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Voice Yourself Goes 360 this time with drummer John Humphrey of Seether as they prepare to release their fifth album Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray on May 17th, 2011.  Seether was put right in the public eye when Evanescence took the band on their tour and recorded the hit ballad "Broken" together.  Lead singer Shaun Morgan  became involved in a romantic relationship with Amy Lee shortly after which also brought about quite a lot of media attention.  Although things didn't work out between the two, Seether has proven again and again that it can hold its own by achieving tremendous success not only in their native country of South Africa but namely in the US, UK and Australia.  During this interview, John shares his excitement for the new album, he talks about his drumming skills, the up coming tour and more!  For additional information visit Seether.com.
Interview by: Valerie Bastien
Valerie: The new tour promoting Holding On to Strings Better Left to Fray has just begun a few days ago; I’m assuming that you’ve been playing some new material although the album will be coming out on May 17th. How is the fans’ response so far?  

John: Its been going great! "Country Song" is instantly recognized and people are going crazy, the minute they hear the opening blues riff.

Valerie: Seether will be releasing their 5th album Holding On to Strings Better Left to Fray in the next few days.  Writing and recording new material always involves all kinds of different emotions, connections with people and events.  What part of this experience has been the most exciting for you so far?

John: It would have to be working with producer: Brendan O' Brien. He is such a great talent and really helped to take this album to the "next level" for us.  He had a lot of input but at the same time allowing Seether to still be Seether.

Valerie: You describe yourself as a solid and heavy hitter drummer.  During the writing process of this album, was there a time when you tried to purposely find ways to show off your skills?   How do you feel you have grown musically from the last album?  

John: I pride myself on contributing to the song as a whole and how I can help add to it musically.  Brendan did allow me to open up on tracks like "Fur Cue" and "Effigy" and let me throw in a little flare.  But, I feel, as a band... we have really jelled... The three of us have been playing together over 8 years and I think we have a strong chemistry between us.

Valerie: By the way, I’ve heard that you went through a back surgery a few years ago.  How is your back health right now?  Did your injuries develop as a result of drumming?  How can you keep yourself in good physical shape in order to prevent something like that to happen? 

John: Yes, I suffered from a completely collapsed L5 S1 disc.  I had a lower lumbar fusion in December 2006.  I was in serious pain and it resulted from years of touring and wear to the body. The surgery was success and I'm doing great.  I do maintain my weight, exercise and warm up (very important) before every show!

Valerie: Going back to Holding On to Strings Better Left to Fray; it was recorded in Nashville.  What did you see in Nashville that attracted you there?  I hear that more and more rock bands choose Nashville as their location of choice to record…

John: The band really wanted a change of scenery for this album. Before, we always recorded in Los Angeles.  Nashville also made sense logistically...  Brendan lives in Atlanta so, it was a central location for all of us.  It turned out to be a very inspiring town and some of the nicest people I've ever met live there.

Valerie: Tell us why you chose "Country Song" as your first single and how you can relate to it lyrically?

John: "Country Song", oddly enough was also one of the first songs we worked on and recorded.  It came very naturally and we all really liked the blues intro against the heavy chorus.  It has just "blown up" on rock radio... Very cool!  As far as lyrics go...  I'll leave that up to Shaun and the listener...

Valerie: Fair enough!  The album title Holding On to Strings Better Left to Fray and all three songs released so far digitally, "Country Song", "Roses" and "Forsaken"; speak of deceit, hurt and the inability to let go and move on.  Is that a common theme on the album and are the songs all written with the same person in mind?

John: I can't really speak for Shaun.other than to say, there are also moments of hope and happiness in the album.  Shaun always has an ability to connect with people and his lyrics are always very open and honest.

Valerie: Yes, most definately!  Although some of the content of your songs is pretty heavy and intense lyrically, there is still a side of you guys that likes to find humour in things; that can be seen in your interpretation of "Careless Whisper" and also on some of your Youtube videos.  How does humour help you find balance? 

John: Absolutely! This is rock n' roll and you just can't be that serious, all the time!  We like to laugh, as much as anyone... and don't want the band to appear one dimensional.  We take our music very serious but we like to have a good time too.

Valerie: Life on the road is not as easy as it seems and Seether has a history of struggles with addiction.   How do you look after your band mates to help each other maintain some sanity?

John: Yes. We are family and we are close.  Sometimes you also have to give each other space. That is sometimes difficult when you are living on a bus.  Road life can be tough but we try to stay grounded.  This tour will be different in that we will have little breaks here and there. You have to or you just simply "burn out".  You can't afford to do that when you are starting out but we need to maintain balance in our lives and the band will only be stronger for it.

Valerie: What goals or dreams do you have for yourself that you would like to see come to light in the next months or years? 

John: I feel very fortunate to be able to do what I do...  A dream I had as a kid, has come true.  I get to bang my drums, play in a rock band and its taken me around the world!  I am very grateful and do not take it for granted.  Thank you to all the fans... That allow us to do, what we love to do!


Valerie Bastien is a vocal coach, teacher, musician and freelance journalist.
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