Rock out with Seether, Enter Shikari, Bullet For My Valentine, Eagles of Death Metal and KONGOS at the Grand West Casino’s Grand Arena on 9 August.Doors open at 14h00 (2pm)
The South African power trio of vocalist and guitarist Shaun Morgan, bassist Dale Stewart and drummer John Humphrey that is collectively known as Seether makes a welcome return to South Africa since their last visit in June 2008.
Seether has sold millions of albums to date worldwide and are mainstays in the touring circuit averaging more than 275 performances per year.
Seether have had 11 #1 singles and 17 Top 5 hits across multiple formats at radio.
The South African trio’s latest single “No Resolution” from their Wind-Up Records release, Holding Onto Stings Better Left To Fray, hit #1 at Active Rock marking the first time the band has had 3 consecutive chart topping tracks from the same album. “No Resolution” follows in the footsteps of previous #1 singles, “Country Song” and “Tonight,” and continues the band’s undeniable dominance at the format. “Country Song” spent an amazing 11 weeks at #1 over the course of the year, achieved Gold status for sales of over 500,000 units digitally by the RIAA and was named Active Rock Song of the Year by Billboard. “Here and Now” will be the next single to make waves at radio around the world including the US and South Africa.
Originally founded in Johannesburg, South Africa by Shaun Morgan and Dale Stewart, Seether made its initial impact on U.S. hearts and eardrums with 2002’s Disclaimer. Seether’s hit “Broken” featuring Evanescence vocalist Amy Lee became a massive international hit for the group. In 2004, Seether remixed and remastered Disclaimer, adding eight new songs and new cover art to create the two-disc set Disclaimer II, which went Platinum.
In 2005, Seether released Karma & Effect, which is certified gold and followed that release up in 2007 with the now Platinum Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces, which went Gold in South Africa and is well on its way to being certified Platinum. Finding Beauty also went on to win Best Rock album at the SAMA’s 2008 and Seether was also awarded Best Alternative Act at the 2010 MTV African Music Awards. Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray, was released in May 2011 and debuted at #2 on Billboard Top 200. The album has sold over 300,000 copies to date.
Kerrang! magazine presented Enter Shikari with the Best Live Band award on 7 June 2012 and in August we get to see just why – live! Enter Shikari (the name comes from a boat belonging to Rou’s uncle), made their debut in 2003 with a unique mesh of hard-core punk and break-beat techno; determined to do things their own way, the DIY way, the right way. A Flash Flood Of Colour is their third full-length studio album; the follow-up to 2009’s acclaimed Common Dreads. An incandescent snapshot of the modern age – of globalisation and recession, repression and protest, commerce and control, activism and engagement – it’s music for a newly jolted generation, a soundtrack for the mosh-pit, the dance floor and the front lines. This is your only opportunity to see and hear them – adrenalised, beats-heavy punkrockdubstephardcoremetalambienttechnonoisecore, custom-built to shake Grand Arena foundations.
“We are the generation that are going to change the world,” says vocalist Rou Reynolds. “We have more power than any generation that has come before us. We have the power to choose whether we continue as a species and prosper or just literally ruin everything. We’re already seeing the signs of the collapse of our world and it’s got to that point now where we absolutely have to start changing. Or it’s game over.”
Bullet for My Valentine comprises lead singer & rhythm guitarist Matthew Tuck, drummer Michael ‘Moose’ Thomas, lead guitarist & backing vocalist Michael ‘Padge’ Paget and bassist & backing vocalist Jason ‘Jay’ James. The group, named Best British Band in 2008, 2009 and 2010 by metal magazine Kerrang!, formed 10 years ago in their hometown of Bridgend as Jeff Killed John, covering Metallica and Nirvana songs. Citing Metallica, Iron Maiden and Slayer as influence they found their niche in 2002 on signing a five album deal with Sony BMG dropping The Poison in 2005, Scream Aim Fire in 2007 and Fever in 2010. With over one million albums in the United States and exceeding 2 500 000 worldwide sales, Bullet For My Valentine’s debut for their South African fans has been a long time coming.
