John Butler

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b. 1 April 1975, Torrance, California, USA. Singer-songwriter and guitarist Butler was raised in Australia from the age of 11, his Australian father having relocated the family there in 1986. He attended…
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b. 1 April 1975, Torrance, California, USA. Singer-songwriter and guitarist Butler was raised in Australia from the age of 11, his Australian father having relocated the family there in 1986. He attended Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia, where he studied art history. Butler was by now heavily into music and had begun to write his own material. His self-recorded cassette debut proved popular in Perth and prompted him to leave university to pursue a music career. He formed the John Butler Trio with Jason McGann (drums) and Gavin Shoesmith (bass), and recorded a self-titled album and EP that saw him branching out from the all-instrumental approach of his earlier cassette. The blend of acoustic and electric rock styles remained the same, however, with the frequent extended workouts highlighting Butler’s virtuosity on the guitar.

The popularity of the John Butler Trio on the Australian live circuit meant it was only a matter of time before they broke through with a studio recording, and this duly occurred with the release of 2001’s Three. Buoyed by the radio success of the tracks ‘Betterman’ and ‘Take’, the album quickly racked up platinum status in Australia and was released in an expanded format in the USA. Rory Quirk and then Andrew Fry replaced Shoesmith for tours to promote the album, while Shannon Birchall (upright bass) and Nicky Bomba (drums) helped record the 2003 follow-up Sunrise Over Sea. The album, which was the first release on the Jarrah Records label set up by Butler and fellow Australians the Waifs, was another fine collection of bluesy roots rockers with only the extended closing track ‘Sometimes’ overstaying its welcome.

Michael Barker replaced Bomba on subsequent releases, which included two representative live outings and the 2007 studio set Grand National. The latter collection demonstrated a greater willingness to experiment with other musical styles, notably rap (‘Daniella’) and reggae (‘Groovin’ Slowly’).