Music is therapy for Shaun Morgan.
"It’s a lot cheaper than a shrink," said the lead singer of South African alternative metal band Seether. Morgan is known for writing lyrics that stem from his own life experiences, which tackle his personal demons and dissect rocky relationships.
"I can’t draw the way that I want to draw. I can’t paint the way that I want to paint, but at least with music, I can get to a point where it’s 99 percent of what I was aiming with when I started it," Morgan told Patch just a few weeks before the band's gig. "I sort of ran with that medium, because it’s the one that I can express myself best with.
A household name in the US rock scene, the post-grunge band has been cranking out musical masterpieces for over a decade. "We were in an RV starting in like May of 2002, and we just basically haven’t really stopped since then," Morgan said.
Known for hit singles “Remedy,” “Truth”, “The Gift” and "Broken," the band has a unique style in which Morgan’s melodic voice combines forces with an array of heavy guitar tones and driving baselines.
Seether’s most recent album, Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray, placed the band at their all-time highest position on the US Billboard 200 charts, ranking at No. 2. The album also secured the No. 1 spot on the US alternative and hard rock album charts.
In a recent interview with Weho Patch, Moran discusses the band’s upcoming show at the House of Blues on Oct. 12 and divulges crazy antics he engaged in over the past few years on the Sunset Strip in a recent interview with Patch.
Patch: You’re known for expressing personal experiences through your songs. Is it difficult to put that out there for the world to listen to?
Morgan: It’s difficult to listen to it with other people around, especially people that I don’t know. If it’s somebody that I’m not familiar with. I get sort of embarrassed. But I think it’s somewhere where you put the album out and you don’t necessarily even think about it from that side anymore. Then we go out and play the stuff and we can focus on what we really like to do mostly, which is play music. There are definitely moments though when I’m like, I should have probably not have said it quite as obviously as that.
Patch: What’s the story behind the title of the latest album, Holding on to Strings Better Left to Fray?
Morgan: It’s mostly about letting go of toxic relationships – in any sense of that word, whether it be family relationships or friendships or internal relationships. I’ve spent a lot of my life in those kinds of situations and knowing that they stood for failure, but somehow you still cling to that hope that you can change the outcome, and it never happens. Basically I had to cut out a bunch of people. I find that once you’ve done that, it’s almost a sigh of relief so that you can move on.
Patch: I heard when you were first experimenting with music, your father didn’t approve, so you ran away from home to pursue your career. How much of this is true?
Morgan: I was 16 years old and it was some stupid thing. The band that I was in was doing a photo shoot for a local four-page music magazine. My dad wouldn’t let me be part of it, so I got pissed off. Basically he was also sort of anti me playing music, because as far as he was concerned, it was a dead-end street and a waste of time, so I ran away from home and I lived on couches and finished high school basically homeless, and then moved to a different city and started again from scratch.
Patch: What do you think you’d be doing right now if you weren’t in this band?
Morgan: I don’t know. I don’t even know if I’d be around. There have been plenty of times when doing this has kept me going, and there’s also been times when doing this makes me want to stop. It’s difficult to say. I was [thinking about] becoming a jeweler and I was going to set up a little shop somewhere and make jewelry for the rest of my life. That was one thing I was thinking about doing. I don’t know if I’d still be here though if I didn’t have a band.
Patch: Do you still make jewelry?
Morgan: I would if I had the time. I want to set up a studio when I get back home and at least set it up so that if I have an hour or two here. And it probably will be huge ridiculous pieces that no one will ever buy, but it will be fun to make them, because it will be these things that I’ve envisioned for years like big chain male chest pieces and just crazy stuff that would take just months and months to make. I’d do it if I had nothing but time and if I had no deadlines and I’m not trying to sell it to anybody.
West Hollywood Patch: Was it difficult for Seether to branch out from South Africa and make it over to US radio?
Shaun Morgan: We’d been in a band for three or four years and just touring around and living basically hand to mouth, touring in a pick-up truck and just making enough money at each show to put gas in to get to the next one. We eventually got a record deal, and when we sent that album to Wind-Up Records in the States, then they decided that they wanted to sign us. The most difficult part really was to get heard or seen in the States.
Patch: I am sure a lot of aspiring bands can relate to that.
Morgan: You know, the first two years you don’t get paid. You’re just doing it because you know you have to get out there and get your name out. I think some bands come out of the gate and they have a larger record company behind them – a lot of push behind them, so they don’t necessarily have to do the van and trailer days. They go straight to a bus and have a Top 40 hit.
Patch: Did you have any horrible jobs when you were trying to fund the band back in the day?
Morgan: Yeah I worked as a bartender in a biker bar, which was pretty crappy because it was a real seedy place. One time, some guy ended up pulling a gun on the bartender next to me . . . It was pretty rough for a while. I lived in London for about three months and I did construction work there . . . [as] the guy that carries all the rubble out.
Patch: Tell me about the concept for the video for Country Song, which features a giant teddy bear dressed as a cowboy.
Morgan: The idea was we were just characters in a little boy’s fantasy and it starts with this kid who has a bucket of toys and he drops it on the ground and he doesn’t realize that he is playing with these characters that are real live characters in some alternate universe. Basically he is playing with a sheriff teddy bear and we are the bad guys. I think it gets to a point where just doing the same serious thing over and over again just becomes annoying. We’re also huge Foo Fighters fans and every single video they’ve done has got a sense of humor behind it.
Patch: You've got a show coming up at the House of Blues. Do you have any specific memories of the Sunset Strip?
Morgan: The very first time we were in LA, we were super hammered at, I think it was, the Whisky. We ended up – this is pretty gross – going to one of those late night Chinese takeaway places. We started eating and I guess I got sick and I ended up throwing up all over the table in the restaurant, so we just ran for the door before we got something thrown at us. There have been plenty of times I’ve gotten trouble on the Sunset Strip and it usually starts at the Rainbow.
Patch: What can fans expect from your upcoming show?
Morgan: We try to be energetic. There’s no script to follow. There’s no backing tracks and there’s no cheating . . . [These days] everybody is getting up and hitting play on a computer and then pretending to play along and that really pisses me off. We're just three guys on stage playing. What you hear is what we are making, not any sort of augmentation, and I think that’s the way rock shows used to be and I think it’s sad that they are no longer that way.