On their sixth full-length album Isolate and Medicate, multi-platinum alternative rock trio Seether – Shaun Morgan [vocals, guitar], Dale Stewart [bass, backing vocals], and John Humphrey [drums] – strip their trademark melodic thrash to its core and deliver the most poignant, passionate, and powerful record of their illustrious career. With rigorous minimalism and maturity, chief songwriter Shaun Morgan – long one of rock’s most unheralded melodists, has become a composer of deep emotion and clear-eyed vulnerability. The band too has developed into one of rock’s most fearsome units, playing with precision, grit and authority, yet still light on their feet. After 15+ years of hardscrabble success, it’s evident that Seether felt like survival was not enough. They had something to prove with this new album – somewhere farther to go.
One reason for the new approach must surely be Seether’s close partnership with ace producer Brendan O’Brien (Springsteen, Pearl Jam). More like a member of the band than a hired gun, O’Brien repeatedly championed Morgan as one of music’s most gifted songwriters and vocalists and Seether as one of rock’s most extraordinary bands. His unrelenting faith in their talent and potential has been something of a North Star for Seether, helping them struggle through and outlast some very dark times.
Recognizing that he needed to limit distractions, in early 2013 Morgan went about constructing a refuge in his New Hampshire home – a space where these new songs could develop and take shape. “I actually built a room that I could write in,” he recalls. “I personally pulled out the carpet, put in wood flooring, decorated, and painted. After getting off the road, it was a process of preparation to get the environment just right. I made a place that I felt comfortable and creative in. I was able to be safe and isolated, concentrating on writing music instead of dealing with the distractions that come with daily life.”
Lyrically, Morgan has never been afraid to look his demons in the eye. The people in these songs confront the truth with simmering rage; it’s the fuel they need to make them feel alive. “The whole record is a collection of diary entries,” Morgan revealed. “It’s just where I’m at and what I’m going through. I’m writing songs about getting through whatever situations I’m in at the time. These songs deal with relationships and life situations.”
Morgan emerged with a collection of fleshed-out ideas that the musicians honed during rehearsals together in drummer John Humphrey’s native Oklahoma. By the time they assembled with O’Brien to record the album at Hollywood’s Henson Studios in January 2014, their vision had clearly come into focus.
“It felt so natural,” explains Humphrey. “When we get together, there’s an indescribable chemistry. That’s all over this album. The three of us can jam together and finish a song pretty quickly. We were really focused. These guys are my second family. We’re tight musically and otherwise.”
The band cut the entire album in sixteen days. The swift recording pace did not allow them to smother the tracks with overproduction, but rather gave the songs a chance to breathe. On working with O’Brien, bassist Dale Stewart enthused, “He’s like a fourth band member at this point. We understand each other. He likes to get in there and work quickly and he encourages us to be ourselves. We often followed our first instinct. That allowed us to capture the moment.”
The album opener, “See You At The Bottom,” quickly locks in with brutal force as Morgan’s Beatles-meets-Nirvana wail comes screaming out of the speakers. From there, the album never lets up.
Gnashing riffs underpin another infectious chorus on the virulent first single, “Words As Weapons.” Morgan’s remarkable ear for indelible melodies is truly the band’s secret weapon. It’s what makes Isolate and Medicate so damn listenable. Morgan makes unrelenting despair a fun listen.
“Same Damn Life” – a boiling rejection of suburban sprawl juxtaposed against Morgan’s surgery falsetto – is a pop metal surprise. “I always felt like there was something there,” Morgan said of the song. “It started from a riff and went into a vocal idea. I’m a big fan of The Beatles. It’s fun to do something with that pop element. Those are the songs that stick with you.”
The album’s centerpiece, “Crash,” is quite possibly the most beautiful song Seether has ever recorded. Gorgeous vocal lines and warm, fuzzed-out guitars cascading into pulsating wall-of-sound atmospherics mark an undeniable creative peak for the band. “It’s different from what we’ve done in the past and that excited all of us,” Stewart says. “It doesn’t follow the stereotypical formula. It’s pretty. It’s heavy. It’s emotional and deep.”
Another reason for the band’s fresh outlook is the strong support and enthusiasm they feel from new label partners The Bicycle Music Company/Concord Music Group. The brothers-in-arms feel was galvanized with their new team. “In one of our first meetings with the label, we played everybody five or six completed songs,” Morgan remembers. “This marked the first time anybody outside of the band and Brendan listened to it. Afterwards, everybody was really excited and happy. Seeing the level of enthusiasm was great. That felt like the moment everything came together. It was a rebirth, in a sense.”
