Fever 333‘s Jason Butler caught up with NME backstage at Reading 2022, telling us about befriending his heroes Deftones and what to expect from the band’s “genre-defining” upcoming album. Watch our video interview with Butler above.
Last night (Friday August 26), the band performed a blistering headline set on the Festival Republic Stage. The last time NME caught the band was at Mad Cool festival in Madrid, where Butler joined Deftones on stage to perform ‘Headup‘.
“We’re homies now so I was just watching,” Butler told us of the hook-up. “He didn’t tell my anything, he just beckoned me and was like, ‘Come sing this part’. At that moment, I turned back into a fan. I crowdsurfed, crossed the barrier, got on stage, and got to grab the mic.”
He continued: “Honestly, it was like a dream,” Butler told us of the hook-up. “It’s not real to me. They’re quite literally the reason I said I wanted to start playing rock music in a band was because I saw Chino jump off the PA stack at the Velodrome at North Ridge at the 1996 Warped Tour. I happened to walk in and saw that. He had the high socks, the Dickies down to here, bleached hair. I was like, ‘I want to do that’.
“To go from that to becoming a huge fan, then to be on stage with them singing a song from ‘Around The Fur’ – it’s beyond a full-circle moment. It’s like a simulation. It’s broken but it’s benefitting me in that moment.”
Asked if a Deftones and Fever 333 collaboration could now be on the cards, Butler replied:
“That would be cool. I feel like Chino is the one person that I observe as being truly authentic about the hybrid; really understanding hip-hop, rap, rock, trip-hop, and these things that I find to be extremely attractive in alternative music and putting them all together. He’s one of the best to ever do it, so I wouldn’t be opposed to it.”
During Fever’s own Mad Cool set, Butler took a moment to tell the crowd: “We’re here to remind the people of their power – the people’s power”. Now, with the world continuing to unravel and the fact that life is about to get a lot worse for some of the most vulnerable, Butler feels comfortable that people are about to become much more aware of their power and use it for change.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on what perspective you want to apply to it, a lot of people just don’t know until they’re pushed to that point where they have to figure it out, where they have to know,” he told NME. “If there’s any silver lining that I’m going to gleam from this, which I need to in order to stay hopeful, it’s that we’ve put ourselves as a species in a position where we have to figure it out.
“Ecologically, environmentally, systemically, throughout the world we’re trying to find a way to protect ourselves from ourselves. We’re there at the precipice. We’re either going to fall or jump. If we make the jump, then we’ll find another cliff to hang from and hopefully fix ourselves there. If we fall, I don’t know if we have a parachute.”
For such a change to be possible, Butler told us that he thought that new generations would rise up and alter society’s values.
“I feel like the evolution is not only inevitable, but it is ostensible,” he said. “It’s very clear to me having young children, seeing the lack of blemishing and tarnishing of their minds in a hateful way, that I can have children that don’t use hateful words if they don’t get taught them, don’t apply ideologies that are negative towards others. Knowing that that’s a real thing has been the biggest element of hope that I’ve had in my life.
“Beyond even being a naive young person, now I see it in real time. I have an actual physical manifestation of that hope. I have to believe that, and I believe that this generation and my children’s generation will be the ones to change things. They have to.”
Now three years past their last album ‘Strength In Numb333rs’ and two years since the ‘Wrong Generation’ EP, Butler said that the band are close to finishing their new record.
“It’s there. I’m wrapping the album in the next month, and I’m very excited about it,” said Butler. “All self-aggrandising elements aside, for better or for worse and whether people love it or hate it, I feel like I’ve created my idea of a genre-defining album that I’ve wanted to hear my whole life.
“I’ve finally created songs and elements of what that really means to me. I’m really excited to offer something that doesn’t necessarily fit into a place but rather runs concurrently in the progress that is art and music. Something in its own lane hopefully.”
Butler described the sound of their third LP as an “authentic and tasteful hybriding” of “punk rock, rock’n’roll, metal, hardcore, rap, hip-hop, spoken word, a little bit of trip-hop, a little bit of break”.
“I’m really finding a space that’s authentic to me and then applying it, versus genre-sampling and taking things off the shelf, throwing them in the pot and hoping they work. These are the most authentic representations I can offer,” he said.
As for the lyrics, Butler has been delving into his “emotional relationship with politics, the systems, and policy”.
“All of the previous Fever stuff was observational, what I saw and what I studied,” he said. “This time, this is what I’ve experienced, these are my truths. It’s the first time I’m actually talking about myself within it, rather than all of us. Although it’s microcosmic, we’re all interconnected so my story does relate to others in some way. I’ve taken that leap to disclose my own relationship with the things I’ve lamented in the past.”
He added that the album was due next year, but that fans would be able to hear singles before the end of 2022.
For now, Butler was concentrating on yet another epic performance at the “iconic” Reading & Leeds festival. Looking back at their last appearance in 2018, he recalled: “It was fantastic. That was our first time as this project. We were playing just a year into us being in existence, so it was an incredible crash course in being a band at a festival. We’d been in other bands before and done other things and my other band had played here multiple times, but there was something about bringing this project to this setting.
“At the time too, it was 2018 we were opening our eyes up to things that were happening around us a little bit more – understanding the things that need to change and the desires that people have. It was a pretty powerful position to be in, or at least feeling the power of this festival in this position as a band.”
So how do you live up to the legacy and expectation that comes with playing at Reading & Leeds?
“All you can do is give yourself up to it,” he replied. “All you can do is give yourself up to the crowd, the festival itself, the essence. That’s just what we did. We tried to offer something to it, rather than feeling like we necessarily deserve to be there. It was working for it.”
Watch our full interview above, where Butler tells us more of his Reading & Leeds memories, and thoughts on the festival’s infamous cuisine.