Interview by Tracey Moyle – Music Maven Events.
Roll time back to Australian music in 2003 when ‘Triple J’s Hottest 100’ ruled the airwaves and the variety of tunes on the list were as diverse as the fans themselves. Australian Music dominated and amongst the brilliantly emerging local talent at the time were Brisbane band Butterfingers with their authentic blend of Hip Hop and Alternative Rock combined with a large dose of humour and in your face lyrics. Their first two singles Everytime and I Love Work, reaching No. 38 and No. 15 respectively in the Hottest 100 of 2003. Fast forward two years and their most popular hit to date, FIGJAM and the preceding single, Jesus I Was Evil, a Darcy Clay cover, coming in at No. 11 and No. 69 respectively in the Hottest 100 of 2005.
Their rise may have been somewhat ‘accidental’ according to founding member and front man Eddie Jacobson however this didn’t stop their fans from begging for more of their unique smart-arse humour and high energy tunes.
After a long hiatus, Butterfingers have been back at it since 2017 when the call to create new music became too strong.
I spoke to Eddie about the upcoming Scene & Heard Festival in Brisbane, the satisfaction of creating new music, becoming comfortable with who they are as a band and what’s next for Butterfingers.
Butterfingers have Scene & Heard on this weekend at Eaton’s Hill that must be pretty exciting for you?
Yeah it’s been a while since we’ve put on a home show so we’re pretty stoked for it to be at a festival.
Definitely. It’s been a while since Butterfingers were at their peak back in the early 2000’s. You guys played a lot of festivals back then Big Day Out, Splendour and Falls just to name a few.
Yeah we did them all. (laughs)
What’s been happening with Butterfingers in between?
We obviously had some time off. We had ten years doing absolutely nothing at all but we’ve got a new album. It’s coming real soon. We’ve been recording, even last night we did some drum tracking and it’s all in the works and almost ready to pop.
It must be so amazing getting back together? Your music is so much fun. Your lyrics alone are so entertaining to say the least. (Laughs) While you’re writing and putting everything together do you have as much fun as it projects out to the fans?
I think honestly, as much fun as playing live shows is, there’s a real high that you get when you actually write the song, well for me anyway. I’m sure most people, when they write songs, are the same anyway. When you actually write a song and you’ve nailed it, and you’ve finished, it’s just awesome. It’s such a good feeling. It’s the reason why I couldn’t actually quit doing it for life. Because it’s, I don’t know, the production part of it, the whole thing I guess. I don’t know what the word is…. I get ecstatic when I finish a good new tune.
I understand what you’re saying. The way I see music is that it’s a type of energy. It creates energy in you and if you’re the type of person who is very connected to music you soak up that energy and if it’s vibing high then you kind of vibe high with it.
Yeah, yeah, yeah – totally. And there’s a pride element as well. Not only pride in what you’ve created but there’s this feeling of; you’re the one who pulled it out of wherever it was hiding.
Absolutely. You guys have a big Hip Hop element to you music and Aussie Hip Hop is smoking hot at the moment especially with the Hilltop Hoods carrying the mantle and selling out two shows in every state at a stadium level practically. That really gives Aussie Hip Hop, if that is even the way you see yourselves, a push towards what’s possible and a whole new fan base.
Yeah, l feel like Hilltop Hoods have gone from strength to strength and they’re one of the only acts that have carried through from that first wave of Aussie Hip Hop acts that kind of emerged in the early 2000. A lot of them have dropped away and not continued on. Obviously there is a hip hop element to what we do and for years and years personally I wanted Butterfingers to be a part of that scene but because we were doing the cross over stuff, we were doing the rock stuff, we were getting lots of rock festival shows and stuff like that. The way that it worked out we were kind of seen as more of an Alternative Rock act, you know what I mean, that’s how we were treated by a lot of the festivals and that’s how we were treated by the Hip Hop scene. We weren’t really included with the rest of that wave. Which is fine, I don’t really mind now, I so wanted to be a part of it back then but I’ve kind of learnt to appreciate that we are different, whereas I use to want to, in some ways, conform to that formula that the scene was kind of using at that time. But I have realised that being different is our strength and our new album is more of a blending of styles than ever before. Like, we use to try and keep things separated in a way that we had rock songs but we also had hip hop songs but now it’s totally counter intuitive. But the new album is probably more rap rock that what we’ve ever done and like, we’ve always dreaded the thought of being labelled as rap rock. (Laughs) But here we are.
It’s so hard to label music these days because what you’ve just described is what I’m hearing from so many new bands emerging, at lease through the Brisbane music scene. They’ve captured music they have probably grown up with through the influence of their parents or whoever and combined it with their own influences through new music. So what you’re saying about having that melding of different genres is actually something fresh. It will give us something we haven’t heard and that’s what pushes through the boundaries and captures everyone’s attention.
