Buttercup

After 3 tours of the midwest, Buttercup is currently back in the studio with critically acclaimed producer Salim Nourallah (Old 97’s, Deathray Davies), paring down a score or so of new songs to a manageable full length recording. Salim Nourallah is a tall, quiet, introspective, wickedly handsome man: a Lebonese Paul McCartney, a physicist of sound. Lately Buttercup has reached new heights in our terrifying live performances, and has noticed how audience members have been left charred and smokey after each show. The band wanted to capture some of this immolation in the recording studio, and for this turned to Mr. Nourallah. Salim tweaked knobs, lead us down a shiny hallway, poured haunting melodies down our gullets and shook us like babies. We spat up this new batch of songs: some 12 tracks of which you can hear three here on Sonicbids. — Erik Sanden

However, originally it was not so easy to find Buttercup recordings. There was a time when being a Buttercup fan required no small amount of tolerance for guerilla art nonsense. You couldn’t buy a Buttercup record, but you could call frontman Erik Sanden’s “Dial-a-Song” hotline and hear a track a week played back on his answering machine. You could go to a Buttercup show, but you did so knowing that your odds of getting to see the band actually play a “normal” set were pretty slim. Sometimes you’d show up and the band would just play home movies. Or invite the audience members, one by one, into an office to ask them about their day, play them a single song and send them on their way. At one gig, you could only watch the show by staring down into one of four different 50-gallon barrels, each holding a TV monitor showing a different Buttercup member as the band played the entire set hidden in another room.

Buttercup called these weekly (later monthly) shows — invariably BYOB affairs staged at some dimly lit art gallery in downtown San Antonio — “Grackle Mundys.” No two were ever alike, except for the familiar faces in the crowd who showed up faithfully week after week like members of a secret society (the “Buttercult,” if you will.) Some — newcomers invited by friends or curiosity — no doubt came just to see what new performance art stunt the band would reveal. But those in the know came knowing that said gimmicks — from the inspired and wacky fun to the, well, confounding — were always secondary to the music. They’d willingly jump through hoops, walk under ladders and stare down oil drums to hear Buttercup’s songs simply because the songs were worth it.

After years of frenetic performance, Buttercup has of late been busy in the recording studio, committing their musical ideas to tape.

So now, with no rules to follow except their own, the band has managed to write, record and release three EPs last year. Why? No one knows. But it’s this type of unusual yet challenging feat that Buttercup fans have come to expect and enjoy.

Buttercup follows its fanciful whims wherever they may lead.

— Richard Skanse