Monday, June 9, 2003
When growing up an outcast, figuring out who is and isn't your friend can be a fairly easy task.
But when that outcast is suddenly adored by thousands and selling out venues, even the ties that bind become very loose.
Since forming his band Seether back in 1999, South African vocalist/guitarist Shaun Morgan has seen the best and worst in people. Now that Seether's debut U.S. album, "Disclaimer," has gone gold, Morgan it's easiest to keep to himself most of the time.
Sitting in his tour bus at this summer's Rockfest, Morgan glares at his cell phone that displays a number he doesn't recognize.
"See, I don't even know who the f**k that is," said Morgan, pointing at his Caller ID. "I recently had to change my number because people I don't even know are calling me at four in the morning."
The attention Morgan, guitarist Pat Callahan, bassist Dale Stewart, and drummer Kevin Soffera receive these days is different than the singer became accustomed to in his "unpopular" days.
"I was the kid that no one wanted to hang out with," Morgan said. "The bigger it gets, the stranger it gets."
While other artists may lay the bravado on thick lyrically, Morgan explores his own fragility.
Those emotions recently hit home for a girl Morgan met who had overdosed. After hearing Seether's "Fine Again," the recovering girl found the will to live again.
"Everything I write is like a diary," said Morgan, who wrote the 12 songs on "Disclaimer" over a course of eight years.
During that period, Morgan worked toward success in blocks: first conquer his native country, then tackle America. After selling out arenas in South Africa and gaining a steady following in the United States, the members of Seether have achieved much of what they wanted. However, the group has still been befuddled by some responses.
"We still don't get respect from the South African press," Morgan said. "And there was a band who was big in South Africa and wanted nothing to do with us when we lived there. Now that we are getting bigger in America, they're calling us up like they're our friends."
Morgan said for all the false pretense among many musicians, his interaction with fellow bands that he respects was a satisfying feeling.
"We're friends with the guys from the Cold," Morgan said. "I mean, we were listening to Cold all the time when we made our record. Now they're telling us that they love our record. There's that mutual respect there."
Seether's recent show with Cold at Rockfest marked one stop along a whirlwind touring schedule.
"We've done -- and I'm serious -- like 400 shows in a year before," said Morgan.
The numerous concert dates have done their share of damage to the singer's personal life. Morgan's marriage dissolved after his ex-wife couldn't cope with a husband who was rarely there.
Leaving behind his wife was compounded by the birth of his daughter, Jade.
Taking out a photo of his baby, Morgan said he was bothered by his infrequent visits with Jade.
"It's been so long since I've seen her," Morgan said, quickly becoming speechless.
Despite his longing to be with his daughter, Morgan said his harrowing road schedule has become necessary.
"When we have three days off, I don't know what to do with myself," Morgan said. "Me and the band have to do this to keep alive. It's really about survival."