Frontman of the LA post-hardcore band Jason Aalon Butler talks ahead of his Slam Dunk set
You are well known for your onstage antics. What is craziest thing you’ve ever done offstage?
Falling in love. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done.
Do you have a thought process when you do what you do on stage?
If I’m going to think about it then it becomes this sort of preconceived show, and that’s not authentic. Some people have a penchant for choreographed performance, and that’s cool man, right on, but that’s just not what I want to do. My favourite artist is Michael Jackson – that motherfucker is the king of pop and choreography, but he invested himself in it in a very organic sense.
Listen to Butler on the release of Michael Jackson’s unfinished demos
What other influences do you have that may not necessarily fit into the metal/rock category?
Hip-hop was huge for me growing up. In fact hip-hop has a very heavy hand in what I do lyrically. Anything from the Pac and Biggie polarity to much more underground and conscious rap from Loose Logic to Common. Also the percussive approach with my vocals definitely comes from hip-hop and R&B for sure.
Your dad was in the R&B scene in the 1980s. Why did you go in the opposite direction?
I think it was the subversive nature of punk rock for me as ideologies go. I definitely made a conscious effort to try to integrate my original upbringing as a musician which was in fact R&B and soul. Especially with the last record we delved into that realm a little bit more and tried to fuse the two, and as we go further along in the Letlive sonic timeline I think that we definitely see a lot more of what my father did. I think it was just the frame of mind that came alongside with punk rock.
What’s it like being a multiracial band in a predominantly white scene?
I really don’t see where the lines are drawn anymore and I don’t think they need to exist. I think that music is so transcendental that we need to pay attention to what it is we are vibing as opposed to who it is. I mean Afro punk like Bad Brains or Fishbone, they were fucking great musicians and that, coupled with their essence, made them some of the best rock bands in the world. But I do understand that there was a sense of novelty with those bands, certainly, because they were in fact a minority in the music scene. But I think that now, it’s 2014, we understand that music is about a vibe. If you have a desire to play music then that’s in you no matter who you are, no matter what creed, or colour, or sex.
Your latest album is more ambient and softer in style. Was that a conscious decision?
It was a natural progression, influenced by what I listen to, like really pissed-off punk rock and really awesome idiosyncratic and dark R&B. It’s just what I love, so I definitely try to incorporate some things in this record that are very obscure for Letlive, or at least what Letlive was. It’s gonna keep happening – that’s what I enjoy.
Listen to Butler on developing Letlive’s sound
What is your writing process?
Sometimes I’ll just listen to the song, and this is going to sound like hippy dippy enchanted bullshit, but its true. I’ll listen to the song to see what it wants to be written about, I’ll scat some words, see what words strike me as the potent, the most captivating, and then I sort of formulate a subject matter based on the song, not based on what I was thinking, not based on an approach I was trying to take. I don’t do that shit, cause that’s when I become the contrived artist that is just trying to say something about something to keep up with the times, or whatever the fuck it is. That’s just not who I am.
What can we expect from tonight’s performance?
If I could tell you, then it wouldn’t be the proper letlive show.