by Matt Karpe
– Senior Columnist –
At the start of July, Seether released Isolate and Medicate, their sixth studio album. It is one of the strongest records the band have put out to date and is packed full of emotionally charged anthems that has become accustomed to the post-grunge rockers.
I recently caught up with drummer John Humphrey to discuss the writing and recording of Isolate and Medicate, the Rise Above festival that Seether set up to raise awareness of suicide and also his huge love for Kiss…
[John far right]
HRH: Thank you for taking the time to speak to HRH. How are you doing today?
JH: Great. Thanks
HRH: The excellent Isolate and Medicate has just been released. How was the recording process, I heard it didn’t take long at all?
JH: Yes, it was relatively painless. I mean, things were feeling and sounding great. Not too many takes were necessary, which is great for us, since these were brand new songs. In all, with mixing… This album was completed just short of three weeks.
HRH: You had Brendan O’Brien return to produce the record, after previously working together on Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray (Name pretty much any top rock band and he’s produced something for them). You must have built up a good working relationship in terms of knowing what he expects from you and what you as a band can give in return. So just what is it like working with such a sought after producer?
JH: It’s an honor to be able to work with someone like Brendan. There’s a reason this guy is one of the top producers in the business, and from our working with him on the previous album, we certainly learned a lot from him. I think that’s what helped to make this new album come together so quickly. From our past experiences, we questioned new music we were working on like “What would Brendan do at this part…or is this part setting up the chorus properly?” Stuff like that…
HRH: “Words Are Weapons” was chosen as the first single, and in my review of the album, I said that I felt it was one of the best songs Seether has ever made. What was the idea behind the song and also deciding to release it as the first single?
JH: The song started as a demo Shaun (vocalist) had put together and sent to Dale (bassist), Brendan, and me. For me, Shaun likes to put a drum machine sorta’ thing down with some songs so he can give me an idea of what he’s going for. Then I can sorta’ come up with something that works for both the song and me too. The original song was a bit more stripped down. It was Brendan’s input that led to a lot of the percussion and added “ambiance” in the song. We originally recorded it and intended for it to be a bonus track on the Seether 2002-2013 collection, but we felt it turned out so well that we wanted to save it for the next new album.
HRH: The other stand out song for me is “Nobody Praying For Me.” It’s such an emotive and lyrically personal song. Can you explain how the song came about?
JH: That was another song Shaun put together and then sent the demo to all of us. I love the chorus on that song. According to iTunes popularity ratings, next to “Words Are Weapons,” it’s the second most downloaded song off the new album. I think a lot people love the melody and identify with what Shaun is singing about in that song.
HRH: Do you have a favorite song on Isolate and Medicate? If so which and why?
JH: I love “Crash.” It’s just a different type of song for us. I love the dynamics and that it doesn’t have your typical rock song arrangement. I love the feel and the ambiance of the song too. I just think we captured something pretty special there…
HRH: You recently took part in the Rise Above Fest which was Shaun’s brainchild; a great event to help raise people’s awareness of suicide. How was the show for you?
JH: I think it took a tragedy for us (the passing of Shaun’s brother, Eugene) and turned it into an incredibly positive and wonderful thing. It was amazing to see all the bands that helped to participate in the event, either by actually performing, to donating signed items or memorabilia to be auctioned off. We hope to see it become an annual event.
HRH: A music festival for such a good cause is a great idea, and based on the band line-ups each year, are there any plans to take it overseas to the UK or expand it even further?
JH: Like I mentioned before, we are hoping to make it an annual event. Now, if that’s one festival at a certain location, or even a touring event, that remains to be seen. Nothing is off the table.
HRH: The first half of 2014 has already been pretty hectic for Seether, so what does the second half of the year hold in store?
JH: Still hectic, Seether is known for its touring. We are not ones to phone it in, so to speak. So, starting in August we’ll be doing U.S. and Canadian dates with Godsmack, Skillet, Buckcherry and other bands, then Uproar Festival. Then it’s back to Europe for headlining shows in November and December.
HRH: Finally, to end things on a fun note, who would you say is your favorite band and what is the one album you cannot live without?
JH: Well, for those who know me well, they know I’m a HUGE Kiss fan. It was the first band I was really into as a kid and it has turned into a serious collector’s obsession as an adult. Of course, I’ve grown to love a lot of different music and artists … so for albums I couldn’t live without I’d say … The Beatles “Revolver.”
HRH: John, thank you for taking the time to speak to HRH and I hope Isolate and Medicate is a huge success. All the best for the rest of the year.
JH: Thank you.
Isolate and Medicate can be purchased from iTunes, or at www.seether.com, where you can also find more information on John and the rest of Seether.