www.showclix.com/event/3860350/tag/cslc

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While bassist Dale Stewart concedes that he and bandmates Shaun Morgan (vocals, guitars), John Humphrey (drums) and newbie Bryan Wickmann (guitars) — who will all play a Sept. 10 show at The Complex in Salt Lake City — do indeed worship at the altar of Kurt Cobain & Co., he attributes much of Seether’s success and much of its current sound to its willingness to draw musical inspiration as much from ’60s pop acts as from any ’90s band who wore flannel and hailed from Seattle.

Stewart called from a stop on the Rockstar Uproar Festival in Peru, Ill., to discuss, among other things, Seether’s legacy, straying from the alt-metal formula by focusing on melody, the new album and a memorable-in-a-fuzzy-sort-of-way previous stop in Salt Lake City, with its old bar membership laws.

You’re playing a Rockstar Uproar Festival show today; what are your expectations for those shows?

I think pretty good, man. I mean, so far so good. Yesterday, the show was really well-attended and it went off pretty smoothly. It’s a fun festival to do. We’ve done this before — we did one in 2011 and went out on tour with Avenged Sevenfold. We kind of jumped on this one because it’s a pretty-well run, pretty well-put-together festival. And it’s also nice to come together with a couple of bands and put together kind of a package and just make it really desirable for people to come out and see, instead of just one band, see a bunch of bands in one day.

Does being one of several big bands playing on a bill require any kind of adjustment from shows where you’re the only headliner?

I wouldn’t say there’s really any adjustments for us, except one thing we do have to adjust is the setlist. We only have 60 minutes [per night] on this specific tour, so it becomes a case of "What aren’t we going to play?" I guess it’s a good problem to have. We’ve had I don’t even know how many songs that were singles off the albums. So it’s just 60 minutes of singles. No time to play deep album cuts. But it’s cool — get up there, play all singles, have a good time, and boom — 60 minutes are done.

You’ve been part of this band since ’99 when it was known as Saron Gas; how does it feel knowing you’ve been part of this band for 15 years now and you’re still going strong?


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Yeah, I guess … you know, it’s kind of like a marriage in a weird way. It’s a really long time. It’s by far my longest relationship. But, yeah, it is. It’s such a part of my life and I’m so intertwined with it. It’s kind of odd to me to imagine life before the band or being without the band. So, it’s a big part of my identity now, and probably always will be.

How has the band evolved over the years, from "Disclaimer" to "Isolate and Medicate"?

I think we’ve grown up a little bit. I think it’s a natural evolution that every band goes through. I’d like to think that we’ve become better songwriters, and that we think a little bit more cleverly when writing songs. Working a bit more efficiently. I think the big thing is we’ve grown up — well, I’d like to think we’ve grown up. You might find some people who disagree.

Various descriptions of the band call you post-grunge or alt-metal; how would you define your style?

You know, we just call ourselves and consider ourselves a rock band. There’s so many genres and subgenres, it can all get just a little confusing sometimes. We just consider ourselves a rock band, because we just play rock music. Sometimes it’s heavy, sometimes it might be acoustic, but it’s all in that rock genre. So we just call ourselves a rock band.

Who are some of the bands that have influenced you? People bring up Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Deftones, Nine Inch Nails — do you consider that an accurate list? Who would you add?

Absolutely — and the list is huge. We’re first and foremost fans of music. The grunge scene was really influential for us. We arrived at the sort of age when that hit; we were teenagers and that music really spoke to us and influenced us largely, and made you want to play in a band. One of the cool things about Nirvana was that it was now possible to play in a band because you didn’t have to be able to shred like [Metallica’s] Kirk Hammett to play guitar in a band. You could know four chords and get up onstage. So I really feel like that brought music to the common man in a lot of ways. [Our influences are] really everything from Sepultura to Explosions in the Sky. We listen to a lot of music and, like I said, we’re really just big fans.

Did you pattern your bass playing or guitar playing after anyone specific?

Not really. I used to be a guitar player first, and then I had some friends that had a band who needed a bass player and asked if I could play. So I said, you know, "I’ll give it a shot." And I just really enjoyed playing bass. I’ve been playing it ever since. I don’t think I really try to emulate anyone, or sound a certain way. I’m just trying to remain melodic, when I can, and trying to stay tasteful. I feel like knowing when not to play and knowing when not to overplay is one of the most important things. I just try to keep that in mind. Just pay attention to the drummer and the drums and try to keep it melodic. And whatever happens, happens.

It’s interesting to hear you bring up the word "melodic," specifically because one thing that seems to separate Seether from both its influences and contemporaries is your focus on melody and harmony. Is that a conscious thing within the band?

Certainly. It’s always been important to us to have that sense of melody even when the music gets heavy. We don’t want to lose that. Or, at least, when it’s a really heavy part, juxtapose that to a melodic part, which, basically, will let them intensify one another in a way. It’s like contrasting colors, in a way. So yeah, it’s been very important to us. At least for us, we find that’s what makes music memorable. You go back in music to, like, The Beatles — their melodies were amazing. Or even a band like Nirvana — they were just basically heavy pop songs that had great melody. That’s why people gravitated toward that stuff. So yeah, it’s certainly something that’s important to us and something we try to achieve on every album.

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