JazzhoundRegular price $20.99 Save $-20.99
The Buttertones new album Jazzhound.
LP is Foldout Poster Insert + Download Card.
Before settling in to make Jazzhound, their most extravagant, ambitious, and fully realized album to date, the Buttertones had to face the hounds of real life. Prior to a headlining summer tour in support of 2018’s Midnight in a Moonless Dream, a fiery blast of an album capturing the band at their purest distillation, drummer/multi-instrumentalist Modesto ‘Cobi’ Cobiån had a sudden and serious medical scare involving his eye, requiring emergency surgery. He lost half his vision (it will hopefully return with a future operation), and the tour had to be cancelled. Music took a backseat for the time being.
“It gave us some perspective on our health,” says bassist Sean Redman, “and the fact that we have to look after ourselves and one another first, or else the music just can’t happen.” Cobiån, Redman, and vocalist/guitarist Richard Araiza have been playing together for seven years now, having first come together for a self-titled debut in 2013; along with London Guzman on sax and keys, they’ve come to establish themselves as one of L.A.’s tightest groups, conquering stages from Coachella to Tropicalia. When one of their own had a scare, they rallied around him—and used the experience to come together stronger than ever for the record they were getting ready to make.
“He says it adds charm to his character,” jokes Araiza, who led the Buttertones back into writing mode, taking the reset moment to really focus on the approach and style of the record. The material he was working on took the band forward into a heavier sound—and it also brought them back to the spark of their first album. “It allowed us to go back to the roots and the spirit we had when we started,” Redman considers. “We are kind of a new band, in a lot of ways, is what it feels like.”
Continuing their partnership with producer Jonny Bell of Crystal Antlers, who produced Moonless Dream as well as 2017’s Gravedigging, the Buttertones waited until they were good and ready before hitting thelegendary Electro-Vox Studios in Hollywood, where they arrived knowing exactly what they wanted to lay to tape. Armed with an arsenal of the most propulsive music they’ve written yet, the band recorded the album mostly live—an ideal method for capturing their cult-status live show, which carries on the torch of acts like the Walkmen and the Fleshtones. “We’d do a few takes,” says Araiza, “and then it was, ‘Alright, we got all the main instruments done, now let’s record on the vibraphone that was used on Pet Sounds,’ you know?”
But Jazzhound is completely new territory for the group, too, with Araiza, who calls this album “probably thedarkest one” he’s written lyrically, pushing his Ian Curtis-via-Bobby Darin baritone to new depths, particularly on scorchers like “Phantom Eyes” and “Bebop.” It’s also the first album with Cobiån acting—and thriving—in his new role as a full-time guitarist (the drum parts were written by him and played by session musician Paul Doyle), and the first since the departure of guitarist Dakota Boettcher as well.
“We really worked our asses off on this one,” says Araiza, proudly, already talking about how he can’t wait to do it all again and make another record soon—after they tour the world, that is, making up for the lost dates last summer, and then some. “It feels like we’re still climbing.”
Midnight In a Moonless DreamRegular price $9.99 Save $-9.99
LP is Gatefold Jacket + Download Card.
CD is 4 Panel Digipack.
GravediggingRegular price Sale price $17.98 Save $0.00
LP Comes w/ Standard Jacket & Download Card.
CD is Four Panel Digipack.
The Buttertones’ Gravedigging is more a movie waiting to happen than an album—or a soundtrack just waiting to inspire a movie, with scene after scene of action, tension and release set to a sound that takes everything good and true about American music before the Beatles prettied it up (surf, sweet soul, the boss saxophone-overdrive garage of the Northwest wailers like the Sonics) and matches it to punk energy, post-punk precision and the kind of personality that blows the circuit-breakers at a backyard party.
The Buttertones started their own journey in 2011 as three music school misfits (or drinking buddies, they say) in the heart of Hollywood, happy to learn how to to play, produce and perform but less excited about frequent go-nowhere conversations with classmates who had little interest in either the past or the future of music. So that’s why bassist Sean Redman (also a former member of Cherry Glazerr) felt like he’d lucked out when he found guitarist/singer Richard Araiza and drummer/polyinstrumentalist Modesto ‘Cobi’ Cobiån: “Cobi and Richard were the first guys I met where I thought they knew what they were talking about,” he says. “They had good influences—they weren’t just trying to pander.
Their first rehearsals were in a Hollywood bedroom where Redman was living on an air mattress, then Araiza finally locked down Boettcher—who he’d often see responding to the same casting calls as he did—to replace another guitarist who was transitioning back to family life even as the Buttertones prepared their debut release, a self-titled cassette on L.A.’s garage-pop Lolipop label. Then they absorbed sax player London Guzmån
(formerly in Long Beach’s Wild Pack of Canaries with breakout local Rudy De Anda) after spotting him at a local DJ night, recruiting him for their sophomore album American Brunch—and discovering the kind chemistry they didn't know they were missing. Says Araiza: “We’re proud to be a legit band. It’s a very collaborative process—we rely on each other. I feel that’s rare nowadays, especially with rock bands.”
When it came time to make Gravedigging—the follow-up to a special issue 8” for Innovative, which ended up pulling them aboard the label full-time—they knew it was time to go deeper and get dirtier. Recorded at Jazzcats studio in LongBeach—home-away-from-home to fellow Innovative Leisure artists Hanni El Khatib, Wall of Death and more—in the spring of 2016, the sessions were supercharged with hard-won live experience from endless
street-level shows and relentless midnight-to-six rehearsals at the Buttertones lock-out, then focused even further by the insight and vision of producer Jonny Bell. (“Jonny pushed us like crazy,” says Boettcher. “He had so many ideas all he time.”)
Think of it this way: you might not yet know how the band that made Gravedigging is going to land—but you know it’s going to hit hard.
Midnight in a Moonless Dream Cassette TapeRegular price $6.99 Save $0.00
The Buttertones Midnight in a Moonless Dream on cassette.
Stray Dog Strut b/w Shut Up Sugar 8"Regular price $9.99 Save $0.00
Limited 8" Vinyl from The Buttertones. The Latest installment in the INNOV8 series.
Madame Supreme b/w Shut OutRegular price $10.00 Save $0.00
Gravedigging Cassette TapeRegular price $6.00 Save $0.00
The Buttertones Gravedigging on cassette.