Interview with Seether bassist Dale Stewart

- Dec 11, 2007 at 03:00PM
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Ever heard the term “post-grunge” used to describe your favorite band? Over the years, this term has become quite common to describe the wave of alternative rock bands that came along in the mid-1990s and the early part of the twenty-first century after the grunge craze of the early 1990s led by the likes of Nirvana, Alice In Chains and Soundgarden. Without a doubt one of the most prominent post-grunge outfits has been the band Seether, a band that formed in 1999 in South Africa. Since their birth, Seether has progressively moved up in the world of mainstream rock music to the point where they are now one of the most prominent groups around. The group, now a three piece with the recent departure of guitarist Pat Callahan, just recently released its fifth studio album titled Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces and so far it has been extremely well received. In support of the album, Seether is doing a ton of touring over the next several months, including an extended cross Canada tour with Canadian band Three Days Grace as support. Recently we caught up with Seether’s bassist Dale Stewart and we asked him a few questions about touring, the new album and the band in general. Here’s what Dale had to say.

The band is currently out on the road in the southern parts of the United States with the band Red. How have the shows been going so far?
Dale: The shows have been great; it’s been a lot of fun. We just got done with Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace and we’re good friends with all those guys so that was a really good tour. So now we’re doing some headlining shows with a band called Red that we’re really good friends with so it’s cool man, we’re just having a really good time. We’ve been home for so long so we have sort of a new enthusiasm for touring and this band Red is a really good band so we’re excited.

Now before getting into what’s currently going on with Seether, let’s backtrack a bit. Your last album Karma and Effect and the touring that went along with that release made you into a pretty huge band worldwide. What was it like to all of a sudden have a platinum selling record and be one of the most popular new rock bands around?
Dale: It’s pretty crazy man, I mean it’s awesome, it’s really cool you know, it’s what you dream about as a kid so it’s pretty surreal to be doing it now. But at the same time, I don’t feel any different as a person, but I can tell you that it is nice to be able play shows and have all these people come out and you know, have all that kind of support, it’s great, it’s pretty surreal. A lot of bands never really get to this point so it’s nice to get to where we are and we really appreciate all the luck that we’ve had and how things have gone for us.

Let’s talk about your brand new studio record Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces. First of all, how did this record title come about?
Dale: You know, it’s a title that Shaun came up with one day and it immediately just stuck. I think for all of us, it was a timely and appropriate word to describe the last year that we’ve had, you know with writing an album and some other stuff that has happened around us. Shaun had some issues and we had a band member leave so we had some things happen, but the music was always the one positive thing that maybe came out of this string of bad things and it really just kind of kept us going and kept us together you know as friends.

Now the new album has been out about a month now and has been extremely well received. How do you personally feel about the disc and how do you think it compares to Seether’s past albums?
Dale: I think this really is our best album yet. I know everyone probably says that about their new album when it comes out but I feel really good about this record. I think maybe on this record we took the music in a little bit different direction than we have in the past. I mean, I think this record is maybe a little more interesting and it’s a little more mature than some of our other albums, it’s not a totally different album, you know it’s still mostly just vocals, bass, guitars and drums but I think we moved forward on this record and I really love the way it turned out.

What was the writing and recording like for Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces? Did you take a break after getting off the road from touring behind Karma and Effect?
Dale: Yeah, we took a little break which is something we’d never really done before. Karma and Effect we wrote on the road and in sound checks you know, on this one we took a bit of a break which was a bit of a different experience you know. We took about a whole year off and we did a lot of writing in that time, Shaun did a lot of writing on his own and we wrote some stuff as a band in the studio and I think it all turned out really well. The writing process was really positive this time around, like I feel like we really came up with the type of album that we were looking for you know. I think the break we took helped us you know, get focused and helped us make the best album we’ve ever done, at least I think.

The one major change from Karma and Effect to the new album is the fact that your lead guitarist Pat Callahan chose to leave the band last year. What was it like writing this record without Pat in the mix? Was it at all more challenging?
Dale: Um, I don’t think it was more challenging, I think if anything, it got us onto experimenting more with other instruments, you know, because he (Pat) wasn’t there anymore so I think it gave us a little more freedom to sort of expand and be a little more experimental. It was different writing just you know as a three piece, but I think it was really awesome I mean, I think we worked really well together just the three of us you know, in the studio together. So the whole process was different and I think it’s good, it shook things up a bit and I think that shows on the record you know, it’s resulted in a really good record for us.

Besides the departure of Pat, the band has endured some hard times the last couple of years including the passing of Shaun’s brother as well as his stint in rehab. What was it like for you guys during these rough times? Did you ever consider taking an extended break from the band?
Dale: Um, I don’t think the band was ever in question. I think this band is really important to all of us, we really love what we do and we’re proud of it and I can’t see us really ever giving this up, we love to play and I think we play really well together. I mean it was kind of hard at times; Shaun had his problems you know with his brother but you know, I think we all stuck together and I think it helped us all get through and you know, realize that this band is what we love to do and we wouldn’t want it any other way. We want this band to go on for a long time and you know we’re good friends so that helps get through the rough times.

With Pat gone, Seether is now down to a three piece band. Do you have any plans to replace Pat or will Seether be just the three of you for the foreseeable future?
Dale: Yeah you know I think we’re comfortable the way we are right now so I don’t think we have any plans to add anyone in the near future so we’re not really looking for anyone right now. I think if someone comes along one day and is really good and we work really well with them then yeah, I could maybe see us adding a new member. I mean if you work well with another musician and you think they’d work well with the band then yeah, we’d have to think about it. But I think for now, we’re happy with the way the band is and with the way things are going right now.

To produce Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces you worked with Howard Benson, a fairly prominent rock producer who has worked with My Chemical Romance and Three Days Grace. How did you first get in touch with Howard about recording with him and what was it that made you decide to go with him?
Dale: Actually our management suggested him to us. I didn’t know his name, but then I heard that he had worked with Three Days Grace and I loved that record you know, it was a really solid record so we were all really excited about you know, working with Howard on this record. It was a lot of fun working with him, we got along really well with him in the studio and you know it just seemed natural right from the start when we started working with him. And Howard you know, he’s worked with some really big bands in the past and he’s a really talented guy in the studio so it was really great having him there you know, throwing out ideas and helping us get the songs on the record the way we wanted them to you know, end up. So it was a really cool experience, I think it helped us make a really strong record, he was great to work with.

What does Seether have planned for the rest of this year and 2008?
Dale: We’re just going to be doing a lot of touring and we’re actually touring in the New Year in Canada in January, we’re going to be there for a few weeks I think which should be fun with the cold up there, I don’t think we’ve ever been to Canada in that time of the winter so it should be interesting. So yeah, we’ll be touring Canada with Three Days Grace for like two weeks and then I think we’re doing a tour with Flyleaf, maybe a short tour with those guys and then a whole bunch of other stuff you know, more touring into the spring and the summer. Basically it’s just going to be a lot of touring for us. There’s a lot of stuff in the works right now but I don’t think I can talk about it yet because it hasn’t been announced but it’s going to be a really busy year for us!
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