There’s a lot of things that are great about Seattle rock quartet Bread & Butter but one of the things I love the most is that they don’t take themselves too seriously. Emphasizing good music and good times, they don’t concern themselves with silly things like “plans” or “strategy” (luckily, they have local label Killroom Records to help out with some of that). As long as they’ve got their instruments in one hand and chilled beer in the other, they’re good to go.
Which is a good thing right now, since the entire music industry is in limbo while we wait to see how long the social distancing order will be in effect due to COVID-19. Originally slated for release on April 17 but now pushed back to summer, or whenever a show can be scheduled, the band is releasing their anticipated follow-up to 2017's self-titled debut, Psycho World. An apt title to describe this completely bonkers situation Earth is in right now.
“I can't believe that when we finished recording and mixing last summer that I wanted to try and release the record in October of 2019,” says drummer and self-proclaimed “band mom” Mason Lowe. “I thought that by springtime, the world would probably be less psycho and the album would seem outdated. Nope!”
Today, KEXP is excited to unveil the video for the lead single and title track off the record. A prime example of the band’s effortlessly fun and over-the-top goofiness, the video sees Shane Herrell, Ryan Kraft, Lars Swenson, and Mason Lowe set in a wacky psychedelic universe of aliens, giraffes, and some kickass kung fu moves. It’s a classic clip from filmmaker Daisy Heroin (aka Haunted Horses’ Colin Dawson), who’s known for his kaleidoscopic fever dream films and music videos.
“We are the psycho world now/ You are not what you seem/ All you hear is laughter/ When you want to scream,” chants Herrell over a fuzzy guitar line, intoning how pretty much all of us are feeling right now. As the drums kick in, the energy swells to feverish levels with a wall of distorted guitar strums amping up and up only to break for a slackened and catchy-as-hell Strokes-ian chorus. By the second listen, I was already singing along with utter joy. A perfect song.
Below, watch the video for “Psycho World” and read an interview with Lowe, who delves into the making of the video, how they’re handling life during COVID-19, and why they’ll never stop being the fun party band.
KEXP: Where did the idea for the video for “Psycho World” come from?
Mason Lowe: The idea for the video was all Colin's (Colin Dawson aka Daisy Heroin). We shot it in Lars' basement. Colin set up a green screen and just had us goof around - which we're good at. He took the footage home and worked his magic. With a title like "Psycho World," you can kinda do anything. And Colin did... EVERYTHING. Flames shooting out of Shane's eyes? Check. Killer whales in space? There's three of 'em!
I love the way the visuals switch from scary and intense in the verses to fruity and intense when the chorus comes in. It really captures the tension and release of the song.
How would you describe your journey as a band from your much-loved 2017 debut record to now, with Psycho World?
How have the last three years been for you? It's been a pretty wild ride for everyone, right? I don't know if I'd describe the last few years as a journey. We're just four doofuses living in strange times and writing songs about it.
The title track for the new record is more psychedelic than anything you’ve put out thus far. Is that emblematic of how the whole record sounds?
There are definitely some new sounds and rhythms on this record, but it's not a massive departure from the first one. We're not like, supremely talented musicians. We're not capable of switching up our style very much. I like to imagine that there's someone out there that dug the first record, but wished it was a little weirder. That person is going to be super stoked on this album.
Are there any overall lyrical themes that you focused on for the new record?
This question assumes a level of planning that just doesn't exist on Planet Bread & Butter. But looking back, I guess there is a theme. Even when a song is bopping along and sounds like a lot of fun, the lyrics will at least hint at the downside of a good time. And that's my influence. I'm a natural worrier and I write a lot of the lyrics. Each band should have at least one worrier.
You gained this reputation early on being a fun, rowdy, party band. Obviously, no one’s partying right this moment but do you see yourselves continuing that vibe and idea for the long-term with this band?
Oh, absolutely yes! Like I said, we're not musically capable of doing anything else. When you've got the combination of Shane's voice and everyone's playing, our tastes, our styles; it all comes out sounding like Bread & Butter. The song "Psycho World" was a deliberate attempt to make something different. But even when we put down our beers and try to make some over-the-top apocalyptic nightmare song, it still has that element of dumb fun. We just can't help it!
We are most definitely are living in a “Psycho World” right now so I’d be remiss to not ask how the band is handling everything going on with COVID-19. How have you been coping and what have you all been doing to keep yourselves busy?
This is hard on everyone. Some of the guys have been laid off and nobody knows where this is all headed. I work at an organization which serves a lot of homeless elders and other people who are really struggling. I'm lucky to have a job but this is tough stuff. That said, I think the four of us are coping OK.
Even though we can't practice or play shows, being in this band is still one of the best things in my life right now. Whenever one of us needs a lift, we have each other. We've got a group text thread that it getting a LOT of use these days. We can mix it up and talk trash and goof on each other. We love each other. We've all known each other for a long time. We're lucky to have each other right now.
What do you miss most about playing shows and, once this is all over, which venue would you want to play first?
At a really good show - not every show - there's a vibe where the performance feels completely natural and effortless. And that only happens when the band and the crowd are on the same wavelength. It feels amazing and it keeps us going. That's what I miss most. That and when clubs just put a big cooler of beers in the green room - very civilized and convenient.
Hard to say which venue we'd want to play first. But the Clock Out is our local place and we've got friends who worked so hard to get it up and running. I'd love to wrap up the quarantine with a great big super fun blow-out at the Clockout.
Pre-order Psycho World, available on a limited edition “Psycho Pink” colored vinyl, on Bandcamp. Physical copies will also be available on Record Store Day (June 20th). Watch Bread & Butter’s KEXP in-studio performance from 2017 below.
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