Interview: Jacob Butler
Welcome to Berlin Jacob. You are currently spending quite some time in Germany. What have you been up in Berlin?
Thanks. I am on a promotion tour for my record which came out in august, so basically I have been everywhere in Germany in the last two weeks. I have been to Frankfurt, Köln, Ulm, München, Hamburg, Bremen and now I am in Berlin!
Was it just all about the promotion or did you get to see some the city, too?
Yeah, I have had a little bit of a look around, the other cities I went to I haven’t really had a chance to. Just yet in the last three days I have been doing interviews and these things so I had to go travel a lot around the city. Actually I have seen quite a lot of things just by jumping on the S-Bahn and you know, going from place to place. It’s a fantastic public transportation system by the way.
Yeah, it’s wonderful.
That's a rare compliment but anyway, glad you like it!
It was your first EP Coma from 2009 and already hit the airplay charts on #9. Still I guess it has not been that chliché sort of overnight success as it may sound?
(pauses) It could not be anywhere further from the truth, I mean sure it was number nine on the aircharts. But you know, it is a tough business and you just have to keep working out it. People know who I am in Australia, but I had an opportunity going to Germany and Europe and you are still starting fresh. The people here have been really interested in the record really generous with their time – It has been a really nice experience so far.
Reason was released on VERY US RECORDS (V.U.R. emerged a division of WVG Medien GMBH, German DVD distributor, about a year ago). Statistics have been showing some stagnating developments in record sales over the last years. Were there concerns on relying on a label with less reputation/experience these days?
Not really, ‘cause the people involved in V.U.R. are doing this for quite some time and worked other labels. The parent company has quite significant economic backing, so it is not really a concern at all. (…) You are better of being of with a small company that cares and pushes your record. Of course you can get on a major and I can throw to the wall and see if it sticks – if it doesn’t, they will drop it within two weeks. From that point of view it is actually a much better way to go. It is almost going back to the 50’s, those tiny labels that pressed their own CDs and these things. It is emancipating because what is actually done, is giving a lot of freedom and power in terms of creative control back to the artist. At the end of the day, I am still in control of the songs and how to present myself. That can only be a good thing!
Have there been any attempts for signings earlier for your first release?
No that was definitely more of my own thing, ‘cause it was basically a small EP, one single and a couple of songs – a stepping stone towards the album. The EP is through my own label Lions Share Recordings (…) The focus has been getting this record finished, getting it out to the people around the world, and it is going well.
What has been the story behind the Jacob Butler Project? When did you personally start to get evolved into music?
My father was a musician, so there were always guitars around the house. He tried to get me to play when I was nine but I wasn’t really interested till I was 12. I saw Nirvana Unplugged in New York and was just like light bulb moment. I was like "Oh my god, this is amazing” and it was cool, because before that I was raised on Bryan Adams, Van Halen, Def Leppard – lots of 70’s Rock – Deep Purple, The Police and obviously The Beatles and Stones. Nirvana was the first thing that I loved and my dad hated so I was like "Yeah, this is really cool!”. A few months later Oasis came around in Australia with (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?. Those bands were really cool.
Your own songs are located somewhere between Power Pop and some Post-Grunge elements.
It is definitely Powerpop, it is Poprock. I call it "transatlantic Guitar-driven Pop”, you know. There is definitely a few moments where there is some Punk elements happening like "UKOK" or "Shame". The bands that I love like Nirvana, Oasis, Manic Street Preachers and Feeder, all those bands had really loud songs and then really sort of like soft and melodic songs as well. It is just what I like. You know, it is dynamically more interesting to be like that, rather than just flat-out Punk or just laid back and chilled for the whole record. I think dynamics are cool and more interesting to the listener.
You are normally performing as a four piece band, right?
The guys a played on the record with are my band and they are great friends, more than just my band. Amazingly talented musicians and some of the great song writers. In fact I wrote two songs from the record with Ben Stolz, who played guitar on this record. Shane Wakker (his name is Wakker by the way, how funny is that) is much more than a drummer, he can play piano and he sings harmonies. He’s very very talented. Great guys that are really down to earth and can play the shit out of their instruments. Great guys to work with.
"UKOK" is one of the most significant songs on Reason. What is your personal attraction towards Europe?
You know for Australians, England still is the motherland, look we are part of the Commonwealth, owned by The Queen. Plus you know, my grandmother was born in London and I have the ancestry visa so I can go over there for five years at a time which I did. "UKOK” is about me moving there and having a really hard time and actually moving back in about eight weeks. I went back in July in 2006 and shot a video for it and yeah, it was a lot of fun.
Can we expect you anytime soon back in Berlin for a live show?
Well I hope I am gonna be back in February for some more promotion for the next single. The long-term goal is to be back here for the summer for the festival season for live shows with the band, which is not too far away, I am looking forward for that!
Thanks for sparing some time with us Jacob, see you next time in Berlin.
No worries, thanks for your time. Cheers!