As a teenager John Butler gave up music twice to pursue his dream of becoming a professional skateboarder.
Now he plays songs to stadium audiences all over the world and is constantly ‘spun out that’ his ‘form of therapy’ is also his career.
“It’s a very personal thing that I do, I’m really not an entertainer as such, I can be entertaining but it’s only because I like what I do so much,” he said.
“I’m really struck by the fact that I can do this for a living, I can actually feed my family through things that I write and make up at two o’clock in the morning on my guitar and I find it really fun.
“It’s actually a version of journal writing for me, it’s a diary entry, making music is how I understand and make sense of the world.
“So, in a way, what you see is what you get…you’re going to get all of me.”
A solo performance at the Albany Entertainment Centre
Butler will be playing a solo show at the Albany Entertainment Centre on June 9 in what he says will be a raw and intimate performance.
He assures audiences there will still be lots of rhythm and even a new song.
“When I play solo it’s more of a conversation, it’s like having a really intimate conversation with a really intense dude in your living room,” he laughs.
“I end up telling a lot more stories and explaining the songs in a different way.
“It’s going to be really loud at times and really honest, I’m a bit of an over-sharer, I’m a heart-on-the-sleeve kind of person.”
Music a close friend
Not coming from a particularly musical family and originally aspiring to become a professional painter and art teacher, Butler describes his relationship with music as like a close friend.
“My first paid live gig by myself as a 16-year-old blew my f***ing mind,” he said.
“I was getting paid 20 bucks for 20 minutes man I was like rolling… I was stoked.
“I played open mics all through my early years, that’s how you get gigs and get known, you play for nothing, you surround yourself with your peers and you bear your heart to all these strangers.
It wasn’t until he turned 21 that Butler says he became ‘serious’ about music.
“I got completely addicted to guitar, like I mean obsessive compulsive,” he said.
“Neighbours banging on walls, roommates hating me because I went rain man on it.”
Trusting his audience
Over time Butler has come to trust himself and his audiences. And while once he was scared to perform, now he gets excited.
“Before it was like ‘I’ve got to impress [the audience]’ and now I think it’s like ‘oh we love each other, let’s have a good conversation’,” he said.
“When I rip my rib cage open and literally show you my beating heart it feels safe and for a long time I didn’t feel that way.”
“There’s many talented people in this planet, especially in my line of work and not all of us get to make a career out of it so that’s always going to be the biggest highlight.
“I never really lose sight of that because it’s such a rare thing.”