by Malik Hall
“I pulled it out of my ass,” said guitarist Robert Barrow.
Whether it was named for a drunken night during practice or is a subconscious take on vocalist Erin Gerety’s actual butt, it is hard to determine the origins of naming the band Butt. “I play it up sometimes, too. It’s so stupid. I mean, it’s just like, it’s sexy, so what. Fuck it,” said Gerety, responding to fellow bandmates when comparing her image to new wave group Blondie.
Gerety is the driving force of the band. Using her thrashy voice helps her find catharsis and empowerment in the most unexpected ways.
“I’ll start just fucking talking, whatever I’m mad about, I’ll yell and think about how does this make me feel and what feelings does this evoke? Then whatever is at the core of it, then I’m like, that’s what the song is about. I’ll go home and listen to what we have recorded and write a real song that I have time to think about meter and think about what I actually want to say and try not to just repeat the same line 500 times in a row,” said Gerety.
This improvisational style that helps Gerety get things off her chest can sometimes, in the moment, come off as a little too forward. Most notable was a song from the band’s 2017 demo.
“Erin was like ‘listen to everyone else in the band’ and ‘listen to those around you, pay attention.’ Come on, fall in love. It was a good song, but it was very much like Erin was mad about the difficulty with songwriting. Ken wasn’t getting it,” said bassist Patrick Wiley.
Butt started as a band after Robert Barrow had an itch to play experimental punk music and invited others over for a jam. Gertey and former Butt bandmate Ken were already playing music together and were invited to go jam that night. Since that fateful session, they have gone through several band members before sticking with their current lineup.
“We ran through so many different people until we eventually found something that clicked with Patrick,” said Gertey, talking about their current bassist Patrick Wiley. Barrow’s dissonant guitar sound and Wiley’s angular bass line found ways to complement Gertey’s yelling.
Reinventing themselves as the second version of Butt, they scrapped all songs but one from their demos and recruited EJ Ansello to become the band’s drummer. Ansello and Wiley have been playing music together for over ten years, circumstances which brought the group together.
“It’s really good to actually be playing in a band with EJ, cause we had tried so many times to do something before, but it didn’t stick. Nothing was sticking,” said Wiley.
Bad Sex, Butt’s debut album, is what sprang from the reinvention. The quartet’s raw garage rock and Gerety’s singing — or yelling, as she would put it— creates a no-filtered punk album that gets Gerety ranting about her relationships, self-image and views on our society as a whole.
“Bellini,” the second song on the album, is one of Gerty’s personal favorites. Gerety lets out her dissatisfaction with her body being used so much to the point she feels detached from it. Gerety screams, lyric by lyric, as she comes to terms with regaining the purity of her womanhood, viewing her body from the perspective of a past lover as “rotten fruit”.
“I wrote that song when I was really suicidal, so there’s that. It’s part of what it feels like to be nothing, but something to be eaten,” said Gertey. “I feel nothing about my body sometimes. Sometimes, I have a weird hard time with it, and soon I will never have to deal with that. And that’s sometimes a comfort. It was not, it’s not a pretty song, but it’s my favorite song that I’ve ever written.”
Bad Sex was recorded in Barrow’s basement and mixed and duplicated by him. “I think I’m over it for a while. It’s so much work and a lot of shit to juggle,” said Barrow about putting the album together himself. The band decided to crackdown on their music in 2020 and record their next album in an actual studio, with Piranha Rama’s Tim Falen.
Butt’s most recent show was at Wonderland in November, with former YouTube sensation Flynt Flossy and Turquoise Jeep. Wonderland is one of Richmond’s only punk, grunge, metal and other alternative music venues besides newly opened Fuzzy Cactus and the late Strange Matter where the band used to be regulars.
“I feel like that’s a fucking given to say, but it’s been absolutely detrimental to the music scene in Richmond in a big way,” said Gerety. I think we got kind of spoiled by having this sort of perfect, weird, grungy venue that just hosted so many shows all the time,” said Wiley.
Outside of getting back in the studio, Butt are hoping to go on an actual tour in 2020 after making a few trips to locations such as Charlottesville, Georgia, and Norfolk.
“We’ll definitely be real loud about it when we have something, we’re in the no holds barred phase. I feel like we’re just ‘Alright let’s go,’” said Gertey.
Butt will be playing February 13th at Fallout in Richmond, VA with The Gilberts and True Body.
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