Seether has worked tirelessly to reach this point. The hard rocking outfit originally from Pretoria, South Africa has now released eight albums in all, two of which have gone Platinum and two more that are certified Gold along with a live concert DVD that has sold over 500,000 units – for total worldwide sales in excess of 4.5 million. The consistent hit makers have quietly amassed eleven #1 singles and seventeen Top 5 multi-format hits resulting in singles sales that top seven million – a level of success few artists working today can match. Seether has averaged 120 performances a year, crisscrossing the globe, emerging into headlining mainstays and featured performers on many of the world’s biggest rock festivals.
Isolate and Medicate will undoubtedly resonate deeply with the group’s fiercely loyal fans. “I hope everybody can feel this,” concludes Humphrey. “It’s a special album for us, and we put everything we had into it.”
Morgan completes the sentiment, “I want them to walk away having enjoyed the music. I want them to get the same emotional sense and happiness we feel listening to it. It’s so important and tied to memories we’ve all had. When somebody listens, it’ll hopefully make them feel good. They will know they’re not alone. That’s the reason we do it.”
With an ever-evolving musical style characterized by a hard rock sound, it's hard to believe that Grammy nominated band Skillet has been playing Christian rock since 1996. However, the band's accessible music, universal lyrics, and lavish tour dates have made them hugely popular with fans of all beliefs. While Skillet has had a reputation for revolving band members, the current lineup of Jonathan Salas, John Cooper, Korey Cooper, and Jen Ledger is putting on many a memorable tour date in 2011. While concert dates for the Avalanche Tour are over, Skillet has plenty of 2011 tour dates where fans can check out new addition Jonathan Salas and the rest of Skillet live.
Skillet was formed by current lead singer and bassist John Copper (formerly of Seraph) former guitarist Ken Steorts (of Urgent Cry). The two met while on tour with their respective Tennessee bands and decided to form a side project. Skillet signed to ForeFront Records and -- in 1996 -- released their self-titled debut album. Fans enjoyed Skillet's post-grunge style and the band went on a number of concert dates around the US while writing material for their second album, Hey You, I Love Your Soul. Soon after the album's release, John's wife Korey (formerly of Alkeme) joined the band to play keyboards live and has since become a fixed and popular member of Skillet, taking on keyboards, synth, and rhythm guitar. Skillet's next album, Invincible, was released in early 2000 and became been their highest selling album to date.
Even with such a heavy workload, Skillet continued to play a number of concert dates while writing their fifth album, Alien Youth. The album's self-titled lead single was a hit on Christian charts, propelling Skillet on to a number of headlining tour dates in promotion of the album. More changes came for Skillet on their sixth album, Collide. While the electronic and rock sounds were kept, the music developed a harder sound that was offset by softer instruments like the violin, similar to Evanescence. Fans seemed to enjoy the adapted sound and the album was followed up by the release of Comatose in October of 2006. The album generated a number of hit singles that not only swarmed Christian music charts, but broke into mainstream charts as well.
Skillet's latest full-length album, Awake, was released in August of 2009. The album reached a three-way tie for the highest-charting Christian album on the Billboard Hot 200 when it reached the #2 spot. Korey Cooper released a remix of "Monster" on their podcast in 2010, and the ensuing popularity inspired the upcoming Awake and Remixed EP. Skillet can currently be found on a number of tour dates in 2011 following the Avalanche Tour, with performances lasting until the end of the year. Skillet's remaining tour dates in 2011 jump around the country a bit, going back and forth between the east and west coasts in a matter of days. After a solid concert schedule in June, July, and August, Skillet has just a few concert dates in September. Skillet has one scheduled concert date in October before scheduled 2011 tour dates end on December 30 in Lynchburg, Virginia. It's likely that Skillet will add more 2011 tour dates in the fall, so make sure to check concert dates on Eventful to see when Skillet will be in your area.
Neon Trees is a LDS rock band from Provo, UT, with origins in Temecula, California . Formed initially by neighbors Tyler Glenn (lead vocals/keyboards) and Chris Allen (guitars), the band made its first home in Provo, eventually adding Branden Campbell (bass) and Elaine Bradley (drums/vocals) to the lineup. Although a well known band in Provo, the band didn't receive nationwide exposure until late 2008 when they were chosen as openers for several of The Killers' North American tour dates. Not long after, the band was signed by major record label Mercury Records in early 2009. Additionally, the group was voted Band of the Year in 2009 by City Weekly, a popular Salt Lake City publication. Although they had several prior independent releases, the band released its debut album at Mercury/Def Jam, Habits, on March 16, 2010. with "Animal" as its lead single. The band performed "Animal" during their March 23, 2010 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and the band will be touring opening for 30 Seconds To Mars and Mutemath throughout the Spring of 2010. There are two music videos for "Animal", a viral video and an official music video. The viral version features the band playing in a desert. The official version features the band "destroying" an art gallery with paint as the patrons slowly morph into animal-headed humans and dance around them.
The band was recently featured on the iPhone/iPod touch application Tap Tap Revenge 3 with their latest single "Animal".