letlive: Watch Your World Burn
letlive. champion a special kind of authenticity in their music, an honesty that’s rare to come across and hard to dismiss. The LA crew are gearing up to blow us all away with their upcoming album If I’m The Devil…, which balances the political and the sonically insane with the skill only the scene frontrunners possess. BLUNT caught up with frontman Jason Aalon Butler to discuss how the forthcoming LP grapples with society’s progression, personal conflicts and the world on fire.
There’s a huge amount of hype for If I’m The Devil… Everyone’s buzzing around about it, and from the beginning, you guys emphasised the importance of that word of mouth spread for your success. What do you think it is about the band that everyone is so keen to share?
You know what, that’s such a good question, I don’t think anyone’s ever asked me that. I don’t know. I wish I could answer that with this really well-thought out and described answer but I can’t. I think that all I know is this: for me, I’ve always just been a fan of music and art and trying to share the things that I think are cool with other people. And with letlive it was kind of the biggest opportunity that I’ve ever had to share things that I think are cool, or need to be said, or need to be heard. Perhaps it’s that in essence, everything we do with this band is something we think is worth sharing. And it’s not so much that we want for ourselves to create something that benefits just us but the whole point is that it benefits others too. So maybe that’s what is creating the desire to share it, but whatever it is, I’m really fucking thankful. I’d really like to, if I could, say thank you to everyone that’s decided to be a part of this with us.
There’s a significant political influence on this album. What’s the message, in that respect, that you want people to take away from it and share?
The whole idea of revolution and change and progress, that’s not a trend. That’s what I want to say. Trends fade away quite quickly, and the rise and fall, it’s not really substantial, and the marks that they make are certainly not indelible. I think that the change that needs to be made begins with us having these uncomfortable conversations, facing these uncomfortable scenarios, and really being active in making a difference. And lastly, trying to invest in a timeline or lifespan beyond our own, because that’s how we’re going to continue, not only as a society or as individuals but as a human race. If we’re going to continue this has to go beyond just us, right now, and the lifespan that we can foresee for ourselves. Sot the revolution thing and all this change is not a trend, you know? And you’ve gotta be active.
In your world, and your vision of a just system, who is the ideal leader? What’s that system going to look like?
It’ll be a socialist system. A system that certainly does operate in order to benefit its constituents and citizens. But ultimately, man, I think it’s a world run by women. I’ve been talking to my wife, I think we just talked about this…so we were talking about the history of when women have been in power and in control as leaders. For example, Iceland was the first in the world to elect basically a matriarch, a woman in to lead their country. And when they did this, the financial crisis was fixed, was better, education was fixed. They went from pretty far down in the polling’s in education to becoming number 1 in education worldwide. And I’m not just saying this because there’s this big feminist movement happening and my wife is in the room. I’m saying it because it’s what I believe. There’s a sense and an emotional horizon that you guys have a capacity for that we as men are typically not born with. And that’s the reality, the sense of compassion and understanding that women have that is necessary to lead this world or at least, on a smaller level, a city or country or state or province. It’s got to be led by women, so that’s what I think. I think it’s gonna be a socialist approach understanding the health and benefits for citizens first and run by a woman.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say now that I fly the flag of straight edge anymore, because it itself has shown me bits of the culture that have ostracised and been quite hateful to those that don’t subscribe.”
The album has been described as countercultural, and in that sense, it definitely is. Do you see yourself being straight edge as part of countering the normative “addiction culture” or “escapism culture”?
You know, I did. For a long time I did. Wow, that’s a good question! No one’s ever asked me that, they’ve asked me other things that aren’t as important about straight edge. So yeah, I think that when I initially became straight edge I identified with it, it was a group of people I identified with, I thought it was very countercultural. I thought the politics behind anything from cigarettes to drinking, and this isn’t the culture of drinking, this is more so the corporation that holds the umbrella over these things, it’s politics, man. Same reason I choose not to eat animals. Again, it’s politicising something that we probably have no business doing, and industrialising these things that are actually fucking killing people, but the companies don’t care because they’re making money. So for me, straight edge initially was that and as I got older and as I am now, you know, it’s something that I identified with. I wouldn’t necessarily say now that I fly the flag of straight edge anymore, because it itself has shown me bits of the culture that have ostracised and been quite hateful to those that don’t subscribe. So again, while I don’t indulge in any of those things, I’m not necessarily saying that I believe that everyone needs to call themselves straight edge, or anyone needs to call themselves anything. But that initially was why I identified with straight edge and why I subscribed to that culture.
It is a personal thing, and something I noticed about the album was that its bookend tracks, “I’ve Learned To Love Myself” and “Copper Colored Quiet” also seemed really personal. What are those songs about, and why did you place them specifically at the beginning and end of the record?
Yeah, very perceptive Peyton. That’s exactly right. “I’ve Learned To Love Myself” was the first song, and the beginning chord progression, was the first song that I actually wrote after The Blackest Beautiful. And it’s about figuring out this sense of myself that has always been quite destructive and hazardous to my own existence and embracing it so I can fix it, and also understanding that my problems, while they do affect me, could affect others as well. You know, all of this talk about if I’m going to fix other systems or things, I feel like you kind of have to work on yourself first so you have a foundation to stand on when doing so. And also it’s just an introduction to the record. I talk about myself, I talk about one of the closest people in my life, my brother, being a police officer, which is one of the largest sects of authority that I’ve always been fearful of. So there’s that weird irony and contradiction that I’m also describing and talking about revolution, all of these things, all in the beginning of the record.
And then the end of the record, essentially that line “we all came to watch your world as it burns”, was an idea for a bunch of imagery I had for kind of like a small movie, like a mini movie. And I wrote the song as the soundtrack to that movie I had in my head, and the movie in my head was about a man who never shared himself and then realised when it was too late that he wanted to. And whether it be with one person romantically or platonically or with the world overall, it’s too late and now he needs to do something very grand in order to get the attention. And again, the ironic ending of this whole movie in my head was he essentially is burning. Metaphorically and I guess, literally too. Doing this grant gesture of “pay attention to me”, but it’s too late. That irony of doing it at the end when there’s really no one there to watch it to begin with because you’ve spent your whole life secluded and keeping yourself away from others.
Explanations like that will really change how people approach those songs. Just two more questions, and you can answer yes or no because we’re running out of time! Is there going to be a continuation of the ‘Renditions‘ series?
Yes, there is.
Excellent. Are you guys heading to Australia anytime soon?
Yes! I believe we’re gonna try and come at the beginning of next year, so as soon as we can in 2017.