Interview With Shaun Morgan And Pat Callahan From Seether
Yesterday (May 19) afternoon, I caught up with Seether guitarists, Pat Callahan and Shaun Morgan, after they filmed an acoustic version of "Remedy" for the TV show Urban Rush in Vancouver. Throughout the whole interview, both of them kept gazing out the big windows that overlooked the Burrard Inlet and the mountains. After naming the places they were staring at, I asked them a few questions about touring and the new album, "Karma and Effect," which hit stores next Tuesday (May 24).
darkstar: How’s the tour going?
Shaun: Right now, we’re on a press tour. Started in Montreal. There for a day. Then we flew to Toronto, stayed there for two days, did a show. Then we flew in here last night. Tonight, right after the show, we have to rush to the airport and fly to Edmonton. Some press tomorrow. [Silence, then realizes he didn’t exactly answer the question.] So it’s been good. It’s been good. [Laughs.]
Pat: [Laughs.] That’s one’s just a tease. We haven’t started the long one yet.
darkstar: Is that how you ended up playing small club shows like the one at the Media Club tonight?
Shaun: Yeah. It’s secret show. It hasn’t been well-advertised. Just through the radio station. It’s just a way for us to showcase the new stuff before our new album before it comes out next week.
darkstar: Seether is probably the most well-known South African band out there today and I keep hearing about how bands from South Africa don’t get enough exposure. How did Seether manage to break out into the international scene?
Shaun: I don’t know. We got heard by one of the records. We had an album out in South Africa that we sent all over the world. Someone in Germany liked the album but they couldn’t sign it because it wasn’t German. Wind-up was the one that heard the album and liked it and then signed us, you know. It was the basic essence of what happened. I mean, it took a long time. The whole course was about six months. Actually, it was more like a year. But that’s how we got discovered by Wind-up. That’s how we got to the States. I can’t explain why people like our music. We do. So there must be people as screwed as we are to like our music.
darkstar: How do you like working with Wind-up Records?
Shaun: They’re cool. They’re a small label. I think they’re considered to be largest independent label right. And let us do pretty much what we wanted to do. So for us to make music and not being told how to do it or what to do is just pretty cool. They really supportive of the band, really supportive of the music. They do a bunch of marketing behind every album. So it’s pretty cool.
Pat: With some labels, you don’t even get to meet the owner. We go out to dinner with our owner like every time he’s around.
Shaun: Some labels, you don’t even get to meet those people at all.
Pat: You don’t even meet the owner’s assistant’s assistant.
Shaun: Yeah. And we deal with the record’s owner, which is cool.
darkstar: So you feel close to everyone there?
darkstar: Sounds like a family.
Pat: Yeah, they try to make it that way. It’s not like a business family.
Shaun: Yeah, like a family dairy that we all work at.
Pat: [Laughs.] That’s a good way to put it.
darkstar: Do you think that the recording of “Broken” with Amy Lee brought you guys more fame and exposure?
Shaun: Definitely. Definitely a lot more exposure. Obviously, she’s more high profile. It was our first and last song that got played on pop radio. Worldwide, we got a lot more exposure. We got a lot more album releases. We normally wouldn’t have had them before.
Pat: [Still staring out the window, watching a plane landing on water.] Sorry, there’s plane in the water.
Shaun: So yeah, I mean, there’s a bunch of countries that weren’t interested in releasing the album until we did the song with Amy. Now they can’t wait for the new album to come out and, like, everybody’s freaking out. It was a great opportunity for us to break the ice in a sense of with a bunch of countries and bunch of people. Get some new fans, you know.
darkstar: Seether was here in Vancouver with Our Lady Peace back in 2003 and you guys came here again with Evanescence last year. Was there any difference in the crowd reaction to you guys?
Shaun: Yeah. When we first played with Our Lady Peace, nobody knew who we were at all. When we came back with Evanescence, like two more people knew who we were so it was pretty cool. The Our Lady Peace crowd was different to the Evanescence crowd. The Evanescence crowd was more rock crowd that Our Lady Peace’s. So it’s hard to tell. I mean, I hardly remember that show. It’s coming back now. Wow. Two years? There definitely was a difference. We weren’t the opening band, we weren’t the first band on the whole show or whatever so it was cool. The crowd was great, I think.
darkstar: What’s the craziest thing that has happened on tour so far?
Shaun: It normally happens in Canada.
Pat: All the crazy stuff happens in Canada. There’s been a whole bunch of things. Couldn’t name just one.
Shaun: Yeah, I mean, all I know is everything’s that’s really crazy that happens to me happens in Canada. I don’t know why, man.
Pat: The beer is stronger.
