Fans of rock group Seether might be surprised when they listen to the band’s new fifth studio CD Holding onto Strings Better Left to Fray – besides being pure rock bliss, it’s all done minus all the screaming and growling of lead singer Shaun Morgan. Well, for most part of the record. Bad thing? Not at all! Although we’re use to Shawn growling and screaming on heavy Seether guitar riffs, he actually does a decent job singing and sounds vocally stronger on their new CD, then ever before.
He explains, “On this album I didn’t scream very much, because that’s not what I wanted to. For some of the songs, the sentiment behind the lyric wasn’t angry, therefore to sing it in an angry way didn’t make sense to me. The gritty stuff is easy to do, but it also feels really great to convey emotionally, through my voice, what I’m trying to say, instead of just being a one trick pony.” Shawn also credits producer Brendan O’Brian (who also produced bands like Rage Against the Machine, AC/DC, Pearl Jam) for him to go with clear vocals. “I’ve wanted to sing clearer on albums before and producers have said, ‘No, do that gritty thing that you’re known for.’ Brendan was the first guy who said, ‘Dude, sing the way you want to sing.’” Hallelujah Brendan!
The result is a collection of compelling vocal performances that conjure an appealing blend of two of Shawn’s main influences, Kurt Cobain and Tool’s Maynard James Keenan and make Seethers new CD an awesome listening experience. Lyrically, Shaun is upfront as he’s ever been. “In our songs, I deal with a lot of personal issues and ghosts following me around. With each album, I tend to catch up a bit more on these ghosts and get rid of them. But this time around, it’s all about freedom and just letting go. I’m now dealing with issues that I’ve been carrying with me for a long time, and understanding that those are detrimental to me and those around me. Once you indentify something that’s toxic in your life, you have to ask why you’re perpetuating it: clutching at a situation that’s ultimately going to end up in heartbreak and tears. It’s history, you need to let if go. Once you do that, it’s such a weight off your chest. It sounds a little bit like a hippie psychology, but if you focus on thinking positive things, then good things will start showing themselves to you.”
Holding onto Strings Better Left to Fray is filled with gems that will makes you just want to jump up, play air guitar, pump your fist in the air and sing and growl (yes, at least there are some screaming and growling left . . .) with Shaun and the boys. The band brand out stylistically on the CDs first single, Country Song, which blends a funky country guitar hook with the band’s signature searing guitar work. Their latest single, the rock anthem Tonight, almost didn’t made the cut for the CD. Shaun says, “I hadn’t even shown it to the band yet, but one morning I woke up before dawn, in a really good mood, and completely changed the lyrics to positive lyrics. It just started coming together. Later that day in the studio, I asked producer Brendan to check it out. We only had two days left in the studio, but he said, ‘We’ve got to record that song right now.’ I think it captures and summarises the hopeful sentiment of the album.”
The boys are hard at work touring at the moment with their CD, bringing the Seether love to their fans. If they will visit their home country South Africa as part of their tour, remains still to be seen. (Come on boys, we dig your music! Come do a home show!). Shaun concludes, “to still be able to record, self albums and tour, when a lot of our peers have not been so lucky, is a gift. Ultimately, making this album has helped me through the next phase of my life. For anyone who has been with us this far and needs a new injection of Seether’s music, this will hopefully feed their desire.” Amen Shaun!