Interview: Seether Frontman Shaun Morgan Hopes to Save Lives with Rise Above Fest
On September 3, Seether and a host of other bands will gather in Gilford, New Hampshire, to rock the inaugural Rise Above Fest, the brainchild of Seether frontman Shaun Morgan. The festival is designed to raise awareness of the world’s teen-suicide epidemic.
The festival, which is named after Seether’s 2008 hit “Rise Above This” (which Morgan wrote for his brother, who took his own life in 2007), also will include performances by Buckcherry, Puddle of Mudd, Black Stone Cherry, Otherwise and others. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI) New Hampshire chapter.
“Somebody’s gotta stand up and say something about (suicide),” said Morgan, who says he has suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts throughout his life. “If we don’t tackle it, it’s going to get worse.”
Seether, best known for “Broken,” their 2004 duet with Evanescence’s Amy Lee, are riding the success of last year’s Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray, which includes the singles “Country Song” and “Tonight.” The band, rounded out by bassist Dale Stewart and drummer John Humphrey, also recently served as an opening act for the North American dates on Nickelback’s Here and Now Tour.
The 11-band, two-stage Rise Above Fest at Gilford’s Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion will kick off 2 p.m. September 3 and will end with Seether’s 90-minute headlining set, which is scheduled to kick off at 9:30 p.m. Ticket prices range from $29.75 to $64.50. check out the link below for more info.
GUITAR WORLD: When did you get the idea for The Rise Above Fest, and why is suicide awareness such an important issue for you?
I had the idea this spring, and it kind of tied into what I was hoping to end up doing one day. I never thought it was going to be a festival, but some sort of foundation based on trying to help kids that are suicidal. Especially with what’s going on in the world these days, it feels like no one really cares. Agencies and charities that have been working with them for 20 or 30 years suddenly find that they have no more funding coming in. Suicide’s killing kids who are 12, 13, 14, 15, and it’s one of the biggest killers of kids in that age group across the country.
I’ve experienced it, and I really feel like nobody gave a shit. The house I live in, the guy I bought it from shot himself. He was a retired businessman who was like 65, and there was no explanation. In the town I live in, there are like 10 or 20 suicides a year, yet it’s become something nobody really pays any attention to.
All the crap they feed people and all the these drugs they stick in kids’ brains, I think it just makes it worse. Somebody’s gotta stand up and say something about it. It’s time we all stop fucking around and pretend nothing is going on. If we don’t tackle it, it’s going to get worse.
Why did you choose to benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness? What stands out about that organization?
They are one of the oldest around, and they’ve always kept the focus on the families of suicides, failed suicides and the vets coming back from war. They cover quite a broad spectrum, so there are a lot of reasons we wanted to partner with these people. A lot of mental hospitals have been shut down recently, and a lot of their people have become homeless or become criminals because they have no choice.
Suicidal thoughts and depression, I’ve suffered from them my whole life and deal with it in my own way. I was on all the routine drugs when I was a kid, all the cool, “Yeah, I’ve got a problem and I’m seeing a therapist” drugs. I was forced to go on those all the time. I feel like NAMI is a good organization. They encompass a lot of things a lot of people are afraid deal with or are too selfish and too far up their own asses to even care about.
The Rise Above Fest’s inaugural lineup is stacked with some of the genre’s top names. How did that come together?
I’ve known those bands for a while. They just happened to be bands we did a couple of shows with and asked them if they’d come out and do it. It’s really great that the lineup could work out, because I feel like it’s a good cross-section and covers a lot of aspects of rock and roll.
The whole idea is to make the day as entertaining as possible. If the cause isn’t what makes people buy tickets, then hopefully the bands will be enough for the ticket price. It worked out that these bands would be in the area and were gracious enough to join on, so hopefully this will be the first of an annual thing. If it does work out, then we owe these guys a serious debt of gratitude!