Words by Joshua Woollett
It’s hard to deny that New Zealand’s live music scene is in a form of resurgence. Small town bands run rampant in the relatively small country from Dunedin to Tauranga, all amassing a loyal cult following in the process.
Sumner’s favourite sons, The Butlers, are the personification (in my mind) of everything that is right with small-town bands. Down to earth persona’s and larger than life stage presences; The Butlers meander through their own personal blend of Alt Rock and late-era surf rock to create a sound so reminiscent lazy days and late nights you can basically see the Corona Ad in the making. The band consists of Walt Robberds (Rhythm Guitar, Vocals), George Berry (Drums, Vocals), Bradley King (Lead Guitar) and Jordan Kennedy (Bass Guitar, Vocals) and boy can they make some noise.
Their latest release and debut EP, ‘The Halfway House’, is a tribute to the better days and experiences had. It follows their debut single, ‘Are You Sure?’, going absolutely gangbusters and gaining them a serious fan base in the process amassing over 50,000 streams on all music platforms. It’s no secret that the boys have an incredibly loyal following spearheaded by the unofficial mayor of Sumner, Nicholas ‘Toddy’ Todd, always guaranteed to fill a venue.
The EP lays out everything that the group stands for, enjoying what they’ve got and loving every minute of anything more. Songs like ‘Sav’ tell of the bands basically ideology of ‘having a go’, wherein contrast tracks like ’91 Unleaded’ the band delves into their deep instilled love for travelling and the idea of being ‘young and broke’ and absolutely love it.
“Personally for me I think Christchurch is a super conservative city and sometimes it feels like everyone here is just doing the same thing every week, going to see shitty djs who just play the charts music. Doesn’t feel like this is that many young bands as there is in places like Dunedin who have the likes of Soaked Oats, The Shambles, The Gromz, and Albion Place to name a few. So I feel like that song also reflects on that with us just trying to give it a go. The first line being ‘We’re sitting up on a cloud, people telling us to come down’ that could mean a lot of things to different people”
-Walt Robberds on ‘Sav’-
It becomes quite easy to associate this fresh-faced band with a relaxed afternoon beer merely as the soundtrack to savoured moments. What a mistake that would be. The Butlers are far more than background noise, and you only have to attend one of their shows for that to become apparent. From the beautiful pipes of George Berry to the tasty licks of Bradley King, the boys truly know how to put on a show. From the moment, they step on stage you know you’re in for something special, traditionally donning a more formal attire the band has shifted to more a style reminiscent of Sticky Fingers at their pinnacle, and the energy of the band has followed suit. Lead by the enigmatic stage presence that is Walt Robberds, they roll through an incredible blend of their own originals and ‘face-melting’ covers. Their music setting the premise for one of the most care free dance floors I have ever had the joy of joining. Crowds completely enthralled in this new era surf rock, hearts intertwined with every one of Jordan Kennedy’s bass lines sent express from heaven itself.
The band is currently deep in a series of shows, recently announcing a collaboration with Dunedin reggae power houses, Albion Place, in Christchurch’s World Bar on August 4th. For more information see the groups facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/thebutlersmusicnz/.