Volume 96, Issue 75
Thursday, February 12, 2003

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South Africans bring Seether to States

By Anthony Lafratta
Gazette Staff

South Africa is seldom considered to be a hotbed for rock music. However, this fact has failed to tame Seether's lofty ambitions, as the band sets its sights on conquering the United States, where they have recently eclipsed 200,000 in record sales for Disclaimer, their debut American release.

Seether has struggled for every inch of ground they have gained, according to 24-year-old, singer-songwriter-guitarist Shaun Morgan.

Morgan has had to overcome trauma and intense feelings of estrangement since his childhood. His parents divorced when he was young, and he was never really accepted by his conservative father because of his passion for rock music; in addition, he and his mother are not even on speaking terms.

"I've always just felt isolated. My only really good friends are in the band," Morgan says of bassist Dale Stewart and drummer Nick Oshiro. "I had all of these feelings of alienation, but I've put it all into music – that's how I get rid of the shit in my system."

In addition to Morgan's domestic problems, the band had to overcome a South African music scene dominated by mainstream pop and indigenous acts.

"[Rock] was more of an underground thing [in South Africa]; you'd mostly hear shit like Britney Spears or N'Sync, and most clubs won't play you unless you have radio play," Morgan explains.

Despite a lack of acceptance, they eventually thrived as a live act in South Africa. In the process, they developed a distinctively American sound, right down to Morgan's raspy Kurt Cobain-esque vocals – which is not surprising, considering his influences.

"When sanctions were lifted [from South Africa] in '91, we got to listen to everything from Brit rock to Seattle," Morgan says. "[Nirvana's] Nevermind made me pick up a guitar. I just totally connected with it emotionally, especially since it was during my parents' custody battle when I was 12.

"Although leaving South Africa for the United States was difficult, the band has made the transition comfortably," Morgan says. "I think we've seen a lot of growth in a short period."

Seether has been climbing the ladder of success rather quickly since their arrival, with an Ozzfest appearance already under their belt and a recent Toronto gig with Our Lady Peace and Finger Eleven.

Although Morgan admits that marketing the band is a necessary evil, he vows that Seether would never compromise their music for a more marketable image.

"Image shouldn't count for shit. We market on music, not what we look like," he says.

"Success means longevity – not being a one-hit wonder – but it still has to be fun, or else you become like every other shmuck doing a nine-to-five job you can't stand."

Despite Morgan's proficient cursing ability, he is ultimately conveying a positive message to a rapidly growing Seether following: "If you believe in something, it can happen – I'm a fuckin' South African touring Canada, after all."

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2002 THE GAZETTE