“The vibe of the record is just us, it’s the first selection of songs we’ve put together that gives the listener a good insight into us and hopefully tells a story. I remember when we got 1000 plays on Spotify for that first song, we were celebrating; and now being able to be a part of some awesome line-ups, some fun as tours, and just being able to write loads of music in general is such a bonus and so much more than we ever expected.”
The Butler’s are a band still in their infancy yet bear the stage presence and musical composition of a band far beyond their years. After two unexpected EP’s within a year of forming the Butler’s have now released their debut album. The self-titled record gives ownership of their music to themselves and the community around them. They make music for themselves and those that surround them; there’s no ultimatum, no attempt to please the bigwigs and masses, and they are having a damned good time doing it.
The first time I met the group there was only four members; Bradley, George, Jordy and Walt. At the time they were only recording their first single, Are You Sure?, which while a brilliant song in of itself is a far cry from the new and far more eclectic 5-piece Butlers. The latest instalment is not only a credit to the maturation of both the sound and the group, but to the relationship and love they give to their community. As per previous releases, the band’s lyrics exude references to their hometown and those that they spend their days with.
“It was a massive influence, always has been and hopefully always will be. The characters around Sumner are a huge part of the band. On our last tour the famous Freddy Owens came along with us; as well as a couple of other guest appearances from Toddy, Nina, and Tui to name a few. When all the crew are there it makes it even more fun.”
~ The Butlers on Community influence
The latest instalment of The Butlers story sees the emergence of the fifth member to the band and arguably the most influential among the group. The inclusion of a sax element into the band’s line-up has opened a level of musical exploration that is far undervalued in today’s overproduced musical world. Drawing on influences from contemporary jazz and blending it with their own take on surf rock; the group has found a sound that is quintessentially The Butlers with no reservation for comparison. When asked about how the inclusion came about, Walt Robberds said it was pure chance. “We’d always said we wanted a horn player or at least some features when we were starting out; who doesn’t love a bit of sax. One night Jordy saw Stingy playing at a bar in town and he was killing it as per usual so we locked him in; which has been epic for us. He’s a great musician and the only one out of us that have actually studied music so he’s taught us a lot and brought in some great sounds.”
Whether the popularity of the band stems from their humble approach to their art or from the sheer enjoyability of their songs is a split decision; both possibilities carrying equal weight. Over the last two and a bit years the group has amassed a loyal following in New Zealand and Australia alike; seemingly touring their home country endlessly. The dedication to putting on a show is evidenced best by the amassing of over a million listens last year on Spotify alone and entering NZ’s top 20 albums more recently. With no show of ego each show is put on with sheer joy of presence and a passion to play; at no point does the group give anything less than their all to those in attendance.
The album itself shows incredible depth of sound, with stark contrasts between songs both lyrically and sonically. Discussing love and lust as a similar suit throughout, songs such as ‘Vodka’s What You’re Drinking’ discuss the concept of love at first sight with lines such as “I can’t stop staring at you – won’t you just look at me” backed by a stripped back acoustic guitar loop. While in contrast ‘Cats on a Cliff’ tackles lust in a more upbeat jazz-infused melody strung along with sax solos and more abstract comparisons to the topic. Each song while varying in tempo and influence is indistinguishably Butlers; “The songs are quite different across the album but they hopefully share a common theme or distinct sound. We all have a go at writing the songs and when that happens you’re going to get a lot of different ideas as everyone’s lives and experiences are uniquely different. I guess that’s the cool thing about having lots of voices in the band especially as we all like different music and have different influences; you get more of a variety of sound that hopefully can be linked together.”