Australia’s John Butler Trio a Well-Kept Secret

The John Butler Trio has been Australia’s best kept secret who can without a doubt now take the title of Australia’s best export. After their first domestic release, 2004’s EP What You Want, the band debuted in America with a multi-faceted 14 track set, Sunrise Over Sea, this past March.

The disc continues to sell strong at 43,000 since its release. Following the release, the John Butler Trio set out on tour. In June they opened for the Black Crowes and have five highly anticipated upcoming gigs with the Dave Matthews Band.

“I’m just an artist. I started out drawing and painting, which I still love. Then skateboarding then music. They’re all creative expressions.” said Butler. John began playing guitar at age 16 after his Grandmother gave the teen his deceased Grandfather’s 1930 Dobro. “Talking with my Grandmother and playing guitar was how I got to know my Grandfather,” said Butler. With his Grandfather acting as inspiration, Butler perfected his unique style.

In 1986 the Butler’s relocated to Australia when John was 11 years old. “My Australian father wanted to move home after living in the US for 18 years,” explained John. Even though he was not born Australian, Butler very much considers himself an Aussie and had an outsider’s view of the US. “One as a native and one as an Australian, at least for the last 20 years, from the outside, politically, the US is a very in your face culture. But people wise, on a whole, the people are great. They are some of the most passionate and enthusiastic you’ll ever meet,” Says Butter.

The JBT began releasing CDs independently in 1996. At the turn of the century the group released Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Three’ on the Australian based label Jarrah to critical acclaim in his native country. Slowly import copies began appearing in the US giving the trio an underground following which gave them an excuse to tour far from home. Through constant touring and releasing three EP’s, the band caught the attention of several labels and but ultimately they went with Lava.

“We decided to go with a major Record company to be efficient with our energy. We realized that we would have to move to the US to do it independently and weren’t prepared to do that. So we found the right people who were willing to give us our creative control and who realized that we were going to work as a team; not just the band working for the label. So things are going well,” said John.

The John Butler “sound” is hard to slot because it touches on so many genres. “It’s a lame description. It’s hard to describe a sound in words but “eclectic roots music,” says Butler. Influences are for the dread wearing artist are about as eclectic as they can be. From the Smiths to Earl Scruggs, John Butler draws from a vast pool of sounds to create his music.

“From hip hop, heavy metal to bluegrass and Celtic mandolin and violin and all past influences affected the way I play and the sounds I like to make. Celtic music i.e. traditional and bagpipe stuff, Indian and eastern music. No one in particular just love those tones. Nowadays, Gillian Welch, Jeff Lang- great Aussie artist and old time country stuff,” explained Butler.

John Butler is an accomplished slide player but is an equally talented finger pickin’ guitarist. His assertive style is so aggressive that he has to wear acrylic nails to protect his fingers. “Yep, I eat food and my 12 string eats nails. That’s the relationship we have. I discovered fake nails about 9 years ago and haven’t looked back. Strangely they are very natural feeling.

For me it’s the only way to play all the different styles I like,” said John. Amazingly the 30-year-old’s vocals are road tested and whiskey soaked as he sings of a life beyond his years. “Life and the human condition; Love, justice, the spirit, politics, the land, are my inspirations,” says John Butler.

John Butler Trio has been playing to sold out crowds for years. “We love playing music. That’s what we do. The crowds are growing and our relationship with the audience is getting deeper, so it’s exciting and a real honor,” said John.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

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