Brock Butler will be coming on down from Virginia this week to play a 5-show run in Florida. Formerly the front man of Perpetual Groove, Butler has been taking time off to reflect on himself and his music. We sat down with Butler to talk about his upcoming Florida run, his solo album and people’s misconceptions.
P.Sunkel: Tell me a little about what you’ve been up to lately?
B. Butler: Once P. Groove did it’s last show, I moved home near my family in Virginia. The initial first bit I was just taking everything very easy and didn’t do any shows for a little over a month. I was just really focusing on minimizing stress, getting really good rest, eating well and sleeping well. Just a calmer bit of living.
P. Sunkel: Sounds kind of like summer break, how has booking the Florida run been going?
B. Butler: Yeah and I don’t have an agent or anything like that, so I’ve just been reaching out to friends that I’ve made over the years in Perpetual Groove and just trying to book some shows here and there. This Florida run will be my first real run of shows. I’ve done a few weekends here, a few shows there. So this will be my first real run, I mean it’s only five shows but I’m really excited for it.
P. Sunkel: You’ve played Florida a bunch of times in the past, is there any reason in particular why you chose to do the first run here?
B. Butler: Well I like to go to areas, at least for the moment, where I have some good friends. I’m trying to avoid staying in hotels and things like that, because Idle time for me is not good. If it’s just me in a hotel room, boredom usually gets me to thinking, “You know maybe I should go out to a bar”, and that leads to this and that, you know what I’m saying? When I stay around people with whom I’m familiar, its more beneficial to me while I’m out there playing shows trying to maintain the same vibe of being home in Virginia. When your in someone’s home, it’s a lot different than staying in a hotel or being on the road, its a very different feeling.
P. Sunkel: Definitely and theres also a great community of support here also
B. Butler: Even as far as promoters go, Matty and Destiny, I consider them really good friends, first and foremost. The fact that they have Brotherly Love Productions is just a tremendous bonus. I stay in touch with Destiny and Matty, they take an interest in how I’m doing personally, as a friend. Those are the types of people who I am really inclined to doing shows with right now, rather than say head to California. I’ve got some plans to head to Colorado cause I’ve got some friends out there but thats quite a distance off now that I’m an army of one.
P. Sunkel: Who else will be joining you on the Florida run?
B. Butler: The other bit about Florida as well, is that it’s not just an evening with Brock Butler. A few of the shows I’m doing are with Lather Up, the guys from The Heavy Pets, their side project, and Emily Carroll, who I’ve done some songs with. You know I’m playing with other bands and thats always fun. So I’ve got to play a full set solo and then I’ll probably play some electric with a full band when I sit in with some of these other guys.
B. Butler: I’m definitely stoked for Catskill Chill. I’m actually gonna go up to do their Hilarious Music Camp august 17th and do their end of the season show. Its like all camp counselors, so its always a great time.
P. Sunkel: Lets talk about the acoustic sets. I caught your freezing cold brunch set at AURA, I was actually the guy who handed off the hand warmers…
B. Butler: Oh yeah! Hahahah, it was so cold.
P. Sunkel: It was ridiculously cold, it was like being at Bear Creek, it was just freezing.
B. Butler: That’s funny, I was just looking at the youtube video of that the other day to watch Emily Carroll and I play the Peter Gabriel cover, and I was watching the video remembering how cold I was just by the clothes I was wearing. It was morning, I was wearing a scarf, and given the current heatwave, it sounds quite appealing now, but at the time I was very cold.
Here’s that video:
P. Sunkel: I found myself very gripped by the lyrics of a lot of the songs you performed that day. It was very different from what you’ve done in the past with PGroove, could you tell me a little about how you select your covers for your show?
B. Butler: When I hear a certain song, it will speak to me and usually that’s why I’ll pick a certain song for a cover. Some of my very favorite songs are ones that have me saying “Man, why didn’t I write that?” because that’s exactly how I feel at this moment. You know someone like Tom Petty for example hits the lyrics and words in the exact way that I wish I had. You know the writing in itself for the solo project is more lyric based, rather than with Perpetual Groove theres just some straight instrumental songs and stuff like that. The reason many of those songs speak to me, is because they feel very natural to me.
P. Sunkel: I think what really got me was when you pulled out the Dawes cover of “If I Wanted Someone”, I think your originals are very closely related to what Taylor Goldsmith is putting out.
B. Butler: I think he’s one of the greatest lyricists out there.
B. Butler: Oh yeah, I’m partial to Dawes when it comes to the three bands that make up Middle Brother, but I also do a Deer Tick cover. I’ve had a few conversations with Taylor about some of his songs and things like that, it just seems to be that their timing with each album, there has been significant changes happening in my life. Be it romantic wise or you know the band I was just with for 14 years is disbanding, the lyrics just seem to be right on time. He’s probably the most ideal example of a musician who I hear and just think, “That is so perfect.”
P. Sunkel: I think I heard you mention previously that we may be seeing a solo album from you soon, when can we expect that?
B. Butler: I’ve got a few songs that I would say are very much formable, like “Anything Less Than Dearly” isn’t on any album, I’m really proud of that song and really like those lyrics. I’m definitely at the point right now where I’m not trying to rush anything. I’d like to have enough material to maybe even make two albums. That is definitely my goal and my plan. I almost want to force myself of being in a position of having to choose between, what to me would feel like my best quality stuff, rather than like “Yeah, that ones ok.” I want to have a list of songs to widdle down so its really, or at least I’d hope people would think, solid material. Given all the changes I’m going through, theres some points where I feel very motivated to write. But sometimes I’ll look at my lyrics and think they’re a little too straightforward. Even if I do feel strongly about something specific, I still want to try and frame it in generalities. So when people hear it, they’re not thinking about “Well, this is Brock singing about this thing that happened in his life.” But rather I want it to reflect on something that may be going on in their lives.
