John Butler and his talented band have been sharing their stories, foot stomping beats and heartfelt lyrics for twenty years. We are lucky enough to have the John Butler Trio visit Coffs Harbour for the Summersalt Festival … FOCUS chatted with John about life with music and some of his greatest achievements …
Hi John. You released your new single, Home in 2018, followed by an album of the same name. It had been a while since you released a new studio album, although you’d released the single Bully in 2017. Tell us a bit about both Home and Bully and how they differ …
Bully was one of those songs; it was from the very first session, and I didn’t think it would make it to the album, but it was done and it was a song I thought was good enough to have a life out there – especially in the political situation that we’ve been touring through in The States.
I’d say the album is a little bit more soul searching than that kind of righteous and angry vibe that Bully is.
How would you describe the vibe of the album then?
I guess on the music production front there’s probably a lot more electronic aspects to it, in a way; I’ve had a lot of ideas on programmed beats and synthesisers and easing that into what I do with my band, guitar playing and my song writing.
What was the experience of playing the iconic Red Rocks like?
We had supported acts there for almost 10 years, and now we’ve headlined three times. We headlined it back in 2012, and we’ve done it twice since then as well – it was a huge mountain to climb. On one of my first tours in The States, I was opening up for Dave Matthews’ Band and Michael Franti, and I said to myself that one day I’m going to play this venue … It took 10 years of touring to be able to headline that venue on my own! When you work that hard to get to that point, you know what it’s worth.
Last time I was there, they had all these great photos on the wall, like Willie Nelson, John Mayer and Neil Young, and I walked around the corner and there was this huge A4 poster of us from our last headliner there. It was awesome!
Summersalt Festival, you’re headlining there, as is your wife, Mama Kin (Danielle Caruana). What do you love about being about to share the creative domain together, but still keep your own identities?
For me, it’s really important to be somebody who feels creatively expressed, whatever that is, whether it’s playing soccer or knitting or making music, and I just feel very thankful that both Dan and I have these outlets and that we work really, really hard to make a balanced family and a balanced life, where we both get to have an avenue for expression.
So, we are very blessed; it takes a lot of work to keep that balance and that tightrope right. We both released an album in the same year, which is crazy. We took our boy out of school and homeschooled him along the way. We just bring the kids along; I’ve been lucky enough to do this for 18 years and bring the kids up like this, on and off. It takes a lot of effort; we dream big and make it happen. If you dream big, then all of a sudden you can draw something bigger out of you.
After all these years and hits, which song is still your favourite to perform?
I like them all – Ocean, Pickapart is real fun … They’re all my kids! I don’t have a favourite, but Ocean is one of those that has been with me for years, so it’s like a body part, rather than a song.
17th February 2019, Summersalt Festival, Park Beach Reserve, Coffs Harbour. www.summersaltmusic.com.au