Seether - Veruca Salt
Back in 1995 I was watching Glastonbury late at night on tv when a band I'd never seen before came on: there were four of them, but what caught the eye was the two guitarists, both seemingly very young women, both on vocals and lead guitars, one wearing an ankle length cotton dress, the other a flowery coloured bikini top and faded blue jeans. Very Laura Ashley. The guys, the drummer and bassist were just an add-on, it was the girls who were in charge.
But what was amazing was that they were soo great. They took the screen by storm. The heavy, driving hard rock seemed all the more extraordinary coming from such nicely turned out women - it was as though the characters in a Merchant Ivory film had just thrown aside their croquet mallets, found some electric guitars in the rose garden, and were giving it some, and how.
That weekend I went out and found a copy of Seether on vinyl and sure enough, it was a massive hit at disco's, although most of my audience had never heard it before.
So, start with what I saw at Glastonbury
and then listen to the studio version which is just as good.
I love it, it's so exhilarating, yet suffused with latent mendaciousness, all the time threatening to explode, which it does regularly. The words filter through - what is Seether, an animal? A wild pet barely under control?
Seether is neither loose nor tight. seether is neither black nor white. I try to keep her on a short leash. I try to calm her down. I try to ram her into the ground, yeah.
Can't fight the seether
It wasn't until I listened to it today when I realised the song seems to be an enactment of a kind of Eraserhead situation, that the seether might be a kind of monster daughter, or maybe a schizophrenic version of her own self.
I try to rock her in my cradle. I try to knock her out. I try to cram her back in my mouth, yeah.
...............Keep her down, what a lovely daughter. Oh she is not born like other girls, but I know how to conceive her. Oh she may not look like other girls, but she's a snarl tooth seether. Seether! Can't fight the seether.[x3] I can't see her till I'm foaming at the mouth. Yeah.
The Glastonbury rendering of the song has an intro not on the single where she refers to it as a "little ghost" and asks "are you haunting me right now?" and then with fantastic restrained viciousness she intones:
"I love you when you're gone
oh I love you when you're gone".
It's all very sinister and enigmatic, and I couldn't care less that I don't know what it means because every time I hear either version it still has that amazing ball-breaking drive and freshness.
Seether is neither big nor small
Seether is the centre of it all.
At the end at Glastonbury one of them screams "Rock and Roll!" hoarsely, and then something loud, short and unintelligible. Which seems entirely appropriate.