“This is a new age for Letlive.” - Jason Butler gives hmv.com the lowdown on If I’m The Devil…
Soul punk firebrands Letlive. return today with their brand new album If I’m The Devil… (which you can preview and purchase on the right-hand side of the page) and to celebrate we sat down with the band’s frontman Jason Butler to find out all about making the album and why this marks a new direction for the band…
How long did this album take to put together?
“We actively started writing at the end of August in 2014, we wrote and wrote, even while we were on tour, then we went into the studio in June of 2015. We wrote for 10 months and then we once we got in the studio we got in and out pretty quickly.”
You worked with Justyn Pilbrow, who is probably best known for his work with The Neighborhood, a band who do things a little slower than you guys, why did you go with him?
“I heard I Love You and I loved the soundscapes and the ambient stuff they have in the background. I told my wife (New Zealand musician Gin Wigmore) about it, she’s a Kiwi and because it’s such a small world it turned out that he was a friend of a friend and so I got in contact with him really easily. We had lunch, talked all about music, I took him to the guys and he did the record. He was very genuine and very open.”
Their sound is quite dense whereas you guys like to keep things raw, it doesn’t seem like a natural fit…
“We’d written everything, so we didn’t need help with that, it was more presentation and chasing sounds. He gave us the final piece we were look for and harnessed what we’re best at. We really found the sound we were looking for.”
Were you more open to embracing what you can do in the studio and not just recreating what you can do live?
“100%. This is a new age for Letlive. We’ve experienced so much and we’ve improved so much as musicians. We’re more confident, less apprehensive and we want to try new things. As a band we really appreciate eclecticism, we like to introduce elements that you don’t expect.”
You’ve parted ways with guitarist Jean Nascimento, who’d been with you since 2007, has his departure been difficult?
“He’s my homeboy, we’ve been friends since high school. But we were already writing the record as a four and he was willingly less involved, so by the time we came to the decision to relieve him of his position it was obvious, where he was in his life wasn’t congruent with the band, so it was a very smooth transition.”
Can you sum up the album lyrically?
“It’s tied together by the idea of all these divisions that we’ve created as a society, whether that’s romantically, politically, intellectually, all these ideas, it’s all about perception, that’s where the record’s title comes from. It’s the choice to perceive everything negatively, it does nothing for us as people and it’s usually rooted in fear. I’ve got a real penchant for subversion and there’s a lot of that.”
How do your lyrics come to you? Are you always writing?
“They begin as excerpts and then I build on those. I’m always writing, my mind is always turning over, words become phrases and they build into stanzas, I’ve got tonnes of notes on my phone. Often it doesn’t make sense, but it can give me an idea.”
This album is quite politically charged, is that something you were keen to express?
“I’ve always been involved in politics, ever since high school, I’m very interested in our systems and how things work. My interest in politics has always been strong, but I’m a better writer now, it’s more finessed, I’ve moved beyond ‘F**k this’ to expressing why things need to change.”
Are you nervous about alienating people at all? That’s why a lot of bands avoid politics…
“I feel a lot more confident now about my writing and how I express myself. I always want to make sure what I say holds up, my biggest qualm with so many bands is just uneducated complaining, you don’t have to be a professor, but you need to understand what you’re saying, just yelling ignorantly damages what you’re trying to achieve.”
There’s a lot more to do to make the album come to life in live shows this time, how are preparations for that going?
“We will need to sit down and figure out how to pull off the sound. There’s a lot more progression and movement on this album, our live shows will be heavy and visceral, but we’ll need to focus. I want there to be that sense that anything could happen, but I want us to sound great.”
Finally will we see you at any of the summer festivals?
“Not this year. We’re touring the US all summer and we’ll let the record do it’s thing and then see where we’re at next year.”