John Butler was born in California and at age eleven swapped one West Coast lifestyle for a vastly different one when his family moved to Pinjarra in Western Australia. By age sixteen John was learning guitar alongside other family members, but he quickly found his affinity with the instrument and his own inspiration to excel, appreciating the cathartic and therapeutic nature that writing and singing his own songs brought to his life in a small country town. This early dedication to the instrument was rewarded soon after as John demonstrated enough discipline to inherit his grandfather’s 1930s Dobro. This was a defining moment, now armed with a sense of linage and total commitment John began to define his own voice on the instrument via experimentation with open tunings and a gumbo of musical influences from Celtic folk to Indian ragas and from blues to reggae. John absorbed all of these until he was able to translate them through his own instrumental voice and he began to perform his own music busking in front of large crowds at the Fremantle markets.
Demand for recorded versions of these early instrumentals became so great that John realised the need to produce his first release. Completely self funded, it would indicate the shape of John’s career from the outset. ‘Searching for Heritage’ released on tape in 1996 sold three and a half thousand copies and enabled John to fund his first CD recording. These early lessons of the demand for live energy on a recording and the importance of artistic independence, re-investment, and a consistent work ethic came so naturally to John that they only served to reinforce his belief that this was the only way to conduct his career. John continued to work hard on both performing and developing the next part of his musical palette, a merger between his instrumental voice and singing voice. Inspired by pivotal moments along the way such as a Jeff Lang or a Tony McManus concert, John’s vocals and lyrics became further inter-locked with his guitar and songwriting completing the puzzle and revealing an inspired and energetic picture.
In 1998, the first incarnation of the John Butler Trio launched ‘John Butler/ Self Titled’ followed in 2000/1 by the EP ‘Pickapart’, both were well received and the track ‘Pickapart’ was added to high rotation on national youth broadcaster, radio Triple J. This saw the band tour long and hard nationally in support of the release. In April 2001, the breakthrough album ‘Three’ was released through independent distributors MGM Distribution and remained in the national alternative charts for nine months rising to the number one position a record breaking three times.
Meanwhile in New York, manager Philip Stevens was forging working relationships with booking agents, promoters and labels to find the best way to continue John Butler’s independent model around the world. To this end, in conjunction with fellow West Australian band, The Waifs, Jarrah Records was formed as a new independent label that saw the release in USA of “Three” in July 2002 which went on to sell over 10,000 copies.
By the time ‘Three’ reached platinum sales status in Australia the JBT was recognised and respected nationally as part of the Australian musical landscape both on the airwaves and the touring circuit. In 2003, ‘Living 2001- 2002’, a double live CD, debuted at number six on the ARIA charts also achieving platinum sales with the subsequent mainstream focus and acceptance indicating a bright horizon for John.
The release of the single ‘Zebra’ from the album ‘Sunrise Over Sea’ in December 2003 would achieve the crossover into a historically difficult market for independent artists, commercial radio. ‘Zebra’ not only made it to number eight in Triple J’s esteemed Hot 100 but it was programmed on high rotation around the country on mainstream commercial networks such as Triple M and Nova. The debut of ‘Sunrise Over Sea’ at number one in the ARIA charts created Australian music history. It was the first time a release by a completely independent Australian artist on their own independent label had rocketed to the top of the national charts. ‘Sunrise Over Sea’ would go on to achieve five times platinum status (350,000 copies) in Australian record sales alone and remained in The Association of Independent Record Labels (AIR) charts for a staggering 84 weeks. A sold out national tour followed in support of the album with John donating one dollar from every ticket to the Refugee Action Coalition. John has continued this tradition with various causes such as The Wilderness Society, Save Ningaloo Reef Campaign and The JB Seed all benefiting from touring donations.
Despite incredible success received to date John Butler and his fellow band members, Shannon Birchall on bass and Michael Barker on drums, did not rest to bask in the glory and as always went back to work. During the last two years The JBT has been making new friends and winning over large audiences all over the world. Highlight performances so far have included two sold out shows at the legendary Fillmore East in San Francisco, a standing ovation at the celebrated New Orleans Jazz Festival, selling out the prestigious Grand Rex in Paris, rocking the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, becoming the highest selling act at the Cambridge Folk Festival and performing main stage at Glastonbury, one of the most coveted gigs on the international festival circuit, and a landmark television performance on the David Letterman Show.
During this time the decision had been made to sign with Lava Records, an imprint of Atlantic Records, for the release of their CDs outside of Australia and New Zealand. A decision not taken lightly but born of the belief that the music needed to be heard by as many people as possible through out the world. In a rare deal John retained full artistic control and also the ability to have all CDs and promotional material printed on recycled paper. Sunrise Over Sea went on to sell a further 200,000 copies around the world.
In January 2006, John and fellow band members Shannon and Michael began pre-production at Couch Studios (WA) with engineer Shaun O’Callaghan. The first recording session for the album started in February at Woodstock studios with engineer Robin Mai who also worked on the ground breaking ‘Sunrise Over Sea’ album. Session two, saw the band moving to Sing Sing studios (Melbourne) where John came together with legendary Mario Caldato Jnr (Beastie Boys, Beck) to co-produce and engineer.
The new album, which sees release in early 2007 offers a broad, solid, and deep collection of tunes with all the energy and unique sonic tapestry of a John Butler Trio live performance, captured for eternity in a studio environment.
John is honoured to share this new journey and welcomes everyone along for the ride.
Live On Stage:
If you dig Ben Harper and Jack Johnson you're going to love the John Butler Trio. Here they are on the French TV show Taratata with "Zebra"....
I've seen these guys live a handful of times and they're great, definitely download one of these shows and find out for yourself...
John Butler Trio - 2007-03-02 - Fox Theatre - 15th Anniversary Celebration - Special Acoustic Show - Boulder, CO
John Butler Trio - 2006-04-15 - Vic Theatre - Chicago, IL
John Butler Trio - 2004-11-20 - Jake Nevin Fieldhouse - Villanova University - Villanova, PA
JBT just released a new album called Grand National here's the video for "Good Excuse" the first single off the album....
A few more videos for ya....
Home Is Where The Heart Is
For more info you know what to do - here's their official website.