This article was initially published in our third edition of LDN magazine. You can read the full edition here.
Punk innovators Fever 333 released their debut single in summer 2017, and they’ve already clocked up a Grammy nom for Best Rock Performance, toured globally with Bring Me The Horizon, and put out their debut album Strength In Numb333rs via Roadrunner Records and 333 Wreckords.
That’s just the business chat though. Ashley Hall speaks with band frontman Jason Aalon Butler about continuing their politically-charged message, concepts behind the project, and on making the world a better place.
How do you feel about the quick rise to success for the band?
People always want change and to feel like they are represented in some way. We don’t take much credit for this idea or the movement that was already happening. The people had already cultivated it, so we’re just trying to be advocates and allies to the idea.
What inspired you to create the Fever 333 concept?
Since I was young, I’ve wanted to explain why my family, and people like me, see things the way we do. My whole sense of being is that sense of duality; being biracial and struggling with finding my identity growing up. I’ve been trying to find a place where I feel comfortable, and that’s Fever 333. When I was young, I didn’t understand how [social engineering] was operating. Now that I’m older and a little more well-read, I feel comfortable enough to speak objectively and experientially and ask people to extend some sort of empathy.
Do you feel as though you hip-hop and punk sound is a current reflection of American music?
The genre-less idea of musicianship is getting stronger. Being able to explore the world at a click of a button means we’re able to consume so many different styles of music. Being exposed to that, it’s almost inevitable that exposure will lead to acceptance. Especially with the youth right now, there’s a huge wave happening where they are crushing parameters and boundaries… it’s a beautiful and amazing thing how they are consuming, experiencing and creating music. I hope that [our music] speaks for them.
The three c’s in relation to Fever 333’s name are for community, charity and change. Do you feel have expressed these concepts?
That’s just the foundation. It’s being an example rather than just talking shit on stage. We have to demonstrate that in all of our movements, publicly, artistically and individually. We have things like the Walking In My Shoes Foundation charity that encourages empathy on issues we think are important and offers a platform for people to invest in their activism. Change is trying to be the thing that you want to see. The idea of community is trying to open up this whole thing that is Fever 333 to give everybody a place to feel safe and push the conversation forward, free of judgement and fear.
How would you say Fever 333’s commentary on community issues translates to the UK?
It’s all about power – what Fever 333 are representing is a sense of power that we all possess that can make change. The idea here is to empower people with what they are worth in their community. That’s what we carry when we go to Europe, Japan, Australia or South America, or wherever we go in the world.
Sonically, you’re very aggressive, especially the song ‘One of Us’ with the lyric “stand up or die on your knees”. Is this the only way forward for our society?
Yes, unfortunately. I do believe that you must stand up on your own two feet in some way, whether it just be trusting yourself, believing yourself or loving yourself enough to exercise your own voice and your desires. Exercise what you know to be true and your own way forward. You must have this investment in yourself to literally evolve forward. I think that lyric is as much the truth to me. We must find a way to stand up on our own two feet by ourselves, otherwise we’ve just been relegated by that power.
The track ‘Inglewood’ is much softer, poetic and interestingly placed on the record…
The whole idea with Fever 333 is to create a spectrum so wide that there are no parameters. I’m talking about my home, where and how I grew up, and offering an understanding of why I say the things I do. I hope that in my story, people find a sense of it in themselves. If nothing else, a way that I unabashedly discuss things that were beautiful and painful for me, so that song had to be a slower, more hip-hop, almost jungle/house beat. In our theories and ideals, I also want the music to be challenging and confronting. I want to be free and liberated and show that we can do what we want tastefully, and that we honour the craft that is music.
What would you say to people who have listened to the album?
Understand their power and how much it’s worth when they involve themselves in their community, in any sort of action that is beneficial for someone other than themselves. You can involve yourself in activism, in charity or a small group of people that want to see the change that you desire. First though, you have to understand the worth and power that you possess in order to catalyse the idea of change around you. We affect others around us and that if we continue to make decisions based only around ourselves, we will see detrimental consequences – that’s when then change starts.
Words by Ashley Hall.