Written by: Kurtis Bradimore
Bryce Butler, a tour musician, session drummer, and self proclaimed "buttcheek smacker," is taking over the metal industry - one band at a time. I first discovered Bryce in early 2018 after the New York City metal band "Circuit of Suns" announced him as their full time drummer for the band. Due to my own personal love of the band, I decided to look up his body of work, and I was surprised at his talents. Upon browsing at his discography, I saw numerous bands that I recognized, some of which include "The Faceless", "Abigail Williams," and the forthcoming deathcore outlet, "BROJOB."
Considering the immense pressure and dedication it takes to be a touring musician, it is impressive to see such a repertoire of successful bands on his roster. Due to this, I was very honoured to have the opportunity to interview Bryce for Screams Media and ask him some questions about touring life, some daily struggles and challenges, and some experiences from on the road which you will find below. Keep up with Bryce and the bands he works with by checking out any of the links throughout this interview!
SCREAMS MEDIA: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How long have you been playing the drums? Do you play any other instruments?
I’m Bryce Butler, a professional drummer from Dallas, Texas. I technically started playing drums when I was 3, playing along to The Eagles on stools with wooden spoons. I got serious about drumming at age 15, when I saw a Mike Portnoy video and realized that you could get paid to play drums. I never turned back! I wish I could play any other instrument, but the only other thing that I’m semi decent at is singing haha
SCREAMS MEDIA: So exactly how many bands are you currently a part of?
SCREAMS MEDIA: How do you find the time to do so much within the scene?
I’m very grateful to say that all of my income is from drumming. So it’s a constant struggle, but I don’t have a normal job or anything else taking up extra time. I just communicate with each band and schedule everything out! Not each band is crazy active or touring. For example, Abigail Williams is really the only one that does long tours. Brojob and Circuit Of Suns both do shorter runs, but nothing really longer than a week.. All the rest are either studio projects, or working towards becoming a touring band. So thanks to their kindness and understanding, I’m able to make it all work!
SCREAMS MEDIA: What musician(s) inspired you most growing up?
Oh man, there’s been several drummers responsible for me not being total garbage haha Scott Phillips from Creed is actually the first drummer I remember as a big influence. At 15, The Rev from Avenged Sevenfold really pushed and inspired me, introducing me to double bass. Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater was also one of my biggest inspirations. I have to credit Brann Dailor from Mastodon, Matt Greiner from August Burns Red, Blake Richardson from Between The Buried and Me, and Matt Halpern from Periphery for their inspiration. Tomas Haake from Meshuggah was also huge for me. He changed my entire approach to drumming and the way I hear and understand rhythm. Lastly, even though it’s more recent, Matt Gartska from Animals As Leaders. I don’t know where I’d be without the inspiration of any of these drummers. Of course there’s more but these were the main ones! I think my style is just trying to borrow little chops from each of these drummers, and then executing a sloppier version haha.
SCREAMS MEDIA: In such a competitive, evolving industry with so much talent, what steps do you take to ensure your music stands out from the crowd?
I don’t think it’s so much making your music stand out from the crowd, as it is just being genuine. True, there is a lot of talent out there, but I think there’s a lot of bands looking for shortcuts. They’ll try to fake their way to the top and be fake nice to people just to try to get things out of them. There’s people making sick music, but their attitudes are toxic and push people away. Fans want things they can relate to. If you’re genuine with people, they truly feel it and will be more inclined to support you.I think all you can do is make the music that you love, and truly believe in it. It’s cliche, but it really is all about who you know in the music industry. Being fake can only get you so far. Be kind, be humble, and be good to each other. That will make you real friends, and will get you further than any scheme.
SCREAMS MEDIA: What are some of the daily struggles you face as a touring musician? What motivates you to keep going/discourages you when making music?
Travelling so much and so far, sometimes with very little feedback or interaction, can become super depressing. It also gets incredibly hard to be away from your friends and loved ones for months at a time. You often find yourself questioning why you’re doing this and if it’s truly worth it. I think the hardest part is the “tour depression” crash that you get after you come home. You get used to the adrenaline and energy exchange with people, and being in a new place every night. So when you get home and are stuck in the same place, you’re left alone with your thoughts for the first time in a while, and it can get very overwhelming. I’ll start to feel isolated because I can’t work a normal job, and that I don’t fit in because of living this sort of vagabond lifestyle. The thing that keeps me motivated most is simply just making people happy with my music. Seeing someone smile and get something out of the music that you make is one of the most amazing things ever. There’s so many talented musicians, so it can get very discouraging if you compare yourself to others. I always try to remind myself that everyone is unique and the most important thing is developing your own style. There will always be someone subjectively better. Just be yourself and do your best!
