Last month, South African alt-rock band Seether re-issued a deluxe version of their 2020 hit album, Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum. Featuring a mammoth twenty-two tracks, including five previously unreleased songs, the record spawned three #1 singles on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart and Active Rock radio and garnered some of the best reviews of the group’s storied career.
Seether was born in 2000 and, fresh into a new deal with Wind-Up Records, released their hit debut album Disclaimer, a recording that was certified Gold by the RIAA and spawned three smash singles, “Fine Again,” “Driven Under,” and “Gasoline.”
Disclaimer provided the springboard to a twenty-two-year career for the South African band, one which, to date, includes three platinum and two gold albums, 18 #1 singles, 21 Top 5 multi-format hits, single sales topping 17 million and over 2 billion streams worldwide. Those twenty-two years have been a rollercoaster of a ride. Led by frontman Shaun Morgan, their music has taken them all over the world and seen them touring with everyone from Nickelback to Three Doors Down and hitting the stages at most of the major rock festivals worldwide.
It is that career we are here to talk about. Celebrating an incredible twenty-two years rocking across the world, the Pretoria, South Africa band has been there, seen it, done it and bought the t-shirt. With plenty to talk about, we spoke to drummer John Humphrey about his own highlights, his hopes for the future and his thoughts on the last couple of years.
Thanks for your time; how’s life treating you at the moment?
John Humphrey: “I’m good, thank you. Just completed a tour with Breaking Benjamin recently. The shows and the crowds were amazing.”
“Blows me away sometimes to think I’ve been with the band 18 years, and the band’s most recent album was one of our biggest yet.”
During the last couple of years, you passed the two-decade mark as a band. When you think about the vision you had for the band back in 1999, how does it feel to reach that incredible milestone?
“I feel very fortunate to be a part of a band that has had the success Seether has. Blows me away sometimes to think I’ve been with the band 18 years, and the band’s most recent album was one of our biggest yet.”
Looking back over those two decades, what are your own personal highlights? There must have been moments where you’ve sat there as a collective band and thought, “shit, did that just happen to our band?”
“Oh, there are so many highlights and amazing memories for me. Rock in Rio w/ the Foo Fighters (first time I was able to meet Dave Grohl), tours with Audioslave and Nickelback. Performing at Euro festivals like Rock Im Ring, Rock Im Park, Download. A few years back, playing Hellfest with both Soundgarden AND Black Sabbath. Incredible.”
You’ve just released a deluxe version of Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum; what prompted the decision to repackage that rather than one of the older albums?
“We are very proud of the last album, and we all worked very hard to make it one of Seether’s best albums. We tracked 21 songs for the album. That means fully recorded, mixed and mastered. So, it was tough to narrow down the final 13-song track list. We all voted, and some great songs were left off. I’m so glad everyone will now hear everything together.”
Additional to the album, there are five previously unreleased tracks, were they recorded as part of the SVPPB sessions and, in terms of other material, when can fans expect a new album from Seether?
“Tentative plans to begin working on the next Seether album at the beginning of next year.”
One of the tracks, “Leech,” deals with abusive relationships, more specifically around social/digital relationships. Is the song written from your own personal experiences?
“Shaun certainly has an amazing way of connecting with people through his lyrics. I know a lot of that deals on his personal thoughts and feelings w/ our society and culture.”
Given the way social media/digital has taken over our lives, do you think we reached a point pre-pandemic where there was no going back, and it is now ingrained so heavily in all aspects of our society that its influence is bigger than the people who created it?
“I don’t know. I do think good or bad certain aspects of our society will forever be affected by the pandemic.”
Especially in the last few years, digital/social has been a key way for bands to keep that connection with fans. How important has it been for bands like Seether to get back to touring and meeting fans face to face?
“Touring for us is very important. We are ultimately entertainers, and a huge part of our world is live performance and connecting with people through our live music. I’m a musician and I love performing live. So I’m very happy to be touring again.”
“Not everyone’s life is always amazing and awesome. There are shit days, too. So social media can’t fully replace true personal human interaction.”
Going back to my earlier question, for all the evils of social media, on a personal level for many people, social media/digital has been a vital way of keeping in touch with family/friends as well as helping them live something of a normal life over the past few years. Is it now a case of accepting the bad side because the benefits for many people are just as big?
“I do see certain positives to social media. Yes, it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. Just to scroll through my personal page to see what everyone is up to on a daily basis is great. However, most people (myself included) tend to post only the positive stuff and the good things about our lives. So it does have a “phony” aspect. Not everyone’s life is always amazing and awesome. There are shit days, too. So social media can’t fully replace true personal human interaction.”
With social media now an unavoidable part of life, do you think something like educating young children about the pros/cons of social/digital should now be a key part of their education?
“Yes. However, being a parent myself, I feel that falls under the responsibility of the parent.”
We’ve talked about the milestone you’ve reached. In 2022 what does Seether mean to you on a personal level?
“I truly don’t take it for granted! I’m beyond blessed to work with such talented musicians. We have all worked very hard for many years, and we are grateful to still be doing this.”
Now life is returned to some kind of new normal, what are your plans for 2022 and beyond?
“We have a few festival dates through September then, like I mentioned, we’ll begin work on the next album right after the new year.”