Matt Butcher

Just seconds into our phone conversation, it’s apparent that Matt Butcher and I have something in common. We both know the perilous combination of infant relatives and dogs. He excuses himself to ask his sister to stop his nephew from hitting the family pet. Butcher spent the day working at Dandy Lane Community CafĂ© in Orlando, Florida. "They don’t me leaving for a few weeks to tour," he says. Many musicians would envy such luck. 
The first time I listened to "Me and My Friends" by Matt Butcher I immediately grabbed my Moleskine note book and feverishly wrote about my impression of him. I was immediately struck by a sincerity that has
rarely been heard since James Taylor’s heyday and Nick Drake's melancholic instrumentation. Throughout the record, it’s apparent that the musician has a maturity that belies his 26 years. In photographs, the 26 year old’s wide green eyes hold the story of a well worn trail amongst his thin, youthful frame.
"I wrote the title track, "Me and My Friends," when I was 18," he says. The opener is a definite glimpse into a sordid time. The lines, "Let’s drive out of town, get stoned and get lost and turn and my friends are hurting," are reminiscent of a life he later tells me he left behind five years ago. After talking to him, it’s no surprise that such a young person can make music of a higher caliber. He was raised listening to artists who have had successful, long careers (The Beatles, Van Morrison, U2) thanks to his dad (a journalist who wrote news write-ups for YWAM-Youth With a Mission.) From his mom he learned to how to play the guitar, "The only instrument I play decently," Butcher confesses. His missionary family lived in England, Amsterdam, and Colorado. The changes of environment growing up made him adaptable to traveling on tour. After his band The Heathens split up in 1996 Butcher focused on making his solo record and settled in Florida in 1999. The songs on Me and My Friends were conceived over a 5-6 year period. He chose the final 11 tracks because of their connecting thread they were the most revealing.
"I was kind of a partier. I would go out a lot and drink. I got sober 5 years ago," he says specifically of the R.E.M. tinged song "The Company I Keep," which is a prominently dark tale of lonliness, "I wrote that song about staying home and not knowing how to connect with people because I’d been so used to getting trashed."
On the phone, the sincerity found in his music also comes through in his low register voice. He’s the kind of pleasant and polite stranger that you would remember speaking with briefly on a bus. He’s actually done just that. The song "Grace on a Greyhound Bus" chronicles such an encounter. "I was taking a Greyhound Bus to play a show with the Avett Brothers in Mobile****. When I woke up there was a woman sitting across from me. I just listened to her and gave her some money. She told me she was leaving her abusive boyfriend." When I ask him about the title and the lyrics, "******" he says that he doesn’t believe that God has to be something so abstract and far away. "I think you can see God in a person or a situation."
The album is full of folk songs about the people he’s encountered as well as his own stories. The track, "Giving My Sadness a Name" is not typical break-up song. Instead, Butcher chose to visit the relationships end from both view points. He and singer Olivia Wynn harmonize the tale of love found ("We locked eyes in a crowded bar"), fought for ("Two warring families/ just couldn’t have kept us apart"), and lost ("Don’t look back...Don’t worry ‘bout my pain/ Your just giving my sadness a name.") Whenever he sings, "girl", Wynn sings, "boy", a narrative technique that I haven’t heard since the Raveonettes album Pretty In Black. These folk and country laced ballads have a classic sweet melancholy that can make you immediately smitten.
Butcher has a collection of tattoos that can be admired in photos by the talented Charles Brewer III. About his tattoos he says, "You think about your first one alot-then that opens up the flood gates. I don’t over think them very much anymore. I think, "I want a dream catcher on may arm," and the next day I have one."
Butcher describes the process of recording his upcoming record, "more like Frankenstein." This time, he’s changed his line up completely and intends to collaborate with several musicians. It was an amicable split. Butcher likes to start a record with a "clean slate" and feels that the direction of the record will stay focused this way. This time he has multi-instrumetnalist Anthony Cole and melodic bass master Matt Laphan on his side. This time the narratives are not from his personal life. He’s bee inspired by Southern Gothic literature. Writer’s like Cormack McCarthy, William Faulkner, and Flannery O’Connor’s tragic characters and stories with dark overtones . –Words and Illustration by Jocelyn