The John Butler Trio
'The Brightest of New Sunrises'
The John Butler Trio established themselves as one of Australia’s most successful independent artists in recent history. New album Sunrise Over Sea debuted at #1 in their native country and is officially four times certified platinum in Australia and platinum in New Zealand. The band was nominated for five ARIA Awards in 2004, (Australian Grammys) taking home a total of three including “Best Male Vocalist,” “Best Roots & Blues Album” and “Best Independent Artist.” In addition, John Butler recently set up his own Arts Grant Scheme in Australia to help benefit emerging artists. For more information go to www.thejbseed.com
Chatting with John Butler just recently, I first wondered if a born-outside-America band have to try any harder to succeed in the States than a homegrown US band ... and if so, in what ways? "Firstly I think that it's hard for any band to break America, inside or outside, but it does make it harder because of the dislocation the expense of touring a country that you don't live in. Especially when your dollar is 60c to the US dollar."
From those busking days on the streets of Fremantle to the starry heights of where you are now, what is the one thing that you've learnt along the way that has held true the most? "Good music, honesty, hard work, love and fun. I learnt from busking about reinvesting, producing the product, manufacturing the product, marketing it (which meant yelling to everyone watching me that I have a CD for sale) and reinvesting the money for the next project. It's basically what we're still doing, it's just gotten slightly more complex."
Is this new CD title Sunrise Over Sea in some way a pointer to the musical masses that your band is glowing hot and ready to come ashore the US market? "No, it's about a new beginning for me personally, musically, etc. It's a lyric out of the second song on the album 'Peaches and Cream,' which is about my daughter and my wife."
Which song on the new album is the most poignant to you personally - and why? "Probably 'Peaches and Cream' and 'Seeing Angels' because it's inviting people into a place that's extremely vulnerable and personal."
Whose hand print is to be found underneath the CD in the packaging ... and what reasoning has it for being there? "My hand print and it kinda means "This is me". This album is basically displaying my "innards" to the world, so to speak. It's part of my identity."
Will the song 'Release' ever see the light of day? "Not for now, maybe later."
If I came across a signed (by you, of course!) 'Searching For Heritage' cassette tape, how much do you think I could get for it on Ebay?! "I hear it's fetching about $80 on Ebay at the moment!"
If life truly imitated art, what piece of art would YOU be ... and why? "Statue of David by Michaelangelo, because sometimes I feel like I'm standing in front of everyone naked with a small penis! It can feel that way sometimes on stage every once in a while, and basically I can't think of any other art or artists ... so there you have it!"
Tell me something about the man John Butler that doesn't get noted in the press and that you would like known? "I think the press knows all that I want them to know and sometimes a bit more. Just google me!"
Finally, if you were placed into a studio along with three other musicians and given 24 hours to record a charity record, who would those three musicians be and what would the name of the song be?! "Tracey Chapman, Ani di Franco, Jeff Lang. And, any song title out of 'Spinal Tap,' just for fun!"
John, many thanx for doing this interview for us and we wish you well for the future, my friend "Thanks very much for your time. I know it's precious. Thanks again."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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