In a generation where hard work is placed on the back burner for attempts at instant gratification; everybody wants to have it all right now. They all strive for the good life as fast as possible. Especially in the music biz.
Kids see the glamorous lifestyle across all genres of music and they figure all they have to do is emulate what their eyes take in. Seeing is one thing, learning is another. And that applies to the adult playground that can be found by playing in a hard rock band.
“It’s about learning the fundamentals. It’s about being solid, not flashy…all that will come later.”
That’s Seether drummer John Humphrey yapping about some of the principles he instituted when joining up with one of the headlining acts on this year’s Rockstar Energy UPROAR Festival. Seether shares the bill with Avenged Sevenfold, Bullet for My Valentine and Escape the Fate to name a few.
“It’s kind of a super-cool family reunion right? Yeah, we’re with friends we’ve made over the years like Sevendust and Three Days Grace, guys we’ve toured with before.”
He also realizes that it’s logical for bands to come together for the fans of this genre of music…
“Lot of bands, lot of music, for one ticket price. It makes a lot sense, economically. right now. I know times are hard for a lot of people. So instead of deciding which concerts to go to, hopefully a lot of the bands they want to see are on this bill.”
He went onto say that this is a great way for bands to reach new fans as well. Plus, he’s stoked to play on an arena/amphitheatre tour again, since there last one was back in 2009 when Seether opened for Nickelback.
So what’s a day like for a rock star drummer while covering miles of pavement…
“On this festival it will be a little bit like groundhog day. Usually I’ll get up in the morning and look at our day sheet, that our tour manager loving posts the night before. And it usually gives an outline of press or interviews we might have for the day (phoners, radio visit, etc). At night, we may have a meet-n-greet, so we could have a couple of those.”
Prep right before for the show consists of…
“Our ritual is we kind of hangout together, maybe ten minutes, we jam on music, stuff we like; anything from Sepultura to Metallica to Nirvana and just kind of get into the head space. We talk to each other, make jokes, really light stuff making cracks and jokes. The three of us we like to laugh a lot. We like to have a good time, it’s not too heavy not serious and then it’s time for the show.”
Since drummers rarely do the talking these days (or so it seems lately), the focus of this convo revolved around Humphrey’s trade that has earned him worldwide recognition. The easy – and obvious – question: Does he have any urge to do be out front instead of behind the drum kit?
“Yeah, I would like to be closer to the fans. I do get off on the faces and the people singing along with lyrics and sometimes I wish I wasn’t staring at Shaun and Dale’s ass. But at the same time, I’m comfortable with my role in the band. I have no desire to be out front. And don’t want to. I feel for Shaun though; out of all of us, he’s the most recognizable, he has difficulty going places, he’s stopped almost all the time. Me and Dale kind of fly under the radar and I’m totally cool with that. I know what my role is in the band and I love playing music, I love being in this band and I love playing in this band.”
Whether one knows it or not, most people who have enjoyed – and gone slightly crazy – playing in a band will tell you that drummers are an unique breed. Humphrey admits that he’s aware that his fellow drummers can be tricky to deal with; which had him a bit concerned when he was called upon to fill the vacant drummer void for Seether eight years ago.
“I knew that it was going to be an uphill battle, just because they had been through a few drummers. And it seems like bands go through drummers. I don’t if it’s the atypical personality of the drummer and I’m a little different? You know, not trying to gloat or anything, but I just prided myself initially on the audition itself and just doing my homework. I don’t claim to be the best drummer in the world and there’s drummers out there that can do circles around me. I’m just reliable, I show up on time and I know the music.”
He went onto say how shocked he was that some of the other drummers that tried out during that time period didn’t learn all the Seether songs.
“I don’t care if you’re a cover band, or filling in for your church band or doing a major gig like Seether. I’m just surprised that the guys would rather party or have an ego…I don’t know. I’m not into the rock star thing and never have been, I pride myself on being a musician and a solid one, a reliable one. And luckily, it has helped me maintain and continue to work and do this thing I love doing since I dreamed of doing since I was 13, 14 years-old.”
And that goes back to how this article opened up…the basics. For the young, and older, hopefuls who are still chasing the dream of rock stardom, here’s some advice from someone who made it a reality…
“First and foremost, it’s the fundamentals; you got to be able to play you got to be solid, be reliable, BE PROFESSIONAL! It’s just that simple. It’s not about partying. I’m asked all the time ‘what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen man?’ they want to hear about TV’s going out the windows. And really for me man, I get bombed if the show sucks. And I don’t mean the crowd, I mean if I screw up and the set wasn’t grooving.”
Humphrey thrives on seeing the crowd respond to the beat. He describes it as a natural & best high a drummer could have while playing live.
We closed this chat with one of those dream scenarios, as in, if you could drum in any band from yesteryear who would it be? Knowing he is a admirer of classic rock from the 70s, I asked him who he would like to be drumming behind in 1972…
“1972, wow that’s pretty good. This is gonna sound funny, the very first music I really liked – I was a weird kid – I liked Elvis Presley. I was just this weird little kid that liked 50s music.”
Nothing wrong with wanting to rock out with the King man.
Catch Seether on the main stage of UPROAR Festival which is trekking around the country right now.
By Joe Belcastro