No strangers to hitting the road, Australian roots and jam band John Butler Trio will be sharing their magic with regional Victoria during March of this year. The tour announcement has come accompanied by the much welcomed news of their forthcoming seventh studio album.
Titled one of our most exuberant acts, lead vocalist and guitarist John Butler lists the ingredients which are necessary to exuding this energy and excitement – and ultimately contends that these are the secret recipe to creating magic on stage.
“Being on the road is really regimented, which is kind of what I like about it,” he begins, “I drink lots of water and get lots of sleep, I make sure I feed myself the right food at the right time, I meditate twice a day and hopefully go for a run. And just 45 minutes before the show I’m quite calm and just warming up my vocals and hanging out with my band.”
“There’s a whole bunch of energy that goes into being able to make magic at a certain moment,” he continues, “As we all know, good times and magical moments seem to be quite random – you don’t know when they’re going to come.
“I’m in the business of trying to make these moments happen at a certain time and so it takes this focus of energy to make sure at 9.30pm when the lights go on, that I’m able to go out and be this super version of myself. It’s like I put my cape on and do my best.”
John Butler Trio began working on new songs while touring internationally throughout last year and John says the new album is “being mixed at the moment.” You heard it – straight from the horse’s mouth.
With a catalogue of acclaimed tracks spanning decades, one might only wonder how John Butler Trio go about choosing their set-list for any one given show. And with new tunes to be showcased at their upcoming string of performances, John expresses the dismay he experiences in the process.
“I don’t like it [choosing the set-list for a show], it’s really difficult. I want to bring all the children to the playground, but only some of them can come and it’s like I’m saying to the kids that I love one of them more than the other,” he laughs, “And when I make a new album it’s like, ‘OH NO, there’s going to be even more kids left behind!’”
“I tend to maintain this headspace where I go, ‘If I were to go to, I don’t know, say I’m going to go to a Rage Against The Machine concert, I want to see Bulls On Parade, I want to see Killing In The Name’,” he explains, “So I think about that with my audience and think about the songs they’ve built these relationships with and I make sure those songs are in.
“But my biggest focus is making sure that at least just under half of my set is new songs, so that my audience can continue to grow with me… otherwise you can get into playing your greatest hits and then your audience never moves with you.”
While John Butler Trio continue to lead fans on a momentous journey alongside them, John admits he has begun to think about the bigger questions, such as why it is he does what he does.
“I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last couple of years and I’ve been asking myself, ‘What is it that I do?’, ‘What is it that I want?’, you know, ‘What am I really wanting out of this?’,” he explains, “You release music and it’s a very personal thing, but the minute you show it to the world you feel like you’re stranding naked and you’re hoping that everybody is going to like this music that you’ve given.”
“You feel very vulnerable and of course you want people to like it, but why do you want people to like it – that’s the question, WHY? Is it just to stroke your ego? No, it’s not that,” he continues before concluding, “I’ve boiled it down to something that’s kind of simple and ridiculous and beautiful – and it’s just to give people the chills.
“I know when I look at a piece of art, or I watch a great movie, or I hear a story, or watch a concert and I get the chills, I feel like magic is happening – and that’s why I get on stage, in the hope that I’ll give people the chills.”
John Butler Trio will be accompanied on tour by MAMA KIN SPENDER, the exciting new collaboration between ARIA-nominated Mama Kin and multi-instrumentalist/producer Tommy Spender.
When & Where: Wendouree Performing Arts Centre, Ballarat – March 21 & Ulumbarra Arts Centre, Bendigo – March 22
For more information and tickets visit www.johnbutlertrio.com.
Written by Helena Metzke
Image by James Minchin