SCREAMS MEDIA: Where have you performed? What are your favourite and least favourite places/venues you've played over your career?
I have played 48 of the 50 states so far, still lacking Hawaii and Alaska. I have also played all over Canada, the UK, Japan, and 15 different countries in Europe so far! Favourite venues are harder to narrow down because there’s a lot of sick ones! So far Japan has been my favourite place, with The Netherlands, and Canada close behind. Colorado, Washington, and California are my favourite states to play haha My least favourite states to play are probably Idaho, Iowa and Rhode Island. Everywhere else has been pretty sick! I’m just so grateful and honoured to have even been able to play any of these places at all! Australia is next on my bucket list!
SCREAMS MEDIA: Can you briefly describe the most exciting show you've ever played? Alternatively, the messiest or most cringe-worthy?
The most exciting show I think I’ve played so far was Complexity Fest with The Faceless in The Netherlands in front of a bunch of musicians that I look up to. It was an unreal night. There have been a few close others but that one really stands out because The Netherlands rules. Alternatively, there have been 3 shows in my entire career where literally 0 people showed up and we played for just the sound guy and maybe the other bands, so those have probably been the worst hahaha
SCREAMS MEDIA: Being as that you play in multiple bands, What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?
Definitely more spontaneous! Because I’m in so many projects, I don’t really have time to rehearse with all of them regularly. I make sure the bands that I work with are aware of that, and everyone practices their parts on their own. Practice should be for learning your own parts and rehearsals are to be cohesive and tight with everyone else’s. You have to come prepared. Rehearsals should be quick, smooth run throughs. Efficiency is key. With most of my bands we’ll meet up just once or twice the week of the show/s and run through the set a few times. Sometimes I’ll get home right before a show and we won’t get to practice. I’ll just have to practice on the way in the car and be ready to go. There’s also several bands I’m in where we all live in different states, so we might not even get to practice at all. It’s our job to know our parts and show up prepared. I’ve done 3 different tours now where we showed up just having to start the tour because we didn’t have any time to practice together. 2 of those were with people I had never played with before. Practising with click tracks at home is a life and time saver.
SCREAMS MEDIA: Any advice for musicians looking to form a band or start touring?
Start playing, making videos, and getting your name out there. My entire drumming career started with a band I joined from a Craiglist Ad. A lot of people want to tour, but are stubborn and only want to tour with their band. That’s understandable, but it’s so hard to get a new band off the ground and able to tour. Sometimes that means that you need to fill in for another band just to get experience and make connections first. I did my first 2 tours at age 16 as a drum tech. The whole industry is all about who you know, so it doesn’t matter how you get out there and meet people… just do it. If you want to tour bad enough, start out doing merch, teching, or driving for bands... anything that people need. Get out there, meet people, and be a genuine person. Communicate and be honest with your friends and bandmates. Miscommunication and ego is the downfall for so many bands. Be kind and people will remember you for the right reasons. All it takes is meeting one person with the right connections for everything to change. Make sure you ground yourself daily. Even if you do become successful, don’t ever let it get to your head.
SCREAMS MEDIA: Can we briefly talk about a fan, mentor, friend or family who has really inspired you in the past to continue creating? What did this person do or say that had such an impact?
I’m beyond blessed and humbled to have a large, supportive group of people that I don’t know what I’d do without. Too many beautiful people have said such kind things to me, that have truly impacted me more than they’ll ever know. There’s several people that have saved my life and they don’t even know it. I’m incredibly hard on myself, and there’s many times that I’ve felt worthless and wanted to give up. Every time that happens, some beautiful soul comes along and says something that makes me cry and lifts me up. Words can’t even express how grateful I am to the amazing friends and people in my life. Thank you so much
SCREAMS MEDIA: Anything else you would like to mention before we wrap up? Any teasers or things that fans can look forward to this year?
I just want to thank you for caring about me and taking the time to hear what I have to say. I’m completely honored and humbled that I was asked to do this! I have new releases coming from 9 different bands this year! Silvercord Valiant Crusade Dei Aemeth Aeolia Lizard Professor Brojob Circuit Of Suns An Isolationist Hunt The Dinosaur (I’m not in the band anymore but I performed drums on the upcoming album) No tours to announce for any bands just yet, but I’m working on a few that will be sick! Thank you so much again for your time! Always be yourselves, and be kind to each other!
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