The Butterflies of Love
The Butterflies of Love played my local pub, the Jug of Ale, a few years ago. They were delicate, though they undoubtedly rocked. They seemed to have serious intent, yet played wearing a diving mask. They sold me an LP at the end of the gig – “How to know the Butterflies of Love” – which I played constantly for a year, confidently telling people, “The new Galaxie 500, honest! The next LP will be quietly massive!” – you know, like the new Silver Jews LP was lauded, and got plenty of press, because it followed in the Will Oldham/Pavement/Luna vein which we’re all suckers for over here.
But then – nothing! A single on Fortuna Pop eventually emerged, but I just thought it was a ‘thanks and so long’ before releasing an LP on Domino or some other bastion of cool.
Then, suddenly I see that they’re back, playing the Jug again. I get excited, jump on me bike, and attempt to grab a few words. In-between mouthfuls of balti, the band managed to answer a couple of questions before going off to watch the support bands: no skulking in the dressing room for these boys. Cool.
Who are the butterflies of love?
Pete: bass; sporting a wonderful handlebar moustache as in Easy Rider.
Scott: piano; well, I’d say ‘keys and effects’, but what do I know.
Neil: drums; Pet Sounds t-shirt, and very sweet smile as he nods along to the tunes when playing.
Geoff: singing and guitar; and answerer of most of my questions.
Dan: singing, guitar playing; and off chatting – so we didn’t really meet.
Where are you from?
Northeast USA. Connecticut, sort of, but all over, really. Geoff and Dan met at college, the rest of us all met in Newhaven. But we live all over the state and just meet up for the band. We actually met Neil over the internet [I giggle at this, but it passes without further comment, so I guess it must be normal thing to do?]
Only Neil, he drummed in Van Pelt, a fairly successful band. [I give them a blank look] They were more rock… yeah, we’re all old rockers really!
So, are sad songs easier to write?
Honest songs are the easiest to write.
It seems that a lot of your songs are beautifully downbeat.
They just come naturally, as an outlet for who I am. This isn’t some fantasy band where we set out to write one kind of song. We don’t manipulate anything – maybe if we did, we’d be in a better position. The LP was finished over a year ago, but it just didn’t happen, so we’re staying with Fortuna Pop. They brought us over here, and got us the gigs, and
released the first LP, so hey – we’re sticking by them! [This is said with a tinge of regret in the air - I don't pry any further, but I get the feeling that they hoped a bigger label would get on board. I feel a bit embarrassed here, and try to change the subject. And so, after a little rambling about colours, we get onto sport]
So, what’s your sport?
How many teeth have you lost?
I lost a couple; Geoff has lost loads. [They have good dentists in America - I can hardly tell!]
The Butterflies of Love sound like the most hippyish band you could hope to meet, but they play one of the most violent sports on the planet! They seem happy with the ‘lo-fi’ scene which they inhabit, and come across as genuinely thrilled to be playing in England to such receptive crowds. Yet you can tell they would like to be bigger. They tell me that tonight was a good gig, and the crowd is bigger then they usually play to in the states (this crowd is only about 70-80). However, an air of underachievement, whilst sounding cool in the press (and scoring max indie cred points), is not so good when the band constantly mumble about being on a tight budget.
If they can keep the money worries at bay, they should be playing for many years to come. The set is described as ‘inspirational’ by Dave from the Reverends, and as ‘special’ by the promoter, Arthur, who having seen more gigs than is strictly healthy, doesn’t get easily by moved much these days! Personally, I sway with my eyes closed, blocking out distractions, and letting a wash of reverbed guitars and plaintive vocals sooth my broken heart.
“I’m not an anarchist doesn’t mean I won’t blow up buildings for you” recalls the lost thrill of the first mad rush of love, and I swoon so much I spill my pint – and don’t mi nd! I just grin, lost in a world where such music is playing on the radio, this back room gig is instead in a stadium, and the Butterflies of Love get the respect they quietly crave.