Seether arrives for private shows
Photos by Jason Genegabus / firstname.lastname@example.org
Seether guitarist Troy McLawhorn, left, chats with a Marine journalist prior to speaking with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Friday. The band will play two USO shows on Oahu this weekend.
BY JASON GENEGABUS / email@example.com
South African rockers Seether arrived in Honolulu this week for a pair of concerts that will be next to impossible to get into — unless you're a member of the military.
Led by founding members Dale Stewart and Shaun Morgan, the band will headline the Hawaii stop of the USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour with a performance at Marine Corps Base Hawaii tonight and at Schofield Barracks tomorrow. The shows mark the first time the platinum-selling band has performed in the islands.
The Star-Advertiser got a chance to speak with Stewart, guitarist Troy McLawhorn and drummer John Humphrey on Friday afternoon prior to the band's sound check at MCBH. Their new album, "Holding on to Strings Better Left to Fray," will be released early next year.
The stage at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe. Seether will perform here at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
STAR-ADVERTISER: 2010 marks the second time Seether has hit the road in support of the USO. What does it mean to you guys to play these shows?
TROY MCLAWHORN: I think it's cool to come out here and boost morale for everybody. It's pretty hardcore what these guys go through, and they're away from home.
It's a good motivator to come out here … and show our appreciation for all their hard work.
My wife's family, her dad was in the Air Force. And her grandfather was in the Army. And one of my sons is actually joining the Air Force in February.
JOHN HUMPHREY: My grandfather was stationed in the South Pacific during WWII. And my dad was in the Army just after the Korean War.
DALE STEWART: I've got a lot of friends and family of friends who are in the military. I think everyone knows someone who's out there or has put in their time.
We kind of feel a little helpless sometimes … when all these people are out there doing those amazing things. So for us to come out and kind of say things, we're trying to help a little bit in our own way, for what it's worth.
SA: How do your South African roots influence the band more than a decade after starting out?
DS: Subliminally, probably, more than anything. We were always that band in South Africa who didn't really sound like a South African band. We were actually criticized (for that). We were always very much influenced by American bands.
When Shaun and I were growing up, we started hearing bands on the radio like Nirvana and Soundgarden. Pearl Jam, and even before that, Metallica and all these great American rock bands. Those bands really struck a chord with us.
SA: Has the band's sound changed much over the years?
DS: I think it's just a natural thing to change. And we don't want to be that band that keeps rehashing old stuff.
I think the art of it, we're proud of what we're doing and we're trying to make the best music we can. Our music has changed, but I think it's been for the better, you know?
We've gotten better at what we do. And also with different members joining, that puts a different dynamic on it. But it's an evolution. So hopefully it's getting better.
SA: "Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces" was released during a particularly challenging period of time for the band. Looking back, can you hear the tension when listening to tracks from that album?
JH: There was a lot of drama going on. We had a guitar player who walked off during the middle of our last tour … and I had to get back surgery. I had been on tour for a year and a half, two years, just dealing with pain and trying to make it to the end.
I think with this next album, with Troy being part of it, the whole experience has been more about all of us contributing. (It) sounds much more like a unified band. I'm excited for people to hear it.
SA: The new album is called "Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray. Is Seether now going to be known as the band with super-long album titles?
TM: Yeah, the next one's gonna be even longer! (laughs)
JH: ("Holding Onto Strings…) is actually a lyric from an important song on that album.
SA: Can you hear an evolution in the band's sound with this new album?
DS: I think all of our stuff, you can definitely tell it's us. It's not night and day. We still have that signature sound.
TM: It sort of sounds like a continuation from album to album. It keeps evolving, but you can hear the influences from the last album.
SA: Is this next album the best Seether project ever?
JH: I'm really excited about it. I think it's strong. I know it's cliche … but I think you try to get better as a musician, to get better and write better songs.
DS: When we spoke about the last album, we thought that was the best one that we've done … up until then. There was a lot of pressure on us to get a little bit better again, but I think we have on this one.
SA: Is it a challenge to get people interested in your music, if all they remember of Seether is "Broken" with lead singer of Evanescence?
JH: I think we have fans from all over. Some who lightly listen to the music … or you have the diehards. The "Fake It" single from the last album was number one for, like, 13 weeks or something.
We have some strongholds in middle America. These places where we have played, we've got a great fan base regardless of what we're doing on the charts. We pride ourselves as being a live band, a touring band. We're on the road 200-plus days out of the year.
SA: Any thoughts on Hawaii?
TM: It'd be great to come back and do a show.
JH: I think we shoujld do a show in Hawaii and then have two weeks off.
DS: We had a little time (to hang out) last night. It was great. Everyone is so nice.
We even went swimming at 2:30 in the morning!
SA: Did you guys get to check out any local bands?
TM: There was a keyboard player last night who was killing it. He sounded like an actual guitar, but he was doing solos on keys. It took me a second to figure it out. It was at the Shack. Right over by the Outrigger.
Correction: Troy McLawhorn plays guitar in the band. He was described as the bass player in an earlier version of this post.