Mike Butler is coming back to an old home.
A former Queen’s graduate with a degree in math and economics, Butler returns to Kingston this Saturday night not as an accountant, but as a country singer.
“I put out an EP a few months back in 2013 which I recorded here in Toronto. It’s my first solo project that I’ve done,” Butler said. “It’s a mix of songs that I’ve written on my own as well as with a couple other folks.”
When it came to crafting the self-titled three-song EP that would serve as his first solo statement, Butler said he took it seriously. The record was made at Noble Street Studios, a studio that top-tier pop artists like Drake and Justin Bieber have worked in — a real “state-of-the-art type deal”, as Butler himself described it.
“It’s the most intense recording project I’ve gotten into so far and I got to work with some absolutely top-notch musicians,” he said.
Despite the attention he brings to recording, Butler said his heart is still in touring and performing live, as the attendees at his upcoming headlining set at The Mansion will learn.
“My favourite two things are writing songs and performing, because it’s a party for us. You’re hanging out with people, everybody’s having a good time and everybody’s dancing and you can’t be upset about it,” he said.
Butler’s live show specializes in a mix of covers of classic and contemporary country as well as his own Bruce Springsteen and Brad Paisley-inspired originals.
“I play with a pretty great band and they’re some of the tightest musicians I’ve heard, so it’s always pretty fun for me,” Butler said. “I love getting up onstage and going to new spots, making new friends and meeting new people.”
Music was always a primary interest for Butler, even during his time at Queen’s. He’s played in bands since high school, making home studio recordings.
“[I] left Queen’s, started working, continued playing a little bit and eventually decided if I was gonna take time to pursue it I would rather it be now than in 25 years,” he said.
This attitude towards seizing the moment is the real drive behind Butler’s choice to leave his job as an accountant and follow music, he said, for practical reasons as well as passion.
“I never want to complain, [because] it’s a lot of fun. But when you’re out playing bars and it’s 1:30, it’s a rowdy crowd, and the bar owner comes over and says ‘Can you guys go to 2:00,’ you’re not getting home until 3:00, 3:30,” Butler said.
“And if I was 40, 50 years old that would kind of be out of the question,” he said. “But right now I got the energy and the time. So why not?”
Mike Butler will be playing at The Mansion on Jan. 25.
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