Osiris Interview Series – Matt Butler

While Seth and Rob were in the midst of a memorable weekend of male bonding at Electric Forest last summer, they were able to huddle with Matt Butler in a backstage room in a far corner of the festival and record an interview that Osiris has kindly allowed Inside Out wTnS to use for its own program. First, Seth and Rob talk about the late Ricky Keller, a brilliant Atlanta musician who used to “conduct” the Zambiland Orchestra in the 90s and early 00’s. They see this as a precursor to Matt’s Everyone Orchestra. Butler essentially conducts a rotating cast of musicians to present a wildly spontaneous performance in a similar fashion to how Keller would with the Zambiland Orchestra. Matt talks early in the interview about the one time he was A MEMBER OF the Zambiland Orchestra, a moment we at Inside Out wTnS see in retrospect as a major passing of the improvisational torch. The hosts peel back the layers and learn how Butler got EO off the ground, how he initially got musicians to “buy into” what he was doing with EO, how he goes into each show with a clean slate, and how “the spirit lives in the dynamics.” He also talks about the varying excitement between working with musicians for the first time, and about how most eventually get into the spirit. However, he also talks about the benefit of creating with musicians with whom he has worked many times as things can get rolling from a more advantageous standpoint. Butler makes clear he is not “telling people what to do, he is humbly asking them to bring their presence and to allow him to respond to their inputs.” He also relates specific experiences about working with Adrian Belew and Phil Lesh. Butler grew up in Eugene and his Mother had worked with the de factor Eugene Mayor Of The Bolos and Bozos, and he relates much insight on this legendary man. Butler did get to explain Everyone Orchestra to Kesey when it was still just a thought, and Kesey was delighted by the idea. Butler recalls how his previous main band, Jambay (a jamband with the name “jam” in it who existed before the name was coined) won a talent show at a Kesey event, and in turn almost opened up for The Grateful Dead. Matt also talks about how he was able to bring his improvisational ethos into the studio, and the result was the cd, Brooklyn Sessions.