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SEETHER JOHN HUMPHREY INTERVIEW JUNE 2014

HARD ROCK INTERVIEWS 2014 - SEETHER DRUMMER - JOHN HUMPHREY

Seether's blend of post-grunge and alternative Metal has been captivating audiences for years and creatively with 'Holding onto strings better left to fray' from 2011 some would say they had produced their best album to date. Well hold on tight because this year sees the band back with just what might be their masterwork: 'Isolate and Medicate'. We caught up with John just before the band hit the stage in Italy to headline a festival, just one of the many International Festival dates this year...


Mark: Hi, John, how are you? Thanks for speaking to us this evening. I believe you’re in Italy at the moment?


John: Hi, I’m good thanks, and yeah, we’re in Italy.


Mark: Waiting to play a big festival, I believe?


John: Yeah, we are which we’re headlining, so we’ll be doing a full headlining show tonight. It’s beautiful here.


Mark: The new album is fantastic; I think it’s your best yet! There are some great reviews coming out. The felling must be great in the band.


John: Thank you very much. Yeah, we’re really excited, we’ve had a lot of industry people and critics hear it, and there’s been very positive feedback, and we’re proud of it. We worked really hard on it, we worked together with Brendan, and I think he pulled some great stuff out of us! I think it’s a solid one, and I agree with you, I appreciate it, thank you.


Mark: Brendan’s done a great job again on there; did you record it the same way? I remember reading somewhere that with the last album, you brought your almost finished songs to the studio, and because this was written in such a short space of time, I guess that’s the way you recorded the new record?


John: Yeah, the recording process for the new album was a lot different. With “Strings” it was broken up in to several recording sessions, like you mentioned, sort of writing songs in the studio, finishing the songs to completion, and that took over a year. In this case we got together in December last year at a friend of mine’s studio, I’m from Oklahoma, and the guys came there for a couple of weeks, prior to the holidays, and we worked our butts of in the studio there for a couple of weeks. We put the album together, Shaun had demo’d six or seven songs, and we then completed the writing of four or five additional songs, and in about two and a half weeks we knocked out the album, and that’s including mixing, fifteen days in all!! So, it was one of the quickest albums, it’s like a band recording its first album, where you’ve been playing the material for so long, it gets really easy to record. In this case we had to tour with the material, playing it, but we were rehearsed and ready to go, and it felt great, the songs felt very, very strong, and it went very quickly.

Mark: There’s not really a weak link on the entire album, all the songs are great. One’s that stood out for us, and the one we can’t stop playing at the minute, is “My Disaster”.


John: Yeah, thank you. It’s the next step for us, musically it takes some chances, that we haven’t before, with songs like, “Words as Weapons” and I feel in some cases we have one of the heaviest songs we’ve ever done on there called “Suffer It All”. Then we have “Save Today” which is a very melodic, beautiful song, really, it’s Seether, we run the gamut, we can do the heavy, and the epic, and at the same time be very melodic, and yeah, I think it’s the next step for Seether.


Mark: It’s undoubtedly, Seether, but as you say it pushes a few boundaries. “Save Today” is a fantastic way to close the album, and “Nobody Praying for me” has some real emotion in there! You have a pretty heavy schedule from August to December, taking in the US and Europe, you’re on the “Rockstar Uproar Tour” with Godsmack, Skillet and Buckcherry, and then over to the US and Europe! So, the big question for us down here, and we last saw you here in 2012, is when can we expect to see you again???


John: Well I’d like to say, of course it’s tentative right now, but I am very excited to say we’ve got to get over there in 2015, that’s what Seether does, we put out an album, and then tour for eighteen months to two years, on a given cycle, so like you say, the remainder of this year is busy, and I’d like to see us get over to Australia, and do a proper tour of Japan and New Zealand as well. We’d love to come back; it’s always fun to play there, so I’d like to think in 2015 we’ll be over to see you guys.


Mark: That would be great! Are you doing anything this year to mark the 15 years of the band being together?


John: It only seems like yesterday it was the ten year! Nothing really, right now, the focus is on the new album, of course last year we had that best of, collection of singles, “Seether: 2012-2013”, which I think was a nice compilation, a chance for the fans to have all the singles in one place. And then we wanted to see if there were some additional things for fans who had already bought the albums, things they didn’t have, songs from soundtracks, “B” side stuff, demo’s things that recognised our accomplishments, and so that package was sort of an acknowledgement of that. But we’re very excited, we’re on a new label, it’s new beginnings in many ways for us, a strong label that we’re very excited about, and this new album, so I think it’s just a lot of touring and hard work coming up on this album cycle!

