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Seether

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“It comes out on May 12,” informed an excited Dale Stewart, guitarist for South Africa’s most famous musical export, Seether on their latest album ‘Poison the Parish’. “It’s the first album that we have produced all in house. We didn’t use a producer on this one, instead Shaun (Morgan, vocals/guitar) produced it and we’re proud of it. It’s heavy, it’s dirty and it’s old school Seether man. It was a fun one to make.”

Taking an outside producer out of the mix can sometimes be destabilising in the process, with that vital set of neutral ears deemed a necessity by most bands.

“It saves a whole lot of money,” Stewart laughed. “It lets you make exactly the album that you wanna make too. We’ve worked with a lot of producers over the years and whether they try to or not they do leave a bit of a stamp on the sound. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but I know that in the past we’ve made albums and thought, you know, it could have been a bit heavier in the mix or the guitars are too soft, that kind of stuff. This time around we did it exactly the way we wanted to do it. We were there on the rough mixes and taking it home in the car and listening to it on the car stereo and stuff like that and it all helps. You can make it heavy where you want it to be heavy and that’s exactly what we did. I think it’s more that freedom and doing exactly what you want with your vision instead of having a third party while a another set of opinions that you have to accommodate.”

‘Poison the Parish’ was originally supposed to be released in January, then February before finally being pushed back to May, but Stewart says that isn’t a sign that there were troubles in the recording process.

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“We just took that extra bit of time to set it up properly,” he clarified. “It’s something we’d rather take our time with on artwork and things like promotion and stuff like that. There’s no point rushing something out just for the sake of having it out. We’d rather take that extra bit of time and do it right. It also gave us time to get a few shows under our belt and get the rust off for the guys who hadn’t played in a while and get back in touring mode and the swing of things for when the album comes out.”

Seether are no strangers when it comes to focusing on album titles, with their former label Wind – up Records forcing them to change the name of 2005’s ‘Karma and Effect’ from the original ‘Catering to Cowards’, with Stewart admitting it’s not just a matter of getting the album title correct, but also other aspects of the finished product.

“It’s actually the whole package,” he stressed. “It’s artwork all the way down to track listing and it’s an important thing that people… now days it’s maybe not as important because people tend to buy a lot more singles or buy music online or download music online, a song here and there, instead of a whole album the way we intend it to be. We make it for people to buy the album and look at the artwork and read along with the lyrics and listen to it song by song in that certain order. I don’t know how many people still do it anymore but it is important. It’s the whole package: the whole experience of visually and musically and even down to the running order so we still put that effort in and hope it’s noticed.”

…continued below…

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The following year their label stepped in again after the recording of the acoustic CD/DVD set, ‘One Cold Night’ when they forced the band to exclude two tracks, ‘Needles’ and ‘Burrito’ from the album due to the labels desire it contain no obscenities.

“I definitely think the labels try and get too involved with the process in situations like that,” Stewart seethed. “Back then we were also in a position where we were still smaller fish in a bigger pond but with each record you do that is successful you get a little bit more of a say and a little bit more pull and you can start doing things your way and the way you wanna do it. We’re on a completely different label now and they’ve been so great, just completely supportive from day one. They let us do what we wanna do creatively and take this band in the direction we wanna take it. They get behind us and give us that push. We’re really happy now. We had a lot of fights with the old label about creativity and stuff like that. They had one idea and we had another one so we were butting heads so it’s nice now to be in a position where we all share that same vision and we can just go off and do our thing.”

Seether’s career which was starting to gain momentum after the release of debut album ‘Disclaimer’ suddenly hit overdrive in 2003 when Evanescence chose them as their support act for a worldwide tour, with Stewart saying that display of faith and support is something which is still a common aspect of the music industry.

“I think we all give each other a hand,” he surmised. “If there’s a band that we’re friends with we’re more likely to take them out on the road if we feel like it could help them out or benefit them. We have friends who are in bigger bands that take us out and you get exposed to a whole bunch of new ears that might not have listened to the band before. I think that it’s important to support each other. We’re all family. We’re all doing the same thing and want the same sort of goals. I think there’s still a lot of competition and people trying to push people down as they’re treading water so it just depends. It’s like everything. You have friends and you have people who you don’t get along with but that’s fine. You can’t expect to get along with everybody but I think it is important to try and help your friends out when you can.”

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After eighteen years in the same band, Stewart admits that while it can sometimes be difficult to come up with fresh ideas, after a while you sort of get in your groove and music becomes almost second nature.

“It’s hard to say but I think if anything it does get easier the longer you have been around,” he mused. “I think you just get better at playing music and writing music and I think it’s like everything; like playing a sport or writing poetry. I think you develop a technique with the way you go about it and each time you do it or each album you make you get a little bit better and improve that technique and the music just seems to pour out.”

As well as the experience from nearly two decades of being a unit, Stewart says the basic essence that is Seether has remained relatively unchanged since they formed.

“I think we’ve just matured a lot,” he offered “I’d like to think as people but I think musically we have as well. The first stuff that we recorded was so basic ensemble – I still listen to that stuff and still love it – partly because it was a simpler time with simpler music but I think we’ve just learnt a lot over the years and I think we’ve gotten better at playing our instruments and writing music that’s clever. Hopefully we’re just a better band after doing this so long. I’d also like to think that we didn’t lose that thing that made us stand out in the beginning. I hope we keep that dirty, grungy sound with just a little bit more polish if you will.”

Written by Kris Peters

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