GROWING UP WITH PERPETUAL GROOVE

By: Brian Bavosa


Perpetual Groove by James Harris
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.

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."


Perpetual Groove by Gulledge
2002
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.

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


Brock Butler by Dave Vann
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."

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."


Perpetual Groove by Gulledge :: 2004
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."

 
It's not really a message at all. It's three very huge words, and people define them for themselves. This is life right here - what you consider to be love, your views on death, and those things put together.
 
-Brock Butler on PGroove's new album, LIVELOVEDIE
Photo by by James Harris

To Shed Light
Discussion of the studio leads to talk about how for the first time many of the songs on LIVELOVEDIE were written in the studio with the collective input of every member. These include the yet-to-be-played-live "Dust" and "Save For One." Butler observes, "That's ["Save For One"] just another song we gave our best shot. The lyrics are very general. The last part I wrote on my way down to the studio. I didn't hit any lights or construction (which inspired the lyric):

There's few things as nice as an early morning drive
There's no construction and no lights
Save for one, the natural light of the day

"There's a lot to be said for having a nice, little drive in the morning, and not to be stuck in traffic," continues Butler, who pokes a little fun at me, saying, "But I guess you wouldn't know about that in New York City, huh?"

The band are quick to sing the praises of producer Robert Hannon (OutKast, Ludacris), who they first worked with on All This Everything. McDonald discusses another sign of their continued maturation, "We did for the first time what's called pre-production. We went into Tree Sounds Studios with just the four of us and Robert Hannon. Robert would be in the control room and the four of us would be out in the cave working on new songs. Basically, [we took] songs we hadn't even talked to each other about, just ideas we all had, and kind of pieced them together. Then, Robert became this fifth ear."

Mother Nature's Sons


Brock Butler by Dave Vann
Speaking to the Butler and McDonald, I am impressed by how clearly the vision for this album seems to be in their eyes. I can tell they care deeply about the new album, a departure from their previous efforts — musically, stylistically, and even environmentally. Recording in Paul Diaz's Tree Sound Studios in Atlanta, the band managed to make the album in an environmentally friendly way. The official press release reads:

"Perpetual Groove (PG) is taking a ground breaking, passionate approach to making music while leaving a positive impact on the environment, and setting an example for not just their fans, but the entertainment industry as a whole. PG is the first band to take extreme steps in making their products and business as environmentally friendly as possible. With LIVELOVEDIE... they have gone where no major labels has yet. The album is the first to be produced using renewable energies from the recording all the way down to the manufacturing having zero negative impact on our environment."

The packaging is made from 100-percent recyclable materials and soy inks, too. Butler says the environment is an important issue to the band but says, "A lot of these things we're being guinea pigs for, and we're able to do that. We're not in the biggest position, we're not on a major label, but we're willing to check out some alternative ways of doing things. Because everyone at Tree Sounds is so generous with their time they help facilitate a great many things. That just affords us the opportunity to do a lot of the things we're interested in anyway - the renewable energy resource being one of those."

 
We definitely wanted to make a different album. We didn't want a whole lot of jamming to take place. We were focused on writing good songs.

-Matt McDonald

 
Photo by Jake Krolick

Shifting Colors


Perpetual Groove by Jake Krolick
Along with caring about Mother Earth, the members of Perpetual Groove care about other issues affecting the world today, especially McDonald, who speaks of politics with unrivaled passion. He speaks just as passionately about the intentions behind PGroove's latest effort. "We definitely wanted to make a different album. We didn't want a whole lot of jamming to take place. We were focused on writing good songs," says McDonald.

Butler gives the impression they've grown up over the last few years. On the newer songs, he comments, "Even if they have the same emotion of our old music, the approach is kind of different. We've learned how do more. We've learned how to be more effective in a shorter amount of time within a song." He mentions "Mayday," another song written in the studio, "I sat down and wanted to write something heavy. I said we need something just (mimes air guitar power chords while putting on an evil face). It's more like that, so that's what we did." Listen to "Mayday" and you'll quickly understand the deep, dark feel Butler was aiming for.

Expectations are sky-high for LIVELOVEDIE, not only within the band but their management, Tree Sounds Studios, and their ever-growing fan base. Fortunately, a week before the album's release it was already a top ten download on Oink.com.


