Eschewing regular gigging routes in favour of local coffee houses, Butcher Boy reinforce their reputation as Scottish indie’s great new hope. Camilla Pia swoons
With corporate indie currently riding high in the charts and flash in the pan, fashion-obsessed tykes pervading the blogs, Butcher Boy are more than a breath of fresh air. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of their musical company, first album Profit in Your Poetry is packed full of gorgeous indie pop offerings complete with sumptuous strings and compelling storytelling and was released to critical acclaim earlier this year – its magnificence soon spreading by word of mouth.
However, the Glasgow-based septet’s singer and principal songwriter John Blain Hunt reckons it’s a surprise to hear that it almost wasn’t released at all.
‘For a long time I didn’t let anyone hear these songs and I was sick with nerves before putting the album out,’ explains the warm and softly spoken chap. ‘The core of the stories were very personal and based on things that actually happened to me so I felt awkward about people I knew being able to listen to them . . . it’s almost like letting them read your diary. I had to have a good hard think about it but I’ve been really pleased that it’s been described as genuine and heartfelt because that is the most important thing to me.’
Inspired by Morrissey, George Orwell, Robert Forster, Will Oldham and various films, books and comic strips, Hunt put Butcher Boy together in 2005 with ‘a great mix of personalities’ in order to ‘create something beautiful’. As he goes on to explain, it ended up being quite a cathartic experience.
‘Recording the album was emotional,’ he says, ‘because a lot of the songs had come from unpleasant feelings which were then turned into something positive that I was incredibly proud of. It was a real period of reflection for me.
‘I didn’t learn the guitar to play other people’s stuff,’ he adds, ‘I did it to write my own and this band is really just about people who love music making pretty songs that mean something and approaching things a little differently.’
One example of such a venture is a set of unique performances in cafés around Glasgow this month.
‘I have a mild fascination with old fashioned Glasgow cafés,’ laughs Hunt. ‘Ages ago I had this idea of starting up a café club where we would go around them all and mark them out of ten so I thought I’d make a tour of it. It will be a really good chance for us to play songs from the next record in a nice, comfortable environment and I’d much rather do something like this that has a bit of thought and heart behind it than be herded in and out of all the usual venues.’
With a full band tour of the UK to follow in October, a new record due in springtime, Hunt’s diary is full for the forseeable future but is clearly relishing.
‘Musically, I now realise that I want to have a hook, a memorable melody and to make a statement in the first 20 seconds. For the last album I was nervous to try some things but this one will be even bolder in its honesty and integrity lyrically.’
Tchai Ovna, Glasgow, Thu 6 Sep; The Mad Hatter, Glasgow, Sun 9 Sep; Offshore, Glasgow, Wed 12 Sep; Bolshie, Glasgow, Sat 15 Sep; Tchai Ovna, Glasgow, Tue 18 Sep; Hitherto, Glasgow, Thu 20 Sep; Queen’s Café, Glasgow, Fri 21 Sep.