B. Butler: Yeah and I think that’s an ideal goal in a song. I think thats a quality in Dawes’ songs. Like when I hear a particular lyric, I don’t think that Im hearing about Taylor’s personal experience, I feel like he’s almost singing to me. Thats the kind of exceptional quality, in my opinion, that makes them so great.
P. Sunkel: I think thats kind of what you got going on when you cover a song, you really make it your own
B. Butler: In my solo shows, I’ve always done quite a bit of covers. I’m trying to broaden my originals. I am going to play Perpetual Groove material, I see nothing wrong with that. At the same time I don’t want people to come looking for a substitute or looking at me to try and fill the shoes that it takes all four members of that band to fill. But at the same time, some of those songs, some of those started with just me and an acoustic. I feel like those songs have every right to be played. Ideally, I’d like to get the shows to be a three-way split of original material, some PGroove material and then some covers. I don’t normally write a setlist on paper because I kind of like when I hear someone in the crowd shout out a song. I like to really keep the feel organic. If someone shouts out the “Game of Thrones” theme song, you know I’ll just toss it in there and do it. I like to make it more of an interactive thing.
P. Sunkel: Well it’s a promise now that the next time I catch your set, you will hear me yelling out, “Game of Thrones theme song!” Haha I am quite the Game of Thrones nerd.
B. Butler: Hahahaha yeah man, I’ve done that. The other night somebody came up to me and was like “I saw on youtube that you covered the Game of Thrones theme, are you down to do it?” And I did it. Theres a couple HBO songs at shows that I do like Sopranos and other ones like that, its always good fun.
B. Butler: Oh yeah, I love doing that. In particular, I like Outkast’s song “Unhappy”. It really has a nice melodic property. “Whatever you like” by T.I., a lot of the ATL dirty south kind of stuff haha. It’s also not lost on me how silly it is that a very amish/ Irish looking person gets up there and plays those songs. You’d probably expect Jimmy Buffet or something to come out of somebody who looks like myself.
P. Sunkel: Would you say then you just play what you love and you leave the misconceptions at home?
B. Butler: Yeah, thats kind of how I feel about it. I’ve had people in the past give almost a preemptive apology. They’ll be like “You know I’m sure you get tired of being asked to play Three Weeks.” And I never got tired of playing any particular songs in PGroove. To me, I see that as a real compliment to a song. I wrote those songs when I was in my 20’s. Now these kids are the age I was when I wrote those songs. If you want to hear it, I think thats a fantastic testament to the song. Its reassuring, if nothing else.
B. Butler: You know, I’ve had my problems with substances on the road. I think that some of the stories out there, as far as which substances, heroin was never in play. I read some of the message boards and theres just stories that are completely wrong. Like one person said I flipped my guitar over on-stage and proceeded to do blow off the back of my guitar, haha thats never happened. I think the band probably would have broken up that night, if that had ever happened. There is some truth, probably a good bit of truth, to the troubles I’ve been trying to balance out in my life.
I don’t know, that seemed to be the most malicious out there. Theres probably only been two instances where I’ve seen something and its been a forum where I actually had the ability to put up a post and I would try to get up there and try to correct it.
I guess how I would address it as far as the drugs situation goes, it seems like there were some shows where people made statements saying like “Oh he was so wasted at the last show at the Georgia Theatre.” There was this incident where a string on the guitar broke and I had to get it back. Once it was strung in the next song, it slipped and went out of tune, so I had to re-tune it real quick. Everyone just made this assumption that I was just loaded out of my mind, but thats just not true. That was one of the message boards where I posted a direct response. That was at a point where I was just absolutely exhausted and trying to do my best to try to perform as clear minded as possible. The irony there is that If I had been raging it really hard, I would have been trying to be a real showman. You know all hyped up and ready to go but I probably looked a little tired and worn out but thats just because I wasn’t on things. I said in the post that if you thought that I played poorly, thats just your opinion about my playing because thats about as straightforward as I’ve delivered it on stage.
B. Butler: I think that people forget how grueling the road can be and some people are just strong and well suited to it. I think I just made some really poor judgements, mistakes and Im hoping to make smarter decisions and be the better rounded person I believe myself to be.
P. Sunkel: I have to say I really respect the fact that you stepped away from the band to work on yourself. It takes a lot of courage to make that move.
B. Butler: I appreciate you saying so. It was really tough. You feel like, you know your going home asking yourself, am I coming home a failure? Am I tucking tail and running away? Am I a coward? Am I this and that? At the end of the day, after being in Virginia for two weeks, I felt very confident that this is where I needed to be. I now feel good about the decision. The whole thing was like a big breakup except you have three ex’s, you know your former bandmates, but its also public and everyone has an opinion on it. Going through a regular break up is hard enough, now add all the factions that go with a band breaking up. I’ve really tried, when the opportunity presents itself, to present a point of positivity and well wishes for everyone. I’m trying to own up to the mistakes that I made and I just have the best wishes for everybody. I don’t want to make any enemies out there, that’s not my intention. I hope someday that I’ll at least have an opportunity to make some sincere apologies and amendments.
For more information check out: brotherlyloveproductions.com/2013/07/02/brock-butler-summer-tour-2013-5-show-florida-run/