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Chutzpah! Festival Celebrates Diversity With Multifaceted International Programming

Chutzpah! Festival Celebrates Diversity With Multifaceted International Programming

by Yasmine Shemesh In Hebrew, chutzpah means “brazen audacity.” As such, it’s fitting that the term would be the namesake…

Seether’s Heavy New Album Is Inspired by Poisonous Media and Turmoil

Wednesday 17th, October 2018 / 16:48
by Johnny Papan

Photo by Marina Chavez

“I think the older I get, the more I understand and realize that social media is dominating and taking over our world. I think everyone understands that, its poisonous and it’s ruining society in general. As soon as you’re more concerned about taking a video of someone getting beaten up instead of helping that person that’s getting beaten up, I think that’s when you lose all sort of moral fibre.“

Seether is a surviving name in guitar-driven alternative rock. Mixing intricate melody with metal-heavy riffs and grunge rock overtones, frontman Shaun Morgan has been using music as a way to umbrella from the black-cloud rainfall that has seemingly been pouring over him since childhood. There is a melancholy in Seether’s sound and Morgan’s lyrics, this has been a throughline for the entirety of the band’s career. Morgan is an open book, which is evident in his songs, and the frontman exhales new thoughts on modern society with the band’s heaviest album to date, Poison the Parish.

“Social media is a lie. It’s an embellishment of the truth to try and create the impression that your life is more interesting than anybody else’s, which is obviously a load of crap,” Morgan says. “Anyone who posts a picture of themselves will put it through 40 filters, and it’s been edited, it’s all a lie. At the end of the day I don’t measure my value from people saying yes or no to a picture or a post. There have been studies now that prove that social media has caused depression and social anxiety, there’s nothing positive about it so far. It’s a marketing tool. At the end of the day, people are trying to make as much money as possible at the expense of everybody else.“

When speaking of these “poisonous” people, Morgan doesn’t just mean faceless corporate conglomerates. Many celebrities and media megastars are guilty of exploiting this exact infrastructure to turn our insecurities in for a quick buck. Making us think we need whatever they are selling in order to be validated by not only those around us, but also ourselves. Morgan explains the meaning behind the album’s title, which metaphorically utilizes religious stigmas.

“The ‘parish’ are the people who follow these monsters at the top. For example, the most ridiculous example, to me, is that little girl from the Kardashians, Kylie Jenner. She sells lip products, but she never had lips until she had fake ones put in,” Morgan explains. “That’s a perfect example of how the world has gone to shit. People are buying up her products because she’s famous. So they [the Kardashians] would be the ‘preachers’ and then the ‘parish’ are the millions of people who follow them, and hang by their every word, and are influenced by their actions and look up to them as idols. The irony is they preach about body positivity and loving yourself but meanwhile their bodies are 40% manufactured in a lab somewhere.”

This is a two way street. Sure, marketers and celebrities are exploiting our emotions to give in to what they’re selling, but at the same time, we are allowing ourselves to be manipulated. There’s a lack of awareness in general society, caused mostly by electronic distractions and anxieties that are being instilled into our subconscious. Not only that, but it feels as if human intellect is plummeting with each passing year. It’s like technological advancements are molding our minds into a modernized version of stone-age style barbaric stupidity.

“We were in New Orleans one time and this homeless couple were attacked by these two young women who they ended up kicking and beating the man’s head into the curb right in front of the restaurant we were at,” Morgan says. “A whole group gathered and nobody helped, everyone just sort of picked up their phones and started filming it. We ended up running out to help them. These homeless people looked close to their 60s maybe 70s and nobody helped because it was more important to have the footage for their social media than have actual human ethical behaviour. I was disappointed by that and I think it gets worse and worse as the years go by.”

Though social media is a strong theme on the album, it’s not the only one. Personal circumstances are also a common theme across the record. The final track on Poison the Parish, “Sell My Soul,” was written for Morgan’s father, who tragically passed away from cancer about a year and a half ago. Inner turmoils from Morgan’s past still seem to haunt him every now and again as well, continuing to show their face in his lyrics.

“These are very emotional scars in the sense that they’re gonna abuse you forever,” Morgan explains. “You can forget that it’s there sometimes, but that doesn’t mean that it just goes away. I think there are things that happened to me as a kid that still bug me, but they don’t bug me every day. I think you can draw upon that. Sometimes i draw upon that subconsciously while writing lyrics and I think that a lot of the time it’s stream of consciousness. I don’t really know where I’m headed with the lyrics, but they all of a sudden end up being what they are and when I go back and re-read them and actually analyze everything the meaning becomes a lot more clear.”

For many, emotional scars are paired with a self-ingested way to forget. For Morgan, booze became a vice, and alcoholism has harrowingly followed him for the majority of his life. As of 2015, he’s been actively trying to live a life of sobriety, but it’s a steep, glass-covered hill to climb.

“I have certainly had my struggle with that for my entire life, I fall off the wagon a lot. I go through phases. it’s hard for me to stay on the straight and narrow because I have a lot issues that I deal with on a mental level,” Morgan explains. “I have bipolar disorder, which I was diagnosed with about a year ago, so you have ups and downs and unfortunately when you’re on a tour bus, and you’re hitting a low, sometimes you turn to booze to fix that. But for the most part I’d say 90% of my life is sober and good. It’s an ongoing battle, it’s not easy to maintain, but you gotta take it one day at a time and hope that you get through it.”

Poison the Parish found Morgan step into the producer’s chair for the first time in his career. Seether’s new label, Concord Records, allowed the band much more creative freedom, whereas their past label tried pushing the band into a more poppy, mainstream direction. This album is noticeably heavier than its predecessors, and guitars are brought to the forefront. The record was produced with the help of Matt Hyde on engineering duties. Hyde has worked with bands like Slayer, Hatebreed, Children Of Bodom, and Deftones.

“I took what I learned that I enjoyed and thought was relevant to this band and I abandoned things that I thought weren’t relevant,” Morgan says. “Hopefully, from the four or five guys I’ve worked with in the past 20 years, I’ve learned enough that I had the capability of getting in [the studio] and doing it myself. But then again you still have that trepidation that it’s not gonna be well received, so that’s kind of a big thing to take on. But at the end of the day I think it sounded great and I’m proud of it. Certainly in my mind I’ve proven that I can do it. I just feel at this point in time I needed to prove something to myself.”

Seether perform at the Commodore Ballroom (Vancouver) on October 22.