In a world that seems to be sitting on a knife's edge, Fever 333 are here to offer a musical molotov cocktail to spark the rebellion. Forged in 2017 out of a desire to create change, both musical and societal, Fever 333 rallies around a mission of "art as activism", carrying with them both the capacity and the desire to disrupt the status quo. Fronted by the ball of frenetic energy and inspiration that is ex-letlive. frontman Jason Aalon Butler, who is joined in the counter-cultural trenches by Stephen Harris (The Chariot) and Aric Improta (Night Verses), Fever 333 seeks to leave an indelible imprint everywhere they go.
So far, in their short existence, they've left several marks. Inspiring change, one 'demo' at a time. Their impact has been felt on the streets of their hometown where they announced themselves to the world with an unpermitted 'D333MONSTRATION' to the main stages of some of the world's biggest and most far-flung festivals and perhaps most crucially, in the heart of the community that they seek to help with their mission. Standing alongside the people, they regularly participate in activism with a focus on community, charity and change. Butler's Walking In My Shoes Foundation benefits organisations that generate empathy, understanding and change within the communities they serve. Following the tragic murder of George Floyd, Jason spent 13 days in the streets as he marched on the frontlines of rebellion in L.A. On the 14th day, he came home and wrote what would become the 2020 EP, Wrong Generation.
When you're making that much noise underground, the mainstream has no choice but to investigate the rumble and the title track of their debut EP Made An America scored a 2019 GRAMMY Award nod for Best Rock Performance, with their first full-length Strength in Numb333rs proving the world was more than ready to listen, notching up over 60 million streams. Collaborations with everyone from Poppy to RUN-D.M.C, to Vic Mensa, Papa Roach and Travis Barker have followed, opening up new audiences to the message. Those audiences have responded by selling out headline D333MONSTRATIONS across the world and by throwing themselves into the chaos of their sets at Lollapalooza South America, AfroPunk, Reading, Download UK, Download AU, Park Live Moscow, and Japan's Fuji Rock Festival.
In 2022 it is once again Australia's turn to hear Fever 333's call, when the band stage a D333MONSTRATION at the Good Things Festival in December. In the wake of the Good Things Festival announcement, we caught up with Jason Aalon Butler for an inspirational conversation about using music as a platform for change in the community; gaining clarity on the symbiotic relationship between Fever 333's art and their activism and significant insight into what makes him tick.
Jason Aalon Butler, you're finally bringing Fever 333 back to Australia in December. Are you excited to be playing at the Good Things Festival?
"I am. I have an affinity for Australia, particularly playing music down there. It was always this sort of like, fantastical, enchanted romantic idea to go down under and play music. I remember my initial experiences there when I was in my other band, letlive., were just so amazing and it has just kept carrying on to now. So I'm stoked."
My first encounter with you was actually via letlive. One of the first things I saw you do was crowd surf inside of a wheelie bin from the front to the back of a festival. So you set the bar pretty high, early on and you've continued to raise it with every visit. So I guess I'm kind of curious as to how you're going to one-up yourself on this trip?
"I truly have no clue what will happen or could happen. So I think that helps me sustain the excitement of performance. So I don't know. But I have something in me that tells me because we've been waiting for so long to congregate in such a manner that there'll be a springboard somewhere for me to do something that at the very least I will remember forever.
There's a heavy political element to Fever 333, that people are really engaging with. You're running with the concept of it being art as activism, and it feels like the messages you're preaching are really starting to cut through. Do you feel like you're making a genuine impact with Fever 333?
"Yes, I do. After having done this particular project for a few years now, I feel that my place in all of this is to offer some form of catalyst and be almost like a flint for people to be able to do what they want to do. To participate in change. To participate in activism. We're offering a type of representation, but also sort of almost a funnel into their version of activism."
"I think that's where I've found my place to be. I'll continue to do what I do, the way I do it, no matter what. Whether that's in music, or my own personal life, whether I'm in a band or not, I'll continue to do what I think I need to do to be part of the greater change that I want to see. And I think that if I can facilitate an environment where people feel like they can be included, where they feel like they can participate in a way that is significant. Sometimes you don't need to be armed, you don't need to be a guerilla militia to change things, sometimes it's just a matter of changing yourself. If I'm able to foster this idea that people can do so, by changing something as simple as the way they think, then I think that is a good place to be. "
One thing that is quite compelling when you see Fever 333 live is just how diverse the audience that is drawn to what you're doing is. To see the way that the music seems to be bridging subcultural and cultural divides is quite inspiring. Is it rewarding as an artist to see your message and your music connecting in that way?
"Yeah, I started to bifurcate my position in what I do, right? There's my art and there's my culture. I wanted to create a conduit and a connection outside of my art, with the art that I enjoy. So particularly black people in rock music or POC people in alternative music, like outsiders in a genre, or a subculture that has touted itself for its openness for so long, but actually hasn't been as open as it claimed to be, historically speaking."
"I've really tried to make sure that I offer not only sonic appeasement but also cultural, comfort, you know? I want people to feel comfortable entering into these spaces, and not only comfortable but represented as well. That's kind of where I exist. I kind of walk the line. Being mixed and coming from one area, but then, you know, existing in this, this other one with rock music, even though my first love is rap and funk. So I try to authentically offer a taste of everything that I am and hope that it speaks to not just one or two different types of people, but a myriad of people."
Fever 333's releases to date have all done a really good job of infusing those somewhat disparate primary influences of rap, funk, hardcore and punk into a definitive sound. You've managed to retain a sense of cohesiveness, while still keeping the audience on their toes by introducing and exploring new elements. Is it fun being able to work in that way?
"For sure! If I'm being super honest and as transparent as I can be. For better or worse I'm trying to define a new genre. I'm trying to create a lane that does sit somewhere in that space between rock music and rap music. It sits in the middle. I don't mean rap rock, I mean, this authentic like West Coast, gangster rock shit, like, that's really what I'm on. And I think that, for me, what I really started to see clearly over the last few years and understand, was that I was never designed to be an accomplice of one genre."
"I was never built to slot in with something that's already been created, I needed to create a new mould for me to fit into, and bring as many people as I can with me. Bring in as many people as would like to be involved with me. That's what I've been doing, is just really trying to find the space that I fit in. And I think that there are a lot of people in the world that feel that way. And I think that this music and this idea and this essence can really offer a comfortable environment for those people."
That's particularly evident in your latest release Wrong Generation. One thing I noticed when listening to it is just how impactful both the caustic side and the smoother sides of your sound are. When you speak about wanting to blend together the world of rap and rock in a true fashion, is part of that vision attitudinal? Is it about bringing that intense swagger to the delivery, no matter the musical mode?
"100% and to be completely honest, it's not like any motherfucker can just do it. You can't really appropriate that attitude or that culture. You'll just be found out. You can't really fake the funk. There's plenty of rappers out there that frontin' we know, and you know, that's all part of an act. Then there's like gangsta rap and there's like real authentic hip-hop music, where you won't get past the preliminary rounds if you're frontin'. "
"For me, I really think that that's something that rocket rock music could use because rock music used to be like that too. Roc music was an inspirationally dangerous and confronting genre and culture. I think that it shares a lot of DNA with early rap music and a lot of current rap music, too. Right now there's a lot of rap music that's pushing boundaries in other ways that rock hasn't in a while, or that it used to or whatever."
"If there's a headline to be taken from this whole thing, I think it is that the breath of survival of rock music is breathed by rap, I really do. I think that the rescue breath of rock music is going to come from a genre outside of rock and then create this new iteration of rock music, because that is what rock was, to begin with. We had chain gangs, we had blues, then we had rock, then we had hard rock, then we had metal and heavy metal and punk rock and hardcore, it all evolved. So we're standing at the precipice of this, this next ape of rock music, right? You know, like, we're watching it stand up and become bipedal. And now rock music is gonna grab a tool and become something new."
Outside of music, Jason, what are you a Maniac for, what in this world can't you get enough of?
"My family, that's a type of inspiration I didn't know could exist. It has informed every single decision, and not in that sort of surface level, you know, almost cliched answer that, like, "I do everything for my family", which I do, but what I mean is that, every decision I make, has to benefit my family, mainly my children. And when I say that, I mean it like if it benefits my children, it's going to benefit your children or the generation to come. The future of this planet has to benefit from my decisions. So that's what I mean when I say the inspiration that I get from my family. Primarily, that's really what I'm saying. That's helped me become a better musician, a more efficient worker, a more compassionate person overall. My family, that's the most important thing to me outside of music or, you know, right right alongside music to be honest."
That absolutely comes through too in everything that you do. You can see that you're so proud of your family. Also, it would be remiss of me not to say that your other half, Gin, is one of the best singers going around!
"She is the actual best. She is quite literally, the best! Low key, she knows this, but I can't say it coz she'll never let me live it down, but I was a fan first! I was trying to get her band to introduce me to her before we met!"
Okay, now I have to ask, is this an accurate description of how the two of you first met? That you were crowd surfing during a set at a festival and you literally knocked her off her feet?
"I'm gonna keep it super real. I was doing my thing, I was feeling pretty good about myself at the time. It was a hot day, in Las Vegas at the Vans Warped Tour, and I already had my shirt off. I didn't take it off to go and talk to her. So then I went with my little six-pack activated and I walked up and tried to talk to her and she just straight curved me. She said "oh yeah, thanks mate" and I was like "oh my god". At that moment I was like "it is what it is". But then I just so happened to become friends with her band, the guys who play in her band, and a couple of them were fans of letlive. at the time. They were like "you have to come and see this band" and I don't think that she knew that it was the guy that tied to talk to her all sweaty and shirtless in Las Vegas."
"Then she came to see me and just like thought that the performance was cool. So we just started talking on an artist's level. I really loved what she was doing and she loved what I was doing, and, you know, shortly after, I was just hoping that she would have children with me."
Well, you must have done something right, coz she did exactly that!
You see, there's hope for us all out there, you know?
Gin's from New Zealand, and I know you've been out there quite a bit. Have you enjoyed getting to know the culture?
"I love it. We've got some unofficial family, that are just straight island boys. One of them is like my heart, he's like the version of me from New Zealand. He's half-Tongan. Every time I go down to New Zealand, either these people are speaking Maori to me, or they're asking me if I'm half-Maori or Tongan or Samoan. I think in another life, I think that I probably was from New Zealand or was from somewhere in that oceanic region, for sure. On an island somewhere. I love it."
If you could have a song play anytime you entered a room, pro-wrestling style, what song would like it to be and why?
Probably California Love, that feels like it would be great
My last question is more of a challenge. Pitch yourself to the Good Things audience. Why should people spend their time watching Fever 333 instead of watching these other acts?
"If they want to experience something that is attempting to give them a new type of experience. If they're trying to experience music, let's say namely alternative music in a new way, then that's what we're attempting to do. If they're trying to find a place for representation, that offers a type of emotional freedom, as well as a type of ideological freedom. That's what we're trying to do. Overall, we really do try to offer one of the best live performances in the game. So if any or all of those things appeal to you. I'd say pull up to a Fever 333 demo!"
Shop for Fever 333 Merch
Good Things Festival 2022 tickets are on sale now.
Listen to Fever 333