If punctuality counts for anything, Aussie singer-songwriter Jacob Butler is already a winner in our books – belling us at least 60 seconds ahead of our scheduled interview time.
Having appeared on reality TV shows Australian Idol and X Factor (placing eighth and sixth respectively) and being subsequently ignored by the major labels for a record deal, the Melbourne-based singer-songwriter is now treading the path to success independently, recently releasing his debut single ‘Coma’.
But the singer insists it’s most certainly not a one-man-show, a philosophy reflected in the addition of the word ‘Project’ to the end of his name.
“A lot of different people have worked on the record over the last couple of years and different people have come and gone for different reasons and rather than it being the Jacob Butler band, it’s more of a Jacob Butler Project, so we thought we’d go with something a bit different,” he says.
Besides the people who have worked on his forthcoming album ‘Reason’, Jacob also isn’t short on friends and supporters to help him out where it’s most important – in garnering support from the cutthroat world of FM radio.
“It’s so tight to be on radio in Australia in general that you need a good song and you need people who are really willing to go in and bat hard for you at radio to get it across the line. Fortunately I’ve got some great people that I’m working with who really believe in the song and have been great,” he enthuses, “I think even the majors sometimes have trouble getting things across the line, so I’m pretty happy with the way things are travelling.”
And things are travelling pretty well indeed, with planned live shows, an album in the pipeline and first single ‘Coma’ already starting to garner some decent airplay. Of course, roping in a couple of high profile friends for the single’s video clip most certainly hasn’t hindered Jacob’s exposure – here or overseas.
“Paula, my fiancé, works at Channel 10 and worked on Neighbours for a couple of years. She became good friends with Pippa Black through the show and they stayed in touch. When we were thinking of concepts for the video, (it’s quite a dramatic song lyrically), we wanted to play out what goes on in most peoples’ relationships at some point or another.
“We emailed Pippa and Sweeney (Young), not sure whether we’d hear back from them or not, but both of them replied within a day and said they’d love to do it. It all came together really quickly actually. It was incredibly easy to shoot, no hassle – it was just a really good time.
“It’s not every day that you can get someone from Neighbours in your video clip and people in the UK have been going ‘Wow! This is really cool’.
People have seen it on YouTube or… it’s been featured on the Neighbours website over there. I didn’t realise that it would go as far and wide as it has,” he says.
‘Coma’ is a track about the beginnings of a relationship and the uncertainty about it’s longevity. Jacob admits that it was most certainly written from personal experience.
“Absolutely! It was! It was! I wrote it a few years ago when I first started seeing my now fiancé and you’re kind of ironing out those creases,” he says, “It’s a song about relationships under strain and when you’ve been fighting and you’re tired and you’re in that state where you don’t know whether things are going to work out or you’re going to walk away. I guess the ‘Coma’ is that metaphor for the weird state when you’re just physically and emotionally drained from the relationship. “
But through all the ups and downs the song details, there’s some very good news to come out of it all.
“We figured it out and now we’re all good – we’re getting married next year,” he says excitedly.
We wonder (out loud, naturally) if he’ll be able to resist belting out a couple of musical numbers at the reception.
“I don’t know – I might belt out a couple of golden oldies,” he laughs, adding that he might drag a few muso mates up to help him out.
Reality TV shows such as Idol, X Factor and Popstars tend to get a bad wrap, pumping out a plethora of artists who experience varying levels of success. Former reality contestants are often shunned by the mainstream media once their 15 minutes of fame come to an end.
But Jacob believes his appearances on Idol and X Factor have worked to his advantage.
“Without those shows, I’d just be another kid playing gigs in pubs around Melbourne. So that kind of exposure, money can’t buy. Unless you’re on a major label in this country, it’s very hard to get a serious push, so it’s certainly helped. And when you get around to putting out something under your own steam, it puts you ahead of a lot of people, purely because people know who you are because they’ve seen you on TV. So in that respect, it’s a good thing,” he says, “It’s a great platform to raise your profile if you’re pretty serious about your music and you want to make a career out of it, it’s a great way to cut through some red tape and get yourself out there.
Jacob is in the music business for the long haul, self-funding his debut single and the forthcoming album ‘Reason’, due in “March or April” – and he says that the album, is set to contain a little bit of everything.
“There’s a lot if indie rock on it, a lot of big guitars and me screaming my guts out,” he laughs, “But in saying that, there’s also more radio stuff as well. I love big guitars and I love big melodies. I love a good pop song.”
Not only will fans have the chance to pick up a Jacob Butler Project album very soon, but the singer and his ‘Project’ posse look set to hit the road for a series of live shows sometime later in the year.
“I’m hoping to get out and play some shows around Melbourne and maybe get up to Sydney and do some stuff there and even across to Adelaide. Who knows – I’ll play anywhere if there’s a demand for it and an audience that wants to come see me.”
It’s impossible not to be impressed by Jacob Butler’s enthusiasm – and we think that enthusiasm and his steely determination will go a long way towards taking him to where he deserves to be.
‘Coma’ is available from all good digital outlets now.
The Jacob Butler Project album ‘Reason’ is due in March/April 2010.