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A Dark Journey of Romantic Yearning: An Interview with The Buttertones

Comprised of five members including lead vocalist Richard Araiza, guitarist Dakota Böttcher, drummer Modeste Cobián, saxophonist London Guzmån, and bassist Sean Redman, The Buttertones produce an intriguing sound that borrows elements from 60s garage rock, doo-wop, surf rock and post-punk.

The band’s name plays upon on the kitschy titles doo-wop bands used to come up with in the 1950s and 60s, like The Cleftones,The Aquatones, and even The Monotones (couldn’t help but laugh at that one).

The group has produced a total of three albums since their formation in 2011, with their most recent album, Gravediggin, having been released in Spring of this year.

Gravediggin sounds like it could be the soundtrack for some obscure western film from another era; here, The Buttertones manage produce a sound that is both sensual and tension filled. Listening feels as if you are on a thrilling journey to a destination that will most likely be exhilarating but also dubious.

Their music has clear retro tendencies, but the way in which they meld fast paced jazzy saxophone elements with dark-edgy lyrics and more aggressive compositions produces a unique sound nothing short of spectacular.

The Buttertones performing live at The Sugar Factory in Amsterdam (06.09.2017). Photograph taken by Isabella Moulton

One immediately picks up on the film-like nature of their music videos. They are not the standard backdrop bands use to “illustrate” their sound, but rather their videos add an extra element to make the overall listening experience both one of audio and visual pleasure. Take a look at some of their official music videos below:

“Gravediggin”

“Sadie’s A Sadist”

“Matador”

Each song tells a unique story and as a result the tone and energy of each number can shift markedly. The dark, edgier Sadie’s A Sadist contrasts Baby Doll, which sounds quintessentially doo-wop with its 1950’s innocent romantic nature, albeit slightly tinged with tension. Though many of their songs express some kind of romantic yearning (don’t all the best ones do?), you can’t help but feel a lingering dark undertone throughout.

These LA Natives are currently in the midst of their first-ever European tour. Watching them perform live illustrates the authentic nature of their collaborative efforts as a group. It is a very special experience. No single member is made out to be the star of the show; they let each other have the spotlight at different moments during their performance, which is wonderfully refreshing in todays Rock and Roll world. I caught up with them after their Amsterdam show at the Sugar Factory to talk about their tour experience so far and their greatest musical inspirations. Take a look at my interview with these lovely lads below:

Check out their bandcamp page to purchase their music and to find out the latest updates on their European and American tour: https://buttertones.bandcamp.com/

Footage of The Buttertones performing live at The Sugar Factory in Amsterdam (06.09.2017) filmed by Isabella Moulton. Interview conducted by Isabella Moulton and filmed by Sophie Smit Klein.

Review written by Isabella Moulton– a stylist and designer by day, and aesthetic aficionado by night. For inquiries, please contact her at: theeccentricbourgeoisie@gmail.com | Keep it groovy <3

My passion for music was cultivated by my parents, who took me to see obscure bands perform and encouraged me to start my own record collection at a young age. I grew up listening to Pink Floyd and Peter Frampton with my mom; she told me if I listened to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” in complete darkness my life would be forever changed…I did and it was, thanks mom. From then on I realised that music does not exist solely to colourfully take up time, but is rather an experience that should be had as many times as possible. One of the first concerts I attended was The Who at the Hollywood Bowl, but as a teenager I started seeing a lot of indie bands at the local music hall, and was fascinated by the story their music told. Every song has a story and I wanted to hear it. So here I am, currently based in Vienna and work as a stylist and designer for my own company “The Eccentric Bourgeoisie” -- I’ll happily add some extravagance to your dull wardrobe or give you some flair to help you stand out above the rest at an event ;) I have lived in the US, Canada, Malaysia, Spain, the UK, the Netherlands and Italy. Wherever I have travelled music has allowed me to broaden my horizons by experiencing new things and meeting interesting people. It has the ability to connect people from different cultures and generations, influencing the way we think and feel…there’s nothing quite like it. The way it can capture the essence of a time, the energy of a people, and allow later generations to relive it is awe-inspiring.
 My musical interests predominately centre on what was produced in the 1960’s and 1970’s, but I also appreciate more modern bands as well. Something happened during this time musically and artistically which can never be recreated; it was like a sonic boom of creativity. I am drawn to the fashion, art films (Especially Nouvelle Vague and Giallo) and the records which were produced during this magical period in history. I have a soft spot for 1960’s garage, glam rock and of course French Playboy singers. My top picks include: T. Rex, Jacques Dutronc, Nino Ferrer, The Doors, Joe Dassin, the Kinks and Jacqueline Taieb. I adore modern bands which take the musical energy created in previous decades and build on it; some of my favourites are the Triptides and Mystic Braves. Show me your record collection and I’ll show you mine. Know some great band I should listen to? Get in contact! I’m always looking to expand my musical horizons.