I got the chance to cover this years Uproar Festival tour in Peru, IL which featured rock heavy weights Seether. Seether has been around a long time and you could hear their influence on nearly every young band that played before them. Seether are veterans at this point who rely on their songs and playing ability live. They’ve got a new album out called “Isolate & Medicate.” Recently I got a chance to chat with drummer John Humphrey about Uproar, the new album and the state of rock n roll.
If you want to listen to the uncut interview you can do so right here:
Bob Zerull (BZ): You’re back with the band with Uproar, how is the tour going so far?
John Humphrey (JH): It’s great, I’m looking forward to it actually. My father passed away about a week ago so we’ve actually had a fill in drummer for a couple of the Uproar shows so I haven’t honestly been on the tour. We’re in Anchorage at a fair for a couple days then we’ll be returning to Uproar in a couple of days. I’m really looking forward to it and I think it’s a great line up and a great festival.
BZ: Do you like those festival tours or do you prefer your own personal Seether tours?
JH: Both are good, I understand budget wise for the concert goer, more bang for your buck. I think it’s great for the band we get to play for a fan that came out to only see Godsmack or maybe Skillet that maybe we have a chance to win a new fan. Of course the upside to doing our own shows we get to play longer, we maybe get to play some of the deeper tracks. We play a little under an hour on the Uproar festival which is just really enough time to play a lot of the singles that everybody is most familiar with and would expect to hear.
BZ: Who’s got the best spot on this tour? Is it Buckcherry who gets to headline the second stage with that more intimate crowd or is it you guys who get to play second to last where everybody is still there?
JH: From our experience I think second to last is ideal. You’ve got the pinnacle of the evening, you’ve got the people who have been there all day. On Uproar second to last is a sweet spot in our opinion rather than headlining or being the last band i think second to last is always great.
BZ: I’ve seen you live and you seem to be one of those bands that let the music and the playing do the talking. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles, at least at the show I was at. Is that something you guys take pride in, being able to hold your own with your songs and your playing as opposed to just blowing shit up?
JH: Exactly, that’s the kind of band we are. It’s about the music. We’re not up there going through the motions. I mean we’re entertainers to an extent, but not with the glitter, production and the pyro. The focus is the music. We tend to stick out on some of these things. We tend to be totally bare bones compared to some of the other bands and that’s fine with us. I’m not intimidated, I don’t feel like we’re going to get blown away. I have full confidence in the band and the ability to perform. Yeah we let the music do the talking.
BZ: You’ve got the new album out “Isolate and Medicate.” When you guys go into the writing and recording process do you pre plan what you want the record to sound like or do you just write and let what ever happens happen?
JH: It’s not really that methodical. We just try to go in and create 10 to 12 to 14 of the strongest songs possible. Amongst ourselves we ask if we like it, it really isn’t a predesignated thing where we focus on this group of songs and they’ll be the singles and this group of songs will the other tracks. We just attack everything the best we can. If an idea is not developing then we’ll move on to something else. A lot of the material filters through Sean before he even shows the band. So he has a pre pre production process that he goes through on his own. He’s gone through a plethora of ideas and has picked the best before the band begins to work on it, which then goes through another filter process.
BZ: Is there ever a time where you get a good song but it doesn’t feel like a Seether song. Do you scrap it or do you say screw it, it’s a good song we’re going to do it anyway?
JH: I can’t speak 100% for Sean because there may have been ideas he held back that he didn’t want to show the band because maybe he didn’t feel it fit the band. I do know that he took some chances and wanted our input on something like “Country Song” from the last album. It’s a countryish blues guitar intro that we as a band thought was great. As a band we’re really open to ideas. We’re not going to do a polka song or something completely off the grid, but he definitely knows with us that if it sounds good it is good. We’re pretty open to a lot of ideas that maybe a lot of bands wouldn’t go forward with.
BZ: With you guys its cool because it seems like you’re able to play different styles and get away with it more than other bands from your generation. A lot of bands have written themselves into a corner. How was the recording process different this time around?
JH: It went quickly and I don’t know if its because we’ve been together for over 11 years and taking sometime off last year. We just holed up in a little studio and jammed as a band like you did when you started out, just three guys bouncing around ideas until it comes together. It was a great vibe. Going into the studio in January we were primed and ready to go. In some cases we’ll write songs in the studio. This time we had the twelve songs, there weren’t a lot of changes. It was just about capturing the performances. it went fast and it went well.
BZ: Do you think the faster you go that its better because you don’t have a chance to second guess yourself?
JH: I think that’s a valid argument. I know as a musician you second guess and third guess. Having worked with Brendan O’Brien before and knowing his track record when he says, ‘I think we got it in that take lets move on,’ we feel confidant that he’s not gonna bullshit us. All the stars lined up because it went quickly but it was turning out really good.
BZ: Is it rough out there right now in the rock industry? Fans are showing up when you load up the bill, like with Uproar it’s you guys, Godsmack, Skillet, Buckcherry, PopEvil etc etc, but fifteen years ago the top three bands on the bill could do three separate tours to the exact same crowd you’re playing to now?
JH: The economy and limited resources to spend money, that’s why I think a tour like this for the price of one concert ticket to see a lot of bands in one day is pretty good for the concert buyer. I think it does make sense to do these tour festivals. You’ve got bands that are similar in genre but with slightly different fan bases allowing bands to win new fans they wouldn’t otherwise get to play in front of.
Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org.