To be fair, the man knows a thing or two about beards.
Ahead of their first ever UK headline show in London on Monday as part of the Rock Sound DC Secret Sessions we caught up with Letlive to talk heritage, history-making and humanity
We're a few days away from the Rock Sound DC Secret Session in London, featuring Letlive, The James Cleaver Quintet and Hearts Under Fire, so we figured it was time to get to know LL frontman Jason Aalon Butler a little better.
As the buzz circulating around his band only intensifies, Butler's relishing the challenge of converting more converts to the Letlive cause. Their brilliant album 'Fake History' is being re-released via Epitaph Records in April and while on tour with Your Demise the band are essentially conducting a fact-finding reconnaissance of the UK so they can return later in the year and comprehensively own this little island. But this coming Monday is a momentous occasion for the band - their first ever headline show here - and we're all rather excited.
The show at the Old Blue Last (nearest tube: Old Street or Liverpool Street) is on Monday - doors are at 8pm, tickets are only £3 and all proceeds go to the homeless charity Shelter. Get there early to ensure entry because you can't buy tickets in advance and this shit's going to be nuts.
How does it feel to be one of the most talk-about bands in the UK?
“Beforehand, the attention and the contact we had with fans in the UK was intermittent but now it’s very flattering and a lot more significant. It’s pretty wild.”
Is there a part of you that resists such attention?
“One of the primary things Letlive wants to do is to get as many people’s attention as possible, and access by way of the press helps that. It doesn’t benefit us so much as benefit the people who want to be involved in everything Letlive is about. It’s nothing to do with us as individuals, we just hope people enjoy themselves.”
Even though you know you’re in a band with specific aims do you still get a bit of a buzz when you see your faces in magazines?
“It’s… different. It’s something to be expected when you’re playing music and hoping to achieve a status where people can reach you. It’s also very flattering, and that’s the best way to put it – we’re out here doing something we’d hope people would understand and support, and in some way that’s the greatest response we could ask for.”
Tell me about your experiences of the UK…
“I’m the only that’s ever been to the UK but we all have a strong understanding as to the maturity of the UK as far as intellect, education and music goes, as well as the manner in which you guys approach and handle things. The way you do things is impressive and appealing to us. I lived in Scotland when I was a kid and I’ve been back and forth over the years visiting my family, and as far as music goes there’s Radiohead and The Beatles; I guess if someone didn’t mention those bands they’d be an idiot! And we’re friends with the Bring Me The Horizon guys, I love Architects, Your Demise, Dead Swans, Kids In Glass Houses, Gallows… there’s a lot of things we want to become patrons of in the UK.”
So for you, coming to the UK with Letlive is an intersection of two worlds – your family and your band – that, until now, have never met.
“Absolutely. Our efforts as a band were to facilitate something everyone can be involved in and find a commonality, and for us to come over to the UK, it sounds crazy and a little enchanted, but it’s definitely beyond a blessing. It’s not only hard to cultivate but it’s hard to bring into fruition and it’s hard to feel like something you’re doing is condoned by more people than just your band, so for us to make our way over to the UK we want to show people American punk rock soul is very much well and alive. We’re also out to make people understand this is more than Letlive – we’re just a vessel for something we understand and want to amplify.”
Is there a worry that people might not understand what you’re trying to do? Not so much whether or not they enjoy your music but whether they get your message…
“You know what, I never thought of that and I think because none of us have ever thought of that it’s never been a problem. I do feel the properties and qualities and needs of people, emotionally and in the realm of poignancy, are burning inside people and we are appealing to that. I can assure you that if people don’t get it then they’ll go home and wonder why we were trying to hard to open up their minds or hearts or souls. People may think this is a cliché but if anyone wants to know why we’re trying so hard can come up to us and speak to us.”
Speaking of the future, I see you’re working on new music. How far along are you?
“Ideally, we’d like to be writing for the new CD sometime in the Ides Of March and throughout April. It depends on the scheduling. All of us are always writing on the road and it’s the one thing that keeps us sane. The way Letlive works, based on our infrastructure which is very organic, we just let it go and allow it to write itself. How the essence manifests itself in the end is something we give way to, almost like we’re conceding to it. And then we build upon that. Do we have goals for the new record? As far as music is concerned, we want to show people the band we are is the band we will continue to be, but as we want progress sonically we’ll forever be aiming to convey the energy and passion of all of us. We’re also going to explore as much as we can while staying within the environment that is Letlive, and we’re hopeful to be able to present variables within that so show every type of fan what music can be.”
Sonically, you talk about keeping things within the world of Letlive but there are so many different sounds influences that you have a huge base from which you can draw. Do you want to expand that?
“Absolutely, and it’s very comforting to know that’s how it’s received because that’s how it’s written. The base for Letlive is so vast because of everything we’ve come from as musicians. I hate sounding patronising but we’re going to try to open up the avenues from which people in this quote unquote scene or subculture can explore. Again, you’re right, there are so many sounds in there, but we’re going to find a fresh new way to bring them together. We promise to bring something that will captivate, and that’s something we can promise.”
How important is it to present yourselves in your own environment as a headline band rather than as a support?
“I feel that naturally what would happen with a headline show, and this is without fail, there’s a different level of expectation. And what it means is you can talk and talk but in the end when you’re headlining a show you are hosting a vibe and creating an environment. With a headline show we’re granted an opportunity to inculcate what it is that embodies Letlive and what we really want to bring to London that night. We will be very aware and understanding, so that night we’re allowed to do a bit more. Plus, we get to play a longer set, which is cool.”
What do you want people to leave the show feeling?
“I would love them to be feeling like they finally had a human experience. That they themselves, with us, were able to exhibit emotive qualities that they maybe weren’t able to do elsewhere, and I want them to understand that it is possible and all it takes is a few words. I want them to feel like that is a moment in time that they can sanction and call upon whenever they need to, and go back and remember that they were truly understood and understood someone else. We don’t think we’re the patron saints of hardcore or soul music… we just believe.”
And a headline show is an open church to attract more believers, as it were.
“Yeah. We’re going to preach that Letlive gospel...”
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