Most of us would love to have a hit song written about us. Seether's Shaun Morgan isn't one of those people.
But that didn't stop his ex-girlfriend, Evanescence's Amy Lee, from penning "Call Me When You're Sober," a tune she later admitted was specifically written about her relationship with Morgan (see "Evanescence Set For Fall Tour; Amy Lee Reveals Inspiration Behind 'Sober' "). And the timing couldn't have been worse for Lee's damning revelation, coming just weeks after Morgan checked himself into rehab for treatment of "a combination of substances" (see "Seether Frontman Enters Rehab; August Tour Dates Canceled"). His rehab stint, coincidentally, began on the very same day the Evanescence track was delivered to the nation's rock radio stations.
As you might expect, Morgan wasn't thrilled with Lee's public airing of the pair's dirty laundry. For the last year, the song has "followed me around and haunted me," he said, and it chipped away at his reputation.
"People would say to me, 'Yeah, man, I know what you're going through,' and I was like, 'No, I don't think you do,' " Morgan explained. " 'Your ex-girlfriend didn't write a song about you, that millions of people have heard, saying you're a bad guy. As soon as that happens, buddy, come up and tell me you know what I'm going through.' "
Now, clean and sober, Morgan and his band are returning with their third studio outing, Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces, which is set for an October 23 release. But don't expect the LP to contain a response track.
"There isn't necessarily a response as there's a lament," the singer for the South African rockers said. "I was bummed out. I was really upset that she would say and do those things. In any relationship, I don't think it's right to say and do those things when people break up, and she obviously felt the need to go out there and make me sound like a complete a--hole. What can I do? I just refuse to lower myself to that level. But it was a painful thing and it got me down — people coming up to me on the street and referring to that song. But I didn't feel the need to write back and be mean."
Instead, the Howard Benson-produced Finding Beauty — which the band hopes to begin mixing next week — boasts "Breakdown," a song some might interpret as Morgan's answer to "Sober." But that's not the case.
"It isn't an aggressive song, and it isn't even an angry song — I would prefer to refer to it as a lament rather than an angry backlash," he said. "You couldn't tell that the song was about one person. It's probably more universal. I prefer to be a little more vague and respectful. There are some things I could have said and done too — there are always two sides to every story. And if anything, the song says, 'Fine. Go ahead and say those things.' But what's the point of telling my side? That's what the bloodthirsty want, and I don't care what the bloodthirsty want."
If there are any references on the disc about a failed relationship, Morgan said it will be about his most recent ex and not Lee.
"These songs are turning out to be somewhat more introspective, which is weird — you'd assume I'd be more pissed off and have more things to say," he explained. "I don't know how much I want to say and what I want to say. It's tough, because I know what the expectations are for this album and that people will be looking for that Amy Lee reference, and I am trying desperately not to have any. I just ended another truly, truly horrible relationship with somebody, so if there's anything about somebody on the record, it would be about her, not Amy. In retrospect, Amy and I, at our worst moments, were still better than this last girl and I at our best moments."
Sonically, Morgan said the record is more balanced than anything Seether have done before and far more cohesive — thanks, in part, to the fact that the band had much more time to write and came up with more than 50 tracks to choose from. When the album hits stores, expect it to feature at least 10 songs, including "No, Jesus Christ," "Rise Above This" and "FMLYHM," an acronym for "F--- Me Like You Hate Me."
"That element of our band, as people know it, is still there, but there have been several developments," Morgan said. "It's been more experimental with us. We tried to explore the actual process of songwriting and the process of writing songs that have good melodies that are sing-able, that lean more towards the pop side. And when I got pissed off, I got really pissed off, and there are certain moments on the album that I almost didn't recognize as being us because it was kind of brutal. But when I went into writing the songs, the label was sort of looking for 'Remedy' [from 2005's Karma and Effect] and obviously a song like 'Broken' [from 2004's Disclaimer II], and I said, 'Those songs have been written, because it was the right time and the right place to write them. For you to expect me to write something like that, it's just not possible.' "
Seether plan to spend much of the fall on the road touring in support of Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces. An arena tour, alongside Three Days Grace and Breaking Benjamin, has already been booked and will launch September 8 in Hutchinson, Kansas; gigs are scheduled through November 14 in Biloxi, Mississippi.