Perpetual Groove by Jeremy Jones
PGroove seems to have developed a newfound sense of maturity around LIVELOVEDIE. These boys are growing up, and the album reflects that. Brock has the calm wisdom of a grandfather teaching his grandson when he speaks to me about their newest chapter. "Most of [the songs] are just drawing from life experiences - dealing with people you love, be it a family member or a significant other, things that frustrate you when you're out there trying to get through it all," says Brock. "[Some] days you don't feel like getting through anything, other days you feel like the world is your oyster. That's pretty much everything I write about. If I've had a really great day or a really frustrating day, the lyrics become an outlet of some sort for me."


Perpetual Groove by Jake Krolick
By this point, Butler is wide awake. "When you're a painter you have to be finished. You did what you could with it, with the colors or lack of colors you had available at the time, whatever your tools were. If you're a musician, that's not really the case. You get the opportunity to re-paint it over and over again. When you get new [gear], it's just like having a new canvas. You can go back in there and repaint the song completely different. Or, you can do more a minimalist approach [where] you have so many things available to you that you realize you can say more with just a little bit. Lyrically, I think I'm always more of a fan of [that] kind of impressionist, minimalist [approach] that puts a few thoughts out there and that's all. Let those get into people's heads and see what the audience thinks of it. Sometimes I won't have anything specific in mind, sometimes I do. Usually people will come up and ask me what a song means, and I'll pretty much answer their question with a question - 'What does it mean to you?' Whatever the explanation is that's fine to me."

Before leaving, I ask Butler if there's any particular message the band was trying to send on the new album, particularly in the title LIVELOVEDIE.

"It's not really a message at all," offers Butler. "It's three very huge words, and people define them for themselves. This is life right here - what you consider to be love, your views on death, and those things put together. Is that a morbid thought? Is that an optimistic thing? That's really up to the listener to decide. Someone can say, 'I had the greatest life because I found love.' Or maybe you don't find love and so you're just living and dying. In which case, I would say that's not very optimistic or happy. But, those three words people define for themselves."

Check out Perpetual Groove music/interview on YouTube

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Comments

cmaxwell Thu 3/8/2007 05:57PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

So cool that they had a vision. A lot of bands talk about going in with no preconceived notions, and just let it happen. That's pretty cool too, but choosing and direction and finding something great down that path.

cliffcliffordjr starstarstarstarstar Thu 3/8/2007 06:18PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

cliffcliffordjr

Nicely done piece Brian. No doubt this band is going to take it to the next level. I've been seeing the band for many years, and have absolute confidence they have what it takes. See ya'll at Amberland.

bluzbill-obx Thu 3/8/2007 06:45PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

nice article with some thoughtful insights into the band. It looks like LIVELOVEDIE is justifing all the hype!!

fuqwod Thu 3/8/2007 07:11PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

How is the album? anyone got any insight compared to previous albums

discovery starstarstarstarstar Thu 3/8/2007 10:22PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

discovery

great article!! The new album is very complete and there isn't a song on there that I would skip past. First studio effort I've listened to and I recommend everyone to go pick it up.

tay1222 Thu 3/8/2007 11:41PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

i was one of the luckey few to be at the taping of 1 of these magical nights in ATL. Groove is definately doing big things these days and will only continue to grow. no to brag but i somehow lucked out (prob bue to the kegs of sweetwater, provided by the venue) and snagged Brocks setlist w/ signature from night2, yea yea!, get this album - - many long jams and great song selection

vwphan Thu 3/8/2007 11:48PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I like P-Groove. I love Tea Leaf Green :) Go see both!

phishndisc starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/9/2007 06:03AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

well done my man well done

phreakyJew starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/9/2007 07:13AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

phreakyJew

I really enjoyed this artcile. Thanks Brian for giving this band such a great advocate on Jambase. Here's to seeing the arena rock in an arena (Little John Center, Clemson) in April! Good things, good things. Mazel, Mazel.

totalot Fri 3/9/2007 07:44AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Good article and it seems like these guys a really nice guys with a good publicist because the music does not touch the hype.

gregray1 starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/9/2007 08:45AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Well tay1222, you are still in a small exclusive group! This Album is pure studio, The Cave Sessions have not been released yet, or announced for that matter. Lot of new material on album, as well as a new spin on show favorites!

fuqwod Fri 3/9/2007 09:10AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Album Is Great O,(
O'(

jamtort starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/9/2007 09:13AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Great article Brain.. Really hit some great points and insight to everything..
These guys are as good as advertised Knowing them personally they really care a whole lot about everything from their music to friends and fans... Its something special they have going.. If they are you get up and go see them and also this album is one of the best albums that have came out lately.. Really good stuff and a lot of great music.. as said Not 1 song i would skip on the album....
congrats guys!!! and Once again Great Job Brain!!!

