I recently had the privilege of reviewing the latest CD by Lee Butcher entitled "All in good Time". To say the least "All in good Time" is an impressive musical production from start to finish. It’s strong suit – the amazing creative genius that is Lee Butcher. He is a musical triple threat & possesses more than enough musical talent & songwriting prowess to be extremely dangerous. The music is dirty, but goes down smooth, & like the aforementioned has a very unique signature sound. The messages are dark, passionate, honest, & very melancholy – all from the artist’s perspective. The true meaning of some of these songs is buried deep within the lyrical content, & is not so easily pinned down the first listen. Overall it’s a brilliant shapshot of music. I really admire artists out there who are themselves & just let the chips fall where they may. Praise goes out to the artist that can show us something real & genuine beneath their veil of vanity. Lee Butcher is one of those artists. Make no bones about it this is a dark record - so be advised you may not want to listen to this CD on the day you get fired, or the night your wife leaves you, but if your looking for dark, tripped out musical experience that offers up an alternative rock aftertaste then I highly recommend you jump into “All in good Time” by Lee Butcher head first.
"brilliant snapshot of music"
"Tool meets Pearl Jam"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST:-
IMD Tell us about your acting experience & how that plays into songwriting?
LB While I haven’t done a lot of acting, I have written screenplays, short films, and beginnings of novels. It’s great that you recognized the character-centric aspect of the songs. I do try to get inside of the minds of the characters to accurately portray lyrically how they would react and feel in a given situation whether it’s a normal Joe or a megalomaniacal monster, and vocally, how they would sound in confiding their story to you.
IMD How’s the Music Scene in Los Angeles these days.
LB Saturated. Everyone out here plays music. It’s great because on any given night you can go out and hear live music. We also get all the touring bands so, you can always catch your favorite big band when they come to town. On the other hand, there are so many bands forming, taking breaks, breaking up, moving away and so many different venues to see these momentary bands in. Its hard to keep up but every once in awhile you will hear someone truly amazing that, as a songwriter, makes you want to go home and practice ‘til it hurts.
IMD I really enjoyed the many influences I heard when listening to your CD. Who are some of those bands that have influenced you both the years?
LB My biggest initial influences were Tool and Rage Against the Machine. So, when I writing music in my teens everything sounded like Tom Morello or Adam Jones. You can definitely hear that in the music of “The Kid” and “Hope”. Vocally, Maynard was my biggest influence. The first time I heard Tool, I thought “Yes...(nods) This is for me” and it sparked my love for music. They have these songs that take you on an epic sonic journey and you never want them to end. I was looking to do that in some of my songs. Rage Against the Machine, while as a kid I couldn’t really get the full meaning, had a message and purpose behind their music and it wasn’t just super metaphoric nonsense or simple cookie cutter filler lyrics between hooks and I appreciated that. Days of the New and Alice in Chains changed the way I played guitar. It was basically all Drop D and power chords before, but then I started playing around with a more melodic acoustic sound. No one sounds like Primus but I tried to give a little of that feel in the beginning of “Mr. Super Sunshine”. Vocally, the first time I heard Muddy Waters I was working in Starbucks it was a revelation. I was going for that raw primal yearning kind of feel in “Hey”. I’ve been told it sounds nothing like trip-hop or Portishead but that was the kind of feel I was shooting for in “Precious Moments”. I wanted the end of “The Boogieman’s Courtship” to sound like an old doo wop song, kind of like “This Magic Moment” by the Planters. Lyrically, I love songs with story and substance like old folk and country songs from Johnnie Cash and the Stanley Brothers. Growing up in Virginia, I always love the sound of the banjo and folk guitar which kind of got me on the finger-picking playing style which, later when I heard Jose Gonzalez, found its way into most of my songwriting like “The Acrobat,” The Boogieman, and “Precious Moments”. The feel of the final recording of “The Acrobat” was influenced by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’s Raising Sand. Other bands that can’t be ignored are (and you can add “first few CDs” to just about all of these) Live, Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Jethro Tull, Counting Crows, Peter Gabriel, A Perfect Circle, NIN, Sinch, The Mars Volta, The Guess Who
"I do try to get inside of the minds of the characters to accurately portray
lyrically how they would react and feel in a given situation whether it’s a
normal Joe or a megalomaniacal monster, & vocally, how they would
sound in confiding their story to you...."
- Lee Butcher -
IMD Listening to your vocal style I keep hearing Layne Staley am I off the mark there?
