He writes lyrics like him, he raps like him, and he has energy like him. Jason Aalon Butler is a very unique individual, who in a lot of ways embodies the next generation’s Zack de la Rocha – don’t believe us? Just give the Fever 333’s latest LP a spin to get a feel of what Rage Against the Machine would sound like today, based on a tumultuous global climate.
Fever 333’s breakthrough 2019 record Strength in Numb333rs is already about to be succeeded, which is great news for Butler, a political activist who’s band spun up a new EP called Wrong Generation in just a matter of days, following his heavy participation in America’s historic Black Lives Matter protests. The EP due on Friday, will be released in conjunction with a series of live streams from Fever 333, which the front-man is incredibly excited to tell us about, right after a wholesome morning of taking his kid Pascal to school.
“I benefit off of the platform that I’ve been afforded the opportunity” Butler announces, as if he has no choice – his right and human obligation. “The opportunities I’ve been granted (as a project I’m in that rests on social political issues), means that if I am to benefit from that, then I must participate actively as best I can to be a part of the movements that I think are necessary and the ones that are happening right now.”
The ex-letlive. front-man is focused on a particular justice, which is portrayed on the lyrically charged EP Wrong Generation. “After George Floyd was murdered May 25th 2020, the 13 days following his murder, I took to the streets with many other people that wanted more and knew that we had to be heard and had to do a little bit more than just post on Instagram or talk about it on the internet.” On the fourteenth day, Butler put pen to paper while memories were fresh and emotions raw.
“I wrote ‘Bite Back’, the first track on the EP, and then for the next the seven days I got in the studio with Travis Barker and John Feldmann and we started to write a song a day until the seven days were up, and that’s where Wrong Generation came from.”
The iconic Blink-182 drummer and Goldfinger frontman/producer have both worked with Fever 333 quite extensively over the past few years, and also played live with the band – so you know something spicy and delicious was being cooked up in the Fever 333 kitchen.
Interestingly, 2019’s Strength in Numb333rs is thematically focused on protesting and the power of the people. Consequently, through Butler’s artistic delivery to today’s heavy music fans, many might have seen this year’s global demonstrations with more of an advocating point of view public than they did before, and that’s where the vocalist feels like he can make a difference.
“I’m not a psychic by any means” – Butler notes, when reflecting on the year we’ve had, following the band’s LP topical release. “I’m talking about history that has been repeating itself for generations, and now we see it in real time on our screens, so I want to just write about that.” He needs the world to know that it’s no coincidence that he wrote about it before the BLM demonstrations – that’s the point he’s trying to make, about both records essentially.
“It’s not that we’re ‘that good’ to have [written a record] to be so relevant. It’s a problem if you can write about an actual occurrence, where an unarmed young black person was shot for no reason and the person that shot them was not indicted, and then it happens again and again – so we have protests and then people go ‘oh it’s crazy how I didn’t know about any of this’. The subject matter is just as painfully relevant as it was when the album came out and 10, 50 and 100 years before the album came out.”
Beyond the heavily charged lyrics, the singer/screamer wanted musical diversity on the EP. “Sonically, I was thinking – I want to go more funk here, more hip-hop there and, and more alternative over there” – an artistic opportunity to use his platform in a highly expressionistic way.
In order to see change happen at a systematic level, a musician like Butler truly believes in everyone doing everything they can as individuals, to contribute to the greater cause. Being only a matter of a couple of weeks until the U.S. election, this notion is more important than ever before, and he begs all Americans to exercise their democratic right.
“The first thing I want to do is remind people that we shouldn’t be waiting to be given the power, we have to actively participate in acquiring our power and taking our power back.”
The 34-year old ideally wants to focus locally, but realises that there are things that need to happen to drive that. “There are policies that can get put into place [at a federal level], so whether you believe the election is rigged, or whatever your reason is to not participate, know that your vote matters.” Butler highlights something important about history in terms of what the vote actually represents, beyond the presidency outcome of the election.
“We are the representation of our collective consciousness and consensus, so your vote shows how many of us want to see this change. We can’t just focus on just one person or just one party. We should be focusing on incremental steps that we sometimes have to take, in order to get to the larger answer that we want to receive.”
Butler wants American citizens to realise that they need to vote in order to feel that sense of getting the power back. “By voting, you’re showing that you care enough to get your ass out there and do something about it, even if it’s incremental. It’s better than being docile and muted, and allowing [politicians] to leverage all of the hysteria and misinformation about what our vote may or may not mean.”
In his closing thoughts on the very important election, Butler wants to emphasise a sense of togetherness, and bringing ‘the power back’ despite cultural difference, political difference, or simply opinionated difference. This is what he’s trying to get across with the Wrong Generation EP.
Jason Aalon Butler doesn’t want people to think he means that everyone has to abandon their beliefs. “I think that we should be able to coexist in a way that is beneficial to all cultures and agencies. There’s going to be a lot of pain in the progress that we see, and a lot of sacrifices, but as long as we believe that it’s worth it then that’s a beautiful shovel.”
Fever 333 bring in a fusion of hardcore punk and hip-hop to convey an incredible amount of passion. “I really leaned into the punk rock nature and urgency” of what’s happening right now. “I also really leaned into my hip-hop shit, and thankfully, I was so steep in those cultures growing up and participated in those cultures, that (if I may say so), I feel like I authentically and tastefully was able to represent that with my partners in writing.”
On the upcoming live streams – “we’ve got some proprietary audio technology. It allows us almost-immediate engagement with people so we can have full-on interaction. I’m working on a front-row concept, where throughout the set, I could stop and even talk to some people watching the live stream, in real time.”
Butler’s particularly proud that the band will be flipping the live stream model straight on its head, and instead of playing one show that the world needs to make time for, the band will be performing multiple shows at all sorts of weird times in LA, to cater to their fans’ suitable time zones.
“We’re going to have a show for countries like Australia/Japan/New Zealand/Thailand and have an Australian artist actually come and do a guest appearance during our set, performing with us in real time, which up until now might have been impossible to do due to latency issues.”
The energetic frontman misses the connections with fans, and realises it’s a two-way thing, which is why Fever 333 are making it all about you and have invested so much into these live streams. “If the time zone requires it, the boys and I will be playing in LA at 2am so we can play for you live.”
Interview by Ricky Aarons @rickysaul90
Fever 333 – Wrong Generation tracklisting
1. Bite Back
2. Block Is On Fire
3. Wrong Generation
4. U Wanted A Fight
5. Walk Through The Fire
6. For The Record ft Walter Delrado of Rotting Out
7. Last Time