The Surface Seems So Far


Seether The Surface Seems So Far Album Cover
September 20, 2024
Fantasy Records

A proverbial lighthouse in a sea of vacuous pop stars and soundalike bands, Seether stands for passion, authenticity, and genuine connection. Songs like “Words as Weapons,” “Broken,” “Nobody Praying for Me,” and “Fake It” are enduring rock anthems. Weathering the storms of changing trends and an evolving music industry, the group’s evocative songs and melodic hooks rise above the noise. The band’s legacy is set in stone, with more than seven million monthly listeners on Spotify alone.

Five gold and platinum albums and two dozen Billboard Rock Airplay Top 10 hits later, Seether is as vibrant and relevant as ever on their ninth studio record, The Surface Seems So FarThe band remains a mainstage staple at every major rock festival, with a touring history that includes treks with contemporaries like Breaking Benjamin, Avenged Sevenfold, NickelbackPapa Roach, and more.

The follow-up to 2020’s Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum (which produced three No. 1 songs) finds the Shaun Morgan-fronted rock quartet flexing the creative chops that have kept their Vicennial: 2 Decades of Seether collection on Billboard’s Top Hard Rock Albums chart since it arrived in 2021.

Written in pieces over an 18month period that also saw the birth of their frontman’s third child, The Surface Seems So Far is unapologetically aggressive, kicking off with the barn-burning “Judas Mind.”

“The album definitely leans heavier than some of the previous ones,” notes Morgan, who says he chose from roughly 21 songs with input from the rest of the band, which includes bassist Dale Stewart, drummer John Humphrey, and guitarist Corey Lowery. “I think this is the first album we’ve done that doesn’t have an acoustic song, which I didn’t realize until we’d finished. I was shocked.”

This isn’t to say the album doesn’t have moments of melancholy, like “Regret.” The record takes many twists and turns, emphasizing catchy hooks and driving bombast. Songs like the chunky but atmospheric “Illusion,” the pulsating “Lost All Control,” the dynamic neo-grunge of “Same Mistakes,” and the moving and immersive “Dead on the Vine” are massive additions to the Seether catalog. Morgan and Seether sound alternately confident and confessional, full of vitriol and vulnerability.

The singer/songwriter proudly draws from the hard rock and grunge that first inspired him as a teen in South Africa, with the unique sonic identity that propelled their gold-certified American debut.

Stewart joined the band’s earliest incarnation less than a year after Morgan put it together. The duo’s Johannesburg-based indie record (under a different name) caught the attention of a more prominent indie label, who helped relocate them to America and released Disclaimer (2002).

Humphrey came on board for the back-to-back platinum albums Disclaimer II (2004) and Karma and Effect (2005), as songs like the platinum “Broken” and gold “Remedy” earned accolades.

Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces (2007), another platinum smash, produced two No. 1 singlesas well as the platinum “Fake It” and their gold-certified cover of Wham!’s “Careless Whisper.”

Following a tour with Nickelback, the band recorded and released Holding onto Strings Better Left to Fray (2011), which they supported as a mainstage act on the Uproar tour with Avenged Sevenfold. The album bowed at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, behind Adele, with 61,000 copies sold during its first week in the US, Seether’s biggest sales number since Karma and Effectdebuted at No. 8 with 82,000 copies. “Country Song” was the most-played Active Rock radio song in 2011, according to Mediabase.

In 2012, the band launched its annual Rise Above Fest, founded to raise awareness for suicide prevention and mental illness. “I lost my brother in 2007 to suicide, and it never gets easier,” Morgan explained at the time. The festival came about as a tribute to Eugene Welgemoed and “anyone who has lost someone. If this festival does something to help one person reconsider the tragic choice of suicide, then it will be the greatest success of my career.” Rise Above partnered with SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) to make meaningful charitable contributions toward prevention.

Their first compilation album, Seether: 2002 – 2013, contained 29 tracks, including a cover of the Veruca Salt alt-rock classic “Seether,” which inspired the band’s moniker when they got to the USA.

The band supported their next full-length platter on tour with 3 Doors Down. Loudwire called the gold-certified isolate and medicate (2014) “one of their finest albums.” “Words As Weapons” became their next platinum single, followed by “Same Damn Life” and the gold “Nobody Praying for Me.”

After collaborations with A-list producers over the years like Brendan O’Brien (AC/DC, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots) and Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, Daughtry, Three Days Grace), Morgan took on the producing reins himself with Poison the Parish (2017). The incredibly well-received album began working relationship with Matt Hyde (Deftones, Slayer, Monster Magnet), who engineered and mixed by Poison the Parish and its follow-up, Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum (2020).

The latter album introduced lead guitarist Lowery, who came on board with Seether in 2019. “Corey has also assisted engineering on some stuff, too. He’s got a vast knowledge,” Morgan explains.

“We worked with a lot of producers. Brendan was one of my favorites. He’s awesome, and I learned a lot from him,” he continued. “Working with him instilled more confidence in me as a songwriter. He worked fast, too. I took a lot of things I learned from him and applied them to these records.”

Thanks to “Dangerous” and “Bruised and Bloodied,” Morgan topped Billboard’s then-new Hard Rock Songwriters chart. He was only the second artist to do so (succeeding Godsmack’s Sully Erna). The Vicennial – 2 Decades of Seether collection began its lengthy run on the charts in 2021. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame added the band to their “Right Here Right Now” exhibitthe same year.

Veteran producer Hyde’s involvement as engineer and mixer continued with The Surface Seems So Far, with Morgan growing even more comfortable sitting in the main chair in the producer role himself. It’s been nice. I write the songs from scratch, so when it’s time to record, I’ve already gone through all the preproduction, the rewrites, and the melody variations. It’s very self-contained.”

Beyond the creative fulfillment of the recording sessions in Nashville, Tennessee, the most essential element of Seether remains the live performance. In an era filled with overt and covert fakery to reproduce the perfected sounds of albums, Seether takes pride in throwing down old-school.

I have a lot of disdain for the bands that get up there and pretend. But there are more independent musicians writing their own music and playing it live,” Morgan observes optimistically.

Morgan’s outlook on live performance makes for a succinct summary of Seether’s ethos from the start, onstage and off: If you’re not representing yourself authentically, I have no interest in it.”

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