A few years ago, “famous” displaced “teacher” as the number one career choice for children. When another recent study asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” one in five kids replied, “I just want to be rich.” High on the ultimate drug, worshippers of a new pop culture religion with its own twisted clergy, a generation of vacuous celebrities chases fame as its own reward, jettisoning any pretenses about talent, sincerity, or artistry.
Thankfully, there are still dedicated, hardscrabble, no-nonsense soothsayers, organizers, musicians, and likeminded creative badasses who’ve defiantly said, “enough!” Like SEETHER, the multiplatinum rock radio anthem-making machine whose albums, songs, and live performances are armed with big riffs, bigger melodies, crunchy tones, and atmosphere.
SEETHER’s existence itself is an act of rebellion, weaponized to cut through the noise with truth telling clarity and undeniable authenticity. Even as no-talent hacks and cartoon social media living mannequins seek to dominate the discourse, SEETHER takes a stand against those who Poison the Parish.
“We want to bring back musicality, playing loud, and the importance of having something to say that you can stand behind,” declares SEETHER front man/co-founder Shaun Morgan. “It’s about honesty in your music."
Poison the Parish, the band’s seventh studio album, arrives just in time on Morgan’s new label imprint Canine Riot Records, via Concord Music Group. Morgan also served as producer (the first time he’s produced an album in its entirety), working alongside engineer and mixer Matt Hyde (Slayer, Deftones, Hatebreed) at Nashville’s Blackbird Studio, which has played host to everyone from Taylor Swift to Jack White.
Make no mistake. Poison the Parish displays no specific agenda, political or religious. But it is personal. This time out, SEETHER restored their sound with the blood, sweat and heaviness that’s long powered their career. In this day and age, keeping it real and doing it for the right reasons is a bold statement in and of itself. At a point where most bands start to waver, SEETHER have made certain album seven is the band’s heaviest yet.
“What it really boils down to is that I am disgusted and horrified by what I see society becoming, the complete idolatry of vapid social media and reality TV ‘stars,’” Morgan explains. “It hearkens back to the days of clergy shaping a society as voices of authority; now we’ve got these people glorifying soullessness and lack of talent. They're preaching this gospel that you can be famous, as long as you have the right face or the right body or the right connections. They aren’t saying, ‘Hey, go out there and write a book, invent something, try to cure cancer.’ It's all about getting the angles right, to create this illusion that your life is great.”
Poison the Parish is filled with newfound ferocity and purpose, all built around Morgan’s gift for classic pop melody and structure. Album opener “Stoke the Fire,” is a focused statement of purpose and the message is clear: SEETHER is a hard rock n’ roll band, first and foremost. Lead single “Let You Down” is a dynamic, groove-oriented earworm. The moody vibe of “Emotionless” is relentless and chilling while “Against the Wall,” brooding and melodic, reverberates with honesty and self-reflection.
Descendants of Nirvana, early Alice In Chains, and Soundgarden, SEETHER continues to create modern, urgent and memorable music fifteen years into an illustrious and highly successful career.
Consider: the South African band has amassed twenty Top 5 singles, three platinum records, a fan-beloved gold-selling DVD and scores of #1 singles including “Fine Again,” “Fake It,” “Remedy,” “Broken,” “Words As Weapons,” “Country Song,” “Breakdown,” “Rise Above This,” “Same Damn Life,” “Truth,” “Gasoline,” “Driven Under” and their infamous cover of “Careless Whisper”. The band has also been recognized by the South African Music Awards, MTV Africa Music Awards, and Revolver Golden Gods Awards.
The relentlessly hard working outfit has averaged 90 performances a year, crisscrossing the globe as headlining mainstays and featured performers on many of the world's biggest rock festivals. SEETHER songs are familiar to anyone who plays Madden NFL games or watch the WWE.
In addition, Morgan co-founded the annual Rise Above Fest, the largest suicide awareness event in the world. Now in its fifth year, the annual benefit concert will take place over two days in July 2017 featuring performers such as Korn, Shinedown, Stone Sour, Skillet and SEETHER.
“We felt so much freedom with this album. We really focused on putting out something completely representative of who and what we are,” says Morgan. “We like to have a good time. That thing you feel when you create and play music, if you lose that to the business side, then you sort of lose the whole reason why you're doing it. This album is, I think, where our hearts have always been and it represents us completely as the band we are.”
Creating something of value and meaning is SEETHER’s cultural antidote, its north star. And with Poison the Parish, they’ve done it with unrestrained power and grace. “Give something to people,” Morgan says. “Make people's lives better in some way. That's really the point.”
Goat toes, vintage amps, sandpaper, CNN, and Motown might not sound like they have anything to do with each other. But this seemingly odd mix actually comprises the sounds and words of Missouri hard rockers Shaman's Harvest latest album, Red Hands Black Deeds for Mascot Records.
