THE TAMBOURINE PLAYER NEEDS A RAISE
A CONVERSATION WITH BUTCH BASTARD
Butch Bastard was created as a solo project in 2015 by Ian Murray, whom you may recognize from Seattle’s Poor Moon. Murray, like many rockers these days, recorded the majority of his debut solo album in the comfort of his own home to bring the world I Am Not A Man, releasing Nov.16 digitally and on vinyl. While most of the album’s efforts are his alone, he did have some help from longtime friend, Josh Tillman (Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes) who played drums and percussion on half of the album. Other than Tillman, Butch Bastard got some love from friend Mitch Rowland (Harry Styles) and Jonathan Wilson (Roger Waters).
After the first listen of I Am Not A Man, I could hear that Butch Bastard has many influences. The album as a whole has a well thought out track list with masterfully planned transitions like the contrast of “Cold Dead Hand” and “Gentrification Song” back to back. Murray explained his way of writing as “music that can draw influence from whatever”, and the variety of emotions throughout Murray’s debut album make that apparent. “I Am Not A Man is a self-examination into my life” he told me, and Butch Bastard is the vessel, the character that Murray plays.
The production of “Butchie, Baby” feels like Amy Winehouse’s spirit guided Butch Bastard in the studio. In songs like “Gentrification Song”, I pick up on some groovy Josh Tillman vibes. I asked Murray about his influences and he said, “I wasn’t really into the indie scene until my friends in Fleet Foxes started touring and doing their thing. That was about the same time my brother Peter and I started Poor Moon with our friends Christian Wargo and Casey Westcott (Fleet Foxes, Crystal Skulls). I was mostly listening to the classics and rap before I really started playing indie music.”
We talked in length about his group of friends in Seattle, and how one of them happens to be indie rock’s big poppa, Josh Tillman. “I’ve been friends with Josh before Father John Misty took off, I was there while the first record was being mixed. We’ve had the same friends and have been drawn to each other. We respect each other for being self-serious. When I asked him to check out my new material, he loved it so much that he asked to play drums on it.” I asked Murray to please give Tillman a raise for his epic use of the tambourine in “Magnolia” and he reassured me that Tillman would get a bonus.
The production of the album is nothing to gloss over, and that’s partly why Murray chose to self-release his debut solo album. Murray was involved in every step of the process including the mixing. The mixes in I Am Not A Man are crisp and clear and really bump when needed. I was surprised to learn that all of the electric guitar work was recorded out of one single guitar/amp. The guitars in “Cold Dead Hand” have loud gritty tones coming straight out of a Silvertone Suitcase Amp. If you haven’t seen one of these things look it up, it’s a vintage Sears guitar combo, much respect to Murray on this one. In title track “I Am Not A Man” you can hear his clean acoustic work on his Taylor guitar, it’s absolutely beautiful.
Butch Bastard rhymes and flows in much of the songwriting in I Am Not A Man, where I think Murray shines brightest. You can’t help but feel like a badass when singing along to songs like “Hot Blooded Heavy Handed Blues” and funny enough “Gentrification Song”. When I asked Murray about his lyrics in these songs he responded “Hot Blooded Heavy Handed Blues” was written during my annual mental breakdown, writing this song helped me exercise my demons and proved that songwriting is the best therapy.”
All in all the album rings true, I Am Not A Man is honest and ornery and Murray isn’t afraid to tell record label executives to get the fuck off his lawn as in “Sloppy Seconds”. Murray’s lyrics at times may be incredibly harsh, but when paired with his sweet, lovely voice, his brazen words feel much less intimidating.
I strongly suggest you download Butch Bastard’s I Am Not A Man and please support the release at one of their upcoming shows. Butch Bastard recently played at Barboza in Seattle and at Turn! Turn! Turn! in Portland. Pick up the vinyl at an upcoming show or order online.