Interview by Danny Coleman
Matt Butler grew up in Manhattan, NYC a fan of punk and grunge music and then something happened. Something that was the sum of several subtle events which changed the course of not only Matt’s career but his music as well. “I’m a singer songwriter who grew up in the city. I’ve always been in bands, I loved punk rock as a kid; I practically lived at CBGB and the alternative clubs. I listened to Black Flag, Fugazi, then later on Nirvana, Pearl Jam’s “Ten” was my real first favorite record, then came my watershed moment; I heard the song “Back Streets” by Bruce Springsteen off of “Born To Run and it created a paradigm shift. I got more into writing songs and meaningful material that was important to me.”
Another event was the changing of his own mindset. Butler began listening to more and more songwriters whose lyrics tend to “Paint pictures” or “Create mental images with their words.” Artists such as Springsteen, Ryan Adams and even lesser heard Kris Kristofferson who is known more for his acting skills than his fine musical abilities. “Yeah, even though I was kind of a hard core guy growing up; I also kind of gravitated towards singer songwriters. Once I started writing my own music and putting my efforts there; my thought process began to change. I realized that I had outgrown garage bands, they weren’t the right medium for my music any longer. There was nothing wrong with my bands or my band mates, I wanted to remove myself from the democratic dynamic that came along with being in a band. I wanted to make the decisions on when, where and how my music should be presented and it was becoming increasingly harder to do so in a band format.”
These decisions have served Butler well; his music has been placed in multiple films and on such notable television programs such as “The Voice,” “Pawn Stars,” “NY Ink,” “Ax Men,” “Burn Notice” and he has also penned the main theme song to “American Pickers.” Butler has co-written songs with members of The Killers, Kings Of Leon, Flogging Molly and Shinedown as well as been the face of a Converse ad campaign.
This Saturday, May 21, Butler will take to the stage in his hometown as he headlines a free show at the Rockwood Music Hall beginning at 9 p.m. Butler says that he is, “More interested in songs that tell stories” and that his soon to be released CD, titled “Reckless Son,” does just that. “This is my debut as a solo artist,” said an enthused Butler. “This title and the song by the same name are a summed up narrative really. It’s kind of a loose concept album, it was intended to be this way; sort of my lifetime. As I was writing the tune, I found myself kind of directing it at my dad; it’s kind of the role that I’ve always played. The disc, like my life, has taken a while to get to this point. I’m hoping for a July release of what I call a compilation of myself, it was time to put these songs, these stories down; I guess I just got tired of chasing my own tail (laughs).”
Butler lists Woodstock and Albany, NY as two of his favorite places to play, yet counts an appearance on“Radio Woodstock” and a certain night which saw him open for the great Garland Jeffreys among his fondest memories. This show in front of his hometown friends, family and fans looms as a large reminder of how far he’s come and he’s committed to making it his best. “First of all, this is a great, great venue,” explained Butler as he reaffirmed and offered his vision on the upcoming show. “Even though the CD has some full band material on it; this is a solo performance of songs off of the record. I like to kid and say it’s more like the old VH1 “Storytellers” version of my music; I’m more interested in storytelling songs.”
The Rockwood Music Hall is located at 196 Allen Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and Butler will be performing on Stage 1. To discover more about Matt Butler; please go to www.mattbutlerofficial.com.
Danny Coleman (Danny Coleman is a veteran musician and writer from central New Jersey. He hosts a weekly radio program entitled “Rock On Radio” airing Sunday evenings at 10 p.m. EST on multiple internet radio outlets where he features indie/original bands and solo artists.)