Sunday, December 16, 2007

Interview With Seether (Dec 11/07) Part TWO By: Shane Christensen

Interview With Seether (Dec 11/07): John Humphrey Drummer Part TWO

By: Shane Christensen

If Zeppelin goes on tour I’d give my right arm to play a show and open for them. John Humphrey

Swank Home

Swank’s tblog Home

Swanktrendz Myspace Home

Visit Seether Myspace

Due to the length of my interview with John Humphreys, this is the second of two parts.

The first part can be found at Seether Part One

Seether is already famous for a few non-musical items that I won’t go into because it’s been written to death, but this band could rival Def Leppard for surviving personal pain and calamity amongst its members, and for this they have my admiration and respect.

A special Swanktrendz thank you goes out to Lisa Pieterse at WindUp Records Canada, for her efforts in organizing this phone interview with Seether.


ST- Would you say the band members share a similar taste in music, or is there a wide divergence of music that you’re into?

John Humphreys, JH- I think there’s a little bit of a divergence there. I appreciate the Seattle sound with bands like Soundgarden and Nirvana, but I was more of an ‘80s kid. By the time those bands were out, I was already with the Nixons and those guys were more like my peers as I was trying to do albums and records and compete with the quality of those bands, or along those lines. My influences go further back to bands like Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, or Motley Crue and I was into that style and flash which I hoped I’d bring to the band. I also appreciate the early ‘90s which was when Shaun actually picked up the guitar, and I had already been playing about 10 years by then.

ST- How did you find working with Howard Benson as a producer?

JH- Magnificent. He’s a great guy and he was about the quality of songs. Shaun wrote a lot of material - close to 60 songs - and everybody had their input. Then we helped narrow the 60 songs to 15, and 12 ended up on the CD. Howard really brought out a lot in us and helped us to trim the fat, shape the songs, and arrange the result. Some of the songs, arrangement wise, were recorded completely different and then changed in post production. He (Howard) also added keyboards and a lot of ‘colour’ to the CD. A song like Breakdown had Howard adding a keyboard line to; he also suggested Shaun play sitar on the song Don’t Believe. He brought an interesting dimension to the band and helped us grow a lot. I really appreciate his ability as a songsmith and I feel he brought the ability to our project.

ST- Do you have any personal favourites on the album?

JH- I do. It changes from day to day sometimes as I really like the whole album, but Walk Away From The Sun is one of my favourites as well as Eyes Of The Devil, which actually was one of the first songs written as the band was playing. Shaun started playing the riff and Dale and I just sort of jumped in, whereas with other songs Shaun would have a demo with a drum machine on it and give it to us. Then Dale and I put it through our ‘filter’ (along with Shaun) and ‘out comes’ the song with a Seether feel. Eyes Of The Devil was completely organic. It is an interesting song because it occurred during a natural process of literally playing/jamming and the music just evolved into a song - that same day.

ST- As a drummer in the studio, do you have a lot of musical input as far as the songwriting goes? I know Shaun writes the lyrics, but is it a band effort for the music?

JH- Musically, Shaun is very open-minded and I, as the drummer, can have carte blanc to do anything I want. I just keep it tasteful and, like earlier when I was talking about Dave Grohl, importantly - I try to support the song. The role of a drummer in rock music is laying back and supporting, and carrying the song to make it flow and provide the tempo and feel that is very important. But it’s not about flash or ‘pulling off your cool fill’ of the week. It’s about supporting your song and making it the best it can be. I’d like to think I’ve been a part of a lot of great songs during my career.

ST- I agree. When you can find the balance of drums, guitar, or any instrument - and someone like Jimi Page or...? Led Zeppelin did it well- that is the goal of any great band. Seetherdoes this well, and in listening to your last album, I hear a diversity that joins songs with a harder edge such as No Jesus Christ and Don’t Believe, with radio-friendly songs like Breakdown or Rise Above This and they’re all great songs.

JH- Believe it or not, it wasn’t premeditated. I mean it wasn’t like we needed so many singles or anything. Again, I have to credit Howard as it was just choosing the ‘best’ songs, regardless of whether they’re heavy or mid-tempo, just as long as they’re ‘great songs’. And I’m really proud that we do have some good songs here.

ST- Even though I’m not a big fan of reviews, while researching Seether I came across a Rolling Stone review… Are you aware of it?

JH- I am, I am.

ST- When you or the band sees or reads something like that, what is your reaction? Do you just kind of let it roll off your backs, or does it piss you off?

JH- I think it’s a bit of a thorn in your side, and it sucks. I mean, let’s be honest, we’re human and that kind of thing sucks, but it’s kind of weird ‘cause what other business
can you pour your heart and soul into a project to complete an album and have it critiqued by the world?
. I appreciate all the opinions, but there’s a million different people, with that many different views. I can’t hold too much faith in that magazine, sometimes.

ST- I question his actually listening to the CD as there’s no merit in what he’s saying. He was writing anything because your CD is a is a full album, with no filler tracks at all.

JH- I agree, not to sound arrogant, but I feel strongly about our CD, even though Rolling Stone begs to differ. I’ve written songs and I’m a big music fan myself. We’re hardest of all on ourselves; as musicians and artists. We will not turn out something that wasn’t the best work we felt we’d done at the time.I don’t sit around. listening to my Seether, patting myself on the back, but I am proud of this CD. I can go to bed at night saying we did a really good job.

ST- I totally agree . My final query, John,is a question that Swanktrendz asks all successful artists - such as yourself: ... Are there any lesser known bands that you enjoy and appreciate, bands you’d like to mention them so they may receive better audience awareness?

JH- Actually, there’s a brand new band that’s from Oklahoma, where I hail from, and I’m going to start producing them. They’re on my friends list on Myspace. They’re a great bunch of guys, called Stone Cold Sober. They’re an unsigned band with pretty good songs, and I’m going to try to help out with a little of my experience so that they don’t have to make the mistakes I did. I always like being able to help, and this is a band that I think is pretty cool.

ST- Excellent. We’ll provide a link to Stone Cold Sober.

Visit Stone Cold Sober

Also, I appreciate, and want to thank you for your time, John, as I know you’re a busy fellow. Enjoy the rest of the tour, and I look forward to seeing Seether in Oshawa in January.

(Shane's Note:) As a footnote to this piece, I’d just like to say that there’s a perception in certain circles that rock artists (especially hard rock) are lazy, not too intelligent, and often self medicated, while writers are the complete opposite of the work ethic spectrum. John Humphrey and the other members of Seether are reasons why such generalizations are unfair. Seether works harder than most ‘working people’ would ever dream of. On the other hand, Brian Hiatt’s Rolling Stone review of Seether’s recent album is an embarrassment to music reviewers, fans, and musicians. Yet the Seether article is not alone, too many times I have wondered the reasoning behind similar articles that were off the mark. I suppose The Rolling Stone is no longer a member of the school of responsible journalism, choosing self importance/promotion over musical inquiry and substance. A new affiliate for the grocery store tabloids.

Photo from

Back to Seether Part One

No comments: