Editor's Note, 091219: Fever 333 announced today on its Facebook page that the group is canceling its September scheduled dates because of a medical condition that singer Jason Aalon Butler has. According to the post, Butler has "complications from a lung condition," and has been told to stop touring for now and take a medical leave. The group plans to resume its schedule in October and there was no word on whether the Houston show planned for Monday September 16, at Scout Bar will be rescheduled.
In the late ‘90s, the music industry was testing the patience of American parents. Subtle sexual innuendos from break-dancing boy bands, vulgar expletives from rappers, and heavy sounds with screaming vocals from rockers, were viewed as the fast track to turning children into violent, Satan worshiping hellions.
But young people wanted to listen to music. The unfiltered aggressive sound of Korn and other “Nu-Metal” acts has not only been a musical influence on up and coming hard rock acts for the last 20 years, but vocalist Jason Aalon Butler of Fever 333 says those sonic pioneers might have influenced a small amount of rebellion in the his own youth.
“Ha ha! Absolutely, [Korn] influenced me to steal my first CD! I stole both Follow The Leader and Eminem’s The Slim Shady LP on the same day! They were a heavier music and they were the band that brought me into it,” says Butler whose group just finished touring with them and Alice In Chains and will be kicking off their solo “Fall Demonstrations” tour in Houston on September 16 at Scout Bar.
“I had listened to rock music, but it was more mainstream and not as abrasive. Now that we’re on tour with them, not only is that crazy, but they are actually out there every day, side-stage, watching our set. And even crazier than that, [Korn guitarist] Munky actually came out and played one of our songs with us!”
The three piece ensemble consisting of singer Butler (ex-Letlive), guitarist Stephen Harrison (ex-The-Chariot), and drummer Aric Improta (Night Verses), haven’t always had the luxury of star studded jam buddies. Two years ago the group was playing their first show out of the back of a U-Haul truck to a small crowd of people who gathered at a doughnut shop parking lot after the band had advertised that a “secret event” would be taking place.
“Honestly, that was a huge milestone for us as a band, being able to pull of that first demonstration in that parking lot. We literally just put the message out there and said ‘if you believe in these ideas of freedom and you believe in the effort that goes towards it, then show up here’. People didn’t even know we were a band yet and they still showed up. From there we were able to sell out our first show, we played a show at the Roxy Theater in L.A. It sold out in three days. We only had one song out!”
Butler is known for his energetic live performances and outspoken views on freedom, Fever 333’s performances, or “Demonstrations” as they refer to them, are no exception. Jason brings his high energy antics including jumping over the drum set and climbing the stage set-up, but also allows time for others to be involved.
“We just want to be demonstrative of our own idea of what it means to be free. For us, a lot of what we discuss, on and off-stage, has everything to do with open communication and making sure we create a safe space for people,” he says. “A safe space for people to be able to have these conversations, as well as be able to represent themselves as who they are and who they want to be.”
Even with the aggression and drive from a hard-rock, punk group, Jason says he knows that understanding is the most powerful way to combat negative views and oppression. “I genuinely believe you have to offer your adversary some sort of empathy, understand where they’re coming from, in order to have some sort of stability in the conversation. But being open to the conversation is the first course of action when trying to combat and understand the idea that is oppression, because we’ve tried everything else, we’ve tried war, we’ve seen physical violence, I think one of the last efforts is to have a conversation with people who seem different than us.”
The 333 in Fever stands for Community, Charity, and Change, and the group displayed the importance of all three last month in Poughkeepsie, New York. The band constructed and held a free festival dubbed “Wouldstock” after the announcement of the fallout of what would have been the 50th anniversary show of the iconic outdoor festival “Woodstock.”
“It was our way of showing the idea and essence of peace, love, and music. Fifty years ago, people were able to engage in these experiences, and as the festival became corporate and more logistics became involved, it became harder to put on. So we thought we would do our own, in the same vein as the original. We did it in a place where the community told us that not many bands and larger acts tour, we partnered with local vendors, put on some local acts, and a strong following of allies showed up in support of the community and local aid.”
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The band released their first EP, This Is America in 2018, scoring a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance with the title track. After a short time in the studio, they released their full length album Strength in Numb333rs earlier this year to positive reception. The band fuses genres of punk, rap, and rock to create a refreshing rap-rock style, heavier than better know acts such as Linkin Park or Rage Against The Machine. The group has worked with artists such as Travis Barker (Blink-182) and Chicago rapper Vic Mensa to remix and add more hip-hop elements to their songs, as well as a collaboration with experimental pop artist Poppy, providing backing instruments and vocals for her new tune “Scary Mask.”
Fever was here earlier this year at the House of Blues supporting metalcore band Bring Me The Horizon, but Butler has been to Houston numerous times before with his previous band Letlive, as well as some more heartfelt, personal matters.
“Yeah man, one of my oldest friends actually lives in Houston, so I’ve been around the city a bit, its definitely got some cool spots! I also got some tattoos there back when I was with Letlive., and even got my wife’s name tatted on me while I was down there. Last time we were [in Houston] it was a wild time! People were very open minded and there was a lot of fire and power that was shared with us! Thank you guys for that and we truly cant wait to feel that again, and maybe intensify it even more! There’s a Fever coming!”