Shaun: And we just can’t, like, restrain ourselves from partying really hard in this country. If we come to Canada, we pretty much stay drunk until we leave Canada. The beer here is a lot more powerful than the beer we’re used to. We tend to get hammered a lot quicker. And before you know it, you do stupid things.
darkstar: Are you drunk right now?
Shaun: No. [Laughs.] I’m just tired. We got to the hotel at 1, got to bed around 2. It was our first night…no, our second night in Canada we didn’t drink. This tour is kinda different, you know. It’s a press thing. You don’t want to get up and do bad acoustic versions of the song. We did Music Plus in Quebec, we did Much Music yesterday.
Pat: Tomorrow, we have another.
Shaun: Tomorrow, we do more acoustic. Everyday it’s acoustic stuff that’s going to be on TV. You don’t want to get too hammered the night before to play the next day. Tomorrow’s a different story. We only get to play two songs. We fly tonight, which sucks. We don’t get to hang out in Vancouver. With the Our Lady Peace tour, we left early in morning from Seattle, drove in, played the show that night, then left that night and headed straight for Kelowna. So we don’t really get to hang out and stuff, which sucks because I hear the sushi here is good. I’m kind of sick of the places in LA. I want to try some new places.
darkstar: Seether has gone through a number of line-up changes over the last few years. Do you think the current line-up would be a stable and more permanent?
Shaun: Yeah. I hope this is the last line-up. I’m sick of replacing drummers. Everyone right now seems to fit in really well with each. The album we wrote together I’m really, really proud of. Each guy has found his own voice in the band. No one’s in it for fame or money. We’re here to play music. The other guys were just tool bags so I kicked them out. They weren’t all bad drummers. They were just, you know, in it for the wrong reasons so we just didn’t agree with that. It should all be good now. Everyone’s cool now.
darkstar: The new album, "Karma and Effect," comes out Tuesday. What can we expect from it?
Shaun: Tuesday’s like what? 5 days? 4 days? That’s scary. What’s today? Thursday? 5 days? 6 days, maybe. It’s heavier, I think, in general, than Disclaimer was. It’s more interesting. There’s more going on. Depends on what we’re writing at different times. I’d have one part and we would try not to play the same thing at all, you know what I mean? Dale’s bass is like…I don’t know what he did but he somehow became this, like, incredible bassist in the past two years, since making the last album. John’s drums are…he gives a shit. He’s not drumming for money and leaving everyone on the next album. All us just really put everything we have into this album, push each other. Guitar part-wise, Pat and I…I’d come up with something and he would make it better, or the way around. We’d constantly play off each other, you know. I think we both have been waiting 26 years to make this album, you know what I mean? To make an album with the band like it is now. We feel like it’s just the first album for the band. The next one would probably be way more interesting than this one, just ‘cause we started experimenting with things more, like with timing and time signatures and that kind of stuff, rather than...
Pat: …stick to first chorus, first chorus, second chorus, outro. We’re jamming to see what happens.
Shaun: We’re trying to abandon the traditional pop song format.
darkstar: Tell me more a bit about your first single off your new album, “Remedy.”
Shaun: It’s about 3 and a half minutes long. [Laughs.] It was one of the riffs that we had on our… We had a tape machine in the back of the bus. If Pat or I had an idea, we go back and record it. We had like two tapes full of stuff by the time we finished touring. It was one of those riffs you forget you wrote. These songs don’t take too long to write because some of them just bridge the gap between "Diclaimer" and this album and “Remedy” is one of those songs that bridges the gap, you know. It does two things. It reclaims our rock band side of our career rather than the ballad side so it indicates that the album is going to be heavier than the last one. Because the last time, our first single is “Fine Again,” and this one, the first one is “Remedy.” And, I think, “Remedy” being a much harder song. It’s basically just a way for us to say, “Put us back as a rock band.” Whoever thought we were a pop band can go screw themselves.
darkstar: What’s up with the video and the carnival theme?
Shaun: We didn’t want to make these little…
Pat: It sucks when Christina Aguilera is darker than we are.
Shaun: [The video for Christina Aguilera's] “Beautiful” was darker than anything we have ever done and I was getting pissed about that. Our videos have been so neatly tailored to being conservative, friendly and parent-friendly. We weren’t making videos. We were spending a bunch of money a year making these. We might as well have bunnies and butterflies. It was just that the band was being misrepresented, I think. The videos, I don’t think, were horrible videos. We would prefer to have videos that we would have liked to have made. Dean Karr was the first guy who came up with something that was dark enough that we thought it would be a good way to re-introduce the band. Abolish the pop band myth.
darkstar: I read on RollingStones.com that one of the new songs “Burrito” pays homage to Ozzy Osbourne. Why a burrito?