LB I love Layne Staley’s voice and especially the harmonies in Alice in Chains. It just created otherworldly sound and distinct feel for their music. We decided to do something similar in studio on “Precious Moments” and “The Acrobat” and now I couldn’t imagine them with out it. He had such a unique style and sound and I respect anyone who is doing their own thing and can make it work. Alice in Chains was definitely a big influence for me but it was never a conscience effort to sound like one person or another. I still feel new to singing, playing guitar for so much longer, and still feel like I’m trying to nail down my exact style. It’s been fun to play around trying to find the limits of my voice and what I can do with it.
IMD Tell us who have been some of your top vocal influences over the years?
LB Maynard from Tool was my biggest influence. He has such a range and he can do soft and pretty and then instantly switch to loud, raw, and brutal. He knows exactly how to build, how long he can keep you at he peak, and when to let you go. He is a master. With Muddy Waters, he had such a raw primal emotion in his voice, that when he starts wailing you can’t not feel his pain, longing, and despair. Even when he pulls back, he can deliver even a single word in a way that is so genuine that it instantly convinces you he has lived this story AND lives it over again every time he sings it. Then you have Eddie Vedder, Ed Kowalczyk, Scott Weiland, Burton Cummings, Joe Cocker -I wish I had a voice like all those dudes.
IMD What inspired you to start writing music in the first place & what are the biggest things you want people to take from your music?
LB I might sound pretentious, but I’ve always been arty so I think it’s just in my nature to create. This probably made me a terrible guitar student because I always just wanted to play and start writing my own music instead of learning other bands songs that would have made me better. It was just a hobby until I came out to Los Angeles and joined a band. It was always hard for me to play guitar and sing at the same time and I had kind of given up on it but after much practice it happened. I was trying to write screenplays at the time and the thing is screenplays is that you write for 6 months and more than likely you are only going to get 5 people to read it. But with music you can tell a story in 4 (or in my case 5-6 minutes) and you can keep their attention and it’s something they can hear, see, feel, experience, not just read. I feel like it’s so hard to make real human connections. I just hope that the story songs entertain and with the more expressive songs that people can relate or can take their own meaning and it gives them less of that feeling of being alone so many of us have.
IMD What is the best concert you each have been to over the years?
LB Seeing Tool is always a really cool experience. They have these multimedia pieces going and the music thunders. Great people watching. It’s always a great show. But I haven’t been since the Lateralus tour. Crowds drive me crazy, so I like smaller more intimate music experiences. About a year ago I saw the Carolina Chocolate Drops and it was a really small venue. They told stories about the songs and the history of the music. It was awesome.
IMD I especially enjoyed the piece ‘Hey” can you tell us about that particular piece, what inspired that one?
LB I was listening to a lot of blues at the time like Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf and I just woke up one morning and wrote it down. That is kind of an anomaly for me since I usually slave over lyrics and word choice and I never really believe that anyone wrote any great song in just one sitting. Sure… people have written songs that quickly but I’m sure “Stand by Me” (my favorite song) wasn’t written in 3 minutes on a napkin somewhere. Anyway, I woke up really hung over, I got up, and I wrote it down. It’s inspired by the ache that I’m sure most of us have felt, when we are so overwhelmingly physically attracted to another person and emotionally or socially they ignore or seemingly taunt us with their actions. You want their attention or affection so badly that it’s painful. So, we think of ways that we can get that attention. This person just happened to be a desensitized guy in a strip club and the one way he can get her to notice him is with his money - that kind of seedy old folk blues storyline. Some friends and I had gone out on a Bachelor Party around that time and its funny how different people react in situations like that. I’ve known a few people that were addicted to strip clubs, not me of course, but you’d be surprised.
IMD How about “Mr. Super Sunshine” could you tell us more about those songs?
LB Mr. Super Sunshine is based around people I grew up around. Those people I’m sure you’ve met, where everything is unrealistically amazingly great. There is absolutely nothing greater or lesser than anything else and there is nothing to be feeling down about - the sun is shining, you are alive, etc. Your sadness or dislike or criticism of something is an affront to them and they want to fix this problem AKA you. They have to bestow a little of their wisdom on you on how to live your life because they are so happy and for you not to be deliriously happy doesn’t work for them. So, they make you their mission. But its insulting for them to think that they are living their life the right way or better than you, especially when they clearly don’t have a strong grasp on reality. So, the first half of the song, the bouncy parts kind of signify Mr. SS’s personality, while the darker choruses are about the singer’s dislike for him. Then the end with the solo and “bridge,” is the release of telling Mr. SS how the singer really feels. The outro repeating the beginning of the song shows that Mr. Super Sunshine is not bothered at all by this and goes back to trying to save the world.
IMD What’s next for Lee Butcher?
LB We are currently shooting a video for “The Acrobat” that will hopefully be completed by the end of September, which you can view on my sites. I think it’s going to be very cool. It’s a ghost story!
interview conducted by Cyrus Rhodes. Property of Indie Music Media LLC.
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