The Voice of the Voiceless: An Interview with Jason Aalon Butler of The Fever 333: “I don’t even care if people remember my name, I just want them to know they have an ally”

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The Fever 333 are currently one of the hottest groups in music. Their raw, passionate energy and seething lyrical content has lit a fire under the music scene and people are starting to mobilise in support of them. Their E.P ‘Made an America’ is full of stark tales and rallying cries and looks to evoke emotions and spark conversations. We had the privilege of talking to band founder and frontman Jason Aalon Butler to discuss the band’s beginnings and intentions, his feelings on making a global impact using his art as activism, their blistering performance at Download Festival, what they have in store when they return to the U.K in August and a lot more.

I’d like to start off by saying that the E.P ‘Made an America’ is incredible. I’m still actively listening to it at least 3-4 times a day without fail. So I wanted to thank you for putting it out first and foremost. It’s also sparked a lot of conversation and The Fever 333 are a band I am now telling everyone to go and listen to and trying to get people involved.

Jason: That’s amazing dude. That’s actually the perfect way to do it, telling people about it and word of mouth is my favourite thing so thank you that’s awesome.

With that out-of-the-way. I want to start at the beginning, how did the idea for The Fever 333 form. Where did the idea come from to start the band, was it something you already had in mind or was it collaborative effort when the other member became involved?

Jason:  A lot of the methods and intentions for this band were ones that I had already had ideas for and wanted to do prior, for a while actually before The Fever 333 started. My wife told me that she was pregnant so I got my shit together while I was home from tour and I got a job, one of the jobs I had was that I was trying to invest in this amazing vegan cookie company that is family owned and I’m really close with the family, so I was working to try to basically peddle these cookies to a bunch of rich folks in Los Angeles and I was up in Calabasas one day and a young lady came up to me and she knew Letlive and she was talking to me about that and then after that a gentleman by the name of Travis Barker that you may know, he came to the same spot on her recommendation to speak to me, because he had seen videos of me and Letlive, and we realised we had mutual friends after talking and he was like ‘Yeah, we should make music’ then two weeks later I found myself at John Feldman’s house, our mutual friend and we were talking about what we wanted to see out of music, art and bands, one of the things I was discussing was that I was really trying to put together a project that has representation for those that felt under represented or having a very inclusive idea for this project and they were much into it, so that was Superbowl sunday last year and we got together maybe a week and a half or two weeks  after that and started writing The Fever 333 and we wrote We’re Coming In and that kind of set the tone for what we were going to be discussing and how we were going to be doing it as a project, and yeah its been all go since then and that was how it came about, Me, John Feldman and Travis Barker sitting in John Feldman’s kitchen on Superbowl sunday 2017 talking about how we wanted more out of  music and art and how I really had this big idea for some sort of sort of inclusive representation in punk rock and hip hop music.

So how did Aric and Stevis become a part of The Fever 333

Jason: I called them. I called them up, I wanted to travel around the world with people who I adore and care for and that I think are very deserving of great things. I called Aric up first to come and play some of the songs, I guess it was a tryout, but I already knew that he was the guy, so I called him, got him in and then we started talking about someone who matched the performance on stage that we like to put on, and Stephen was the first person we thought of, so we called Stephen out, and we played together for the first time and after that we knew that was the culmination of the collective, that was all we needed were these five people to make this thing the machine that it is.

You touched upon what you wanted to do with the band, and there is an idea within The Fever 333 to use art as activism. So for you what comes first the music or the message inside of the music.

Jason: The one thing that I really love about John is that when we go in to write is that he just asks me ‘What are we writing about today?’ and I usually have a beat or like some production or a guitar riff ready in my head, and then when he says that I start talking and we start picking words out and different ways to highlight the subjects I want to talk about and the next thing I know the song is a whole other beast, it seems a like a lot in this project a lot of it is being informed in the beginning by what we are talking about when we write the music, like I said I have plenty of things that I throw in there because I’m always writing music but when it comes down to the genesis of the song in the studio it’s always John going ‘What are we writing about?’ and then Travis going ‘Yep, I see this and this what I feel’ and the three of us putting a song together.

