JESSE BUTTERWORTH: Fantastic! We’ve been working really hard on this album for over a year, so it’s fun to finally start releasing some of this material out into the world. Thanks for taking the time to catch up with us!
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “You Belong To Me”?
JESSE BUTTERWORTH: The song is about the rollercoaster of emotions that parents going through during the adoption process. Those parents are my wife and I. We adopted our daughter, Harper, from Ethiopia. When we first started the process, we were told that it would be about 9 months before we could expect to complete the adoption, but because all kinds of changing situations in Ethiopia, that timeline got stretched out to over 3 years. During those 3 years we went through a roller coaster of emotions, and a mountain of paperwork, but all the while we knew that it would be worth when we were able to bring our little girl home to be a part of our family forever. And was it ever worth it. Our little family is complete now, and we are so grateful to the incredible people at All God’s Children, Intl for helping us bring our daughter home, that we have been partnering with them for years to help bring orphan care to the 8 million children around the world who don’t have parents or family to care for them. In fact, a portion of everything that we make as a band goes to All God’s Children, Intl so that we can keep making a positive difference in the lives of children around the world.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
MATT WOLL: Despite what it might sound like on first listen, it’s a song about Jesse’s daughter Harper. Jesse and his wife Marisa adopted her from Ethiopia in a long and grueling process. I’m so inspired personally by Jesse’s commitment to orphan care. There are over 150 million orphans in the world, and not many people put their money where their mouths are when it comes to doing something about it. When you meet Harper and see her in the context of her now forever family, you know there’s something supernatural happening. The song captures and represents all of this perfectly both lyrically, and musically.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
MATT WOLL: We were in San Diego to see some shows and Jesse had the idea to go with a mid-century modern vibe that matches the aesthetic of our recording studio. We started looking for some vintage clothing stores to see what we might find to match, and well… we found VERY EXPENSIVE shops with $3,000.00 sweaters and such. At the last shop (which was more like a mid century museum), the owner was really friendly and told us about another place called FROCK YOU VINTAGE that might be more our speed. We found every look in the video at that shop for a couple hundred bucks. After that we started looking for a place to shoot. I remembered that my sister and her husband had just found this crazy house in Everett, WA that built in 1946 and was mid-century modern down to the studs and hadn’t been touched and thought it would be perfect. My brother-in-law is also a vintage music gearhead, and we used a bunch of his classic mics in the shoot as well. The rest is not a set, it’s just how they decorate. So, we put a date on the calendar, invited 30 or so friends, asked our genius friend Aaron Sternke to shoot it, and we spent a day at that house shooting it. We shot it at 3 different speeds to capture the slow/fast motion effects, and the band played the song about 30 times that day at three different speeds to get it all. It was great!
How was the recording and writing process?
JESSE BUTTERWORTH: I love writing songs. It’s one of my primary ways to process through things that are happening in my life, or just sit down and make something up for the fun of the creative process. This was one of those songs that came to me in pieces. It started one night as I was rocking my daughter to sleep. I just started singing to her and the chorus of the song just sort of spilled out of me as if it was already written. I was singing it to her more as a lullabye, but after I got her to bed, I went downstairs, grabbed a guitar and started writing it all out. But then life happened and the song remained half written for years. But last Christmas, I decided that I wanted to give an original song to each of my family members. So after writing a song for my wife (called “August Peach” which is actually our next single), and writing songs for both of my sons, I finally sat down and finished this song for my daughter, Harper. I played it for her on Christmas morning and both my wife and I started crying as Harper got up and danced around as I sang and then begged for me to sing it again.
MATT WOLL: Jesse is a great songwriter and brought this one to me with several others that eventually became the album. We worked it up, played it with the band, and realized it was a keeper and probably worthy of being the first single. We recorded drums, extra percussion, and lead vocals at the famous Robert Lang Studios in Seattle. We did the horns, guitars, and bass at our studio, The Rain City Lab, in Bellevue, Washington, and then background vocals and some extra parts at Aaron Sternke’s studio in Edmonds, Washington (yes, he’s also a fantastic mix engineer, musician, and producer too). We like to do multi-track recording where you lay down a “scratch track” of a vocal and guitar for the song that you’ll eventually delete, then track all of the instruments and vocals separately for the highest level of control of the final mix.
What role does Seattle play in your writing?
