Music Interviews

Interview: The Butterfly Effect

While walking around Sydney’s music stores, one name keeps on appearing on everyone’s lips: The Butterfly Effect. Formed in 1999 in Brisbane, the melancholic heavy rock quartet have been touring their asses off all round Australia, and are now signed to a major label. Their gigs are sold-out and their debut album, Begins Here, is a truly wonderful collection of songs. The first single from the album, Crave, remained in the Australian Heavy Rock Chart top 20 for 30 weeks. As The Butterfly Effect boys fly around conquering the world, remember where you heard about them first…

musicOMH: The Butterfly Effect. I’ve been told by someone that this is a way of playing a drum. Is that correct?
Clint Boge (vocals): Ben (Hall, drums) came up with the name. It’s basically Chaos Theory. An example is a butterfly flaps its wings in the Indian Ocean, and a breeze blows in the Pacific – everything’s connected. On a more personal level, the Butterfly Effect, both for me and, by and large, for all of us, means that if we can affect one person with our sound and music and our belief, they in turn will affect one person with that also, and hopefully it will grow stronger every time it evolves.

musicOMH: You can look at yourself now and say that in terms of the underground rock scene, you’ve made it. Now are you wanting to reach the mainstream scene?
Ben Hall (drums): There are different facets to the mainstream. What is mainstream to Britney Spears is not mainstream to us. I think that’s a good point that you made: definitely in the underground sense I think that it’s awesome that in your eyes you think we’ve made it. It’s hard from the inside of the circle trying to look out, because we tend to cocoon ourselves inside the music. We don’t in any way want to sound pessimistic, but when you say, “We’ve made it…”

musicOMH: I mean, sure, I’ll tell you I have spoken to some people who hadn’t heard of you.
Clint: They’re the people that I want to get to.

musicOMH: “Influenced by alternative rock acts of the ’80s and ’90s.” That’s what you’ve got in your bio. Tell me more.
Clint: Well, I was a child of the ’80s, so I was heavily influenced by the Romantics – that era of music like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet. I was also heavily into David Bowie and… Pink Floyd… Wow, man: Iron Maiden was the first heavy metal band I’d heard of… That blew my tiny fucking mind. I went, “Shit, this dude sings like no-one else I’ve ever heard, I want to sing like that!” (Shows off an Ozzy Osbourne tattoo on his ankle.) Ozzy’s one of my idols, but I’m seriously fucking pissed off that he sold out to the American bullshit TV network of MTV. Ben, where are you at?

Ben: I was going to say AC/DC and Dire Straits, but they’re more personal influences – they don’t really come out into what we do in the band. I guess I’d finish off by saying bands like Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains – the more recent bands – the ’90s and late ’90s bands like Deftones and Silverchair. And grunge: I think we all listened to a lot of it. I don’t quite remember what was going on in the other areas of the world, because all I heard was grunge.

Clint: I think it did dominate the world.

Ben: But there were some British bands that came out around that era that blew my socks off.

Glenn Esmond (bass): Blur were in there, Pulp and Oasis.

Clint: It’s like Europe and America are the guts, the balls, the world music dominators. It’s like a three-point triangle with Australia down the bottom being the smallest point.

Ben: I think we get what they think we’ll buy. I reckon we don’t get the best of it. I think being in Australia they believe it’s a menial market: “Let’s nottake gambles, let’s give them what we think’s going to sell.”

Clint: I was talking to someone the other day about this massive band in the UK that we’ve never even heard of, and that’s what bugs me: we should be getting more music. I find America and Europe are very insular in their own music styles: America buys 85 or 90% of its own music.

Glenn: Having said that I wouldn’t want to hear about the latest American band at the expense of not hearing about the latest new Australian band.

Clint: I remember this huge commotion in the papers and stuff in Australia when Kylie got into the States.

musicOMH:: Why was that?
Clint: I think it’s because she’s, you know, the naturalised icon. We loved seeing one of our own doing so well.

musicOMH:: Are you planning on overseas?
Clint: Yeah, definitely.

musicOMH:: Your album, it sounds really mature. It sounds more like your third album, both musically and conceptually.
Clint: Being so close to the music, I was scared, I was pensive, and really worried about how to go about it, how to write it.

musicOMH:: Who wrote the songs?
Clint: We all did. Kurt’s the guitarist and the principal songwriter.

Ben: I’d say that all of our influences come together. We’ve all chosen the right music; we’ve listened to stuff before and said, “That’s fucking great.” Somehow, in a four-way kind of situation we’ve all managed to agree on similar things. I guess one way that you could put it is that we can hear a good song. I’ve noticed Clint doesn’t listen to a lot of shit music – I don’t think any of us do.

Clint: I think songwriting has to be a conscious effort. We wouldn’t settle for something that we weren’t happy with. We want the song to start and finish and move in a direction in the shortest and the most direct way possible. And some bands do it really well, but they’ll… take the long garden path to get to the end. We want to go from A to B and that’s it.

Ben: We want to make every bit as strong. A verse should be as strong as a chorus, and the middle section of the song has to be interesting because you want to get away from the verse and chorus. It has to be interesting for us as well: primarily we write for ourselves.

Clint: I think it’s a pride issue as well: I want to make sure that this fucking dazzles.

And, readers, I can assure you that it does…

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More on The Butterfly Effect
Interview: The Butterfly Effect
The Butterfly Effect – Begins Here