2016, Features, Interviews — June 8, 2016 at 7:00 am

Jason Butler of letlive.

Photo credit: Jonathan Weiner
Photo credit: Jonathan Weiner

“…as the band we just grew and evolved and not to say that we all evolved or moved in the same direction artistically but we did certainly grow as artists and I think we started to find out different parts of ourselves creatively that were going in different directions and because of that we were able to put it together and create this record…”

From Release: Since their beginning in 2002, letlive. has been a band that is not easy to categorize. In fact, letlive. refuse to be constrained by the ideas of a “scene” – whether it is punk, metal, indie, rap. However If I’m the Devil… necessitates a genre, one could posit revolutionary counterculture music – a punk rock Run the Jewels, a more emotional Rage Against the Machine, and Public Enemy with more inclusive politics.

Jason from leltive. aka one of the nicest dudes in the business gave us a call to catch up on all things letlive. including the band’s newest album ‘If I’m The Devil’, inspiration, evolution, Australia, what the band represents, and much more…

Now, we last spoke just before The Blackest Beautiful being released, so let’s catch up, how has the last few years been for you?
It’s been wild, turbulent in numerous ways but it’s all been I guess conducive of what we’ve recently produced with ‘If I Am The Devil’ so it’s been a wild ride, we’re thankful for both the difficult and the joyous times we’ve had.

The album is out on June 10, so before people hear it, can you give me one word that you feel sums up the record perfectly?
Hmm… that’s a good one… explorative…

Is that a word? *laughs*
I think so, it’s one of the forms of explore *laughs*

I have to ask as ‘If I’m The Devil’ is such a great title, what does it represent to you personally?
Essentially for me, it’s my offering, it’s an offering for people to finish that phrase and if they consider for themselves and all these ideas of evil and all these ideas of perception of what is right and what is wrong, it’s like holding a mirror up to other people and saying if I’m some form of manifestation of evil, or if this is what we perceive as wrong then what does that make the true you or even worse what are the preconceived notions of myself or other people that have just been viewed in the wrong light. It’s definitely an offering to kind of finish that statement.

So was there a catalyst or major inspiration behind what has become this new album?
You know I think it was just over time at least artistically for myself again, as the band we just grew and evolved and not to say that we all evolved or moved in the same direction artistically but we did certainly grow as artists and I think we started to find out different parts of ourselves creatively that were going in different directions and because of that we were able to put it together and create this record which was actually quite formidable, it was pretty difficult to get it all together but I think that what I’m realising now is that’s a form of art, is the difficulty creating it and because of that we came out with what I think to be, and all arrogance aside, the best record that we’ve ever created. That’s not just me saying that, I don’t typically throw that around, I didn’t say that with ‘Fake History’ or ‘Blackest Beautiful’ that’s more so of an organic product of what we were trying to do, but with this one I think it was a deliberate effort to make the best representation of letlive. sonicaly and I think we did.

So, over the previous three albums do you feel that without those that you couldn’t have grown into the band that you are today?
Oh absolutely, I think that we were able to search the musical and ideological landscape that was to become our band and we were able to try things out, and we succeeded in many area san probably failed in just as many, but all those things together, the aggregate allowed us to become more confident and also we wanted to take more risks because of it, and without those records both failure and accomplishment we definitely wouldn’t have been able to get to where we are today.

In listening to the new album it’s evident that you’re taking on more singing than screaming. Was that a conscious decision or did the songs just evolve that way?
That was conscious, to be completely honest I’ve wanted it for a long time, I grew up singing, I grew up loving R&B and soul and a very large pension for pop, you know, pop sensible music, so for me it’s just delivering. I felt like if I was going to be honest to who I wanted to be at this point in my career, I had to sing the way I did on this record really.

You’ve been a part of letlive. for fourteen years now. What keeps you driven?
Honestly man, someone asked me this question yesterday and it was actually cool to answer it because I hadn’t said it out loud in a while, but it’s honestly the fact that people would invest themselves in letlive. the way they have and continue to really gives me the most I guess reason to continue with what we’re doing, without it there wouldn’t be much else to substantiate or to validate continuing. You lose your friends, you lose your sanity, you lose money, you lose relationships all because of an atypical lifestyle and it’s difficult approach to living life when you’re in a band. A band like us that took a while to catch fire would usually prove a little bit too much for most people to continue, but the fact that the people have invested so genuinely and like so passionately, it’s bigger than ourselves at this point, it’s more than us just trying to indulge ourselves as artists but it’s also trying to create a soundtrack for something bigger than us, so I think that’s it really.

When can we expect to see you back in Australia?
Man, I’m hoping beginning of next year because I know for now our plans don’t bring us to that side of the world yet for 2016 but hopefully at the beginning of 2017 we’ll get our asses over there because we miss it.

You’ve been to our fine shores a number of times before and played killer shows, what do you think it is about the Australian audiences that just get what you guys do?
Dude I just think you guys as far as music goes are quite omnivorous and open minded, it’s almost as if people not even saying letlive. but you’ve been waiting for something musically and you’re always waiting for something and you’re open to a change and open to what could be next or what presents itself to you guys, at least that’s how I see it. We’re just lucky that you guys are so open minded musically because we’re certainly not, our derivation, where we come from is not a very standard place musically, so for people to kind of really believe in us on such a large scale and a pretty fuckin’ major music market is very flattering.

Plus you’ve got some good friends down here so that always helps…
Yeah, that’s true.

Of course we’re all friends with Janine…
Oh she is the best, she makes like things that typically through music you hear us complaining about like having to travel for press or wake up early to do this or that, she makes it so easy and almost like it’s not a job it actually becomes quite fun because she makes it like a vessel to actually enjoy the business part of it which is something admittedly I’ve grown quite tired of and she’s made it so that I don’t have to be because again, she so genuinely gives a fuck about what happens to us. That means a lot to us.

Plus she has the world’s coolest dog as well.
Dude, Dallas is the homie, he’s the best.

What is that one thing you want letlive. to represent?
Dude, being free, man, being free and not just like a sense of your citizenship, but in your mind and in your heart, and this sounds so cliché, I say it and I’m like oh god, why say that, but it’s just the truth, man, I just want letlive. to be a place where people can actually kind of feel for a second like they don’t have to act accordingly in societal parameters or thee emotional constraints, because essentially for me that’s why I started the band when I was sixteen, I had nowhere else to really talk about this shit, so I went to a thing called letlive. and I started writing and performing in ways that typically if I wasn’t in a band or wasn’t doing it through music people might actually institutionalize me *laughs* so it’s like a place where you can feel true liberation… that’s what I would hope for at least, I know that’s really grandiose or really ambitious but that’s what I would hope for.

Lastly, let’s look ahead to the future, so finish this sentence for me, by the end of 2016, the one thing letlive. wants to do is…
That’s a good question… by the end of this year we want to have plans to get to Australia in 2017, how about that.


Essential Information

From: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Band Members: Jason Aalon Butler – vocals, Ryan Jay Johnson- bass, Jeff Sahyoun – guitar, Loniel Robinson – drums
Website: http://www.thisisletlive.com
Forthcoming Release: ‘If I’m The Devil’ (June 10 – Epitaph)

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