Take the Night Off and Spend It With Seether: Interview with Drummer, John Humphrey

Hard rockers Seether are back on the road and are ready to rock New York State to support their latest album Isolate and Medicate. They are spending the first week of May in New York, making stops in Albany, Niagara Falls and Huntington. Seether has been a staple in the rock genre for over 13 years and is comprised of vocalist/guitarist Shaun Morgan, bassist Dale Stewart and drummer John Humphrey.

John recently took time out of his busy schedule to answer questions about their upcoming Rise Above Fest benefiting suicide prevention, their new label, and what a typical day on tour is like for him.

John Humphrey

Renee Clark (RC): Some of the venues you play must feel like a second home by now since you have been at them so many times throughout the years. What are some ways you try to keep each tour and show fresh for you and your fans?

John Humphrey (JH): Occasionally, we’ll try to add a new (Seether) song. Maybe one we haven’t performed before or a cover song… It can be difficult. You want to try to play all the familiar singles. In some cases, people have waited a long time to, finally, see you and hear their favorite song. So, we want to try to please everyone.

RC: Can you tell me what a day in the touring life for you is like?

JH: Well, I roll outta’ my bunk about 9-10am. In the front lounge, I pour a cup of coffee and turn on my laptop to check my emails. Then I roll into the venue, take a look around, maybe check catering and head to the dressing room for a shower. We, usually, have interviews on site or “phoners” during the afternoon. Seether isn’t big on sound checks. (Note: We’ve been on tour, pretty much non-stop for the last 12 years. We figure if we don’t have ‘em down by now… something is wrong 😉

We’ll usually have some sorta’ meet and greet, in the early evening. Then it’s the calm before the storm… I’ll usually listen to my iPod or watch a lil’ TV, prior to showtime. About an hour before, I change into my “stinky gig shirt” and start warming up. In my case, that’s stretching out the body, legs and arms…then I head over to a lil’ practice kit. A much smaller version of my “live drum kit” with mesh heads to prevent annoying the shit out of everyone with my bashing.

Then its showtime! A “fist bump” between band members before hitting the stage and then “boom”… Shaun hits the first chords of “Gasoline”. The crowd cheers, the lights come on and the adrenaline hits you like a lighting bolt!! After the show, sweaty and wet… we all plop down into the dressing room couches. Breathing like we just all had a major workout…we’ll discuss the show, the crowd response and/or any changes we might want to consider the following night.

For me, its back to the bus to cool down, clean up and change back into “nice smelling”clothes. I’ll usually make a call back home, at this time. Maybe meet some fans or just chill. Then in the wee hours, its back into the bunk for some sleep. Rinse and repeat.

RC: What tracks off of the new record mean the most to you and why?

JH: I guess it would be the four songs that were written “as a band”, while we worked in a friends studio back home in Oklahoma. The guys visited my hometown and stayed a couple of weeks, while we wrote songs to prepare for recording. The songs “At The Bottom”, “Keep The Dogs At Bay”, “Burn The World” and “Watch Me Drown” were written this way. I have other fav’s such as “Crash” too… But, putting together those 4 songs hold great memories, for me.

RC: When you were in-between labels did you ever consider going out on your own without a label?

JH: Well, this is the music BUSINESS and a lot goes on without our knowing or even our say. When we were sold (along with other Wind Up Artists, to Concord Entertainment) we, legally, were still under contract with the label. So, there really wasn’t a “in-between” period or option of going out “on our own”. We were at the mercy of Wind Up. Fortunately, Concord turned out to be a major positive for us, and a truly supportive label.

RC: With digital consumption of music on the rise how do you as a band decide which channels to focus your energies on?

JH: Its funny, statistics show that in Japan (The worlds technology leaders) the physical CD still outsells digital downloads. Also, I love that vinyl in making a comeback, of sorts, here in the states. So, to answer your question… We don’t really “focus” or cater to any certain medium. We still enjoy putting together the artwork and complete package of a release. I know cover art can sometimes be “thumbnail” size but it’s also being reproduced in 12″x 12″ size for LP. We still arrange the track listing of an album so that the “overall listen” has dynamics. We don’t think in terms of, “well, just throw our songs in any order…they are only gonna buy 1 or 2 tracks, anyway”.

RC: What can Seether fans look forward to in the next year? Do you have any plans to record after your upcoming tour?

JH: It’s hard to say. Still a lot of touring for 2015. We will be going to Australia and New Zealand, as well as, another US run and a return to UK and Europe in late summer. If I were to guess, I’d say we would start working on new music towards the end of the year.

RC: The band is about to hold its third annual Rise Above Fest to benefit mental illness next month. What can fans expect at this show? Are there any surprises up your sleeve?

JH: We are really grateful for all the bands, the venue itself and their support. It’s amazing! The festival grows every year. I think this year is an amazing line-up with “Slash, Godsmack and “yours truly’s band” performing. Our dream is for this to, one day, be a touring festival. Ala Lollapalooza.

RC: Many fans know that you are a huge KISS fan and collector. Do you have any other obsessions that you’d like to share?

JH: I’m a music geek, and love collecting vinyl, these days. I really enjoy seeking out old record stores, on a day off from the tour. I love old Motown, blues and classic rock. I’m also a big Elvis Presley and Beatles fan. I try to collect pristine condition, first pressings. I do listen to my collection, though. I’m not one to let them just become museum pieces. I believe they are meant to be enjoyed. I have a pretty serious turntable setup, at home too.

RC: If there is one thing you could say to your 16-year-old self what would it be?

JH: Please go be a doctor!!! Just kidding. I’d tell myself, “Try not to sweat the small stuff. Its gonna be a roller coaster ride so, prepare for a lot of hard work…”

RC: If there is a reader out there that is on the fence on deciding on whether to come out to another Seether show this tour, can you give them a reason to suck it up get their butts out to it?

JH: Without bragging too much, I believe we are the last of a dying breed. We are a sweaty, loud, rock and roll band. We don’t have massive production, pyro and pre-recorded tracks we perform too. We just get up there, play our asses off and have fun doing it. Chances are you have heard, at least, one of our songs on rock radio, at some point, in the last 10 years. So, if wanna take a night off from life… come have a beer (or beverage of choice), stand up, put your fist in the air and sing (or scream along, if you want) to a “I didn’t realize they did THIS song… I LOVE THIS song!!”…then come on out!!

RC: Any last words or anything you’d like to add?

JH: Thank you, Renee and everyone who has supported the band, all these years. You know who you are… and we love ya’!!

Rise Above Fest features performances from Seether, Papa Roach, Godsmack, Nonpoint and more and is happening May 9 in Bangor, ME

Seether New York tour dates:
May 3 – Clifton Park, NY
May 5 – Niagara Falls, NY
May 6 – Huntington,NY

Information on how you purchase tickets as well as a different VIP or meet and greet packages cannot be found on their website  http://www.seether.com/.

Check out John rocking the Midland Theater a few weeks ago below:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stujVAg4-GA]

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