Guitarist Tim Butler's love of music goes back much further than the twenty years he's been performing in the Philadelphia area. From his early years singing in boys choirs, to his stints in high school musicals and teaching himself to play the instrument he loves, Butler is the pure definition of singer songwriter.
His catchy, hook ridden original songs have received lavish praise and his tasteful renditions of songs by such artists as Crowded House and Mister Mister have been pleasing audiences for more than two decades. But the thing that really makes Butler unique is that he's just as comfortable performing solo as he is with a full-band; both of which being a must see.
Butler took a bit of a hiatus in 2013, but will return to his native Lehigh Valley for a show at the Nazareth Center for the Arts on Saturday, January 18th. In addition, he's also been working on a CD of brand new material that's expected to be released in February. I spoke with him about both and more in this exclusive interview.
Tell me a little about your upcoming show.
The show will feature 2 performers. Opening will be a musician by the name of "Not for Coltrane." He's local to the Lehigh Valley and has a very cool alt-folk-rock type of sound. Due to some of the constraints of the venue, I will not be playing full-band and instead will be doing a duo performance with my long time bass player, Rick Delana.
How would you describe the sound of your music?
I have really been described as many things: rock, pop, alt folk, alt country, folk rock, it goes on an on. Hearing that entertains me, but it also makes me realize that listeners can hear a lot of different things. I will tell you that I cut my teeth on pop and rock. Structurally, most of my songs are pop tunes. I love hooks and big choruses! But there is definitely a "rock" sound to many of my tunes, especially when I'm playing with the full band.
What are your thoughts on performing cover material?
I'm primarily an artist that does original music but I do enjoy sprinkling in some covers. Sometimes I'll play something because someone asks me to, but 90% of the time the covers that I do really mean something to me or sometimes its just because I like the song or band.
Can you give us an update on your new CD?
It's likely the new recording will be ready to drop by early to mid February. Most of the tracking is completed. There's still some lead guitar work that needs to be done and then we are on to mixing and engineering.
Is there a particular song from the new CD that excites you?
One of my faves from the new CD is a song called "We'll Be Happy." It comes from a place that is my bread and butter: pop, with lush harmonies. It may sound a little "Beach Boys", but I'm ok with that. I went in that direction with the instrumentation and harmonies. I didn't fight it at all. In fact, with this CD I decided at the outset to just let the songs go wherever they wanted to go. Every song on this release I just let happen.
What's your songwriting process like?
I am primarily a music first kind of guy. Sometimes a song will start with just a riff or a chorus structure or sometimes it might just be a "sound." From there, I usually work through melody lines, etc. By that time, I've typically created a theme in my head and create lyrics based on that. It's really worked well for me.
When did you first get bitten by the music bug?
I started singing at a very young age. I was in a touring boys choir starting in 5th grade and sang in choirs and in stage performances for a very long time. I took piano lessons for a short while and didn't pick up a guitar until my senior year of college.
Tell me a little about your music experience in high school.
I have a lot of very fond memories of high school. It was there that I decided that I wanted to stick with music. It solidified that I would have music in my life in some organized fashion even if I didn't major in it in college.
Coming into EAHS [Easton Area High School], I was actually all "choired out" and avoided singing all together. I remember people were always trying to get me involved, but I just wasn't into it. Then one day, Ed Milisits [EAHS choir director] tracked me down and "drafted" me. I remember he was very persuasive about it and I ended up joining the Concert Choir and also being in a few school musicals. Those years were a big part of my life.
What are you most looking forward to in 2014?
I have been doing this pretty much non-stop since 1994 and last year decided to take a bit of a break (although I did perform a few random shows and at fundraising events). I discovered that I really missed making music, so getting back in the studio was GREAT! I'm very excited about 2014. Although I won't be setting out onto a full-fledged tour, I will be doing more shows that give me the opportunity to share some music. For me, I'm blown away with everything I've been blessed with over the years and am just so thankful! Musically, I hope to continue to do something that I really love to do. If someone likes it, loves it or it can mean something to them, then that's a huge win for me.
Tim Butler Will Perform at the Nazareth Center for the Arts
30 Belvidere St. Nazareth, PA 18064
January 18th, 2014 @ 7:00pm
Tickets are $8 in advance / $10 @ door
For more on Tim Butler, check out his ReverbNation site by Clicking Here!