When musician John Butler started out he thought that he could ‘carry a guitar and amp and a swag and that I would be like a roving, gypsy minstrel around the country, a roving feral gypsy minstrel’. In a guess that’s kind of what happened. But Butler don’t busk no more. He’s in demand on big stages both here and internationally.
Butler is a committed environmentalist whose passion for action finds its way into his music. Bully is the single off his new album and it talks about the paradigm between the community who want the same thing: opportunity, respect, dignity, clean air and clean water. But there is the other side. ‘The industrial kind of megalomaniac, eco-cidal, kind of reich, kind of corporate world that seems to be killing the planet,’ says Butler. ‘I find the energy to be quite bully like, and if there is one thing that seems to be the biggest threat to the world and to the environment and to the community, and to humanity and the planet, it’s this bullying-type mentality. It gets what it wants at any price and I don’t like that. I don’t like that kind of headspace or that energy that it could push good people around to get what it wants and I’m not into it.’
Butler believes that although we’re reaching some critical points in our environment, that the people’s movement is making progress.
‘When anything comes to a head,’ says Butler, ‘things get extreme. You have the fossil-fuel oligarchy that are getting more and more desperate to have their drug, which is fossil fuels. They are more and more desperate for their fix than they have ever been because their fix is running out, both in social currency and in real time. The actual resource is running out. So as any junkie, as they get weaned off their junk, they get more and more desperate and more and more aggressive. And so you are seeing that. What we lose looks like the problem is getting worse but at the same time I just read something that by 2030 in Western Australia more than 40 per cent of the energy is going to be renewable.
‘So more than ever I think people are wanting to do things the most logical and easy way possible and the most logical and commonsense way to go about living on this planet is sustainability. If we actually fund the right technologies, we will create more jobs and the energy will be cheaper than ever, which is what people want.’
John Butler is looking forward to returning to Bluesfest for 2018, something that has significance for this blues and roots and people-power-infused artist.
‘The first time I got to play Bluesfest in 2000 I though this is it. I thought I had made it and I still feel that way. I feel like that every time I get to play Bluesfest. I go, I feel okay. This is a big deal. Woodford and Bluesfest, it was 20 years ago, to get those gigs as a budding young musician was like the holy grail in many ways; it still is, so I am still so stoked to be part of the lineup, and to be one of all those many great musicians who hold the presence of that audience onstage and to be part of the community and to be part of that legacy is a thrill that never fades.
John Butler Trio play Bluesfest 2018. For program info and tix go to bluesfest.com.au