JESSE BUTTERWORTH: I grew up in California and moved to Seattle as an adult, so I feel like it took me several years of living here just to learn the Seattle culture, the people, the weather, the freeways, the food, the sports teams, etc. After a while I figured out that you can’t really count on consistent sunshine until after the 4th of July, it takes a little bit longer to get to know people here, but once you do, these are some of the greatest people on God’s green earth. And speaking of green, this place is green and absolutely gorgeous all year long. So, all that to say, I think that one of the ways that living here has informed my writing is that I was forced to be even more observational of what’s going on around me and because of that, it added little details into my writing that hadn’t really been there before.
MATT WOLL: Growing up and spending the majority of my life in Seattle, it has defined the way I listen to, think about, record, and perform music. As I’m sitting here responding to this question, it’s July 10th, 2018 and it’s 57 degrees and overcast in Seattle. Typical Seattle summer! Most people who aren’t from here talk about it being dark and depressing, and sad etc., but I don’t think about it like that at all. I lived in California for a year and I was more dark and depressed there because the sun was OUT ALL THE TIME. I love that we experience real seasons here, and during the 6 months of straight gray skies every year the artists feel a kind of permission to focus on their art. As a teenager, I would retreat to my parents basement and I discovered their record collections. During those falls and winters, I taught myself to play guitar, bass, drums, and sing. But, I always knew that the incredible, vibrant, green, hot, and brilliantly colorful 9 weeks of summer was just around the corner. You can also hear that in the music. It’s some darkness wrapped in hope, combined with a persistence to see it through to the other side where it’s bright and brilliant. I’ve played in lots of Seattle bands over the years, and it’s this weather combined with our “small town with a BIG-CITY attitude” that has produced a great musical history here.
Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?
MATT WOLL: Absolutely. We’ve already recorded a full album and finished several fantastic music videos, but we didn’t want to release just because. We’ve been forming a plan and continuing to create great supporting content for the entire first album as we start releasing the singles. It’s probably the first time I’ve ever worked on a project, not released it, then started working on the next project before anything came out. We’re already writing songs for the 2nd album now before we’ve even released the first! We genuinely love the music, and we don’t feel like we’re competing against anyone or trying to “make it” in the music business or some other seemingly oppressive force. I think it shows in the work.
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
JESSE BUTTERWORTH: Our debut album is self-titled and will be available on streaming, CD and vinyl in mid October of this year.
What aspect of your personal life will you be diving into?
JESSE BUTTERWORTH: This album is truly a team effort. With 8 of us in the band, it took a lot of coordination, arranging and honest communication to get it to a level of excellence that we all loved. I feel particularly attached to so many of these songs because they are very personal to my journey over the last decade. From fighting through a deep, dark depression, to the joys of bringing our daughter home, to the celebration of a long-term commitment, and the rediscovery of the magic of making music, this album feels a lot like my soul on vinyl. And the guys have been so respectful of the music and have really helped dig in and find the heart of the song and make it so much better than when I delivered it to them as a guitar and vocal demo.
MATT WOLL: This first album has been a deep dive into Jesse’s personal life and how his experiences led up to starting this band. From being a successful touring artist, whose career ended due to a freak accident and broken bones, through the depression that came as a result, to finding hope, faith, and purpose and adopting his daughter and finding the courage to write again; I’d say the first album is a close look at the last 15 years of his life. I share some of the same story (minus the broken bones leading to a label dropping me). The themes of redemption, hope, fighting through dark times, and discovering beauty in the process will always be a part of the music. Another important part of the band’s ethos is to bring positive change to the world through the music. Jesse’s commitment to orphan care, and my commitment to helping bring safe drinking water to the 663 million people in the world without it are the hopeful outcomes we support with any sales of band merchandise will always be a part of driving each project as well.
Any plans to hit the road?
MATT WOLL: Yep! We’re playing several west coast shows in Seattle, Portland, San Fran and LA this summer, and then we’re heading out to the East Coast in October for a little run when we release the full album.
What else is happening next in The West Coast Feed’s world?
JESSE BUTTERWORTH: We’re already getting a head start writing songs for our 2nd album and continue to hone in our live show. I don’t know how to explain it to you, but when 8 guys who sincerely love making music get up and perform from the heart for you, something special happens. It’s just something you’ve got to experience to understand.
MATT WOLL: Thinking about recording a Christmas EP this Fall, working on the 2nd album, and PLAYING LIVE as much as possible.