50 AMAZING THINGS THAT WILL HAPPEN IN 2016
letlive. are ready to drop their “best” music yet
Words: Jack Glasscock.
‘The Blackest Beautiful’ – released in 2013 – was an ambitious album, and that’s a relatively tame tag for a band who places no value on the word ‘tame’. It saw letlive. build on their breakthrough masterpiece, ‘Fake History’, tempering their already beautifully crafted post-hardcore with influences from soul and rhythm and blues. After the shock of letlive. had dissipated, their ferocity was harnessed and Jason’s lyrics were made more direct; all the while retaining the sense of a very real danger that they present profoundly on stage. letlive. had very quickly become a more cohesive model, surpassing the already high expectations that they had themselves set. How do you even begin to think about writing a follow up to that?
Today Jason Aalon Butler finds himself at “a less than motel in San Antonio, Texas” as he is called up to front the ranks of Every Time I Die due to unforeseen complications during the birth of Keith Buckley’s daughter, and he’s in the mood to relate all that is letlive..
“Honestly, the mind-set was just don’t think about ‘The Blackest Beautiful’. We let that album exist as it is, let it isolate itself as that era for letlive. and that sonic representation.” Jason pauses, collects his thoughts and poses, “this is going to sound so trite, but I think that life can continually offer new things. There are these things that you can take from or admire or abhor or discuss; they’re abounding, they’re everywhere all the time. So for me it was just taking a moment to see what meant the most to me to write about in an album. Compared to the last couple of records, I’m able to be a lot more objective and I’m also a lot more knowledgeable as far as the systems that I’m discussing and the conversations that I’m trying to advance.”
When posed with the question, that would strike at least some sense of dread into your average band in 2015, as to whether he ever finds himself in a position of fear regarding the loyalty of their fan base in this very temporal and transient era of musical consumption, he remains extremely vigilant and conceptualises letlive. in such lofty terms that you wouldn’t be surprised if Kanye West had uttered them of himself. “Initially people giving a fuck in the first place is still such a surprise to us. Not because I don’t think what we create is worth it, because admittedly I think that when you create art and you mean it it’s worth something, whether that be people coming to shows or people discussing your art, sharing your art or buying your art. I believe that art is worth something when you mean it.”
But the reason that Jason’s grand ideas don’t get lost in a vacuum of bullshit, as is so often the case with Yeezy, is because they are decidedly rooted in what letlive. has built with their fans. “People have already shown me that their investment in letlive. goes beyond just music now. People are invested in letlive. in a way that, even to me as a music fan, is far beyond anything I could really have imagined and that foundation seems too firm to me; it’s unbreakable,” Jason affirms. “When we come back, we can at least know that our foundation is there and is omnivorous enough to allow us to be who we are because, as we evolve, we would like to believe anyone involved with letlive. will evolve concurrently.”
Here Jason admits that while he is sure the foundations of letlive. are firm, that the direction they’ll be taking, in 2016’s upcoming album ‘If I’m The Devil…’ is a divergence. Yet alongside that deviation is an unsurprising, unrestrained confidence that has seen him state that it’s the “best” music letlive. have ever written, with profound understanding of the enormity of that term’s application and implication.
“I think that it’s just because it’s the most liberated we’ve been as a band because we’ve had to challenge ourselves and each other so much in order to make this record. I guess after we were able to get out of our own way and we were able to get out of each other’s way in order to accomplish the things we wanted to artistically, I think that we were able to start writing a record that is very apparently free. You can tell that we’re not as insecure as artists. I think this record is coming to the people with the least amount of reservation and hesitance and reticence that we’ve ever provided. That’s what I mean about it being the best.”
Yes that’s correct, Jason just implied that ‘Fake History’ and ‘The Blackest Beautiful’ were letlive. exhibiting insecurities. “I guess back then there was a proximity in which we had to exist. We came from this scene, we didn’t want to disregard this scene or this essence and now we’ve found a way to uphold and honour that even though we might be creating music, which may seem, sonically, very different for letlive..”