Just when you thought it was safe to take your lady-friends out again, Eagles of Death Metal are perched and ready to swoop in. Unlike their name, the Californian cult heroes Eagles Of Death Metal however do not play death metal but rather a combination of “bluegrass slide guitar mixed with stripper drum beats and Canned Heat vocals.” Capetonians will get to see why Jesse Hughes is known for his enthusiastic interaction with audiences at live performances
KONGOS is a rock band of four brothers – Johnny, Jesse, Dylan and Danny Kongos. Sons of multi-million-seller British singer-songwriter John Kongos, they grew up in London and South Africa, and are now based in Phoenix, AZ. They return to South Africa, hot off the heels of their stellar 2011/2012 SA tour and sold-out performance at Hatfield Carnival. No relation to Cheick Kongo, the conga drum, the Congo people of Africa, Donkey Kong, Kongos Norman, Kongos pizza, Kongos Club in Oklahoma, twitter.com/kongos, Kat Kongos, Lasse Kongos, the Japanese class of battleship or Kevin Bacon.
Gates open at 14:00 and tickets will be available from Computicket and are priced as follows:
Golden Circle – R450 excluding Computicket service and credit card fees
General Standing – R400 excluding Computicket service and credit card fees
Seated – R380 excluding Computicket service and credit card fees
Disabled – R400 excluding Computicket service and credit card fees
Change isn’t easy. But Seether vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Shaun Morgan understands that nothing worth accomplishing ever is. “When I was in rehab in 2006,” he recalls, embracing a sense of humorous selfawareness that comes with hindsight, “I learned that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” In other words: evolution is key not only to surviving but also thriving. It’s a way of thinking that Morgan applies to both himself and to the way his band operates. In a career that’s spanned nearly a decade, the power trio of Morgan, bassist Dale Stewart and drummer John Humphrey that is collectively known as Seether has toured the globe on the strength of five Gold and Platinum-selling albums: steadily growing a devoted fan base while continually pushing creative boundaries. Seether breaks new ground again with its fifth studio LP, Holding onto Strings Better Left to Fray, due out on Wind Up Records in May 2011. As fans and critics are about to hear, change is good.
Holding onto Strings Better Left to Fray further expands on the dynamic musical growth curve heard on Seether’s 2007 release, Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces, while maintaining a sonic imprint that is undeniably Seether. There are many reasons to be excited. Not only does Seether branch out stylistically on the album’s first single, “Country Song” – which blends a buoyant, aurally addictive hook with the band’s signature searing guitar work – but the singer’s striking new vocal approach is audible from the album’s exhilarating lead track, “No Resolution.” Morgan explains, “On this album, I didn’t scream very much, because that’s not what I wanted to do. For some of the songs, the sentiment behind the lyric wasn’t angry, therefore to sing it in an angry way didn’t make any sense to me. The gritty stuff is easy to do, but it also feels really great to convey emotionally, through my voice, what I’m trying to say, instead of just being a one trick pony.” The result is a collection of compelling vocal performances that conjure an appealing blend of two of Morgan’s chief influences, Kurt Cobain and Tool’s Maynard James Keenan. It makes Strings an immensely satisfying listening experience.
Looking back on Seether’s career path, it’s not surprising that the band has progressed to this juncture. Originally founded in Johannesburg, South Africa, by Morgan and Dale Stewart, Seether made its initial impact on U.S. hearts and eardrums with 2002’s Disclaimer. The album’s first single, “Fine Again” was a pensive ballad whose minor chord message of sustaining hope amidst turmoil resonated with fans worldwide. “Fine Again” was featured on the soundtrack to the popular video game Madden 2000, and Seether gained nationwide live exposure with a spot on that year’s Ozzfest tour. After releasing the singles “Driven Under” and “Gasoline,” Seether rerecorded the acoustic track “Broken” as an electric version featuring Evanescence vocalist Amy Lee. “Broken” became a massive international hit for the group. In 2004, Seether remixed and remastered Disclaimer, adding eight new songs and new cover art to create the two-disc set Disclaimer 2, which went Platinum.
In 2005, Seether released Karma & Effect (the band’s only album recorded with guitarist Pat Callahan), which debuted at #8 on the Billboard chart. “Karma & Effect is my favorite representation of us at radio,” Morgan offers. “The singles we’d released previously were ballads, but this time, we chose “Remedy,” “Truth” and “The Gift” as singles. Those songs, and their accompanying videos, were darker and more ominous, so we knew that fans coming to our shows wouldn’t be surprised when the band was actually playing loud, heavy music.” Morgan credits the album with solidifying Seether’s identity as a hard rock act. At this point, the band was promoting itself at radio stations; performing brief, “un-plugged” sessions for fans. From that effort, a demand grew for recorded copies of those acoustic songs. “We decided that we would record a live, acoustic album during one night off ontour and see what happened,” says Morgan. That set, recorded at a Philadelphia pub, became the live CD/DVD One Cold Night, released in 2006.
