Brandon Butler is a Calhoun County native who has been playing in bands or performing at church since his teenage years. After a couple of decades of starts and stops, his career is rolling with true momentum. He’s playing all the familiar haunts and booking venues outside his hometown. His energy and emotional delivery are his trademarks. He feels ready to begin marketing himself to bigger halls to play his original songs in his voice.
Q: I know you’ve been playing in Anniston for a long time, but it seems like right now the timing is right. What do you think the difference is?
A: I’m hungry. I’m just out there working hard and I think that’s the difference. It does feel like a perfect storm though, and at this point it just feels like a movement. I’m not saying that in a conceited kind of way, but people are just latching on to me and they enjoy the work I put in.
Q: Your stage show is coming together with a lot of emotion and endless energy. What is the fuel for that kind of passion?
A: Red Bull (laughs). No, but seriously, my thing is what I’m doing right now is all kinds of sets. I’ll do 60 covers a night, and when I do a cover song and try to learn a new song, it’s like I could pick it and play it with no emotion — or I could make it my own. And if I don’t make it my own song, I can’t enjoy it. When I enjoy it, I can just project it out. I think that gives off a lot of energy and I think people feel that.
Q: Let’s talk about your new song, “Prisoner.” It’s very powerful. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
A: I’ve gone through a lot of struggles over the years and, as far as songs that I write, I do like them to be open to the listener’s interpretation, but I will say that song to me is about facing your fears and riding up against whatever it is in your life that makes you feel indifferent. For me, I could’ve been described as being in a deep depression. I hate to put it that way, but as far as writing goes it inspires you. I’d get in my notepad and use that as a way out. So that’s what I think that song is for me.
Q: Right now how would you describe your artistic identity?
A: I’m from the South so I’m raised on that old gut-wrenching Southern gospel, country, rock, and I’ve played it all. My influences are Johnny Cash, Chris Stapleton and Skynyrd. I’m from the South so I like the soul and music that has something to say. I enjoyed punk rock and heavy metal because it had something to say and it had an attitude. I’m not your normal fish, so I want to kind of swim upstream.
Q: You touched on growing up in the South and going to church. Is that going to play into future shows and your songwriting?
A: Man, I was a Bible Belt kid, I was beat with a Bible belt (laughs). My faith is strong and there’s always that influence. God’s always a part of me, but I’m not a “beat you over the head with Christianity” man. I respect everyone. For me it does play into in my songwriting. I’ve written worship music over the years; I’ve written gospel music. I like to write songs so that it moves you.
Q: Do you remember the first show you ever played?
A: The first show I ever played was in 1996 or ’97. … It was with a band called Gray and we won a T-shirt at a battle of the bands at Zinn Park.
Q: At what point will you feel like your career is successful?
A: The only way I could describe this is, at 18 I wanted to be a rock star and wanted to be famous. If I could look at that person now, I would tell them that’s not successful. I think success is waking up, working your body until you can’t see, and then going to bed at night feeling accomplished. I think the point when I’ll feel success is when I can lay down at night and I’m making money while I’m asleep.
Q: How do you like to spend your free time?
A: I’m a family man so I love to hang with my kids. The other part of my free time is messing around with instruments: guitar, drums or piano. The flip side of that is I love video games. I’m a big arcade head and we build arcades, so I’m really into that.
Q: What is your favorite song to play that you didn’t write?
A: “Simple Man” from Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Larry May is the owner of CD Cellar record store on Noble Street in downtown Anniston.