Interview with John Humphrey of SEETHER
The mighty SEETHER return with their ferocious new album ‘POISON THE PARISH’ on May 12th.
Amnplify’s Jesse Tyssen spoke to the band’s drummer, John Humphrey about the album, the lead single “Let You Down” and the band’s plans to visit Australia.
Jesse: Poison the Parish has this dichotomy from straight up Hard Rock to a softer side of Seether that packs punch. What were some of your main inspirations behind the album?
John: I think the inspiration was to make a the best Seether album, possible. All Seether albums have contained both elements of “Heavy” and “Soft”. The band’s first real breakthrough was the epic, ballad “Broken“. That was followed up with a completely opposite, harder style song called “Remedy“. However, I think the dynamics of this album are greater than past releases. In other words, the heavy is loud, distorted, aggressive guitar which makes the softer, melodic parts maybe a bit more poignant.
Is there a particular message you guys set out to deliver in Poison the Parish?
I don’t know there is a message, so to speak. But we definitely wanted to make a heavier album. Sorta’ a return to form ala’ “Karma & Effect“.
Were there any hurdles you guys came across during the production stages? If so, what were they and how were they dealt with?
Shaun produced this album. So, I know he was feeling a lot of pressure. But, as a band, I felt we’d deliver a solid album. We worked hard at getting great sounds, and capturing great performances.
Do you have a favourite track on the album?
That changes from day to day. 🙂 I have a lot of favourites. But, I’d say right now, its the track that kicks off the album “Stoke the Fire“.
Clint Lowery has joined the ranks on tour. What is it like to play with him? And what has he brought to the band so far?
Clint is awesome! Not only is he an amazing guitarist and singer but a great person. He brings so much to the band. Even vocally… I don’t know if people realize but Clint is an amazing vocalist.
Let Me Heal is a softer side of Seether, expressive of hurt and stoicism. Is there a story behind the song?
To be honest, Shaun writes the lyrics and, in most cases, keeps the inspiration for the songs to himself. The beauty is the writing can be interpreted in a way that may or may not apply to the listener.
The eerie video clip to Let You Down is full of references to modern day horror culture. What was the band’s idea behind the clip?
That was our third video with Nathan Cox. He is an amazing director. Each video with him has been completely different than the one before. In other words, “Same Damn Life” (Where we dressed up as old dudes as a complete comedic vibe) is nothing like the dark, B&W, nightmare of “Let You Down”.
The alternation in feels during the verses of Betray and Degrade make for a really dynamic piece. How do you go about writing drum parts? Is it improvised in the moment or thought outside the studio?
With this album, Shaun had recorded demo’s of all the songs. So Dale and I learned those demo’s and their arrangements. The drums on the demos were electronically created. (Not an actual drummer). But, they sound convincing… You wouldn’t know they were created using a keyboard. So, I take those parts and humanize them, so to speak. I think the 3 of us have been playing together so long, that when Shaun created the demos… the drum parts almost mimic the exact thing I would play for the song.
The verse in Count Me Out has a Nirvana-like feel to it. As a drummer, who were your main influences growing up?
I’m a rock guy. The first drummers to have an affect on me were guys like Alex Van Halen, Tommy Aldridge and Tommy Lee. Drummers with attitude and power. I also love John Bonham. The blueprint of rock drumming was created by that guy. However, I love guys like Dave Grohl and Matt Cameron. I really love drummers who bring something to a song. And Grohl is certainly the master of that.
Do you have a favourite moment that resonates with you while touring over the past decade? If so, could you describe it and why it is so important to you?
I would say opening for “Metallica” in South Africa. I always say a “perk” of being in the band is going to S.A. and performing. (Shaun and Dale are from S.A.. I’m the american of the group). The shows were huge stadium shows. So crazy to look over and see James Hetfield or Lars watching the band.
The last track on the record Sell My Soul is a much softer sound. Is it a sentimental piece to the band?
The recording of that song was treated much differently than the other songs. In terms of recording drums, anyway. I used this massive 28″ 1920’s era Leedy bass drum. It was such a laid back and “capturing the vibe” sorta moment. The drum part is very straight ahead but sometimes getting that to feel right can be much harder to perform than playing something fast.
Suicide is a major issue and the Hard Rock genre is no stranger when it comes to advocating suicide prevention. In July this year, you guys will be playing at the largest suicide awareness event in the world, Rise Above Fest. What does performing at such an important event mean to you? and why do you think suicide resonates so much in the hard rock community?
It’s been amazing to watch the festival grow over the years. I’m very proud to be involved in such an event. The loss of Shaun’s brother was a tragedy that affected all of us. It wasn’t until his passing that I truly realized suicide is a major epidemic. I also know music, and not just hard rock, is a powerful thing that connects with many people. So if we can help by bringing awareness to people through celebration in music… thats a powerful thing.
Seether will be performing alongside the likes of Stone Sour, Skillet and Korn. Is there anyone you are looking forward to perform with the most?
We are blown away by all the bands involved. We are grateful to all of them for their support.
What goes through your mind before you get on stage? Does the band have a pre-gig ritual?
As a drummer, for me and what I do…it can be pretty physical. So, I like to do a lot of warming up. I have a practice kit backstage and I use it quite a bit to get ready.
You’ve been known to go into live drum solos with only your bare hands—can we expect to see more of it during the tour?
HA! Thats my homage to John Bonham. (I can’t take credit for being the first one to do that). But, Shaun, sometimes, likes to have me do a drum solo… So, I’m sure he’ll call me out at some point during the new tour.
What are Seether’s plans after 2017?
Lots of touring!
Is there any talk about a Seether tour extending to Australia?
Yes, plans are in the works for Australia and New Zealand. Either later this year or early 2018.
POISON THE PARISH OUT MAY 12