Mark: You mentioned the long tours, and that’s one of the things, I guess, that bands have to go through to get their music out there, but also, to make the money. What’s the first thing you do when you get home from a long tour like that?


John: For me, I’m the boring guy! I’m the family man, I have two boys, so I get home and I take them to school, to basketball practice, take out the trash, pick up dog crap, the usual stuff, which is fine with me, it keeps me grounded and I love it! To do this, and play music for a living, and to go home to a wonderful family, they are so supportive. I get no slack, especially from my wife, especially about all these years of touring, and being away, she knows this is what I love, and when I’m home, I’m home with them, and it’s hard to get me out of the house!! Even on a down year we still stay pretty busy, it’s hard for us to stay home for any length of time.


Mark: Tell us about the album title, Seether always has interesting album titles! “Isolate and Medicate” where does that come from??


John: I think it’s sort of something we’ve all experienced, at least within the band, you know, everybody has their vices, maybe its drugs or alcohol, maybe it’s eating, compulsive shopping, I don’t know! We sometimes have a way of cutting off and self-medicating, that’s the literal interpretation at least for me, you know how you can sometimes kind of isolate yourself, and self-medicate with music or as a band, recording this music and getting it out of our system, especially Shaun who writes the lyrics. In a cathartic way he can get his angst out through his material, so I guess in many ways it’s a way of self-medicating. I think it all has to do with coping, and getting through this crazy thing called life!


Mark: I’ve been staring at the album cover for a few days now, and I still can’t work it out, can you enlighten me??


John: Haha! Yeah, that was art, by our now guitar player Bryan Wickmann, he was a guitar tech of ours for many years, and he has now joined us on stage as a secondary guitar player, adding a lot, musically live, and vocally as well he’s adding harmonies and background vocals which is just fantastic. But he is also a very talented artist, who did the artwork for “Strings”, and some of the design for the package, and has now done this cover art for “Isolate and Medicate”, so I have to say it comes from the crazy mind of Bryan Wickmann!

Mark; It’s an interesting cover, definitely! “Words and Weapons” the new single and video is doing very well, down here, are you pleased with the response so far? Was it hard to pick a single?


John: Yeah, it was recorded for that “best of” compilation last year and we just sort of felt it was so strong that we held it off, and wanted to save it for this new album, and as it turned out, it really helped set the bar in writing songs that would be just as strong as, if not stronger, so we thought it was very fitting to be the first single. All I can say is there has been great feedback, and we’re excited to get the album out, it’ll be out June 27th, there, June 30th here and Europe, and July 1st in the States, so we’re still excited about everybody getting to hear it! I try not to read too much, I don’t know, everyone’s a critic, but for the most part it’s been very positive, and that feels great!


Mark: Do you have any particular favourites off the new album?


John: Yeah, there’s a song on there called “Crash”, I really love, “Save Today” like we mentioned earlier, “Same Damn Life”, it depends what week you catch me, I have different favourites all the time. “Suffer it All” is a great rocker and I can’t wait to play that one live. We have actually sound checked because we can’t really play a lot of the new album yet, live, we have been rehearsing the better part of the album, and I can’t remember the last time we worked on an entire album, as far as sound checking, I think we’ll probably play this album straight through, and it would be great, first song to last! It’s a very strong album!
Mark: It would definitely stand up! You have a lot of media presence, a lot of fans online, talking about you, really dedicated fans, lots of hits on YouTube, so you seem to be embracing the “new world” of technology, really well, what do you put that down to? Is it something that just came naturally to the band?


John: No, I don’t know that it came naturally! It’s sort of the way of the world now, social media, that sort of immediate connection with people. We actually have a company that we work with, that helps guide us; we have a band “phone” that we take photographs with, on the road, and that sends them to a drop box and then posts it, we’re getting better at it! I guess, old habits die hard, and we’ve tried to improve on getting more involved. We recently as a band, did the ask me anything sessions, on Facebook and Twitter, and I love answering questions directly to the fans, they have great input on what they think we should play live, what songs they would like to hear, I think it’s very cool, I love getting feedback and talking directly like that.


Mark: It’s wonderful; you do it a lot better than most bands out there. Now for our two final questions that we ask everyone. If you could’ve been a fly on the wall for the making of any great album, at any point in time, what would it be for you and why?


John: The Beatles, “Revolver”.


Mark: Fantastic choice! Now, the easy one, what is the meaning of life?


John: It’s like Spinal Tap, “have a good time all the time”.


Mark: Well it’s been an absolute pleasure to talk to you, John, have a great festival, and hopefully we’ll see you soon!


John: Thank you very much. Cheers.

 

 

John spoke to Mark Diggins June 2014

 

 

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