Back in 1979, Nick Lowe titled his classic album (featuring the smash hit Cruel To Be Kind) Pure Pop For Now People. He might as well have been describing the timeless breath-of-fresh-pop air that is Butch Berry Band, and his new CD Unlimited. 13 tasty pieces of radio ear candy, dressed up in punchy, crunchy arrangements, crisp-as-lettuce vocals, and thought-provoking, get-under-your-skin lyrics prove Berry has learned from the best and is insuring his own place in pop heaven. Citing Cheap Trick, Jellyfish, XTC, Foo Fighters, and Elvis Costello among his many diverse influences, its those famous four mop-tops who have paved the 27 year-old Berrys winding road. Its a refreshing and mature tip of the hat to what still resonates today, given the resurgence of Beatles popularity over the last few years.
"The Beatles are just a huge influence on every aspect of my writing: from the guitar, bass, drums, arrangements and melodies," Berry explains. "I love the way they do three-part harmonies, counter melody harmonies. It gives a song such a boost. I dont think we hear enough of that today."
Berry grew up in the industrial suburb of Fremont, CA, right outside of San Francisco. His dad, a music store manager, was a musician and singer himself. It didnt take long for the younger Berry to follow in his fathers footsteps. When most kids were picking up bats after school, the ten year-old Berry and his chum Charles Campbell, (who has produced and played drums on all of Berrys CDs) found other toys right at home. "My dad was in bands and had practice at our house, so all the instruments were there. Charles and I would play all the instruments until we found what we were best at."
Berry spent the next decade honing his chops recording demos, playing at parties and school functions until he turned 16 and could play in clubs. In 1992, he sent a tape to Joey Gmerek at Hit And Run publishing in NY, who flew out to see the band and offered him a three song development deal, and an opportunity to work with Matt Winegar (Primus.) This led to indie deals with Cobra and Spinrecords and multiple #1 slots on mp3.com.
When his childhood musician friends went onto pursue their solo careers or a family life, Berry took to the net and found his dream band on a free service called Craigslist. "The guys are really cool and want it just as badly as I do," he says. "They participate in all the band responsibilities and are eager to offer their services, which is really rare."
Berry wrote all the songs and played all the instruments on Unlimited except drums. He financed the entire album as well. Songwriting is the fuel that drives him. "I hear the melody/rhythm/beat of the song in my head and then I have to sit down to find the chords around it," Berry explains. "As I sing the melody, words just flow out. They may just be sounds. The real words come last, and I have to really think about what I want to say. Sometimes its about how good or how bad a relationship makes me feel; sometimes its inspirational thoughts about improving life. I find that I have to complete the whole song in about an hour, or else I lose the flow of the story."
Berry has many stories to tell. In Same Breath, he fantasizes about actress Rose McGowan, after meeting her at a friends wedding in LA. " She was cute, we hit it off, but I didnt talk to her again. Her movies started coming out, and I was starstruck. Hence, the line: I watch you play your part so well/ it gets to being where I see what youll unveil. That was before she met Marilyn Manson," he quips.
Berry digs deep on cuts like the We Two, and the haunting Butterfly. But it is on the anthemesque I Want To Be that Berry shows the world what hes really got going on, as he declares: I want to be...and so I am. "I went into the Sacred Grounds Caf? in San Francisco one night, and I listened to one songwriter after another singing about how awful life was and how the government is out to get you," Berry says. "I just thought they could change their lives and their perceptions any time they wanted. It was inspired a lot by the book Conversations With God, which I was reading during that period."
This single-minded drive to create and execute his vision has permeated every aspect of Berrys career thus far. Recently, he received a Wammie nomination, SFs equivalent of the Grammys, and has been a finalist for VHIs Rock Across America and Ed McMahons Next Big Star on PAX. Berry has appeared on Bay TVs The Show and FOXs Local Only. He was a featured performer in 2002 for Nadines Wild Weekend, the biggest musical showcase in Northern California and was one of 16 artists selected to be on a compilation CD, which was sold at Bay Area Tower Records. Berry was included in the promoters list of Top 50 bands for International Pop Overthrow, one of the largest popfests in the world.
"The Butch Berry Band blasts forth with a gripping control of pop formula that ekes of fresh fruit and sunny days."
-Bruce Brodeen - Notlame Records
"A positive and romantic rock attitude thats refreshing and uplifting. Butch sings with lots of passion and great harmonies, his guitars are sexy and electric."
- Thrill Racer Zine
"Butch Berry could make Matthew Sweet blush like a chubby little schoolgirl on pharmaceuticals. If you happen to like intelligent, existential lyrics behind round acoustic guitar tones and soaring vocals that make Jellyfish sound like the singer for Crash Test Dummies, Berry is your man."