2015 Rise Above Fest: Seether Recruits Godsmack, Slash, Papa Roach for Suicide Awareness

Marina Chavez
Seether photographed in 2014.

"It's going to be interesting to see how much better we can do," Seether's Shaun Morgan says of the third edition of the hard-rock festival.

After exponential growth between its first and second editions, Seether has recruited Godsmack, Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, Papa Roach and others to be part of its third Rise Above Fest, to raise awareness of and money for suicide prevention via SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education).

The third Rise Above Fest will take place on May 9, 2015 at Darling's Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor, Maine, where this year's version of the festival was held last May 10. The second Rise Above Fest -- which included Avenged Sevenfold, Hellyeah, Motorhead and more -- raised about $50,000 for SAVE after the first year, up considerably from the $20,000 raised during the first Rise Above Fest on Labor Day weekend 2012 in Gilford, N.H.

"It seems to be picking up a lot more steam, to a point where it's certainly bigger than we were thinking it was ever going to be come," says Seether's Shaun Morgan tells Billboard. Morgan was inspired to start the festival after the suicide death of his brother in 2007, following a battle with depression, which also inspired Seether's 2008 song "Rise Above This." "I think there's going to be a lot more turnout, even, just judging by the bands who are going to be on the bill. They're certainly of a very high caliber and a very high standard -- not that the ones before weren't, but we're getting big names involved now, so that's really kind of exciting. "I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be interesting to see how much better we can do."

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Tickets for the 2015 Rise Above Fest -- which will also feature All That Remains, Butcher Babies and more that Morgan says will be announced in the future -- go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. Dec. 12, while special packages with amenities including meet 'n' greets, food, premium viewing and limited edition swag, will go on sale starting at 10 .m. Dec. 10. Information can be found at www.riseabovefest.com

Godsmack's Shannon Larkin said in a statement, "We are proud to be playing this show for such a righteous cause. Out of all the benefits we have played in the last 15 years, this one hits especially close to our hears as we have lost so many people in this business to these tragedies... We will pour it all out on the stage with our blood, sweat and, yes, tears for our fallen brothers and try to help spread the word that everyone on this planet can indeed Rise Above." Seether, in fact, spent time touring with Godsmack this year, including a run on the summer's Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival tour, while it kicks off a tour with Papa Roach on Jan. 9 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

"We've known a lot of these bands for a long time, and it does help to have the personal relationships and having made these friends along the way," Seether's Morgan acknowledges. "I'm sure a lot of these guys feel like they would want to contribute. We've done so many shows with Papa Roach in the past, and I'm happy to have them on the bill -- good band, good energy, positive guys. And thinking about their lyrics, they're kind of expressing stuff that's what (Rise Above) is all about. I get the idea or impression they may have dealt with some of these (issues) themselves, so some of it hits closer to home than we realize."

After this year's Rise Above growth, Morgan says he has even greater ambitions for the festival moving forward. Some footage was filmed during the inaugural event but not during the second; he plans to do extensive filming this year to possibly release in some manner. "We'll maybe put out a DVD of it and see if we can raise some more money for the cause," Morgan says. "I think it's something worth documenting so people can check out what it's about and maybe get involved." He'd also like to turn Rise Above into a series of festivals around the country.

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"We raised $60,000 in a city that's quite far north and almost inaccessible, in a sense," Morgan explains. "If we can do $60,000 in Maine, imagine if we moved it down to a major hub like a Chicago or a Washington (D.C.), basically any big, major city. Maybe even in a Nashville we can do one — just a lot of cool cities which I think are certainly more accessible from other parts of the country. And I think that could help raise some more money for the charity as well."

Seether will be shoehorning the Rise Above Fest into a busy 2015 touring schedule continuing to promote the group's latest album, Isolate and Medicate, which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 in July. Morgan says the band -- which wraps up its current European tour on Dec. 17 -- is planning to "focus on the international markets next year, some that we've never been to," including "some proper Asian touring" as well as dates in Australia, New Zealand, South America and Europe again. He also says another North American tour is likely towards the middle or end of next summer.


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