‘Evil’ Eddie Mark Jacobson, the creative force behind Brisbane based Butterfingers for nearly a decade, has put that project on hold to pursue his own solo career. Evil spoke to MusicFeeds about his recent hottest 100 no. 86 ‘Queensland’, Aussie accents, and mysterious new singles.
Music Feeds: Wikipedia states that Butterfingers existed from 2001-2009. I guess a lot of people would be interested in knowing how and why Butterfingers came to an end, but I’ve heard you say that Butterfingers isn’t actually over…
Evil Eddie: Yeah it’s a weird thing; I actually checked out that entry a couple of days ago and saw that. Butterfingers did a number of gigs in 2010 so I don’t know why they say that the ‘end date’ is 2009. Butterfingers hasn’t formally come to an end.
MF: So there’s a prospect of Butterfingers picking up where it left off?
EE: Possibly yeah. We’ve got a fair amount of material that’s sitting dormant that we can go back to. I’m sure we’ll go back to it but I don’t know when. We started working on stuff and made a point of making it a collaborative process. ..there’s a lot of stuff that we jammed out and wrote as a group rather than me submit material. Stuff that I’m writing by myself I’m going to be using for myself.
MF: The formation of Butterfingers originally apparently came together as a very ad hoc thing.
EE: I think it was probably a month or so before the gig where I had put my name in the box offering to play (at ‘The Zoo’ bar, in Brisbane) and I forgot about it. I did it when I was drunk as a joke. I was working there in the office and thought it was funny but then the girls there insisted that I did it because the timetable had been finalised and the space hadn’t been filled with any other act. I thought it would be wrong of me to not follow through on it.
MF: Were you rapping at that stage?
EE: We had one hip-hop track at the end of the set (laughs). The rest of it was acoustic, melancholy, almost folk kind of stuff. I still have the demos of those. After that we got some residency gigs of two 45 minutes sets and as time when on we realised that we were getting a better response from the hip-hop stuff so we started writing more of that and eventually all that other stuff got phased out.
MF: What was the motivation for you to go solo?
EE: Pretty much I’ve been thinking about it for ever. I’ve always wanted to do something that I can say that I’ve done 100% by myself. I have people coming in to play on the record but it’s kind of my uninterrupted vision and I’m the one who will have to see it through. I’ll be proud of myself if I can pull it off.
MF: Butterfingers tended to get classed as punk/hip-hop. Will going solo signal a new musical direction?
EE: It will straddle both. I’ll do guitar and base along with the hip-hop stuff but I think the fact that I’m not playing in a band means I’ve got the choice to push a the hip-hop side from a production point of view. More programmed and sampled drums and base than live so I think it will change the sound a little but the essentially the same kind of vibe.
MF: Your style, in terms of lyrical content, has always been humour based. Is there any temptation to deviate from that and do something more serious?
EE: There are going to be a few more serious type tracks on the new album but I don’t even think that ‘Queensland’ is even that funny. I mean, I guess it is, but not ‘ha-ha’ type funny. Not ‘hilarious’ funny…
MF: Let’s talk about your single ‘Queensland’. I saw the film-clip the other day. There are some pretty sharp suits happening in that clip.
EE: Those suits actually belong to one of the guys who owns the Annandale (venue) in Brisbane. I’ve actually see him wearing that around.
MF: The green checkered one?
EE: Yup. The green checkered one.
MF: What I find interesting about ‘Queensland’ is that it’s a track about an Australian region. There’s been a trend over the last decade of Australian rappers writing for Aussie audiences, using Australian slang and references.
EE: Yeah I don’t know how it would have gone down 10 years ago but I definitely think that the general public have opened up to hearing the accent and hearing about Australian things in this genre. I think the timing is kind of good for me.
