Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Music journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie artists. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
NYC rockers Butter The Children can easily be described as a punk rock band, but as lead singer Inna Mkrtycheva notes, “At the heart of everything is pop.” Calling them pop punk, however, can lead to some confusion as Butter The Children sound less like a Warped Tour band, and more like a throwback to a bygone era that included CBGBs, and dirt cheap apartments in the Lower East Side.
Bassist J Boxer explains, “Pop punk music has been around way longer than that term. All these bands from the 70s do that, but they’re not necessarily called pop punk like Blink 182 would be.” Boxer continued, adding, “No one calls Blondie a pop punk band, but it’s sort of like setting a precedent of having aggressive, but really catchy, stuff at the same time.”
Having that combination of aggressiveness and catchiness has led Butter The Children to be compared less to their modern contemporaries, and more to their 70s influences. This is something Mkrtycheva is more than comfortable with. “I think it’s awesome,” she says, “the late 70s is one of my favorite eras of music.”
The most recent example of the band’s work is their just released EP, True Crime, which is a three song effort that moves at a blistering pace, and is the precursor to a True Crime full length album they hope to release in late 2013, or early 2014.
The 70s comparisons don’t end with their music, however, as Butter The Children’s work ethic is also very old school. Guitarist Ray Weiss remembers when the band was in its infancy, “We would sometimes play out four times a week just to get our name out there.”
It’s a name that’s very unique, and as Mkrtycheva notes, “You hear it and it sticks with you, whether that’s good or bad. Some people have a really visceral, physical, reaction to it, and they’re just disgusted.” Weiss adds, “We’ve heard some people won’t even listen to us because of our name, which is kind of like a backhanded compliment.”
In that same vein, Weiss takes anything negative said about Butter the Children as something positive for the band, saying, “It’s all necessary. I’ve always been of the opinion that you kinda have to get shit all over, and somebody really has to tell you off, and you have to get a bad review, to fall into your own shit, because if nobody is critical of your work then it’s hard for you to look objectively at it. Once you’re able to take that to heart, and work at it, I think it helps.”
Something else that’s helped Butter The Children has been finally deciding on a drummer. For a while the band was going through them quicker than Spinal Tap (although nobody died in a gardening accident). Weiss notes, “We were really picky about drummers at first. We told like five drummers we weren’t interested.” Finally they found their perfect match with Jordyn Blakely, whom Mkrtycheva describes as having “a really unique style and sound,” adding, “she hits in a way that I just really don’t hear often.”
When Butter The Children isn’t busy bringing pop punk back to its roots, some of its members can be found doing something similar with video games. Weiss is a retro gamer, and while he admits Mkrtycheva can beat him at Tekken, he says, “I am really fucking good at Castlevania. I want to beat that game without using any continues, which, if you ask anybody, is a fucking amazing feat. That’s probably my best game. I also have a hack of the original Mario Bros. game called Super Mario Frustration, and I’m the only one out of my friends that can get past the first stage.”
Paralleling Weiss making it past the first stage of the game, Butter The Children has made it past the first stage of their career, and all the frustrations that entails. Now, with True Crime, they’re reminding listeners that pop and punk were musical bedfellows well before the 90s.
B-Listers are a select group of artists that were featured in my Artist Of The Week series that ran every Monday from April of '06 to April of '11. All of these artists have two things in common; extreme talent, and a flight path far too under the radar for my liking. They took on the title of B-Listers as they embraced being featured by me, Adam B. Check out the AOTW Archives for all the interviews.