by Justin McConkey
After hearing the first single “Fine Again”
I was excited to hear the rest of Seether’s debut disc ‘Disclaimer’, so
when I was offered the opportunity to review it, I naturally jumped at
From the thudding chug of “Gasoline” to
the softer, introspection of “Sympathetic” to the off-kilter altern-rock
of “Pig” (the most creative and interesting song on the disc) ‘Disclaimer’
takes the listener on a dark, moody journey into vocalist/writer/guitarist
Shaun Morgan’s slightly twisted and depressing world. The style of rock
dubbed “grunge” can be heard all over the first half of the disc, but gives
way to a heavier, more modern rock (updated “grunge” if you will) style
over the last half.
The vocals are eerily familiar many times
throughout the disc, none more so than on “Driven” where Morgan sings,
“then she told me she had a gun…” which recalls Nirvana’s “Come As You
Are” chorus of “I swear I don’t have a gun…” This is the feeling throughout
most of the disc. It’s as though Seether has sorted through its roots and
influences choosing the best parts and released their debut based on that.
Seether has yet to really find their own two legs to stand on.
Simply put, Seether is basically Nirvana
with heavier guitars and in my opinion better lyrics, but by the same token
Seether does not break new ground the way Nirvana did with this style of
rock back in the late eighties, early nineties. “Disclaimer” is chalk full
of good, solid altern-rockers with depressing, but interesting lyrics and
numerous catchy hooks. Still, I believe the potential for Seether to be
a musical force is high, despite the lack of groundbreaking material. Comparisons
to the likes of Creed, Nickelback, Staind and Cold are warranted, but the
difference is that Seether simply does it better.
Standouts: “Gasoline”, “69 Tea”, “Fine
Again”, “Pig”, and “Broken”.
Shaun Morgan - vocals, guitar, songs
Dale Stewart - bass, vocals
Nick Oshiro - drums
“My words will be here when I’m gone…”
No one wishes to die without making a statement
and having an impact - especially if they are an artist. For most, this
desire is filled with pretense, but occasionally someone comes along whose
intensions are more humble - to leave the world better than they found
Such is the standpoint of Shaun Morgan,
singer-guitarist-songwriter of the South African band Seether. His immediate,
cerebral writing saturates the band’s U.S. debut, Disclaimer, producing
a compelling illustration of the communal powers of rock and roll; loud
in a very literal and very abstract sense. “I don’t care if no one knows
what I look like,” he says. “That’s not the point. The point is to know
I’ve touched people.”
After forming in 1999, Seether (originally
Saron Gas, a name they plucked from the back of a sound effects CD not
knowing its sinister connotation) quickly gained notoriety in their home
country’s anemic rock market. The band’s South African release, Fragile,
became one of the best selling titles of the year, and Seether emerged
as a top live draw.
This was no small feat in a land where
rock bands play second banana to indigenous music and pop. Still, Seether’s
monumental mongrel rock couldn’t help but stand out, and Morgan’s words
built a bottomless bond between the band and its fans.
Everyone from disenfranchised teens to
incarcerated individuals has felt his influence, but the foremost example
is the impact first single “Fine Again” had on a family whose daughter
overdosed. The song a stark, mid-tempo deliberation on life after a bleak
period inspired the recuperating girl to right her life. The family bonded
with the band and reacted emotionally upon learning Seether was headed
stateside. “They were actually crying. That was the most surreal experience.
They’re all standing around and saying, ‘We don’t know if we should be
happy for you or angry at you’ and that’s pretty cool.
It’s good to know we’ve had such a positive
influence on someone.”
Morgan’s motivation and inspiration stems
from a lack of acceptance. His parents divorced early on. His Afrikaans
mother’s devout Christian family held him in disregard because he was part
English on his father’s side. His paternal family shunned him for being
into rock music and dressing the part. The hostile environs culminated
in a defining moment, as Morgan sat with a gun in one hand and a guitar
in the other, facing a choice.
“It was suicide or the guitar. I picked
the guitar and got rid of the urge to take myself out.” He continued sneaking
out to rehearse with any band that would have him. “This was all I ever
wanted to do,” he says simply.
Disclaimer, produced by Jay Baumgardner
(Papa Roach, Drowning Pool) offers a brutally transparent glimpse into
Morgan’s childhood. As he scrubs at the pain of his past, the singer’s
scratchy, eerily familiar voice and his guitar work are cutting accomplices
to the catharsis. The sum effect is as thrilling as it is consuming.
“Pig” picks at familial scabs, asking,
“have you ever wished for fire/to burn away your mind restraints?” “Needles”
rails further, demanding retribution, “Let me stick my needles in/let me
hurt you again/f*** you for killing me!” over a torrid, towering wall of
noise. “69 Tea” mocks salvation in a slow, rolling boil. “Gasoline” chugs
and churns and spits at a woman who could be a lover or a mother it’s impossible
to tell. Therein lies a key to Seether’s appeal: Morgan balks at expanding
on his lyrics, opting to preserve both his own, and the listener’s, interpretation.
In his mind, offering one static explanation would dictate the effect on
the listener which is simply unacceptable.
“I’m not trying to be a spokesman, because
I wouldn’t want to have a spokesman myself. This is a way for me to say
how I feel now and get it out. Other people will paint something
or draw something or dance it out or whatever. This, I suppose, is the
only way I can purge, but it is therapeutic.”
His convalescence manifests supremely in
song and is chiefly evident in the cautious optimism of “Fine Again” and
the plaintive, yet soaring, “Sympathetic,” in which he sings “My words
will be here when I’m gone.” Even at this embryonic state, Morgan has made
his statement and it bodes well, as the band waits on the cusp of success.
Through it all, he remains the humble craftsman,
ego and expectations in check - words preserved for posterity despite no
immediate plans to depart the planet. Of course, he’s happy to know he’s
made a difference.
“Even if it’s just one or two people that
say, ‘Man, it’s really sad that he’s gone,’ that’s all I wanted to hear.”
the Official Website to get the lowdown on the album, find tour dates plus
get more info on the band and the latest news and multimedia files.
out "People With Signs" to see tons of fan made signs that tie in with
the multi-CD cover release for "Disclaimer" (yes the CD was released with
several different covers)
to sound samples and Purchase "Disclaimer" online
Justin McConkey is a freelance music journalist on special
assignment to iconoFan.
Photos Courtesy of Seether and Wind-Up Records - All Rights Reserved
by Copyright Holder.