By ANDREW MCKAYSMITH
JOHN Humphrey is the drummer, percussionist and all round good bloke from the bands Seether and The Nixons. Those who listen to Triple M (or any rock-radio format station) and fans of late nineties ‘post-grunge’ may recognise the song “Sister” (from The Nixons album Foma– ’95). Considering “Sister” was a massive success in the United States and Australia and Seether are a very well known band globally, Humphrey has certainly done something right in a career that boasts a high degree of commercial and musical accomplishment.
Success is a fleeting phenomenon. Whole industries are dedicated to obtaining and maintaining success leading to a plethora of ideas on what works best. Here are Humphrey’s thoughts on the reason for his associated bands’ accomplishments. “Touring and live bands build their fan base by playing and performing constantly. (This is) how we are honing our craft. I have to say for both bands, we have a strong work ethic. These guys are no slackers and have earned every bit of success that the bands have achieved. So I think it’s the work ethic that I’ve learned though The Nixons and with Seether. In the 14 years I’ve been with Seether we’ve never taken a break. We have just constantly worked, you know. We’ve also had radio success which is tremendous help.
If there is one characteristic that drumming for two bands requires it is stamina, so we both had a good laugh at a tale he shared demonstrating his own endurance and ‘can do’ attitude: “I’ve had everything that possibly could happen, happen. You know, everything…a drum is an instrument that in essence is just a bunch of nuts, bolts, and wood. Anything and everything has broken at one time or another on stage. However I would have to say I was telling my son a story the other day: I was so sick. We were touring Europe and we were on a bus together, as you do, with band and crew. Somebody had gotten the stomach flu and we were passing it around. It’s like, the dead of winter, it’s freezing cold. I’m sick as a dog, it’s my turn to have this stomach virus and I’m literally on stage. I remember we were playing the song “The Gift” (from Seether’s album Karma and Effect– ’06). My drum tech was holding a bucket and I was playing and throwing up simultaneously. I wasn’t even throwing up in between songs. This was as the song was playing. And the guys later were like, “Well, I’m sorry you’re sick, man, but you didn’t miss a beat.” (continued below)
Yes, the show must go on! Right now the show is all about the promotion of Seether’s brand new album. It’s a much heavier affair than previous releases and with the title Poison the Parish. I wonder if the band is channeling the imagery of the genre dedicated to the black arts. “Musically, I would say our mission statement was ‘Seether’s taking back its rock, man’. We always get, “Hey, you guys are heavier live than you are on record” and there may have been things in the past production-wise we weren’t 100 per cent happy with, maybe. But, we’re always respectful of producers we’ve worked with. We’ve learned a lot from those guys. When you have a producer they become a member of the band, and you have implicit trust in them and the decisions that they make. But in this case the decisions were with us. Ultimately it came down to Shaun (Morgan, vocals and guitars) and I think we made sure the guitar was a lot louder than it has been in the past”
So those comments are self-explanatory. It may not answer the reasoning for the blackened album title however I do admire a band who stand within their own truth and Seether have certainly done that on Poison the Parish. The sound of the album bristles with metallic intensity, yet it compromises none of the FM radio polish and hooks found on the band’s previous releases.
Something many fans and listeners may be surprised to learn is that Dale Stewart (bass) and vocalist Morgan formed Seether in Pretoria, South Africa. Humphrey has spent some time in the Rainbow nation and as I am a follower of the 15 a-side game I wonder if he watched any Super Rugby between commitments to Seether? “Ha. They tried to teach me, but I had trouble understanding the rules, but yes, they tried to show me”
Fans of rugby union or otherwise take note, I encourage the reader to purchase or stream a copy of Poison the Parish; much like a seasoned second-rower menacing an opposing five-eighth during an evenly poised rugby Test, Poison the Parish is a scintillatingly hard hitting affair.
Poison the Parish is out now through Canine Riot Records.