Lyrically the E.P is very hard-hitting and there are a lot of things on there that people can relate to. You did it previously with Letlive and especially now with The Fever 333 is it important for you to write about things that really mean something and have a purpose rather than just writing lyrics for the sake of it like a lot of modern music 

Jason: Yeah, it’s the most important thing I can do as an artist, to speak my truth and hope that it speaks to someone else. That really is the most crucial part of writing lyrics for me, making sure they are authentic, they are impactful, they’re honest, so if I’m over her talking about sociopolitical elements throughout various societies around the world I can’t be just talking about my biases or conjecture. I need to study, I need to be basing these things on fact, so I make sure when I do these things and say these things that I’m not just doing them because I had an emotional bout with my pen, and just started writing about what I thought about. I truly take time out to think about how I can relate this to the rest of the world so that we can understand and offer a sense of empathy to those that properly need it and that’s how I go about writing these lyrics especially.

How have you seen the impact of your lyrics globally. As you said you try to make it a worldwide thing, so how has the response been all around the world to the things you have been writing

Jason: Incredible, it’s so tremendously mind-blowing when people from Germany, the UK, Russia, Japan, when they feel empowered based on perhaps its the fervour, the method but which I feel we need to approach the change that we want, offering some sort of platform to people to make a change within themselves and  if they so choose in their society or globally, can seem like a tall order and it can seem a bit overly ambitious but I just want to speak honestly and when people from these other countries around the world are feeling empowered, it’s like an exhibition you’re trying to be demonstrative of the fact that you can at least fucking try it right, you can at least try to make a change and you can always try to find some sort of chink in the armour that is systemic of injustice whether it be from the patriarchy or the institutions that subjugate its citizens, there is way to change it, and when you want  to make the effort that’s the first step, and I guess people a place and a soundtrack to do that to has been helpful. Honestly dude, I just want to be an advocate, I’m not talking about being some sort of champion, I literally just want to be among the people and that is the most rewarding thing for me, no fame, no accolades, I don’t even care if people remember my name, I just want them to know they have an ally.

You can definitely feel that in the music and the visual representation of the band. You can feel every single thing you are saying and doing and I think that is what has attracted so many people to The Fever 333 cause.

Jason: That’s amazing, thank you man.

It’s not even the global, sociological and political things that you are challenging, you are also challenging art. You have been very vocal on social media about bands and people in the music community using their voices more.

Jason: You’ve got to, I always say this, I feel like art has precipitated almost every, if not every renaissance that we have seen whether that be intellectual, political, romantic or otherwise, every renaissance has been precipitated by art or has an artistic contingent piece that informs or represents that change or evolution, and for me it is literally just looking at it and knowing its lying dormant there, and I’m just asking if people can and if they are willing to take a look at what things could be and how much more care, how much more understanding, and  how much further into our humanities evolution we can go if we just open our minds a little bit more to art really. I think that it’s such an important thing, art is almost like religious for me. I can only ask right, and I don’t expect, I would never try to force anyone to do anything they don’t want to, it’s literally just asking and perhaps if I ask enough people will feel comfortable enough to do so.

I have to ask about your set at Download Festival. You were a late addition to the bill, so I have to first ask how it came about and when you found out you were playing, but also what that experience was like for you

