Interview: Corey Lowery of Seether Talks ‘Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum’

Seether need no introduction. They are multi-platinum selling band, and their grunge-inspired rock has been getting them rave reviews for around twenty years now. They’ve toured with everyone from Nickelback to Evanescence to Papa Roach, and some of their most memorable hits (though there are so many) include “Broken” featuring Amy Lee of Evanescence (featured in 2004 film The Punisher) and “Fake It”, one of the catchiest songs of the 2000s. They are the creators of Rise Above Fest (founded in 2012) to raise awareness of suicide prevention. They are legends.

Their latest record, their first in three years, Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum, whichtranslates to “If You Want Peace, Prepare For War”, is set for release on August 28.

Spotlight Report chatted with Corey Lowery about the new record, their influences, and how they’re getting through Covid-19.

SR: First of congrats on the new album! I really love it! I can’t stop listening to it!

CL: Oh, thank you so much. That’s awesome to hear. Thank you so much.

SR: And I have to ask, what drew you to the title?

CL: Shaun came up with the title. The title means – it’s Latin for – if you want peace, prepare for war. It’s pronounced Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum.

SR: Ah, so that’s how you say it. I’m not always sure with Latin. And what does the title – and the album – mean for you personally?

CL:  Well, for me, I think it goes with a lot of the lyrics that Shaun wrote. The whole “if you want peace, prepare for war” thing … everything that was kind of going on … and hopefully there’s peaceful result for everything that’s going on. And there will be. So definitely all of the lyrics … ‘Dangerous’, ‘Dead and Done’, ‘Bruised and Bloodied’ … I think all of it has a meaning that can go straight back to the record. We came up with that … probably … we were just out of the studio … when he came up with that. And I loved it.

SR: Ah. I was very interested to know what came first, whether it was the title or the theme. Because they go so well together. The sound, everything … it works perfectly to tell that story.

CL: Yeah. And you know what? We recorded the record in Nashville. Tennessee. And the whole record was just an incredible experience. We all lived together in Shaun’s house, and we would visit the studio during the day and at night we would cook together and talk about the record. It was just really close, really hands-on. Everybody supported each other through the tracking. Everybody did such a great job … It was a great way for the band to be together that whole time and have such a positive thing happen. Even though there was darkness and stuff like that … I think we’re probably a band that’s a bit that’s a little bit happy with the darker side [laughs].

SR: [laughs] And you were working as an assistant engineer on the album … did you enjoy working on it from both sides?

CL: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve been doing engineering … for years and years and I was super excited when Shaun asked if I would be a part of that. I was like absolutely … There’s a big trust that comes with engineering and producing … and he [Shaun] had a vision of what he wanted and was able to really express that … very hands on through the whole thing … and it’s your band, so you’re gonna put everything in to it; this thing will go as far as you can take it. It took a lot of love, put in this record, and a lot of hard work. Many hours in the studio. I think we did 21 songs and ended up with like 13 on the record.

SR: Wow! It was clearly a very productive recording process then!

CL: Yeah, it was a super productive time. When we went into the studio, everybody had learned their parts very well. So, you’re not thinking about playing the parts as much as capturing the emotion … so each song has lots of love. Everybody knew their parts, so we really just focused on what the emotion, and what the song is about, trying to capture than, and capture it sincerely. That’s the best way to do that.

SR: And speaking of the meanings behind the songs … you wanted to keep the meaning of ‘Dangerous’ open for interpretation?

CL: I think a lot of our songs … it leaves people open for them to be creative with the lyrical content also. And everyone will have their own vibe about what it’s about. I think it has a lot to do with social media and the good and bad that come with that. It’s been a great thing, and it can be a scary thing as well, can be a dangerous thing as well.

SR: Oh, absolutely! I think we all love trying to find our own meanings in songs and make them fit our experiences. I think it’s cool that you want your fans to be able to do that, it can be whatever speaks to your fans. I like that.

CL: Yeah. It can ruin the whole vibe of a song … “it’s exactly about this” … it’s happened to me before. It broke my heart to find out that one song was about – I had this whole elaborate idea of what the song was about and then the writer told me what it was about, and I was like “eh, that’s not as interesting to me”. So, I think it’s important to leave a lot of that open.

SR: It’s also a little bit like school if you’re told what the meaning is … you’re looking at the lyrics again trying to see how they relate to this totally different meaning from what you pictured.

CL: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, once it’s written and recorded and we’ve released it … it becomes the people’s song. It’s their song. We don’t want to ruin that in any type of way. We want the song to be theirs.

SR: And it’s the best way to get fans really into a song. Oh, I heard you guys drew on a lot of different influences for this record including grunge and South African punk and metal … were their specific bands influencing you, or was it just “this is a cool sound, let’s see if we can incorporate that”?

CL: For me, I’ve been influenced by so many great artists. And if you listen to some of the new bands that are coming out, and all the bands that you grew up listening to .. and by the time you do your own music, I think it’s important to just be yourself and all of those influences will come through you. I think the hardest thing to do is write a sincere record and truly be yourself. And that’s what we try to accomplish on all our records.

SR: I love that. And it shows that you like something, and you listen to it and it feeds through you rather than a conscious decision like “Oh I want to sound exactly like so and so”…

CL: Yeah [laughs]. It’s important to do that … I think through the years, Seether definitely has its own sound …

SR: Mmhmm.

CL: … as soon as you hear the song start you wanna know that it’s actually Seether, not this band or that band.

SR: Yeah. And Seether really does have its own unique and recognisable sound. 

CL: Yeah.

SR: It’s so good to have a new record from you, even if we can’t see you just yet.

CL: We really can’t wait to get back over there! We were over there … not too long ago … we got to play a few places. It was my first time over there in Australia. I loved it! And I can’t wait to get back to you guys!

SR: We’d really love to have you guys … obviously we don’t know when that’s going to be right now … but hopefully soon!

CL: You know what … the record will be coming out this year … I believe at the end of August … it gives everybody a chance to listen to it and get familiar with the lyrics. And I hope everybody sings along with it when we come over.

SR: Oh, we definitely will be! And speaking of the dreaded Covid and how it has changed things, your ‘Hanging at Home’ series has been really cool! I love that you’re showing different parts of your lives. How much planning is there behind these videos?

CL: We all kind of decided to … everybody’ll kinda be themselves … I think it’s a unique time for everyone … to show who you are at home and what you like to do. And something outside of – a little bit off the grid – “here’s Seether, this is us going on stage”. Just open the door, show a little bit of … Johnny’s a big record collector and I love doing the Crossfit and Jiu Jitsu, Dale loves fishing … And it was a great way for Shaun to play a couple songs and talk to everybody and let them know we can’t wait to get back out there. It’s the best way we know how – right now, when we’re not together – to open up a little bit. We don’t normally do that … to open up a little bit and show everybody who we are, as a band.

SR: I think that the one good thing that has come from Covid is these videos are creating more of a connection between bands and fans. It’s also showing how much creativity you guys have too – to come up with all these different ways to connect.

CL: Yeah, absolutely. This is kinda like the Wild West – there’s no rules or anything. It doesn’t matter how big or small the band is, we’re all on the same page right now. None of us can tour, so we are trying to come up with different ways of connecting with the people, ‘cause that’s what we miss most, the connection of the live shows. And letting people know that we’re still here, we still love you guys. We can’t wait to get back out. And we thank you for the support … we want to thank everyone for the support … we try to respond to a lot of stuff, to let the fans know that we are still here, and we miss everybody …

SR: Is there anything else fans can do to help you out right now? Aside from buying the new record of course.

CL: Yeah, well, we have a new merch line, of course, that comes with the new record … there’s going to be brand new shirts and everything. And of course, the record coming out at the end of August. We appreciate all the support for that. Until we can get back out, playing some live shows … we’ll share that energy pretty soon. This will come to an end. We will be back on tour. It will happen. Everybody’s just gotta be patient. We’ve gotta hang in and support each other ‘til that happens.

SR: And how have you guys been coping aside from doing these videos? Any new hobbies or anything like that? And do you have any advice for anyone stuck at home?

CL: It kinda depends a lot on your area here in America if you feel safe to go to a gym or out walking. You’ve just gotta be very smart about it. All around the world we’re just trying to be smart about what we do. We wear masks now when we go out … trying to keep this at bay as much as possible until there’s a vaccine for everyone. Until then, just be smart. Use your brain a little, wash your hands … I think we’re all trying to do that. The better we do that, the faster this is gonna be over.

SR: What would you say to someone wanting to get in to Cross-fit or something similar who might not know where to start?

CL: Find something on YouTube. Find something that you’re into … maybe you’re into yoga or maybe you’re into whatever … something to get your body moving. For me, I do a lot of this exercise stuff just for my mental health. Not so much for my physical health. I think that’s a bonus … We don’t have the live shows right now … on stage there was a lot of moving and being active, so I’m trying to replace that with the Crossfit and Jiu Jitsu stuff. It’s more of a mental thing for me. Find something that helps you … that’s my advice.

SR: Brilliant advice! Thank you! And before I let you go, I have to know, what song are you most looking forward to playing live?

CL:  Uh one through thirteen [laughs]. Of course, ‘Dangerous’. I can’t wait to play ‘Dead and Done’, ‘Beg’, and even some of the lighter stuff: ‘Wasteland’ … one of my favourite songs on the record is ‘Written in Stone’ – kind of an acoustic song … This record’s gonna have a wide variety of songs and I can’t wait … as we go through the touring process we’ll take out one and we’ll have some fun with it. Can’t wait for everybody to check out the whole record!

SR: Not too long to go now! And the year is going by so quickly, so it’ll be here before you know it!

CL: Time flies! If you stay busy time keeps moving on and it helps get through this so much easier. I try to take this time as positive as I can … we’re all enjoying time with our families … can’t wait to get back out though! As soon as we get the green light we’ll definitely be back to Australia! You guys just hang in there until then!

SR: And until then we’ve got your record and I know it will do really well!

CL: Thanks for your support! We’ll be there as soon as can. Hang in there and learn the lyrics as best as you can! Thank you!