With the taster, E.P ‘Made An America‘ released back in March 2018, the acceleration of the band’s popularity has been a testament to itself with appearances at Download Festival, Reading Festival, the 2018 Heavy Music Awards in London and most recently, special guests to Bring Me The Horizon’s UK tour.
Overdrive caught up with ex-letlive vocalist Jason Aalon Butler to discuss the band’s origin and their intentions for the year ahead. Watch out, there’s a fever coming.
OD – Okay, so let’s get straight into this new album ‘Strength in Numb333rs’ which is exactly what I got when I kicked off the album from the explosive soundbite that launches into ‘Burn It’, there is no question that things are very fucked right now and this album certainly doesn’t pussyfoot around with the lyrical content. Tell me how you approached the writing of the album, as so much has happened and is continuing to happen around us?
JASON – Essentially for me, this whole project is one piece and very much integrated into my own life. Everything that I talk about on this album is entirely my life. It’s the relationship I have with my wife, my friends, the people around me in the city that I live in.
I was at Home Depot the other day getting a key cut and some guy made a stereotypical, generic, racist remark about the demographic that comes into that particular store and I had to have a conversation with him. I not trying to seem over the top or anything but this is all I really invest myself in, at all times. This type of stuff affects my son, my wife, my family.
One of the things that we did when we went through the writing process in the studio, was John (Feldmann, Goldfinger) and Travis (Barker, Blink 182) would typically ask me: “What are we going to write about today?” and we would discuss some things that were on our minds and then I would sit down and put some lyrics together. I write about issues that are affecting us all every day. Personally, I find this a very unique way of writing and it just works for me.
OD – The band’s first show was back in 2017 which is really not that far back and in that time, you’ve already played some significant shows and made a deep impact in the rock/alt/metal world. Are you surprised at how fast Fever 333 has caught fire internationally?
JASON – Yeah. Personally, it was never something that I assumed would happen with this project but that being said, it doesn’t surprise me that people are ready for something like this, something that is socially political, that offers representation for the underrepresented. That doesn’t surprise me at all. As a citizen myself, these are the things that I want to identify with. This is the type of music that I want to hear.
I’m not surprised about the climate we have entered because I’m very much a part of it, so, separating myself from the project for a moment, it’s reassuring to see the interest in the band from all across the world.
As part of this project, it’s very surprising to me that things are going as well as they are right now. But the reason of why it’s happening is self-explanatory. We are not the movement here, we are simply allies and advocates of a movement that’s already happening.
OD – I find that there are very few bands that are willing to call things out as they are these days and tend to produce this kind of generic/vanilla style of ‘between the lines’ music with zero message. Did you ever for one moment wonder about the impact of how the mainstream media would take to the subject matter of the music?
JASON – If I were to ever really worry about things like that, then it would mess with the creativity of what I’m doing. American is littered with fragile subject matters right now and I understand why that’s the case, to some extent but some things just need to be said.
I’m very mindful of the lyrics that I use and I’m willing to have conversations about my opinions and hear what other people have to say. I not speaking in facts and statistics and truths. I don’t have to offend anybody in order to get my point across.
Challenging someone shouldn’t be offensive. Yes, it can be uncomfortable at times but ultimately it’s a progressive way to deal with some of the social problems we are experiencing in our neighbourhoods, cities and towns. I’m offering people an opportunity to challenge themselves as well as myself and my own beliefs.
Check out the latest single ‘Burt It‘…
OD – There is no doubt that the sound on the album is a hybrid of genres, would you agree that there is a lot more freedom with cross-pollination musical styles these days as opposed to say, a decade ago?
JASON – I think things are moving in the right direction for sure. I think it speaks to our climate globally, artistically and socially. The reason for this change in music is purely down to the influence and risks taken by the youth of today. They are the very people that have lifted the needle and placed it down in a different place.
The youth create the climate and having grown up in a climatised environment with the impact and power of the internet, there are gonna be some changes happening. I mean, if you think about the fact that someone in L.A can get in front of a screen and connect with someone in Zimbabwe, that’s just insane, right?
The youth are the most important piece of this puzzle. They are the ones that will be running this planet when we’re long gone. The amount of flavour and influence that’s available, literally at our fingertips is almost hard to comprehend at times.
Kids today know that you don’t just have to listen to Punk, or you don’t just have to listen to Rap or Hip Hop or Metal or whatever! They know that you can digest whatever they want and explore different new things. Technology has helped people look further, beyond the horizon.
