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Interview: John Humphrey; Seether / The Nixons

When you talk about drummers in the rock music industry today one name that will come up in most conversations is John Humphrey. Humphrey certainly keeps himself busy playing drums for platinum award winning band Seether as well as Oklahoma City based band The Nixons. He took a moment to sit down and answer a few questions for Renegade Radio via email. Just as many of you we are on a shelter in place here and could not get together with John in person but I will assure you that once this lifts I will go visit John and we can do a part two to this and allow fan interaction via Facebook Live. So without further ado here is John Humphrey.

Renegade Radio (KH) John thank you for taking the time to do this interview via email and just connecting with the fans as well as catching up with How have you and your family been during this COVID 19 pandemic? How are your band mates holding up?

John Humphrey
John Humphrey – The Nixons, Seether

John Humphrey- We are hangin in there. My wife is working from home and my 15 year old son (Jett) has been home since spring break. I try to occupy my time by staying busy with projects. Cleaning and/or organizing,  listening to music or spending time with the family.

Renegade Radio (KH)- How did you get the gig with Seether? Was there an audition process? What is your favorite Seether song to play live and why?

John Humphrey- In 2003, Seether needed a permanent drummer and they still hadn’t found someone who really fit. Their sound engineer, at the time, was also a friend of mine. He suggested I audition. The audition was at a rehearsal space in Dallas, TX. I would be auditioning along with 4 or 5 other possibilities. I was the last guy to audition. I was supposed to learn 4 songs. Instead, I learned the entire first album, Disclaimer. I think the first song Shaun called out was the song, “Pride”. A challenging song with time changes. After we played, the guys looked up and started to smile. Then we pretty much ran through the set they had at the time. Afterwards, Shaun offered me the drummer position. Thats been 17 glorious years ago.

Renegade Radio (KH) – So you guys (Seether) just got back from Nashville recording a new album. Can you give us a peek inside of what recording a Seether album is like and how that process flows also what can the fans expect from this one?

John Humphrey
John Humphrey – The Nixons, Seether

John Humphrey- First, I have to say, Shaun is one of the most talented people I ever had the pleasure of working with. Shaun will demo a song he’s written and send to the band, for us to learn. That means he’ll record a song, playing all rhythm, lead and bass guitars. Also, sing all lead and background vocals. And for drums, he uses a MIDI keyboard to build drums parts. It’s pretty cool. I will learn the different bass drum and hi hat patterns and sorta adapt them to my style. I worked for about 3 weeks learning my parts for 21 songs. (Yep, that’s 21 songs!!)  I make notes but don’t really chart out songs. So I had to memorize all the material. Then play them over and over until I could make them sound and feel natural. It was probably the most preparation I’ve ever done for an album. We recorded the drums at Blackbird Studios in Nashville. Then did overdubs at another studio in Nashville called Dark Horse. Not all 21 songs will make the record and it was really tough to narrow down the list. All the songs turned out great and I feel this new Seether album is really one of our strongest efforts.

Renegade Radio (KH)- I know that being a drummer has taken a toll on your body. Can you tell us about some of your injuries and how that has affected you in your day to day life? Also this would be a great time to mention one of your sponsors Carmichael Thrones.

John Humphrey- After years of touring and bashing the drums, a lumbar disc in my lower back was completely crumbled. I had to have a 1 level fusion in 2006. The recovery and physical therapy to follow normally takes 8-9 months. I did it in 4! I had the surgery in December and was in LA ready to start recording another Seether album by the following April. I still deal with some residual pain but do stretches and things to proactively keep my back feeling good. I was also introduced to the Carmichael drum throne several years ago and that’s been a godsend for me.

Renegade Radio (KH)- How did you come to hear about Danny Carmichael and his drum thrones? Would you say that these have been a career changer for you?

John Humphrey
John Humphrey – The Nixons, Seether

John Humphrey- I was introduced to Danny Carmichael by a mutual contact. We, initially, had some great phone conversations. He then made and sent me a drum throne to try out. It has since become a lifesaver and part of my go-to gear. I, currently, use their CT200 Double-D throne. I still suffer with some painful back issues, especially when touring, and that throne, with its unique design, allows me to play with the intensity and physicality that my playing requires.

Renegade Radio (KH)- So here in the last few years you and your band mates in The Nixons reunited. This came as a surprise to all Nixons fans around the world. What is cooking in the world of The Nixons? Tours, management, any thoughts of putting out a full album soon?

John Humphrey- Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun working with The Nixons, again. That band will always hold a special place in my heart. We were four unique people who worked very hard to make that band a success. I will say, I learned the “hard work ethic” from that band and I’ve carried that with me through my entire career. The reunion shows sorta morphed into writing and recording new material. The very first song we recorded and released was called “Song of The Year.” Last year we released 2 more songs, “Crutch” and “Favorite Lies.” We still have some new songs recorded that will be released. We’ve also talked of grouping the new songs together to make an EP. Vinyl has made a comeback and fans seem to really like releases in that format. 

Renegade Radio (KH)- Going back to The Nixons as fans have seen at some of the shows you can not always be there and who better to fill in for you than your oldest son Jaxon. How does that feel to see your son fill in for you and know that the fans are welcoming him with loving and open arms? That must be one of the most proud moments musically you could have.

Jaxon Humphreys
Jaxon Humphrey

John Humphrey- Yes, it’s been amazing to watch my oldest son (Jaxon) develop into a fine drummer and musician. The first time he played in front of a crowd, he was 15 years old. He played the song “Remedy” with Seether and 10,000 people watching. He hopped up on my kit and looked like he’d been performing his whole life. Totally natural. So, when Seether’s schedule accidentally conflicted with a few Nixons dates, I wasn’t sure what to do. I know I didn’t want the band to cancel. So, I had the idea of Jaxon filling in for me. I knew in my heart that Jaxon was capable. The guys (and Jaxon) were a little nervous about the idea, at first. But after they rehearsed a couple of times, there were no worries. Also, I think the fact that Jaxon is my son, as well as, a kick ass drummer, makes it legit for the fans.

Renegade Radio (KH)- One last question for you here. Do you think that maybe one day in the future we could expect a tour with The Nixons and Seether both on the same bill?

John Humphrey- LOL. I don’t know. I guess, never say never. I do know if that were to ever happen, that would be one BUSY tour for me 🙂

Renegade Radio (KH)- I want to thank you again for taking the time to do this interview and once this virus pandemic lifts I would love to meet for lunch and we can give the fans a part two of this via Facebook Live. Thank you for all the memories made and amazing music.

 Absolutely. Thank you.

John plays and is endorsed by Ludwig drums, Sabian cymbals, Evans drumheads, Vic Firth sticks, and what really keeps him going the distance in all of these shows is his Carmichael drum throne


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