As a songwriter whose work has always been intimate and self-revelatory, Morgan continued to address his personal demons while also sharing his more optimistic, post-rehab attitude on 2007’s Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces. Debuting at #9 on the Billboard 200 chart, Pop Matters referred to the album as “Seether’s tour de force” and “their most direct and focused record yet.” The singles “Fake It” and “Rise Above This” reached the top position on several Billboard charts, and “Breakdown” charted as a Top 10 hit. Finding Beauty was reissued in 2009, with a cover of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper,” which was a successful single release.
Recorded at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Seether definitely had an all-star player on its team for Holding onto Strings Better Left to Fray in the form of producer Brendan O’ Brien (Rage
Against the Machine, AC/DC, Pearl Jam). “Brendan is one of the ultimate producers in the world,” Morgan enthuses. “He really worked with us instead of with his own agenda. As far as producers go these days, that’s not very common. He doesn’t have an ego, he just cares about the project at hand and how we’re going to make it the best album possible, because he’s putting his name on it, too.” Humphrey believes that O’Brien is the most effective producer the band has worked with to date. “Brendan has a great ear and he’s also a great musician,” says the drummer. “He can really articulate the changes he wants you to make to a song.” Morgan also credits O’Brien for encouraging him to go with clear vocals. “I’ve wanted to sing clearer on albums before, and producers have said, ‘No, do that gritty thing that you’re known for.’ Brendan was the first guy who said, ‘Dude, sing the way you want to sing.'” Seether fans identify the band with songs that are not only sonically heavy but which also carry a lyrical emotional heft. Rest assured that those qualities are still intact on Holding onto Strings Better Left to Fray.
“Down” – providing a fantastic showcase for John Humphrey’s Bonham-esque drumming – along with “Desire for Need” (on which Morgan falls back on the aggressive vocal delivery) prove that Seether have not strayed too far from what fans recognize as the band’s aural identity. “Master of Disaster” also retains the original Seether imprint while introducing new musical elements, which the band set out to do with each song, “so people wouldn’t know what to expect,” Morgan interjects. “When we make a new album, it has to be superior to the previous one; otherwise we’re wasting everyone’s time. We had to be a little bit more experimental and creative, but by the same token we had to stick to our roots and the sound that people initially were drawn to. So, you walk that line, but you make it work.”
Lyrically, Morgan is as upfront as he’s ever been. “In our songs, I deal with a lot of personal issues and ghosts that follow me around. With each album, I tend to catch up a bit more on these ghosts and get rid of some of them.” Morgan explains that this time out, it’s all about the freedom found in just letting go. “I’m dealing with issues that I’ve been carrying with me for a long time, and understanding that those are detrimental to me and to those around me. Once you identify something that’s toxic in your life, you have to ask why you’re perpetuating it: clutching at a situation that’s ultimately going to end up in heartbreak and tears. It’s history, you need to let it go. Once you do that, it’s such a weight off your chest. It sounds a little bit like hippie psychology, but if you focus on thinking positive things, then good things will start showing themselves to you.”
Asked which tracks are favorites, Morgan talks about “Tonight,” which almost didn’t make it onto the album. “I hadn’t even shown it to the band yet,” he explains, “but one morning I woke up before dawn, in a really good mood, and completely changed the lyrics to positive lyrics. It just started coming together. Later that day in the studio, I asked Brendan to check it out. We only had two days left in the studio, but Brendan said, ‘We’ve got to record that song right now.’ I think it captures and summarizes the hopeful sentiment of the album.” Stewart shares Morgan’s enthusiasm. “Tonight” is almost nostalgic, yet optimistic sounding. It’s a really strong song and I’m excited for it to possibly go to radio. I think it could be a big song for us.”
Another favorite is “Roses” – also a clear choice for a single – that Morgan claims was influenced by the band Muse. “I love how it starts with the very ominous Phantom of the Opera piano, and then goes into something completely different, with constant movement,” he says. The band is also proud of “Here and Now,” a modern rocker infused with a classic pop feel that might fit easily within the discography of Cheap Trick. “We wanted to write songs that would stand the test of time rather than just be music ‘of the now’ – meaning what is popular in this particular two- or three-year cycle” Morgan explains. “Here and Now” also features the lyrics from which the album title was culled.
