By: Brian Bavosa
As the door opens on a rainy Sunday afternoon in Athens, GA it is apparent that I have woken Brock Butler, co-founder of Perpetual Groove. He graciously welcomes me into his living room, has a seat on the couch, pets his dog, and struggles to adjust his eyes to the dim light filtering through the windows. He throws on his glasses, scratches his beard, and gathers his thoughts. Things start off slowly - Butler never seems to be in any rush - but eventually turn into a spirited discussion about his views on songwriting, lyrics, and PGroove's new album, LIVELOVEDIE (available March 6 on Treeleaf Music), the third with what Butler calls the "definitive lineup" of Matt McDonald (keys), Adam Perry (bass), Albert Suttle (drums), and himself.
Perpetual Groove by James Harris
It Starts Where It Ends
Perry met Butler back at the Savannah College of Art and Design in 1997, where they lived together and co-founded the band. Not much has changed since then, though Perry lives about a hundred yards away on the same street. McDonald also lives two doors down from Butler, bringing my total commute for these talks to less than two minutes, barely enough time to catch the end of the song playing on the radio, which is, appropriately enough, "Georgia On My Mind."
When Perpetual Groove was conceived, the original lineup was rounded out by Joe Stickney and Brett Hinton. The four compiled the Jungle Funk Demo and played around school during their freshman year. A year or so later, the four cut the first self-titled PGroove record in the school studios where Butler and Perry were engineering novices. A decade later their studio prowess is a monumental strength on LIVELOVEDIE.
Perpetual Groove by Gulledge
After a few years of gigging and having fun in Savannah, it became apparent that something had to give, and Joe and Brett eventually left to pursue other things. Enter McDonald and Suttle, who were both enrolled in the U.S. Army at the time, often playing gigs and reporting to duty immediately afterwards. McDonald recalls meeting his future bandmate while serving overseas, "The first time I met Albert we went out to a club, talked, and I think it was the very next day we went to the band hall. They did have very nice gear there. They had a beautiful Yamaha C-7 Grand for me to play. So, we went to the band hall and I think we played for a solid four or five hours. Just the two of us jamming." Shortly thereafter in Savannah, McDonald and Suttle joined Brock and Perry at an open mic night at JJ Cagney's, which would serve as their unofficial home during the "definitive" lineup's formative gigs. Perpetual Groove as we know it today was born.
Drifting Towards Antidotes
During this time, Butler held a Sunday night residency at the Mellow Mushroom, where future PGroove songs took shape and eventually landed on LIVELOVEDIE. Butler says, "The older ones are more when I was doing solo shows. I would have more time to work out little ideas and stuff. I don't really get as much time to do that anymore. So, some of the older songs like 'It Starts Where it Ends' would probably be one of the ones that was written the earliest out of this collection. I worked out a lot of it at a show and presented it to the group."
Brock Butler by Dave Vann
After deciding this quartet would attempt a serious go at things, they cut their first album together, 2003's Sweet Oblivious Antidote. It manages to capture the excitement of something new while focusing on the emotional orgasms that PGroove has become known for. Butler recalls, "Well, I think if you want to put it in perspective, on Sweet Oblivious we were very green to recording but we had a real good, fiery emotion at the time, and we caught it on record really well."
After touring a ton, the band recorded their second album, 2004's All This Everything. Butler says the band was somewhat awestruck when recording ATE, "I think we had a little more control of ourselves [on LIVELOVEDIE]. With All This Everything, we went in there and were like, 'Wow! Look at this studio!' We could have done anything in there. It wasn't as subjective an experience for us because we were all so excited to be in such a fancy studio. I think whatever came out of that control room we would have been like, 'Oh Yeah! Boy, this is awesome! Isn't this great?' This time, we had more of an idea in mind what we wanted because we had been there before. We weren't finding ourselves compromising. We knew certain things weren't as good as we wanted them to be, and we weren't in shock and awe of the presence of the studio."
Perpetual Groove by Gulledge :: 2004