It might come as a surprise to hear that insecurity is an issue for a band that are as bullish as letlive., but Jason is not afraid of presenting the more fragile and sentimental accent of himself in his music. “I wish I could say that it’s fully intentional and I had this plan to do it, but man it’s just honestly what happens when I sing the songs that we write; that’s just what happens. But, with letlive. the spectrum is, in fact, seemingly limitless. I do think it’s important for people to be vulnerable to their music and I think it’s important for people to be transparent and I think it’s important for people to be as authentic as possible.”
Everything Jason says is measured, considered and calculated, but without any inauthenticity that those phrases might connote. In fact, the exact opposite: “I can go on the record saying that however I’m acting or saying or doing, it’s because I feel that way and whenever I’m not doing or whenever I’m not saying it’s because I don’t feel that I’m emotionally equipped, at that time, to fend for that thing.”
It’s this emotion that Jason can so readily lay bare that gives vehicle to the powerful sense of duty he feels to say something of substance when given the platform of letlive.. “Over the last two records I was trying to find my place in all of it, I really was. This [letlive.] is rooted in subversion, this is rooted in confrontation, this is rooted in opposition,” again Jason speaks as if from the written gospel of letlive.. “That’s where we come from. The root as far as the literature is concerned is being confronted with everything outside. This is going to sound so hyperbolic,” once again predicating his statement with, “but everything around you as well as everything within you is what you should be focusing on when you’re trying to focus on the literature that is letlive..”
But, it’s not just as the mouthpiece of letlive. where Jason feels a duty to stand passionately for the beliefs that he preaches and he takes great pains to confess this. “I feel there is such a drought and, I’ll go on record saying this, I feel like there are so many bands claiming that they are part of this revolutionary moment in time and they want to spearhead it, but then they get offstage and there’s no activism, there’s no proactivity. There’s no passion in what you say if you’re only saying it onstage. At times it can seem cumbersome and at times a heavy weight to carry but that’s the name of the game in revolution, that’s the name of the game in change. A lot of the people that tried to change things, that did change things, are dead,” Jason points out with a morbid chuckle. “That is the sad truth. That’s just the sad truth. So if you really want to be a part of it and really want to disrupt that system that you lament so heavily in your work then you need to scarily invest in something that might, I’m not going to say take your life, but push back and cause a lot of anguish. But if it’s worth it to you in the end then you keep doing it.”
With all that conviction, all that belief, what does 2016 look like for letlive.? A band who are set to free themselves from the incarnations that precede them, release themselves from the shackles of insecurity and move confidently in the direction of authenticity.
“We’re obviously going to be back on the grind. We’ve got some cool tours planned with friends for the second quarter of 2016,” Jason divulges before once again delivering a mission statement for album four. “This iteration of letlive. is the version of letlive. that just tries really hard to take it as far as possible and is not afraid of repercussions. Whatever happens is going to happen and somewhere that is designated to us in our fate as this band. So we’re going to keep going and push it as far as we can.”
Once again, Jason implicates the seemingly bonkers. If this is album – reportedly called ‘If I’m The Devil’ – is going to see letlive. really going for it without fearing the consequences, what was their outlook on ‘Fake History’? What was the intent of ‘The Blackest Beautiful’? The thought of hearing and witnessing a truly unbridled letlive. in 2016 is both unimaginable considering what they’ve delivered already and impossibly exciting. But when Jason, tell us when?!
“I know that it has to come out in 2016. I know that much. I can promise you the lead up is going to be fucking cool. We’ll be opening a door to be involved in letlive.. Once we feel that’s made its point and it culminates, then the record will come out. Hopefully before summer; that’d be nice.”
With that delightfully enigmatic answer, Jason bids farewell for now. But not before adding, “we’re going to be in the UK in the second quarter of next year, so I’ll see you then,” he teases.
If you thought letlive. had delivered their magnum opus already, prepare yourself to be proven wrong.