John Butler

Over the course of his 20 year music career John Butler has carved out a large slice of the pie for himself, and his band the John Butler Trio, by becoming Australia’s highest selling independent artist of all time. With his career spanning two decades though Butler has witnessed dramatic and dynamic shifts both within the industry and within his own personal musical passions/influences.

The latest record from the John Butler Trio, Home, has taken four years to produce and represents many of the dynamic changes that have occurred. Most notably Home saw Butler experimenting with new musical tools and an entirely new recording process during the record’s production.

For this albumButler chose to record alone rather than with his band, which he told J.A.M was an emotionally challenging experience.

“The idea of being more insular and not making most of the music with my band in the genesis stage really caught me off guard. It was certainly a weird feeling and I was constantly hoping I wasn’t hurting anybody’s feelings by doing it this way.”

The decision to work this way was taken because Butler was dealing with intense anxiety and burnout after working non-stop touring his previous record. The stress and anxiety meant that Butler was finding it difficult to focus on his music within a group setting.

“It was a pretty sensitive time in my life and I found it quite distracting to have lots of people around,” he explained, “It felt like having too many channels on the TV at once so I just needed to be by myself making the music just to keep my focus.”

Internally not only was Butler dealing with anxiety but his creative energy was also telling him that working solo really was the way in which “this album wanted to come out.” This was mainly due to Butler’s desire to implement new technology driven production techniques into his music.

With the accessibility and ease of use afforded by software such as GarageBand on an iPad Butler’s musical repertoire was opened up to an entirely new world.

“Having an iPad and GarageBand gave me access to all of the drum machines and synthesisers I could ever want,” said Butler. “I listen to a lot of modern music, whether that be hip-hop, pop or dance music, but never had access to those instruments until now. So to be able to experiment in the recording process and see what a song would sound like if it was essentially dance production over a folk song was incredible.”

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 4.57.58 pm.png

Obviously by implementing these new techniques and production elements Butler had to be cautious so as not to lose what has always been at the heart of his music.

“I’ve always made the music that I hear in my head, it’s always been a very personal and self indulgent journey that I can only hope has a positive affect on other people,” explained Butler. "I’ve always been an alternative artist that plays with folk and blues instruments. So with this album one of my biggest missions was not to throw the baby out with the bath water while playing with all of my new toys and I think for the most part I’ve been successful on that front.”

Now with Home out in the wild Butler is set to head out on an extensive world tour spanning Japan, Europe and North America to close out 2018 before returning to Australia in January and February for a special run of shows alongside Missy Higgins.

For Sydneysiders the pair will be performing with the most iconic of backdrops as they takeover the Sydney Opera House Forecourt for a one night only concert.

Home is available now in stores and on all music platforms.

Feb 14. Sydney Opera House Forecourt, Bennelong Point, Sydney. $104+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.sydneyoperahouse.com

Read similar interviews by subscribing to J.A.M Zine over on Patreon.