OD – With the ‘Made an America’ EP release on March 23rd last year, did you have the album written at that point and just used that to test the waters, so to speak?
JASON – In a way, yes. We had so many songs already locked down before the E.P came out. We were just trying to show people that you can be reactive and impactful in your art and the decisions that you make them. So, when we released the E.P we had some things to say at the time and we really needed to represent ourselves and demonstrate who we were as a project and set ourselves up for the future as well as understanding the potential of what we could do.
OD – Having started letlive. when you were just 16, music has always been a significant outlet for the majority of your life. During that downtime between letlive and Fever 333 did you feel a little out of sync with yourself?
JASON – It was different because I had been in bands for the best part of my life and this was a strange feeling for sure. At the same time, it was right around the time my wife got pregnant and we were working through how life was going to change and I got a job to support my family because I wasn’t going to be on the road earning money to survive.
OD – Were you still writing during this time or did you take a complete break from it all?
JASON – No, I was still writing all the time. I was very active in my activism also, but to answer your question, it was a very strange time for me as an artist.
OD – Do you think that this time away kind of helped you in a way, as they say, if you take time out from something you can get more clarity?
JASON – Absolutely! Little did I know at the time, but I guess I really needed that detachment to prepare myself for what was coming next, especially with regards to Fever 333.
OD – Having expressed the idea of Fever 333 first with John Feldmann (Goldfinger) and Travis Barker (Blink 182) to the day you rolled up in that U-Haul at Randy’s Donuts in Inglewood, California, did you know that you had in a way made the right decision as to what you were going to do with Fever 333?
JASON – There was no question at all. It was immediate, we all just knew that this was our calling. No one questioned it whatsoever. Nobody I know questioned what I was doing or challenged the idea of Fever 333. In fact, all the people around me were so supportive and just knew that this was the right step forward for me and the guys in the band.
I had started this fire inside myself decades ago, and Fever 333 was the fuel I needed to bring this fire to the forefront of my creative abilities. This is no surprise to people who I’m close to in my life. They just knew that this was the most natural and obvious step for me going forward and I’m very grateful for all the support I’ve received to date.
OD – Do you find a difference in the acceptance towards the diversity of your music and the lyrical content between European audiences as opposed to American audiences as they seem to be very fragile at the moment?
JASON – It’s an interesting one because I expected that a lot more people in the “red” (Republican Party) states would be less receptive and I’ve certainly created a mass exodus from shows for stating what we believe in. I’ve seen literally half a crowd leave the front of stage area at a Festival when I discuss such things as the rights of women and other hot topics.
Now, in saying that, I really expected that sort of thing to happen a lot more than it actually has and in one way that makes me feel positive because it shows that change is on the way. People are becoming a lot more tolerant when it comes to hearing a different view and in my opinion, that’s a good start.
In Europe, I expected..well… I don’t know man. There are so many different parts to the European culture and there are some places that are more progressive than others when compared to ‘us’ as a culture. The idea of progressive thought and action is accepted really well over there. I wonder do people different countries think that I’m talking exclusively about America at times you know? I’m really talking about all of us, the world over. I’m just using my life and the way I’ve seen things and heard as a base for my opinions.
I’m really talking about humans in general and how we can work together as a species and how we can work together to make politics work down the line. Thankfully, Fever 333 has gone down very well across the globe.
OD – Are there any plans to tour heavy schedules for this album, and if so, can you give us any information?
JASON – I can tell you that you will most definitely see us in Europe at a series of ‘demonstrations’ in 2019. That’s about all I can say about it for now. (laughs)
OD – Having been in this business for the best part of 20 years now, what would you like to see change for younger bands that are struggling to break out of their local scene?
JASON – Yeah, totally. I want artists going forward to know that they can be their own label, their own fans, make their own free decisions and not depend on the big corporate labels to make all the moves for them.
Music is about expression and feeling. I want people to know that without them, there would be no music business, there would be no record labels. The musicians that create and make all of this wonderful music that’s out there in the world have somehow lost the power to these bigger labels who seem to think that they are best to pick the tours, decide when the records come out etc.
I am blessed to have the team that I have around me, but I’ve also been through to so much on my way to this point. I’ve had to push through so much bullshit to get to where I am and you just have to remember, without the artists there is nothing.
Fever 333 ‘Strength in Numb333rs’ is released worldwide on Friday, January 18th via Roadrunner. Pre-orders and orders can be obtained from this link.
Fever 333 is;
Jason Aalon Butler – Vocals
Stevis Harrison – Guitar
Aric Improta – Percussion