On Thursday May 3rd, Butcher Boy appeared on “Phoning It In”, the hip indie show hosted by WMBR, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s student radio station. As the name suggests, “Phoning It In” features bands playing live at the other end of a phone line, with the motto “lo-fi is the right fi” summing up the show’s gloriously underground spirit.
Butcher Boy being Butcher Boy, they’d decided to turn the night into a slumber party. They convened in the high ceilinged front room of singer John Blain Hunt’s Georgian flat in the west end of Glasgow, and watched “The Breakfast Club” with popcorn to get into the right frame of mind. Then at 12.30am, they played an eight song set down the phone line to the show. In John’s front room, the acoustics were superb, the songs echoing to the rafters, but the onair results were rather more muffled. As one fan put it afterwards: “Now we know what Butcher Boy would sound like if they were stranded down a well.”
Inspired by the sound they’d heard in the room that night, the band decided to see if they could capture it for their new EP. They reconvened in the same room a few months later, and recorded four songs, with bassist Garry Hoggan producing.
The results are anything but lo-fi. Lead track “The Eighteenth Emergency”, featuring just piano, cello and voice, sounds warm yet distant, a subtle lament with lyrics designed to be unravelled. “React Or Die” is a stripped back version of a song that would be re-recorded with the full band for their second album. And just to make the recordings more unique, the group re-arranged two songs from their critically acclaimed debut album, “Profit In Your Poetry” – “Keep Your Powder Dry” now saunters along with a swing in its step, while “There Is No One Who Can Tell You Where You’ve Been” has become a blur of percussion and Spanish guitar.