Shaun: We had written three songs for Daredevil [soundtrack]. One of them we’ve playing for a while and we didn’t have a name for it and we obviously needed a title. And we were at home and we were watching the Osbournes and Ozzy Osbourne was going around asking Jack if he wanted a spicy burrito. And he was just carrying on about burritos and how much burritos.... In the whole episode was like Ozzy and his burritos.
Pat: That’s why it was funny.
Shaun: I thought it was funny and at the same time incredibly inane. They had this whole episode dedicated to him going to the burrito place, buying 50 or 60 burritos, coming back and freezing them. That was the whole episode. So we just called the song “Burrito” because it was really that funny.
darkstar: Do you like burritos?
Shaun: I do. Dale and I like Mexican food.
Pat: John does too.
Shaun: John does too. Pat’s more of a non-spicy food kind of guy. Actually, I never had Mexican food until I came to the States.
Pat: I used to work at a Mexican restaurant. I think that put me off. If you smell it everyday and you hate your job and you see what goes on in the kitchen, it might have.
darkstar: Your new music sounds a lot like Seether is influenced by Nirvana.
Pat: We are.
darkstar: Are you a big fan of Nirvana?
Pat: The whole grunge scene – Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains.
Shaun: It’s funny because I thought this album sounded less like grunge than the last one did.
Pat: Me too. I thought it sounded harder over time and less grunge.
Shaun: I tried to listen to Nirvana the other day and I burnt myself out as a kid. I listen to it every once in a while and these other bands that I listen to that I’m in to. They’re more interesting to me now. Bands are more creative with what they do. It’s funny because I actually thought that this album was less grunge than the last one.
darkstar: Well, just the songs on the Seether website right now. In the song “I’m the One,” I thought your vocals sound similar to Kurt Cobain’s.
Shaun: I could see that. I thought it sounds more Foo Fighters-ish. The Nirvana-type songs would be the ones bridging the gap between "Disclaimer" and the new album. Kinda just punk songs. They’re kinda just energetic songs. I guess my voice sounds like that sometimes. For some people, it’s a bad thing, I guess. I’d rather sound like Nirvana than Trapt or Nickelback. I’d rather be like Nirvana.
darkstar: Was there a reason why some songs from Saron Gas were left out of "Disclaimer," but were then released in "Disclaimer II"?
Shaun: There’s just two. People came to the messageboard and asked if we would ever release them. I tried to make an EP. “Love Her” and “Cigarettes” were just the two. There were twenty songs from Saron Gas we never used. I think those songs were ones people just downloaded them and found them from acoustic things that we had done in South Africa. If we’re going to make them wait another year for another album, we might as well give them two of the songs they’ve been wanting to hear for a long time. The other songs were on soundtracks.
darkstar: How exactly do you pronounce Shaun’s real last name [Welgemoed, which he changed to Morgan because people had trouble pronouncing the former]?
Shaun: Vel-heh-mut. It’s Dutch. It’s German and Dutch. The “g” - it’s kinda like you have to clear your throat, you know?
Pat: [Clears throat.]
Shaun: [Clears throat and makes spitting sound.]
darkstar: What’s the most embarrassing thing you listen to?
Shaun: Most embarrassing thing I listen to? I listen to Kenny Rogers. I think it’s pretty embarrassing.
Pat: Was that “Highway to Danger Zone”?
Shaun: No no no, Kenny Rogers was like [sings]. "Danger Zone" was from the Top Gun soundtrack. [Sings “Danger Zone.”]
Pat: Was it Kenny Loggins that did that song? Who did that song?
Shaun: “Danger Zone”?
Pat: Kenny Loggins, what?
Shaun: That song was Kenny Loggins. I don’t listen to him. [Laughs.] I think Kenny Rogers is probably the worst. Although Kenny Loggin, both of them. What about you?
Pat: Most embarrassing? Probably Blind Melon? I have Avril [Lavigne] in my iPod.
Shaun: You DO have Avril in your iPod.
darkstar: “Sk8er Boi”?
Pat: No. The new one.
Shaun: He had a crush on her until she got engaged to [Sum 41’s] Deryck Whibley. She’s got his initials tattooed on her stomach. AND they bought a house together, a $14 million house. AND, apparently, she’s a drunk, dude.
darkstar: How do you know so much about Avril?
Shaun: Actually, we know everything about everyone in the music business. Ask us anything about anyone and we’ll pretty much tell you. Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey are splitting up. [Laughs.] Ashlee Simpson still needs to get punched in the face. We buy music magazines all the time. I can’t watch the music channel anymore because they honestly drive me insane now. Everything from Revolver to Circus to Guitar World to Blender. We have all those magazines with us all the time. That’s how we know so much about the bands we hate. [Laughs.]
darkstar: Anything else you’d like to add?
Shaun: Seether.com. Check out Seether.com.
Shaun: And Seetherville.com. That’s our band-owned website. That’s it. I have nothing else.
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