A Scouse songwriter who looks beyond Seel Street and knows that great songs are the only currency that counts. Not your sound or your look. But your craft.
“Good songs man, that’s what I’m about. I’m more of a songwriter than a musician… I dissect me songs and make sure no bad ones get out. You’ve gotta’ spend lots of time writing, practicing and getting your act together. It has to be enjoyable too – a freedom of expression, deffo’, but don’t abuse it.”
Wise words. And refreshing ones too. Especially when you know Butler’s history and how he’s been there and done it. His previous band The Sonic Hearts were signed to EMI UK, released a couple of singles, toured like demons and recorded a great pop album… only for it to be shelved before release.
“That was demoralising. It cost around £120,000 all that – our A&R man taking it over to New York to have it mastered by the same fella’ who does Springsteen’s records and where did it get us? The game has changed and we toured too much and gave away too much control. Don’t get me wrong, we had fun, but I wouldn’t do it the same way now.”
Butler may have made mistakes with The Sonic Hearts – although the band’s supporters within EMI being sacked didn’t help either – but he’s got his mojo back now and the songs are flowing.
With his band, The Stoonards – Kevin Ellison (drums) Ryan Wyatt (bass) John Dalglish (guitar/mandolin) – his recent Sound City gig was a triumph and he’s demo’d a new record all by himself: “I’ve been working at a mate’s studio in Anfield… going in and playing everything myself. I’ve put some of them up on MySpace and the response at gigs has been good. We haven’t done loads of gigs – but the ones we have played, have been special.”
And the songs? “They’re well different live and it’s been great. The gigs and the band’s playing have given me the idea to re-record the new songs with more of a live sound and see where that takes us. The lads in the band make me happy. They’re musical mad dogs and live the life… they’re all in abar’ ten bands like Sparkwood & 21 and Dead Cities.”
Got the chops then? “Deffo’. With their playing, the tunes are rougher than the demos people have heard and I’m loving it now… ideally, I’d like to get them out soon.”
Listening to songs like Mona and Catherine Street, you sense that Butler has turned a corner since the disappointing end of The Sonic Hearts and something is stirring.
“I’ve got complete freedom now and I’m not too precious about it. I’ve got a life outside of music too and that suits me and the songs are all the better for it. With The Sonic Hearts, I’d try to accommodate and please all kinds of people… now I’m making myself happy. I want to enjoy music again.”