The reason I wrote it to start with is that when you listen to a lot of American stuff you notice that artists sing about where they’re from. ‘Straight Outta Compton’ and ‘California Love’ all that shit; it’s really heavily themed in that way and I’ve notice that there haven’t been any Australian hits that go out on a limb and focus on an area as the whole theme of the song and I thought that was kind of lacking. When I wrote it I was pretty sure it would fall on its ass.
Half way through I thought to myself ‘Man, this is just about Queensland’. It’s such a small percentage of the audience and I thought I was digging a massive grave for myself. It goes to show that there’s not too much animosity between the states. Maybe a little competitive with New South Wales when it comes to sport but I think Australians have a real sense of belonging and ownership of the whole country. It’s not really segmented it any way.
MF: Speaking of things that brought the country together, obviously Queensland is having a hell of time with the recent flood, were you in Queensland when that went down?
EE: Yeah yeah, I don’t know if you saw Rosalie, that’s about a kilometre from my house.
MF: I heard a rumour that Triple J may have pulled ‘Queensland’, or reduced the radio rotation because of the reference to floods and cyclones.
EE: I tried to find out about that and no-one can give me a definite answer. I asked my people to find out, I asked the question on FaceBook and got feedback that it hadn’t been played in a week but I heard it yesterday.
MF: There’s references in ‘Queensland’ to dodgy cops, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, and (in the film clip) Evil Eddie is a tourist guide selling tours of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to tourists in Queensland. Is shonkiness part of Queensland’s charm?
EE: There’s a lot of confusion about the clip for that reason. People don’t get why I’m showing Sydney. But those are really old references that I was using. Things have improved quite a bit and there aren’t real major stories of high level corruption. To be honest I think things are less dodgy than places like Melbourne. I’m exaggerating the extent of it all.
MF: Your upcoming album is coming out soon. Is ‘Welcome to the Flavour Country’ the decided title?
EE: Yeah, it was a working title for a while but the more I heard people say it the more I think ‘Yeah, that’s an ok title; I think I’ll run with that.
MF: Is it a tobacco reference?
EE: Not directly, I think it was floating around my subconscious. I think it was used by Marlborough in their advertising; I don’t have a clear memory of how I came to the title just a vague recollection.
MF: I’ve heard the album is taking longer to complete than you thought.
EE: Yeah I’m in the studio now and I’m still probably a couple of songs short.
MF: Is it quicker recording solo than recording in a group?
EE: Well, I find myself walking in and being confident about what I want to but then I find myself questioning things, like maybe I should do this instead, or do that intro another way. I think preparation wise I’m not going in as prepared as I was , which is good and bad because some of the on the fly decisions turn out really well but I guess the bad is that it takes longer to actually commit to the tracking process when you are still working on the writing.
MF: Was Peats Ridge in New South Wales the first Evil Eddie Live show?
EE: It was the first official gig. I was a bit nervous because it was the first show in New South Wales but it turned out really well and I was really surprised and really appreciated the reaction.
MF: Do you feel more pressure at the moment going solo?
EE: Oh massively, (laughs), MASSIVELY, I’m self managed you know, and trying to get my own label up…I’m trying to take care of things personally and working on a tight budget. I feel the weight on my shoulders at the moment but I’m enjoying the process as well. It’s a really steep learning curve but I’m glad I’ve taken this path.
MF: I understand there’s a new single in the works.
EE: Yeah, I’m working on something really twisted at the moment that I want to release before some more ‘pop’ songs that I’ve got just to solidify the ‘Queensland’ track.
MF: Can you tell me anything about it?
EE: Umm….(pauses)…yeah….(pauses)…I guess so.
MF: Only if you want to.
EE: I don’t want to tell you the title of it.
EE: (the new single’s) technically about…you know…(pauses)…No, I don’t want to say anything about it.
MF: Fair enough.
Evil Eddie 2011 tour dates
Feb 25th – X & Y, Brisbane
Tickets from here
Feb 26th – The Gaelic, Sydney
Tickets from here
Mar 4th – East Brunswick Club, Melbourne
Tickets from here