One usually doesn't think about television as having a positive effect on a musician's creative process, but for Australian roots-rocker John Butler, that's exactly what's happened. While he was in the middle of working on his ATO Records debut "April Uprising" (due April 6), Butler appeared on "Who Do You Think You Are," a British show that found its way to Australian television that traces a celebrity's family tree.
"The minute I agreed to do it, they said don't look anymore into your family history," Butler tells Billboard.com. "The next thing I knew, I was walking in a room with a camera behind me and they had information on my great-grandfather, who was in the front line of the army, and my other great-grandfather who was buried in the town I moved in, but I never knew it."
Thus, Butler says his time discovering his own past, becoming a father and shifting his band lineup were the driving forces behind his new batch of tunes. The new trio that unveils itself on "April Uprising" is comprised of Butler's brother-in-law Nicky Bomba on drums and Byron Luiters on bass. They recorded 22 tracks in Fremantle, Australia which were eventually paired down to 16. "They weren't all amazing," he says. "I just wanted to make a powerful, song driven album. If for whatever reason the song wasn't there, or the musicianship wasn't there, it wasn't invited to the album. All killer, no filler."
While Butler's albums sell quite well in his home country, he's also hit his stride stateside as well, with opening slots for the Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer certainly growing his reputation. His best seller to date is 2004's "Sunrise Over Sea," which according to Nielsen SoundScan, has sold 128,000. 2007's "Grand National" also faired well, selling 92,000.
Butler's hoping 2010 will be a breakout year for the trio and so far, it sounds promising: a small theater and club tour kicks off May 20 at San Diego's House of Blues, and headlining gigs are set for Red Rocks on June 4 and Central Park's Summerstage on June 15. Festival slots include the Wakarusa Festival in Ozark, Arkansas on June 6 and Bonnaroo on June 13.
"I didn't realize that I was going through such a big metamorphosis," Butler says. "There's this whole sense of revolution that's gone on in my life: personally, spiritually and band-wise. "April Uprising" seemed to fit the metaphor; this whole revolutionary spirit."
Here is the track list for "April Uprising:"
"I'd Do Anything"
"Close To You"
"Don't Wanna See Your Face"
"I'm A Fool"
"To Look Like You"
"Gonna Be A Long Time"
"A Star Is Born"