Playing to sold-out crowds around the globe, shifting 500,000 units on your debut album Disclaimer, and winning fans by the truckload, Seether would have had every right to rest on its laurels. However, the hard-rocking, hard-working quartet has never been willing to play it easy, or to leave behind unfinished business.
Enter Disclaimer II.
Not a sequel but an improvement on the gold-plus original, Disclaimer II adds eight songs to the original set, a bonus DVD filled with videos, concert and behind-the-scenes footage, and a sonic overhaul via Bob Marlette's remastering of the entire album. It is, according to Seether main man Shaun Morgan, the album he always wanted Disclaimer to be.
"I never thought the original version sounded exciting enough--it was a little compressed, and didn't have the right dynamic," he says. "And if I'm not excited about it, how could someone else be? Bob is someone who likes the band and the music, and who took the old version and breathed some excitement back into it. It now sounds more vibrant, there's an ebb and flow with the sound which we missed the first time out."
One track that will definitely catch the attention of the Seether fanatic is the version of Broken with Evanescence's Amy Lee, previously available only on The Punisher soundtrack.
When the movie's producers first approached Seether about including the track, Morgan suggested coming up with an alternate version. "Amy and I have been dating for about a year, and when we both got off the road we decided to work together on it," he recalls. "We first recorded it in a Damien Rice, folk-rock kind of way, all acoustic guitar and cello. But then Bob Marlette expanded it more with the vocals and the strings, and essentially gave the song a facelift. At first I wasn't convinced, but part of the growing process is the willingness to try something new. It's now more exciting and emotional."
Seether has in fact had great success with soundtrack work over the past two years, with "Sold Me" also appearing in The Punisher, Hang on in Daredevil and Out of My Way in Freddy vs. Jason. (All are included on Disclaimer II.)
"Through our touring and word of mouth, we've been getting played on the rock radio stations, but we'd never really been exposed to a pop audience," Morgan says. "Soundtracks are a great way to get exposed internationally, and on a pop radio level."
Both Hang On and Out of My Way were originally done "mostly as afterthoughts. We'd basically go into the studio and do them, and we'd never hear them again. To pump some life back into them was very gratifying."
Morgan was also happy to revisit the straightahead rocker Cigarettes, which he wrote just before the group was singed to Wind-up. "I was just sitting at our old manager's house, came up with the riff, took it to the band and hammered it out. It's a kind of cool punk song; there's a more poppy sound to it than normal, and it's very sarcastic."
The oldest song on the album is Love Her, which was written about five years ago. "That's one of my favorites of anything I've written. We would occasionally play it live, in a mostly acoustic version, and the fans started asking for it, there was a huge demand for the download, so we decided to re-record it and do it properly."
Both Sold Me and Got It Made were supposed to be part of the original album, "but we had to knock the songs down from 14 to 12. We re-recorded them both, and were able to inlcude John Humphrey on drums. Having our own drummer on it this time, instead of a studio musician, was really exciting."
Disclaimer II thus emerges as much more of a stop-gap between proper albums; it is, instead, almost a re-imagining of the original. "The band was really ready to do a new album, but then we realized it would be awesome to be able to remaster this one," Morgan says. "It's now very diverse, and better illustrates the band's flexibility as far as the way we can sound."
Morgan now has about 25 songs written for the next album, which Seether will begin working on at the end of the summer with an eye towards a spring 2005 release.
It's been a whirlwind couple of years for the band and its South-African-born frontman. A relentless touring schedule has helped the group win a rabid legion of fans around the world. "We're one of those bands that enjoy playing live--touring is really where we feel most comfortable," he says. "Every band member considers it to be the most fun, to be playing everything from arenas to the sweaty clubs and seeing the fans face to face--there's nothing else like it."
Seether's growing popularity was made evident when the group would return to a certain city and find crowds of three or even five times as large. "We've gone from being realatively unknown to headlining radio festivals; it's really been great," Morgan says.
He attributes the success to the group's no-holds-barred approach: "With our live show we try to be both musically and visually exciting--we want people to feel they got their money's worth when they come to our shows. There are so many bands out there that, while they may make great music, are boring to watch live. We try to deliver a real onslaught to the senses."
Currently making his home in Los Angeles, Morgan says he sometimes misses South Africa. "It's different when I return there--not vastly so, but I do feel a bit like a stranger when I go back now."
Still there hasn't been much time to miss either South Africa or L.A., as Seether continues to conquer live audiences worldwide; in fact, the group just wrapped a tour with multi-platinum labelmates Evanescence.
"That was rally awesome," he enthuses. "We've been to countries that had never seen us before, so we're still seen as a 'new band.' There really was no better way to have presented ourselves to these crowds. We've already been invited back to several places--we've definitely left our mark."
Looking forward to Seether's next album, Morgan says: "We've now all improved on our instruments, and can do more sonically and vocally. I expect the next album will establish us as a rock band with a sound all our own. Our singles so far may have been a little easy to confuse with other bands, but wiht the next one you will definitely know it's Seether when you hear it."
--- from the official Seether website