By Poppy Tohill
Spelled as one word with no caps and a period at the end, letlive. have exploded all over again with the release of If I’m The Devil, one of the most intelligently crafted albums of 2016. With a busy year of touring the record throughout America and Europe behind them, the Los Angeles post-hardcore group are set to kickstart 2017 with their very first performance in New Zealand at Auckland’s Kings Arms on January 18.
Amidst “normal people work” and tour preparation, frontman Jason Butler took a few minutes to have a chat with us about letlive’s upcoming show, pre-show rituals and what else is in store for the band throughout 2017.
We’re so excited letlive. are finally heading to New Zealand to do a show! Can you fill us in on what we might be able to expect?
Same! Honestly, I always just tell people to come in with an open mind and not expect anything. I always make sure I’m not too close to people when I do dumb shit, so I don’t hurt anybody, other than myself. So just expect something to enjoy and experience for sure.
Having seen videos of the band performing live, you get up to some pretty crazy antics whilst on stage.. What goes through your head in the build up to getting out there and do you have any crazy pre-show rituals to help hype yourself up?
Honestly, no! I used to listen to really calm music, like the shit you’d hear when Eminem is about to rap 8 mile, but I don’t really have that much of a ritual. I try to actually not think at all and find a sense of calmness before I go on stage, because I know that what’s about to happen will be anything but calm!
Your stage personality is pretty wild and out there, but generally talking to you, you’re such a chilled out guy...
That’s what my life has been... making sure I don’t act like that guy on stage in normal situations, because I would probably get arrested or institutionalised. So I think the moment I get onto that stage I can kind of take advantage of that.
If I’m The Devil is such a strong, confronting and powerful record not only lyrically but also soundscape wise. What was it like experimenting with string quartets throughout Copper Coloured Quiet?
That was awesome! I’m not a very great pianist but I just like to write on it. So I wrote a lot of that on piano and then sent it to my buddy Bob who is an actual composer and he put all the string arrangements together based on what I’d written. He was able to really expand it in a way that I’ve just never seen before. I got to be there when they were tracking the strings in this beautiful big room in North Hollywood where Raphael Saadiq works and lives, so the whole experience was just incredible and very, very unique. We’ve never done anything like that before, so it was definitely very cool.
The record also seems to hold a very strong visual aesthetic, what’s the symbolism of the red string and stitching and how much influence did you guys have in terms of the artwork?
About 6 months before we had to put all the art together, we had a discussion on tour about how we wanted to represent the record, what we wanted to say and what would visually act as a proper component.
I actually already wear a piece of red string on my left arm that was given to me by my mother, so that was one thing I was already aware of - this red string of fate. Alongside the idea of red-binding, which is a practice we used in America. It’s a policy that basically carved out people of colour in America and those things represent the nature of themes and ideas of the record, so that was us. Then we worked together with Jason Link who does art at our label and created the whole concept. All the photos are done by one of my favourite photographers, Jonathan Weiner who we also used for The Blackest Beautiful.
Lastly, what else is in store for letlive. throughout the rest of 2017?
Honestly just this. Touring and then we’re going to write. We’ve had a couple of conversations with these new producers that we’re very excited about. We said no to the Vans Warper Tour, so we’re not going to be doing that for multiple reasons. Nothing against them, just artistically and our current aesthetic alignment at this point, it’s not what we’re necessarily going for. So I think we’re just going to work on hopefully writing some challenging, confronting and listenable music!
Wednesday January 18th: Kings Arms, Auckland
Tickets via Ticketmaster