Yeah I totally agree. And that’s why I have come to embrace the fact that we are different because we’ve got something here that you can‘t get anywhere else. (Laughs)
And that’s amazing, that’s what you want. You think of some of the biggest acts around, they ‘ve gotten to where they are because they are unique, they’re different.
So going forward for Butterfingers – A new album coming out, is there a new single ready to drop yet?
No, it’s all kicking off in the New Year. We were going to release the new single before Christmas but we thought with the Christmas break and all that, we didn’t, want to lose steam with the whole project. We didn’t want to like, come in, all guns blazing with all our ducks in a line, which we’ve never done before. I don’t know if you’ve ever taken a note of our release schedule but both the albums that we’ve released previously, the lead single was out a year or more before the album. It’s like everything we’ve done has been accidental in a way. We’d release a song and we’d be like “oh it’s doing really well, shit we need to put a record out.” And second time around FIGJAM was the lead single of the next record and I kind of thought of that as a throw away track and I don’t know, in between albums we can release a single do a little tour and it ended up being so popular.
Yeah your biggest single so far.
Yeah, our most popular song. We were like, “We need to include this on the record! What record? Yeah that’s a good question, lets try and get a record.” It’s always been a weird release schedule for us. It’s not designed to have the most impact, you know, the two to three month lead. So now we’re doing things properly and release things with an idea that we have momentum to when the album actually is.
Ok I guess that comes with experience too. Learning how to do things the best way?
(laughs) We’ve always released our own material so we haven’t had the record company to guide us or whip us into shape so we’ve had to learn the hard way and do it ourselves.
I do tend to use Richard Branson theory ‘just say yes and learn how to do it later.’ I get that.
So Scene & Heard this weekend, you’re playing with some amazing bands. You’re playing with such a great variety of artists including Wolfmother, The Dandy Warhols, Alex Lloyd, Sneaky Sound System, British India. They’re all very different to each other, have you got anyone in that line up that you’re excited to see or hang out with.
We actually have a bit of a connection with The Dandy Warhols because we played a few festivals with them before and Olly (Thomas) our percussionist/samples guy he’s good friends with Courtney (Taylor-Taylor). So it’ll be cool to catch up with them and our drummer (Tony McCall) use to be in Wolfmother, you know, family tie in.
Personally, do you like the festival vibe playing live or do you prefer smaller more intimate gigs?
I like both. Festivals are awesome because there’s a guaranteed audience, you don’t have to worry about people coming to your show like you do when we do tour. Obviously there’s that community vibe when the bands are all hanging out back stage as well. But at the same time you know, playing your own show is awesome too because you know the fans are there to see you. You’ve got a dedicated kind of crowd. I don’t really have a preference. I think playing a festival in some ways is a lot easier. But I like playing my own shows and having the audience attention rather than people wandering in and out seeing lots of different stuff.
I think a festival at the moment for you guys is great timing. Even with the disparity of the crowd, just simply because of the bands the festival has on the line-up, you’re going to reach out and find new fans that wouldn’t have known Butterfingers from ten or twelve years ago. So inadvertently there’s the chance there to create new fans and when you do your own headliner or album launch people will think “hey I saw those guys at ‘Scene and Heard’ they were awesome fun, lets go.”
Yeah totally, that’s another awesome thing about festivals, exposing the band to new people who haven’t see us before. We’ve also been finding since we’ve been back together there’s a massive demographic, and I guess because our music has been so immature, people where too young to ever see us before and now after a ten year break a lot of these ten, twelve, thirteen year old kids who could never see us before are of age and they can actually come to the show. So we found we have a demographic of quite a lot of younger people at the shows than what we thought our demographic was which was the same age as us.
I can understand. My daughter is only 13 and I know she’d love the music but she can’t listen to this at all (laughs) but I have other friends in their 20’s and I was thinking last night when I was listening to your albums again, that I’ll have to put them on to Butterfingers, I know they’ll love it.
Thanks for talking to us Eddie. And we look forward to seeing you guys at Scene & Heard on the weekend and can’t wait to hear the new music you have coming out early in 2020.
Thank you very much. That’s awesome.
You can catch Butterfingers at Scene & Heard Festival’s Brisbane show on Saturday 2nd November at Eatons Hill Hotel. Tickets are on sale now Here
Scene & Heard will also hit Newcastle 10th November with a few minor line-up changes. Tickets and Information Here
Follow Butterfingers on Facebook HERE.
Follow Scene & Heard Festival on Facebook HERE.
Link to event page for Scene & Heard Festival – Brisbane HERE.