MEB staff member Craig Roxburgh recently had a rather exciting moment. He got the chance to interview the bassist of a band that are heroes in the country he resides in. The band in question is Seether and the bassist’s name is Dale Stewart. They discussed the band’s tour of Europe, their journey from humble beginnings in South Africa, picking set-lists and staying true to their homeland.
MEB: You guys have recently just finished a pretty large European tour. What was that experience like, especially with regards to the experience of playing at Download?
Dale Stewart: The European tour was really good! We find that every time we go back we do a little better, sell more tickets, and hopefully make some new fans. Download was killer! It’s amazing to be a part of something so massive and recognized around the world as one of the best rock fests. Hopefully we can keep going back and work our way up the list and be one of the main bands at some point.
Did you guys ever imagine that you’d be playing Download – one of the biggest alternative and metal festivals in the world – when you first started out in the relatively ignored music scene of Pretoria?
Not at all, it’s pretty surreal. When we started out in our little garage rehearsal spot in Pretoria we were certainly dedicated and motivated, but I always found myself hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. There have been very few South African artists to break out and even fewer bands. So, we had big dreams and goals but they seemed unrealistic at times. Regardless, we kept doing our thing and slowly it started happening. There were so many things that fell into place to give us this opportunity, we feel very fortunate and don’t take it for granted.
Speaking of starting out, you have been in Seether since its inception in 1999. You’re here fifteen years later in 2014. How have you, and the band, grown since starting out?
It has been a long crazy road. I guess it’s hard to say, I have no idea who or where we’d be if everything went differently. I guess if anything, we’ve grown up and calmed down a bit but we still love playing and making music together. Musically, we’re proud of where we are and where the band is. I feel we have gotten better at writing songs and getting those ideas from one’s mind onto tape (so to speak).
Seether now has six albums, all of them producing a wide range of hits. How do you go about selecting a set-list for live shows? Especially now as you get ready to tour Isolate and Medicate?
The more radio singles you have the harder it gets to come up with a set list. Sometimes it’s a case of “what can we afford not to play?” Different songs might be popular in different areas so those you need to be sure and play. That’s largely the reason people are there to watch you play, to hear the songs they know from the radio. We like to change it up a bit, keep it interesting for the fans and us alike.
What was the writing and recording process for Isolate and Medicate like? How did it differ to previous albums?
I think the main difference was the time-frame for recording. We did everything in about 16 days. Granted, we had all the songs written and ready to go so it was just a case of laying them down and doing some minor tweaks and changes, but it’s still a record for us. (Pardon the pun). We worked with Brendan O’Brien again, he likes to work quickly and get the job done as do we. We’re pretty comfortable in the studio by now and don’t think it’s worth taking ages and second guessing everything to make the album we want to make.
What was the experience of performing at the Rise Above Fest alongside Avenged Sevenfold? Was it different to other shows due to Shaun organizing it to raise awareness regarding suicide?
It was an amazing day. It was a lot of fun but there was also a more serious, emotional side to the day. There were a lot of people there who have lost loved ones and wanted to show their support for what we were doing. We heard many sad stories and met some amazing, strong people, including war vets. Ultimately, it was a really positive day and I think everyone had a good time. We also managed to raise a lot of money for suicide awareness and prevention. We’d like to do it every year from now on and hopefully make a difference.
Here is an interesting thought, and I apologize if this is slightly offensive, but has your global fame led to you guys forgetting your roots as a South African band?
Not at all, we’re very proud of our South African roots and wear it on our sleeve. Shaun does literally with his flag tattoo. We’ll always consider ourselves a SA band. Unfortunately, the more the popularity spreads, the more we have to make time to play different places. We love playing at home, but sometimes it’s hard to find the time.
On the note of South Africa, is there a potential South African tour in the works?
Nothing set in stone yet but it’s always something we’re thinking about. This year is pretty much spoken for, but hopefully in the new year we can go home and play again. I get really homesick if I’m away too long, hopefully sooner than later.
Finally, you guys have an enormous fan-base. Is there anything you’d like to say to any fans reading this interview?
Yeah, I’d just want to say thank you for supporting our band, coming to shows, buying our music and allowing us to not get haircuts and real jobs. You guys are awesome!