Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Seether

The sailing has never been entirely smooth for South African hard rockers Seether and the recent years have been especially rocky. Guitarist Pat Callahan walked away from the band. Lead singer Shaun Morgan endured a rather public break up with Evanescence lead singer Amy Lee, the co-crooner on Seether’s smash-hit “Broken.” In August of 2006, Morgan admitted himself into rehab.

But through all of the changes and challenges, Dale Stewart, the band’s bassist has stood by Morgan’s side, the lone member that has stuck it out since Seether’s founding under the name Saron Gas back in their homeland.


The sailing has never been entirely smooth for South African hard rockers Seether and the recent years have been especially rocky. Guitarist Pat Callahan walked away from the band. Lead singer Shaun Morgan endured a rather public break up with Evanescence lead singer Amy Lee, the co-crooner on Seether’s smash-hit “Broken.” In August of 2006, Morgan admitted himself into rehab.

But through all of the changes and challenges, Dale Stewart, the band’s bassist has stood by Morgan’s side, the lone member that has stuck it out since Seether’s founding under the name Saron Gas back in their homeland.

At times, Stewart has had his doubts about the course his own journey was taking. He’s wondered if all of the sacrifices he’s made are worth it. And each time he keeps coming back to the band and its position as the center of his life. And there he finds his answer.

“I think the band is the most important thing,” Stewart says. “It’s what drives us. It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning. The band is the most important thing we’ve ever done with our lives. We’re proud of it and it comes first and we’ll do anything for it.

“I’ve never really questioned the existence of the band, or my participation in the band. It’s always been pretty clear cut to me. This is all I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid … It’s my dream basically.”

That dream scenario turned particularly real for Stewart in 2006 when Seether returned to South Africa to perform alongside Metallica. One of the stops was Centurian Center, a cricket stadium in Stewart’s home town.

“I used to walk there as a little kid to go watch cricket matches. It was like a homecoming. It was right down the road from my high school. These were my old stomping grounds,” Stewart says.

His family and friends were in attendance, as was the band that inspired him to play music in the first place. In fact, Stewart jokes that they may have been a little too close for comfort.

“During our set, James Hatfield was sitting on the side of the stage watching us play,” he recalls. “It was absolutely terrifying.”

As terrifying as any dream come true can be anyway.

For Stewart, the bottom line is this: For all of the the tabloid troubles and lineup turmoil, he’s having a lot of fun. And that enthusiasm was particularly rekindled when he, Morgan and drummer John Humphrey regrouped to work on their latest album, Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces, released last fall. The album, which breaks from their previous homogeneous hard-rock offerings, has been sited as flaunting a more pop-inspired sound in particular.

“I think we all knew that and it’s something that we embraced. If anything, we wanted to make an album that had limitations,” says Stewart, who was especially interested to begin work on what became the lead single, “Fake It.” That hook-laden song skews more towards Nickelback than Nirvana, with its sing-songy intro and catchy chorus.

“I didn’t know if people were going to like it, because it was so different from anything we’d done in the past. But it ended up working out in the end and the label loved it and everything,” he says.

The open-minded approach of the album was a liberating experience for Stewart, who enjoyed the unorthodox additions of sitar, piano, keyboards and drum samples to the tracks. It was also an award-winning approach for the band, as the album snagged the group’s first South African Music Award in the category of “Best Rock: English.”

“Bringing [the songs] to life in the studio was the most fun, without any pressure, that I’ve personally felt,” Stewart says.

As Seether rolls on with their current tour, which stops into D.C. for a Saturday, May 10, date at the D.C. Chili Cookoff, Stewart has his career in perspective. The missteps, the trials, the tribulations — it all comes with the territory. It’s all part of the price you pay to play out your childhood dream.

“To be in a band, you pretty much have to sacrifice the rest of your life, if you really want to be serious about it, and we’ve all done that,” Stewart says. “It’s what we do, and it’s what we want to do.”

For more information on Seether, visit www.seether.com. For more information on the D.C. Chili Cookoff, visit www.DC101.com.

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