"Goat toes are the new cowbells," laughs rhythm guitarist Josh Hamler about the rural percussion instrument made literally of goat toes on a string. "It was in our producer Keith Armstrong's toolbox. We'd tell Keith we wanted a certain sound, and he'd pull stuff out that we never thought of, like the goat toes we used on “Blood Trophies” and "A Longer View” or sandpaper on “Scavengers.'"
But in all seriousness, the use of organic sounds, as well as vintage analog gear, is a huge step for the band — which includes singer Nathan Hunt, bassist Matt Fisher, rhythm guitarist Josh Hamler, lead guitarist Derrick Shipp, and drummer Adam Zemanek. "We didn't want to use anything digital. So to get certain effects, we made stuff. For instance, we used an old rotary telephone implanted into microphones for the outro of “Scavengers.” Keith helped us think outside the box," says Fisher.
Adds Hamler, "We had been so stuck in our way of writing and recording, but Keith had a different, more interesting approach to coming up with that sound. He really helped us find a fresh new creative path."
It's no happenstance that the band was drawn to Armstrong to produce. Known for his treasure trove of analog and vintage gear, Shaman's Harvest decidedly wanted a more organic, analog sound for their sixth record. Nathan Hunt, the lead singer and frontman of the band, comments, "We used analog effects pedals and vintage amps. This is the first record that we went with this approach. It was kind of like trying to find the melting point between Midwest and L.A. It still has the Shaman's Harvest Midwest vibe to it, but it definitely has organic L.A. written all over it."
The result is a darker, visceral, and more layered sound, ranging from the ominous, haunting vibes of the title track prelude, "A Longer View," "The Devil In Our Wake," and "Scavengers" - which could fit just as easily on a horror film soundtrack as it does on this rock band's album - to quieter, more vulnerable moments as heard on "Tusk and Bone" and "Long Way Home."
Lyrically, the band also ventured into new territory, taking on the current political, social, and economic struggles we're facing as a nation under the new administration. "Red Hands Black Deeds touches upon the darker nature inside all of us,” says Hunt. “The whole record has a contrast and push and pull tension - a juxtaposition of good and bad or questioning what is right and wrong. The record ended up having a concept, though we weren’t intending it to," says Hunt.
The writing of the record began in November 2016 at the time of the presidential election, so it's no wonder there are social and political undertones to many of the songs. "The tension in the record kind of speaks for itself. There's a dark anxiety, tension-filled feeling that reflects what’s going on in the world," says Hamler.
"The Come Up," the album’s first single, is an upbeat song that juxtaposes a Motown backbeat with classic Rolling Stones rock and roll swagger, and that delves into depression. "There's so much negativity on social media today ‑ a lot of people struggling with real issues and with where we're at as a nation," says Hunt.
But, "The Come Up" is also an acknowledgment of the singer's own battle with depression. "It's therapeutic for myself," he says. "It's just about sometimes when you just can't change shit, you got to realize you can't mold everything in your life and you kind of just have to roll with the punches," says Hunt, who overcame throat cancer in 2014 that could've derailed the band, but didn't.
"A Longer View" is a song that touches on civil unrest we face today and global race issues. "When you step back, you see we're all just humans. That's the longer view. It doesn't matter. At the end of the day, we all just want love and to be understood," says Hunt.
On a similar note, "The Broken Ones" touches on immigration issues, as well as anyone who feels disenfranchised, such as Hunt's own Native American ancestors. "My father's family is part of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, which is made of a lot of different races and regions, and because of that they don't get all of the benefits that federally recognized tribes have. The song is a cynical look at society today," says Hunt, whose heritage inspired the band's name.
"The Devil in Our Wake" tackles the topic of war. "I'd go to bed with CNN on to some bullshit at the White House, or the heartbreaking situation in Syria. I'd see what's going on in the world and think, 'Shit, how did we get so divisive?'" says Hunt.
"Soul Crusher," a funky rocker about fighting through tough times, shows off the band's musical versatility. "It mixes a lot of genres musically. You can’t help but want to dance and bob your head. It touches on that old Motown vibe. But it also has some Texas blues to it," says Hunt.
Even through the singer's battle with cancer, and other trials and tribulations every band goes through, the band has persevered. Born in Jefferson City, Missouri, Shaman's Harvest released their first album, Last Call for Goose Creek in 1999, followed by Synergy (2002) and March of the Bastards (2006) before having their break-through moment with 2009's Shine. Shine featured the standout track, "Dragonfly," which hit #9 on Billboard's Heritage Rock chart and #15 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. It was also featured on the soundtrack to the major motion picture, Legendary, and the video has garnered more than 4.5 million YouTube views.
