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Exclusive download and interview: John Butler Trio’s “Revolution”

Exclusive download and interview: John Butler Trio’s “Revolution” (photo)

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Australian songwriter John Butler has five studio LPs and four live albums, which should tell you what you need to know about his aims: He thrives in the live environment, where his dialogue can engage, where his John Butler Trio can stretch and embolden his rock and where he can put a little more grit into anthems like “Revolution.” Indeed, “Revolution” is a call to continual action by the concerned citizens of the world and an acknowledgement that change can come gradually, if we keep it as a consistent aim. Download “Revolution,” taken from Butler’s new Live at Red Rocks set, here.
Butler plays Terminal 5 in New York tonight and tomorrow night. He’s on tour throughout September.

You’ve enjoyed a lot of international success, yet you’ve stayed in Australia. Why?
That’s just where my heart is; my heart’s in Australia. I’ve lived over east in Australia, and I spent a short time in New York. I spend a lot of time on the road– eight months sometimes on the road or a year. Australia is where my spirit feels the most at home. I’m not really interested in moving to New York, or London, or any other place to further my career. I leave home enough to further my career. I don’t need to completely move away from home.

Every time you leave, what’s the hardest part? What’s the best thing about returning?
It’s hard to leave home and leave my family, but luckily, we travel together a lot–me, my kids and my wife. I’m meeting them in five days in New York, and then we travel. I’ve been away for three weeks, but we travel for the next month and a half together. We have a family assistant; she’s also a qualified teacher, so she teaches our children on the road. We try to stay tight in one way or another, physically or emotionally.
Leaving them doesn’t get easier; it just gets harder. The best thing about coming home is about a week after I get home. I can settle. It takes about a week for everything to settle again. We’re annoying each other, me and my wife, for about a week, and then it’s all back to normal. The best thing about home is really just being with family–going out in the garden, making tree houses, lighting a fire in the back yard. It’s the simple things that are often the best.

Do you write best at home or on the road?
I definitely get a lot of writing done when I’m at home, but I also get a lot of writing done when I’m on the road. Inspiration can come at any time. When I have enough time off, lots of songs will come, and when I’m off the road, they come quite rapidly. But they come regularly whether I’m on the road or off the road. Things get into my mind, and they’re like little spirits that want to have a life. They choose to have a life through music.

Tell me about the song “Revolution.” How old is it, and what inspired it?
It’s a couple years old. In my country, like yours, often it’s hard not to look around and feel like there’s something happening on a global level. A lot of it’s quite disturbing. It’s hard not to look around and try to ask the questions, “Does anybody see the insanity that’s going around at the moment? Is it just me, or has anyone else seen this craziness, this madness of destruction, whether through war or killing people through the economy?”
Countries are starving because of the World Trade Organization or the World Bank or from mining the hell out of the world. My state is completely infested with mining companies that are basically digging holes everywhere and are disenfranchising people in the process. When I look at all this stuff, it’s quite overwhelming. As a citizen of the world, it doesn’t feel natural, and it doesn’t feel right.
The song is an observation of those things and trying to find some redemption in it. It’s so overwhelming to be completely surrounded by that feeling all the time; I had to find some redemption and to take back the definition of revolution. The word has been completely manipulated by moneymakers, whether it’s the Pepsi revolution or the digital revolution or the revolution in new underwear. Whatever it is, the revolution is completely impotent. So I had to find out what revolution meant to me.
Revolution looks like evolution with an “r” in front of it. Having to look around, and seeing what’s happening on the planet, I try to focus on the good things and realize that revolution, although it’s extremely slow and painful, is underway as we speak. It’s not something that’s going to come around one day; it’s happening as we speak, but it’s just happening very tediously.

I’ve been reading this book by another Australian thinker, Paul Gilding. It’s called The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World, and it’s about the revolution the world will soon face. Is Australia on a vanguard of these sorts of politics, or the opposite?
I don’t think Australia is on the vanguard of anything. We pollute more than America per capita; we’re fucking shocking. I wouldn’t even call myself an environmentalist, or a socialist, or political activist. I’m just a human being who sees the world and goes, ok, “What’s the safest, cleanest, most sustainable and respectful way to go about this? And that’s common sense.” You want to mine some land and do it in a way that’s environmentally sound, economically sound, that’s–in a community sense, in a social sense, in a cultural sense–sound and sustainable, I don’t have a problem with it. The problem is, at the moment, our countries are run by multinational companies that aren’t a part of any country. They are completely beyond it–the roving, clandestine, fucking multinational companies. They are interested in how we can get our crap, and our junk, and our drugs that we’re addicted to, in the form of oil and iron ore and whatever else, as quickly as possible without having to be responsible for it. It’s cheaper; they’ll cut any corners to do that.
I see that insanity, and as a human being, I have a problem with it because it doesn’t make sense. It wasn’t how I was brought up, and I don’t think it’s how most of us were brought up. We were brought up to respect people. We were brought up to clean up after ourselves. We were brought up to, if you break something, fix it; if it’s going to run out really quickly, then replace it. Yet our leaders and these organizations don’t go by those rules at all. There’s a fundamental problem in how the system that we live in is running. It’s not sustainable. Songs like “Revolution” and “One Way Road” are just me trying to make sense of this.

What do you hope songs like that accomplish? Are they part of a movement, or are they meant to inspire one?
I definitely think it’s part of a movement, and it has the power to manipulate, or at least move, people emotionally. Great art does that, whether it’s political or not. You can definitely move people through art, and this is the power of art. That’s why advertisers, corporations and politicians have used music for a long time. It moves the masses. I think music can be part of a positive change on the planet, whether you sing about revolution or not.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.