By Trevor Morelli
CALGARY – Anyone who’s seen John Butler Trio perform live knows their shows are a rowdy, passionate, and inclusive affair. “Not to kiss your ass, but the last time we played in Calgary was at the Calgary Folk Festival, and we had a ball!” exclaims Butler over the phone from his home country of Australia.
For Butler, home is more of a relative yet personal concept. Not only is it the title of his new album, but it’s more of a mindset of peace, love, and family rather than any particular geographical location.“I don’t look at Australia as my people,” he explains. “I look at the world as my people and I see you guys as an extension of that.”
It’s been four long years since the band last dropped Flesh and Blood (2014, Jarrah/MGM Records), and Butler says the new studio record is nearly done. He’s in the process of mixing it and expects it to drop in August or September. Musically, Home is a jambalaya of sorts. It’s the roots, world and acoustic styles that fans of John Butler Trio know and love, with some exciting experimental parts thrown in for fun.
“It’s hard to say what it sounds like,” Butler notes. “I’m experimenting with some electronic beats. There’s a lot more rhythm, some programmed sounds, and lots of synthesizers. But then lots of guitar and lots of finger picking. It’s all based around the song. These songs wanted a certain treatment. The way they came to me, the way I was hearing them was this cross between programmed kinds of electronic sound crossed with this live acoustic band sound.”
Lyrically, Home merges themes of love and family with introspective questions of self-discovery and the need to recharge. “The biggest theme would probably be love, and I guess a kind of self-discovery,” Butler remarks. “It’s classic that people my age get to a certain point in life where like they kind of do a reboot. You just realize that there’s old ways of going about things that don’t work for you anymore, whether that’s being angry about something, or realizing that you have some anxiety about something, and realizing that its anxiety and not the things that trigger it.”
A surprise in store for those checking out John Butler Trio on tour in Western Canada later this month, is that the group is actually now a five-piece. With his good buddies Byron Luiters on bass and Grant Gerathy on drums, Butler thought it was time to add a couple more players to really round out the trio’s sound. “You’re not reinventing the songs. You’re actually just kind of bringing them to life on the way that you did on the album,” Butler comments. “That’s nice to do live. So yeah, it’s pretty fun!”
John Butler Trio play June 27 at The Orpheum (Vancouver), June 29 at Winspear Centre (Edmonton), June 30 at MacEwan Hall (Calgary) and July 1 at Sasktel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival (Saskatoon), and July 5 at Winnipeg Folk Festival (Winnipeg).John Butler Trio, MacEwan Hall, Sasktel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, The Orpheum, Winnipeg Folk Festival, Winspear Centre