With the album due out in the spring, Shaun Morgan, Dale Stewart and John Humphrey are all immensely proud of and excited about what they’ve achieved with Holding onto Strings Better Left to Fray. “This album is a progression from Finding Beauty, which I thought was the best thing we’d done up to that point,” says Stewart. “To make a record that’s going to be even better is a little daunting, but I think this album shows that the band has matured in the way we write and think about music.” “This album was a lot of fun to make,” Humphrey adds. “It was very much a collaborative project where there were no egos.” Morgan concludes “To still be able to record, sell albums and tour, when a lot of our peers have not been so lucky, is a gift. Ultimately, making this album has helped me through the next phase of my life. For anyone who has been with us this far and needs a new injection of Seether’s music, this will hopefully feed their desire.”
(Brian Currin was at The Mercury to watch Seether on their 2004 SA homecoming tour)
I had the privilege of seeing power trio Saron Gas play at the Jam in Cape Town on the 14th December 2001 on the eve of their leaving for the US to try, as Judas Priest sang, ‘Take On All The World’. Reviewing that show I wrote: “Saron Gas seemed to have mastered the elusive art of combining the energy and attitude of nu-metal with superb tunes and even sing-along choruses…”.
On the first weekend of this new year, I had the privilege of seeing them again, though a number of things have changed. The Jam is now the Mercury Live, Saron Gas is now Seether, the 3-piece is now a 4-piece, and the drummer has changed (a few times!). The current Seether lineup consists of Shaun Morgan (nee Welgemoed) taking guitar and vocal duties, Dale Stewart (the other original member) on bass and vocals, Pat Callahan on guitars and John Humphrey (from the Nixons) on drums.
Barney Simon introduced the band by reminding us that, “if it’s too loud, you’re too old” and then Seether roared in with ‘Gasoline’ which is currently in the Billboard top ten Modern Rock Tracks chart (and was the SA Rock Digest Song of the Year in 2002). They ploughed through all their hits and popular tracks including ‘Hang On’ from the ‘Daredevil’ soundtrack. ‘Fine Again’ (Billboard’s number 9 Modern Rock Track of the Year 2003) was dedicated to the late Dave Williams of fellow Ozzfest touring partners, Drowning Pool.
Morgan keeps his face hidden almost all the time behind a mane of hair, and he doesn’t talk much. That’s OK as we are not here to see his face or hear him speak, but rather to listen to the anger in his singing as he includes us in his healing process from his lack of acceptance as a teenager. In his solo spot during the set (‘Take Me Away’ with just him and his electric guitar) he looked like Andrew WK (without the bloody nose) and sounded like Kurt Cobain, tortured and alone. As he is quoted on the Seether website, “This, I suppose, is the only way I can purge, but it is therapeutic.”
On the side of the stage sat lead singer from Evanescence, Amy Lee, Shaun’s current girlfriend who he has described as “the girl he’s been looking for his entire life”. Amy Lee joined the band onstage for the closing number and though she may be small in size she has a huge voice, which soared above the grinding rock like the offspring of a banshee and an angel.
When Saron Gas left in January 2001 we wished them all the best as they plunged into the unforgiving US market. Now 2 years later they return home, acclaimed as new Rock Gods.
As the chorus of the anthemic ‘Out Of My Way’ from the ‘Freddy vs Jason’ soundtrack says; “Nobody’s gonna stand in my way, give it up, son, I’m doing it my way”. You better believe it.
Not many of the crowd (if any) at The Jam last Friday night would have been around to see 3-piece power trios like Cream (Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce & Ginger Baker) or the early Grand Funk Railroad in their hey-day. Saron Gas are by no stretch of the imagination a retro-rock band, but the spirit of those early pioneering power trios lives on in their total commitment to keep on pushing rock’s envelope.
Human Error opened the show with oodles of energy and the crowd were well warmed up by the time Saron Gas hit the stage. The 3 guys from Saron Gas (Shaun, Dale & Dave) started their set with their new(ish) song ‘Gasoline’ and the rock didn’t stop until after the second encore. Despite the earlier comment about them not being a retro band, there were some fine guitar solo moments and even a drum solo.
Saron Gas seemed to have mastered the elusive art of combining the energy and attitude of nu-metal with superb tunes and even sing-along choruses (“don’t tell me that you’re trendsetters…” from 5FM #2 hit ’69 Tea’ for example). They recently signed to US label Wind-Up and they could just topple some US bands from their pedestals.
— Brian Currin