The Coronavirus pandemic has been very unkind to musicians and fans alike. With increasing postponed album releases, social distancing measures that have changed the way bands write, record, and rehearse, as well as no live shows, musicians are finding it difficult to entertain the hungry masses. This is no different for post-grunge rock band Seether, as they were forced to use non-traditional recording methods in creating their new album Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum, and should currently be on the road promoting it. As we all anxiously await their highly anticipated album to drop today, August 28, 2020, bassist Dale Stewart sat down with us to discuss the album in detail, past and present cultural and social unrest, what it was like working with newer lead guitarist Corey Lowery, and the overwhelming impact of social media.
Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum will be the band’s eighth full-length studio album, a follow up to the popular and critically acclaimed album, Poison The Parish. Stewart (bass) and his bandmates, Shaun Morgan (vocals and guitar), Corey Lowery (lead guitar), and John Humphrey (drums) have created countless Billboard topping hits over the last twenty years, including Fine Again, Broken, Remedy, Words As Weapons along with many more, and if the release of the first three singles off the new album, Dangerous, Bruised and Bloodied, and Beg, are any indication, there will definitely be more Billboard hits on the horizon. But, what if Seether didn’t exist, bringing you memorable melodies that seeped into your brain? You needn’t worry. Other than changing their name in the early 2000’s, they are still the same band you’ve come to know and love.
The South African band were originally called Seron Gas, which was known as a deadly chemical gas. Stewart and Morgan moved to New York City in January 2002, at a time where the American people were reeling from the effects of the catastrophic events of 9/11. Stewart stated, “The scar from 9/11 was still very fresh in people’s minds, and the name [Seron Gas] gave off the connotation of terrorist activity, so our new label asked us to change our name.” Changing a band name is not as easy as people think. There is a lot that goes into it. Stewart said, “Finding a band name is a really hard thing to do. You can think of anything, search it, and realize there is already a band with that name.” After some back and forth sessions with Morgan and the record label, they came up with Seether, which had no significant meaning but sounded cool and had not been taken. The rest as they say, is history!
With the album release, which follows the band’s usual three-year gap between releases; however, there is nothing symbolic with the amount of time in between. For as many great albums and songs that the band puts out, we’d like to see them come faster. There is so much time and effort that goes into releasing a new album. You have the creative writing process, the recording side which can take months, media marketing via press releases, social media advertising, the album release itself and then the touring side, which can last more than a year. As Stewart states, “that’s more or less how long it takes, as you never want to rush the process. After releasing an album, we always like to tour for a year or so. You could always rush it out a little sooner, but you’d rather take the time and put out a quality album.” Well, if quality is what you’re expecting, you’re definitely going to get it with this new album.
As previously mentioned, there is so much time and effort that goes into making an album, with Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum being no different. You need to collectively and collaboratively work with your bandmates, hone in on your inspiration and fine tune your desired theme. With the current state of the United States and world, there is an abundance of cultural and social unrest. In recent months, we have experienced a pandemic that has kept people homebound. There have also been police involved incidences that have triggered riots, looting, as well as racial tensions, which can be difficult for anyone to handle and far beyond the norm. But for a band that does not shy away from current events, Seether found the perfect inspiration for the album. The title of the album loosely translates to “If You Want Peace, Prepare For War,” and there couldn’t have been a more perfect anthem to what we are witnessing on all media platforms, whether they are right or wrong. Stewart explained, “There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on now, people against one another, and a weird cultural shift.” Songs like their first release, Dangerous, eludes to social media and the negative effect it has on society and culture in general. For Stewart lyrically speaking, “this album has been a diary and a way to get all the bad things out of your system, so you can enjoy life. In essence, it’s a therapy”.
Stewart is no stranger to bad things and cultural unrest. Growing up in South Africa in the 1990’s, he witnessed first-hand the effects of apartheid (a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race) had in his home country. Albeit a little different to what the United States was going through in the 1960’s, as well as current events, Nelson Mandela was seeking racial changes and the end of societal discrimination. Stewart said, “It was a crazy time to witness and be around for. I remember it happening but didn’t understand the impacts or what it meant.” He goes on to say, “Black kids were able to come to school now. OK this is cool, so now I have black friends.” You could hear the excitement in his voice as he spoke about this historic change, but then his tone slowly changed as he reflected on our current situations. “The same cannot be said for the current state here, as it feels weird and much different. Information can spread so quickly now by social media, problems get exacerbated by the spread of information, and the whole social media has advanced and evolved. We haven’t had time to evolve [with it] or know how to use it, which can be great, but very destructive too.” It is with these same thoughts and passions that go into the writing and recording of the songs.
Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum is packed with thirteen emotionally rich written songs, which was produced by vocalist Shaun Morgan. Morgan did a bulk of the writing, with collaborative criticism, as he has done with most of the albums. If you’ve listened to or understood the lyrics on a majority of Seether’s songs, you know you’re going on a journey or about to be told a life story. With the current pandemic it did not always make for quick, constructive, and collaborative feedback, especially with all of the members living in different parts of the country. However, as Stewart stated, “Technology such as file sharing sites like Dropbox made it easy for us to share and find out what the other guys thought. I would write some lyrics or music notes, send it to Shaun and/or Corey, and have them make adjustments as they saw fit. Both of them would do the same in return.” This was extremely important, especially when you have a newer member of the band offering input and experience.
New lead guitarist Corey Lowery, previously of Saint Asonia, Stuck Mojo, and Dark New Day as well as younger brother of Clint Lowery (Sevendust), joined the band in 2018. His years of songwriting, record producing, technical experience and positive energy brought a new element to the band in his first Seether album, which are very noticeable through lyrics and instrumentals. It is with this energy that Stewart states, “Was just great having him in the studio, and anyone that knows Corey will know that when he walks in, he changes the whole vibe.” Stewart could not give enough praise to Lowery as he said, “He’s a talented guy and engineer. It was like having a second engineer at all times, especially with all the technical stuff (i.e. recording software, etc.). Also, his relationship with Shaun can be seen as one like a brother, which helped immensely with the creative process.” With the growing popularity of the first few released songs, Lowery was most definitely a great addition to the studio, and the right fit for the band.
Speaking of the first couple of songs, Dangerous and Bruised and Bloodied, Seether hit it out of the park. But how do you go about picking which songs to release first? Do you play rock, paper, scissors? Do you pull straws? It can be a crap shoot. When asked about what his favorite songs off the new album were, Stewart was pretty stumped. He stated, “It’s hard to pick one, and it was very tough to pick a single, especially after you put your heart and soul into the entire album. You kick the eggs out of the nest and see which one flies.” Besides Dangerous, because of how it speaks to current events, he is very fond of Wasteland, “because it’s a little bit different than the best”, and Liar was another of his favorites. You could also add in the recently released single Beg, which is one of the band’s most heavier songs ever. In talking with Stewart about the album, he was so excited and is anxiously waiting to play the new songs during live shows. Although it’s not looking that way, one can hope this is sooner than later.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has put a major choke hold on the music industry, so seeing any band or artist live, including Seether may be a while. Over the last twenty plus years, they have performed and toured with a who’s who of bands, including Disturbed, Shinedown, Avenged Sevenfold, Godsmack, and many many more. When talking about how the current pandemic has affected their ability to show off the new album, Stewart was extremely sorrowful that the band could not entertain and show off their new accomplishment. However, that did not discourage him from naming a band he’d love to play with. Hoping that venues will be open in 2021, and lots of bands touring and playing sold out shows, he said “Foo Fighters would be on top of the list of bands I’d like to tour with. I don’t know whether they are touring or not, but it’d be nice to go on the road with them. Also, we are not going to get out for a while, but that might give us time to write some new material and record.” Under the circumstances that can’t be a bad thing, because more Seether music is always a good surprise.
So, while we patiently wait for live shows again, because god knows how much they are missed and needed, there is so much that can be done to support the band. Social media is a great start. Stewart stated that, “Even though I have Facebook, I’m the old guy of the band, mainly because I’m not too well versed with social media, you can always check us out and support our band’s social media pages.” Don’t worry though, there is always someone who is “well versed” managing the page. He also goes on to say, “I’m appreciative of all the fans that have stuck by us for the last twenty years and I’m hopeful that you will go buy or download the new album on Friday August 28, 2020. I’m also hopeful they’ll like it and come out to a show when we can get back on the road again.” These don’t seem like unreasonable requests from the “old guy,” so go check out the band’s pages and be sure to pick up the album. Also, be sure to check out Screamer Magazine’s social media pages for the latest and greatest music news, from the “Loudest Mag on The Planet!”
Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum Track Listing:
- Dead And Done
- Bruised And Bloodied
- Can’t Go Wrong
- Buried In The Sand
- Let It Go
- Drift Away
- Pride Before The Fall
- Written In Stone
Screamer Magazine Online: