Ernie Ball String Theory is a web series that explores the sonic origins of some of music’s most innovative guitar players. In this episode, Shaun Morgan of Seether discusses how his childhood influenced his music, his approach to songwriting, and more. Find out the top six things we learned…

1. He uses songwriting as a way to rid of unhappiness. (0:22)

“When I’m playing music or I’m writing music it’s the closest I can get to what I’m hearing in my head.  It’s the closest I can get to what I’m trying to express or what feeling I’m trying to slowly chip away at inside of me. So that’s why I don’t write a lot of happy songs because there’s no reason to get rid of happiness. We will hold onto happiness and cling to it for dear life. But when I’m angry or sad or frustrated that’s when I often find myself wandering into my studio and writing stuff and trying to get that out of my system.”

2. His childhood was full of crap. (1:00)

“I grew up on a pig farm and we had about 500 pigs and a couple of cattle. One of the games my brother and I would play is we would make improvised grenades out of cow turds. We’d pack them as tightly as we could and you would stick what they would call little ‘tom thumb crackers’ in them. They looked like a little tiny stick of dynamite and then you’d throw it up and it explodes and whoever gets hit by the most amount of cow crap loses. This is the kind of stuff you do when you don’t have any friends and you live out in the middle of nowhere.”

3. Moving from the farm to the city helped flame his love for music. (1:37)

“Farm murders were starting to happen in South Africa, which people sort of know about now but maybe not quite as much as they should, but that pushed us off the farm and into the city and basically I just became a city kid. Because I was closer to all my friends at that point I could then start playing music in bands and I could start figuring out, ‘Ok man, there’s something inside me that’s raging… I need a way to express this.’ Moving into the city was probably what gave me the biggest opportunities to start playing music with other people.”

4. He found inspiration through Nirvana… and pissing off his parents. (2:44)

“When I was about 12 or 13 somebody gave me Nevermind. From the very first note to the very last note on that album I felt like I wasn’t alone. Like, this dude understands me, this music is written for me. It made me feel so many things that I didn’t know were inside of me and I wanted to recreate that and I wanted to be part of that and I wanted to play along to it and I wanted to be in that world. Of course the other major inspiration was that my parents were really, really mad at the fact that I wanted to pick up a guitar and pursue this pipe dream of becoming a musician. Most of the motivation when I was really young anyway was to piss my dad off.” 

5. He relies on Ernie Ball 11s all the way to 54s. (4:55)

“I stick with the 11s and sometimes even slightly heavier. In the studio everything is under a microscope and these hold up. Live is obviously a much more fast and loose kind of experience than being in the studio. But for the most part I like the 11s to 54s across the board. You can concentrate on more of the playing side of recording rather than the tuning side. That in itself is worth its weight in gold as far as I’m concerned.”

6. Songwriting is a fluid process and can’t be forced. (6:26)

“Somedays I think, ‘I’m going to write a song now,’ and I get in there and nothing comes out. Like, sometimes you get inspiration in the shower… I will literally sing this melody in my head so I don’t forget it and then I run up the stairs and sit down and try to get it down as fast as possible. To try to prod it and be awake and try to get into the studio and say, ‘You’re going to write stuff today and it better be good because your career depends on it.’ That’s difficult. So I wait until it comes from some random place.”

Strings

Seether relies on Ernie Ball Beefy Slinky and Paradigm Beefy Slinky electric strings. Shaun Morgan plays an Ernie Ball Music Man StringRay RS guitar.

String Theory

Check out similar String Theory films from Ernie Ball featuring artists such as Mac DemarcoRobin Finck of Nine Inch Nails, Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World, Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction, Daron Malakian of System of a Down, and Kurt Vile.

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