"I'm very alarmed by the rate at which it seems society is deteriorating..." - Seether talk their new album Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
Over the last 20 years, South African hard rockers Seether have steadily and surely established themselves as big-hitters across the world.
With driving steel-platted riffs, skyscraper-sized production and a gift for big, big choruses, the group have melded the grungey sonics with arena rock.
Their latest album, the eighth of their career, is Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum, and it's out now in hmv stores.
To celebrate, we spoke to frontman Shaun Morgan about how this album came together and why the band feel valued after their move to a brand new label...
It’s a very strange time to be releasing a record, have you managed to enjoy the process at all?
"I always enjoy putting new music out even if it feels like a very strange time to do it. It was originally set for a possible July release but was pushed to the end of August with the original hope that we would be on tour by then. I hope that releasing a new album in the middle of some states and countries having severe lockdowns will serve as a glimmer of hope in these really awful times."
How did you want this album to move on from Poison The Parish?
"In my mind, this album is the second part of a trilogy. Poison the Parish was the start of me rediscovering my love for rock music. I was feeling pretty jaded after years on a label that really didn't take care of us. Once we signed to Fantasy Records it felt like we were with a label that actually cared about the band and the music. I was given complete freedom to write how I wanted without an A&R asshole telling me to hire professional writers because I wasn't good enough."
"The feedback from fans was really positive on the last album so I felt like I wanted to build on the musical foundation set Poison the Parish and see where it would lead me. The next album will most likely complete this phase I'm in and then we'll have to see where the sound goes."
Corey Lowery, your touring guitarist, has now joined the band now in a full-time capacity, what did he bring to the writing and recording process?
"Corey brought his engineering skills with him along with his talent. He worked as the assistant engineer on the album as well as playing his guitar parts and doing some backing vocals. As far as writing goes I'm really comfortable with my process right now which involves me sitting alone in my studio and writing the music for the band."
"Occasionally we may get together and jam as a band and write some things but we all live far apart, and usually I just take on the task alone. Perhaps on the next one, he may have a larger role as a writer but we'll see when we get there."
You produced the album yourselves, why did you decide to do that and not bring in an outside voice?
"I have had the privilege of working with many producers who taught me a lot about the role of a producer, how much they're involved in shaping the sound and polishing the songs. I produced Poison the Parish as my first go around and certainly felt a lot of pressure but I had a great engineer in Matt Hyde who has produced bands too. This time around we teamed up again because we worked incredibly efficiently last time and we added Corey in to make the workload more bearable."
"We recorded 21 tracks in 17 days so we work really long days to get the music done. I guess I feel really confident in the songwriting right now and felt that I was ready to produce the new album because I don't really feel the need to bring a producer on board to help me create the type of sound I want on these albums."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme to it?
"I draw inspiration from my life and the way I see the world. I'm very alarmed by the rate at which it seems society is deteriorating due to the toxic nature of social media. For the most part, the lyrics are snapshots of my diary. It's a glimpse of where I'm currently at as far as my mental state and emotional well-being."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"I didn't have any real struggles on this album, to be honest. 'Pride Before the Fall' took some time because it was difficult to figure out where to take the song. I struggled a bit but in the end, I managed to make it make some sense. To me, at least..."
And which came together most quickly?
"I wrote 'Dangerous' in one session, all the guitar parts, bassline and drums. The melody came to me as I was writing and the lyrics seemed to come quickly too. It's interesting because I wrote the song as an experiment to see if I could play guitar parts that were entirely different from each other and that were almost second fiddle to the bass and drums. I wanted the bass line to hold the song down and turn the guitars into supporting roles rather than them being dominant and the bass merely playing the root notes."
When did you settle on Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum for the title? Where did you discover the phrase for the first time?
"The title came right after the lockdown started. I needed to call the album something and time was running short so I scoured the internet for inspiration and just happened upon a Latin phrase website which is where I found the title. It seemed really appropriate to the music and for the climate, we see ourselves in. It fits on many levels so I decided that would be the final title."
Were there any other titles in contention?
"No, not really. I may have had some phrases that I was mulling over but I don't remember any of them now. Once I find the title I really like the rest of them disappear from my memory if they weren't very strong to begin with."
Are you able to make any live plans at the moment? Or are you looking towards 2021?
"We have no plans for 2020, but we are booking shows for August of 2021 right now. Hopefully, we can overcome all this craziness by spring or summer of next year and get back to business as usual. We are looking into other options, but those would be acoustic and stripped down instead of the full live experience."
How have you spent lockdown? Have you kept writing?
"I have focused on my family mostly. I write every once in a while but I am in a bit of a funk mentally right now so I haven't been feeling very inspired. Once I feel like myself again I'll probably get back in the studio if I feel inspired to do so. I'll probably start writing songs for the next album in the upcoming months because I don't really have much else to do. I may also write some solo stuff, but everything's up in the air right now..."