Few bands come with as handy a self-descriptive name as Seether. The three-piece rock outfit specializes in angst-y anthems that paint a darkly complicated world, with many tunes moving from a slow boil to a full-bore explosion. Regularly compared to Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Scott Stapp of fellow Wind-Up Records act Creed, singer/songwriter/guitarist Shaun Morgan makes no bones about where that discontent comes from.
“I had a .38 special in one hand and a guitar in the other,” he told Rolling Stone about a particularly bad patch in his life at the age of 17. However, “I picked up the guitar and started playing. If you kill yourself, you’re a coward.”
With Dale Stewart (bass/vocals) and Nick Oshiro (drums), Seether was formed in 1999 in Johannesburg, South Africa — not an area well known for its rock scene. Still, the group’s South African release, Fragile, became one of the nation’s best-selling titles, with first single, “Fine Again,” helping one young girl who had overdosed to start over.
As Seether left to seek its fortune in the U.S., “They were actually crying,” Morgan says of the girl’s family. “That was the most surreal experience. They’re all standing around and saying, ‘We don’t know if we should be happy for you or angry at you,’ and that’s pretty cool. It’s good to know we’ve had such a positive influence on someone.”
Morgan’s motivation stems from the lack of acceptance he felt growing up in Johannesburg. Not only did his parents divorce when he was still young, but his Afrikaans mother’s devoutly Christian family held some disdain for him due to his father’s English heritage. His paternal family, meanwhile, looked down on his being so into rock music. The situation ultimately led to the gun-or-guitar incident.
The current album, Disclaimer, delves deeply into Morgan’s issues, with roiling self-analytical titles like “Pig” and “Gasoline” providing equally weighty emotional power. “I’m not trying to be a spokesman,” Morgan explains, “because I wouldn’t want to have a spokesman myself. This is a way for me to say how I feel now and get it out.
“Other people will paint something or draw something or dance it out or whatever,” he continues. “This, I suppose, is the only way I can purge, but it is therapeutic.”
The therapy continues on the road, where Seether is perhaps most at home. Having completed a stint on this past summer’s Ozzfest, the group recently (on November 9) wrapped its own headlining tour of the U.S.
Morgan has great hopes that Seether’s music will continue to inspire listeners. “I don’t care if no one knows what I look like,” he says. “That’s not the point. The point is to know I’ve touched people.”