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Seether guitarist and singer Shaun Morgan admits that the lead guitar spot in the multi-platinum band has been a bit of a bouncing ball. Since 1999, the group has gone through three lead axemen, with the most recent, Troy McLawhorn, departing in 2011.
"What drummers were to Spinal Tap, lead guitarists are to Seether," Morgan says with a good-natured laugh.“The problem is that a lot of these guys have ego problems, plain and simple. We’ve seen guys become rock stars overnight, which becomes a problem because that’s not how we operate. And we’ve had guys who stay for a few months and then say, ‘This is not for me.’ It’s a strange place to be in."
Earlier this year, Morgan, drummer John Humphrey and bassist Dale Stewart welcomed Bryan Wickermann as a touring lead guitarist for the band. Wickermann began working with Seether as part of his job at Schecter Guitars and then became the group's bass tech. So far, his promotion to an onstage role seems to be working out, says Morgan: "Everybody seems happy and feels that it's a good fit. No signs of rock stardom with Bryan. We'll see how it goes."
Morgan assumed all guitar responsibilities on Seether's just-released new album, Isolate And Medicate. It's the band's second effort with noted producer Brendan O'Brien, whose past work includes discs by Pearl Jam, Rage Against The Machine and Bruce Springsteen, among others. “It’s still humbling to work with a guy like Brendan," Morgan says. "He’s worked with some of the greatest artists and best players in the world. To think that he respects our band and likes what we do is pretty extraordinary."
"Brendan gives us a lot of freedom, and he’s always willing to try new ideas," Morgan elaborates. "He’ll always say, ‘That’s a great song, but how can we make it more interesting? How can we keep the listener engaged?’ And then there’s a lot of back and forth that happens, which can be exciting – you see the song take off in some new direction. But that’s the way Brendan is: He wants to make every second of the band’s music count.”
When asked to list his Top Five Tips for Guitarists, Morgan demurs at first – “I’m not an accomplished guitarist, so I really wouldn’t know what to say.” A second later, he does an abrupt 180 and says, “But I do know how to get the job done. If you’ve been in a band for as long as I have and have played a lot of shows, you figure out a few things along the way. So let's have a go then."