Jason: Dude, I think it was maybe no more than 3 weeks before the festival that we were told. Here’s the thing and with all this stuff here is what I always say, I really credit the people for making that happen. Yes, we wrote and E.P and yes we are doing these demonstrations, but without the voice and the fervour and the investment and the commitment from the people, these radio stations and these festivals and on & on, they wouldn’t know and they wouldn’t hear and they wouldn’t feel that buzz, and feel that fire and that quake that is being made every time we do something and that is because of the people so I really just chalk it up to people talking and saying they want to see us at a festival or in England, or that people need to be talking about this, or that word of mouth thing we were talking about in the very beginning of this conversation is that it’s people talking, so we have those people and we are so so blessed and privileged to have those people on our side so that when we do have these demonstrations and we do go out and interact with people that we are honouring the work they are doing to get us there, so at Download we tried to do that and we tried to honour that privilege and the affordance of being at festival, it’s such a legendary benchmark for rock music in the UK & Europe, we had to come correct right, so we came through and  we put everything on that stage and offered a demonstration that we feel was very special, and I really feel that, there was a lot that went into that emotionally, the prep, everything that went in to that, the video I made with a buddy, everything was with Download and the people in mind and we were hoping to offer a very unique and remarkable experience.

With that in mind, you have just announced a show in London on August 22nd, which will be the bands first solo UK demonstration. I would imagine that this performance will be much different from the Download performance and this one will be much more involved and unique in itself

Jason: I like to think that every demonstration whether it’s Download or the homie’s garage in like fucking Southampton, I want to make sure that every experience at a demonstration with The Fever 333 or some sort of interaction  is unique so it will certainly be different to Download but only because it has to be, because everything has to be different every time or else why would you come.

As you look at doing more demonstrations and taking on more touring when will we be getting new music from you. Do you have a schedule for when you would like to release more music and will it be in the form of an album through traditional methods with a release date and a release plan or will it be more surprise songs and e.p releases.

Jason: I think, to be honest, whatever we feel is correct for that moment, and that climate and time we will do. We already have enough songs for a full length, and then some, we write very very quickly, easily and organically thankfully, so we absolutely will be releasing a full-length record at some point but I would say that we’ll be releasing it when it’s impactful and it calls for it.  when it makes sense so that’s not just trying to adhere to like you said industry standards, which is literally the antithesis to what I am doing with this project, even our relationship with Roadrunner Records is a very unique one and they are honouring all of the stuff for this project and they are very respectful of it, and they are very much believers same thing with Taylor who you spoke with earlier, and Peter our manager, our team is not the typical industry regiment tea, it’s not like that and it will never be like that so everything we do can be unique to us, when we release music there will be a reason for it, so if it has to be a surprise or immediate then that’s what it will be or if we can have a plan and lead up to it so that we can release in a climate that we want to facilitate, then we will meet up and discuss, but whatever  is going to be most impactful for the people is what we are going to with our releases.

Looking at things like that and the way you present yourselves and your art, you have drawn comparisons to bands such as Public Enemy and Rage Against the Machine. So how do you deal with those comparisons, because The Fever 333 is its own thing and you have created it to be it’s own thing, so are those comparisons in the back of your mind at all, and you would say that those were bands that inspired you at all in the first place

Jason: Oh man 100% I would be remiss and straight lying if I said no. Those bands set the tone and paved the way and set the fucking benchmark for politically driven music on a mainstream level, there’s not many bands or artists that have done it to that degree or effectiveness at that level, there really aren’t. Those two primarily are some of the most influential pieces to my artistic puzzle when it comes to this project, and I am also a huge fan of Nina Simone, I think she so heavily subversive and he had a huge hand in the change we saw in society, politically and artistically so I always talk about Nina Simone. Currently one of the most inspiring contemporary activists and watchers of our society is Ta-Nehisi Coates, he’s an author, he wrote for The Atlantic which is a publication out here, and it was also social political policy pieces that he would write, so between those four acts, and then here’s the thing there are bands that are doing it now and I want to say that as well, I want to talk about the bands that are doing it now and made me go ‘great, this idea of subversion and challenging society in music’ bands like G.L.O.S.S when they were doing it were so so important to me and so many people in punk rock and society, and there’s a band called Dangers who are from my area,they are one of my favourites ever and they are still out there doing it, so there’s a lot of people out there doing it. We just want to be allies and advocates of the change that we all know needs to happen, those bands and those people and artists absolutely inspire me and influence me every single day.