The band followed that success with their Mascot Records debut, Smokin' Hearts & Broken Guns in 2014, which has garnered more than 31 million streams. The album's "In Chains" peaked at #11 on the Media Base chart after a run of 22 weeks at Active Rock radio. It also spent over four months in the Top 10 of iTunes Metal Songs Chart. The song's video has more than 2.8 million views on YouTube, while the band has a cumulative 8 million YouTube views.
Shaman's Harvest has had equal success on the touring front. They've toured or shared the stage with major artists like AC/DC, Alice In Chains, Godsmack, Breaking Benjamin, Seether, Nickelback, Three Doors Down, In This Moment, Daughtry, Cheap Trick, Theory of a Deadman, Hinder, and others, and played major festivals like Rocklahoma, Rock on the Range, Rock Fest, KRockathon, Rockin' The Rivers, Texas Mutiny, Rock Carnival 2016, High Elevation Rock Festival, and Midwest Rock Fest.
The key to the band's longevity is threefold: Staying in Missouri, which gives the band a Midwestern authenticity. "Our music wouldn't be what it is if we weren't from a hillbilly kind of a state," notes Fisher. Second, knowing the gift of distance and being open to change. "It's been 21 years for us," Fisher continues, "so it's a brotherhood and there are fights, but I think over all it's just keeping some distance in between tours when we need it."
And, third: "Growing musically as a band each time. I think this record, with how differently we approached it and how we expanded our sonic palette, is a good step toward a new future for us," adds Fisher.
(For the record, no goats were killed in the making of Red Hands Black Deeds.)
The Dead Deads are comprised of two pairs of best friends who came together for a girls’ jam night that turned into much more. Audiences may be curious as they see four girls with X’s painted over their eyes appear on stage, but once the wall of sound washes over them, they are transfixed and spirited away into the dark and magical world of The Dead Deads.
Heads bang as metal and grunge riffs are beaten into submission by relentless, often bombastic rhythms. Sugary harmonies, brutal growls and finely crafted wordplay force unexpected stops and odd time signatures into undeniable hooks creating a new brand of drum-driven rock–brutal, silly and sublime. The Dead Deads explore sounds from 90’s bands like The Pixies and Pavement as well as modern alternative bands like Jimmy Eat World and Weezer, all while keeping their grunge/punk rock roots. The girls name Nirvana, Failure, Silverchair, NOFX, Black Sabbath, Helmet, They Might Be Giants, Beck and The Melvins in amongst their hugely diverse list of influences.
Since their unassuming beginnnings as a “for fun” band in 2014, they became much more almost over night. In December 2014 they wrapped their first national tour with Halestorm, which they scored simply by Lzzy Hale seeing them live. Their debut full-length record “Rainbeau” produced by Brian Carter at Paradox and mixed by Matt Mahaffey/sElf was recorded live to tape in three days and released in November to rave reviews calling the album, “the weirdest wonderland of accessible punk and rock you’ve heard in awhile,” and “one of the better albums of the year.” “Rainbeau” went on to win a Best Rock Album in the Nashville Music Awards.
Named by The Nashville Scene as a band to watch in 2015, the band continued to grow: They christened the new Nashville venue, Basement East, played a live on-air gig for WRLT at legendary listening room 3rd & Lindsley, broke crowd number records at Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga, played a sold-out hometown show with Evanescence on their triumphant return, and partied down on Motorhead’s Motorboat cruise with the likes of Motorhead, Slayer, Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies, Huntress, and Crobot.
In 2016, the band continued their winning streak, playing the ShipRocked cruise with 5-Finger Death Punch, Seether, Halestorm, and Helmet where they quickly became fan favorites. The Dead Deads also participated in the all-star band The Stowaways with members of All That Remains, Halestorm, Halo Method, P.O.D., Nonpoint, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Megadeth, Art of Dying and many more. Page Hamilton, of Helmet, thought the girls were “awesome,” and offered to produce their next record. “For Your Obliteration” was released in the fall of 2016 just after the girls finished a national tour with Bush and Chevelle. They briefly went home to Nashville to release it to a sold-out crowd, and then finished 2016 on the road, doing their first Canadian run, and putting 7000 miles on their van as direct support for Bush.
2017 got off to a crazy start with another trip on ShipRocked, direct support for Nonpoint, and a run with Alter Bridge. Currently, The Dead Deads are in the studio again, working on their third studio album. Fans can expect a single to be pre-released this summer.
Seether brings their “Poison the Parish” tour to Cincinnati to headline WFTK 96Rocks’ 10th Anniversary holiday show: 96Rocks Mistletoe Rock Show. Don’t miss the rockers when they make their first appearance at the Taft Theatre! Stay tuned for more surprise guests to be announced.