Daddyphatsacks starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/9/2007 12:34PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Daddyphatsacks

Great article...I've never heard the music, but I'm definitely going to check them out next chance I get to buy some new tunes. I'm always looking for something new. Thanks Jam Base. Keep bringing these in-depth articles to the surface!

Flyingbird73 starstarstarstar Fri 3/9/2007 03:46PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Flyingbird73

High Sierra '05 Vaudeville Tent evening session...any band that can literally raise the roof w/ Lionel f'n Richie's "All Night Long" is cool by me...that tent was pumping crazy energy. Cool band, wish nothing but the best.

phreemee starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/9/2007 03:47PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Great article!! I just got into these guys a few months ago. I heard like a 20 minute version of "Speedqueen" on Jam On on Sirius...Blew me away...Go the the "archive.org" for hundreds of their shows for free. I've downloaded like 50 shows already..I just can't get enough...Can' wait till they come to the West coast..

boomboxfan1 starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/9/2007 09:41PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

boomboxfan1

I can't wait to see PG with BoomBox on March, 23 2007 at Soul Kitchen in Mobile, Alabama. This will be an incredible lineup with a great groove moves. I cannot believe the great music scene in the South East that keeps you bumpin.

jamcamdvd starstarstarstarstar Sat 3/10/2007 04:52AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

One of our fave raves - congratulations on the new album, guys! Look for PGroove (& Brock Butler solo) on our 3rd Season opening Jam Cruise 5 (double!) DVD coming early summer 2007. Until then, enjoy these past PG JamCam appearances...

PERPETUAL GROOVE "SUNDOG" - SMILEFEST 2004
www.jamcamdvd.com/videos/high/PGrooveSundog.wmv

PERPETUAL GROOVE "TSMM" - WAKARUSA 2005
www.jamcamdvd.com/videos/high/PGrooveTSMM.wmv

cmaxwell Sat 3/10/2007 06:56PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Just bought my tix for the Playhouse run. For those of you who haven't heard any of their music yet, go to www.archive.org. NYE and the 2-10 Athens shows are incredible, and contain most of the songs on the new album (Athens has all but the two yet to be played). Feel free to e-mail me at cmaxwellgsu@excite.com for any help getting those downloaded.

You Fail starstarstarstarstar Sat 3/10/2007 09:52PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

You Fail

I absolutly love perpetual groove they give that level of excitement i havent felt in so long about a band i cant get enough see you at All Good !!! great album guys !!!!!!!!!

twain starstarstarstarstar Tue 3/13/2007 08:28AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

seen many x's just picked up disc...they destroyed the culture room to close out langerado, the place was insanity! something else.

Triggin starstarstarstarstar Wed 3/14/2007 01:09PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

what a great article about a wonderful band. This band takes me places!

pgrizzle Wed 3/14/2007 08:29PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

pgrizzle

they rocks's

Greenjah starstarstarstarstar Sat 3/17/2007 10:14AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Greenjah

One thing I took from my interview with the band last year was that they've worked really hard to get where they are, and it hasn't soured their love for the jam. Playing 200 nights a year ain't easy.

Great piece, great band.

Scotty Greene

cmaxwell starstarstarstarstar Sat 3/17/2007 11:13PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

These guys showed their love for jamming during the Variety Playhouse run. Everything got extended a few extra minutes with plenty of interplay between lights and musician. Great pair of shows!

PCAR starstarstarstarstar Sun 3/18/2007 11:47AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I knew you could do this Brian. Had such a great time with you and the HeadCount crew at CBV last year. Keep on supporting the things that make us all smile. Much respect.
Patrick

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Mon 3/19/2007 09:20AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

after 5 shows.. I finally "heard the inner ping" I wish it didnt take so long, but chattanooga tn rarely gets any firey shows. so now I really like Pgroove. I do think they need to do some more writing. I think they could stand to have some more tunes. Writing is hard and takes time, I realize it will come eventually and I will be waiting for it. peas.....

standingtaller starstarstarstarstar Sun 4/1/2007 07:48AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

standingtaller

Great Article!
P-Groove is a well thought, fun loving, tightly knit band. Go See 'Em Live!

radioioJAM starstarstarstarstar Tue 4/10/2007 07:29PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

radioioJAM

livelovedie now playing here. tune in and spread the news!

2 nites pgroove at the music farm coming up...whoooppppeeee!!!

chasetc20 starstarstarstarstar Thu 4/12/2007 08:59AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Pgroove is whats up man saw em at the farm in charleston last time they headed there and it was sick, ive yet to see this band dissapoint a crowd