Is there some part of you that is disheartened that we are still having to have these conversations and we are still talking about the things that these artists were talking about 30, 40 even 50 years ago and that we don’t seem to have changed or moved forward as a society

Jason:  I used to be. I used to be really disheartened, I used to be a lot more aggravated and frustrated with our current state of affairs, but I’m older now and I understand that my frustration is only going to act as a burden or a hurdle or be cumbersome when I’m trying to figure out what I can do to advance the conversation and see what I want to see in myself and in society. I think that I’m much more civil when I’m having these conversations than I ever have been in my life, I know that its been beneficial to me when having these conversations in opening the eyes of people who perhaps wouldn’t have seen it this way if I hadn’t been a little more level-headed than I was in the past. I’m still very unbridled, unabashed and unashamed of who I am and what I believe, but I’m also much more welcoming, inviting, and blatantly understanding that there are other ways to believe, and there are reasons that people believe these things. Conditioning is a real thing, we are very fragile creatures and the fragility of the human mind is forgetting how fragile we are and how malleable our minds are, so when we see somebody says something we don’t like or antithetical to what we believe, we think that person has made through and through a choice to be our direct adversary and like a nemesis to us, and then we can’t have a conversation with someone like that and instead we want to fight them, so for me now I really try my absolute hardest to understand that just I’ve been conditioned to act and feel and believe the things that I do, the people on the other side of the spectrum have the sam reasoning,  for doing that and it’s conditioning, it’s environment, it’s construct so hopefully if I open up a civil opportunity for civil discourse I get a lot further than I used to by openly saying ‘fuck you I think you’re an idiot’ that doesn’t really work for me as well as I used to think I wanted it to so I had to change that.

We’ve talked a lot about The Fever 333, but you are also in another band called Pressure Cracks. How does your mindset change when writing for two totally different bands.

Jason: I just see what the music asks for. So with Pressure Cracks it called for this urgency, this urgent raw sound. Dude I literally wrote the Pressure Cracks E.P the day I recorded it, I went in and I swear to god I sat there and listened to the songs a couple of times and  i hit the sections and I wrote it right there, in the frist series of sections whatever subsequently fell out of my mouth when I was writing for each part dictated what the song was about. Its me though, I’m still the same person so I’m still talking about unpacking the modules and the conventions that we all struggle with when trying to find ourselves and our place in society so there’s a lot of those elements  in the Pressure Cracks stuff, but the way that I do it and the way that I say it is a little different and I feel like it should be because it’s a different project.  I just wrote it all that in the studio and then sang it, because that’s what I felt like the music called for and I loved it, the guys supported me in doing that and I’m really happy with what we came up and I think it’s a really cool E.P.

In closing do you have any final comments out there for everyone reading this

Jason: Yeah absolutely. I want them to feel free, I want them to understand that, that sense of representation that they have been searching for, myself and this collective is trying to offer that, whoever you and wherever you are, we want you to feel included and if don’t in your life and you don’t in the environment that you are in, let us know and we want to create a space and we want to really honestly, authentically and organically of course try to offer the largest sense of empathy we can as a collective and we want to create a space for people to feel safe in being who it is they are and who it is they want to be and of course as always I have to talk about the 3 C’s Community, Charity and Change, the pillars which this entire project sits upon and that’s what this whole thing is about, even if the change is within yourself and then you unknowingly affect someone else or if you just change within yourself and that’s it or whatever it is honestly I think that is the most healthy thing we can do as a species is try to introduce change into our lives in some way, so that we can see the benefits and so that we can also see the perspectives of others when trying to navigate through this crazy muddle that is life and I think it’s a really important time for me as a citizen of this earth, a citizen of America, a father, a friend, a lover. these affect how I feel so when I write, when I talk to people and when we have demonstrations that is what I try to touch upon so that people can understand and they can feel what they need to feel as well and its a safe place for them to do that. If you need somewhere to be The Fever 333 will have you no matter who you are or where you are.

The Fever 333 will return for a special demonstration at Islington Academy in London on August 22nd. Tickets can be purchased here https://www.livenation.co.uk/artist/the-fever-333-tickets?omq=the%20fever

 

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