First a bit of background information…
1996: Gary ‘Mani’ Mansfield, bass player of The Stone Roses, joins Primal Scream after The Roses split up.
2011: The Stone Roses announce that the band reunite. Mani’s vacant spot in The Scream is filled briefly by My Bloody Valentine’s Debbie Googe, as a touring member, not a permanent replacement.
2012: At the end of October NME writes on their website: ‘Representatives for the band have confirmed that Simone Marie Butler has now joined Bobby Gillespie and co as a full-time member. A Google search of the name reveals an astrologer, an actress and a woman who survived 66 days adrift at sea. NME suspects none of these are the same Simone Butler, and Primal Scream’s representatives have no further information at this point.’
2013: August 8th. As a longtime devoted Scream fan I was at their concert at the ‘Lokerse Feesten’ festival in Belgium last summer. There I saw and heard the ‘Mystery Bassist’ for the first time. I was quite impressed: a damn good bass guitarist, natural born cool looks and… very ‘rock’n roll’ sexy. The show is a stormer. Beady Eye had to cancel their appearance for the same night due to Gem Archer’s accident but nobody missed them. Afterwards the audience and the press are unanimous : Primal Scream were A-C-E- !
The very next day another (indoor) gig in Belgium was announced for November… in Ghent, my hometown! It was quite clear to me: I had to meet Simone Marie Butler. I was lucky to track her down and it was quite overwhelming that Simone answered my messages quite fast and that she agreed to do an interview for 50thirdand3rd…
Ghent last Wednesday (November 13th) …
Backstage at the ‘Vooruit’ venue, late afternoon: ‘Hello, I’m Simone, pleased to meet you’. Maybe it sounds silly (I don’t care) but I was just thinking ‘it really is happening… an interview with my new n° 1 favourite bass player.’ Sorry Kim Deal. We went to the cosy venue’s café for the interview…
Hello Simone Marie … there’s still little info to find about you on the net or in magazines. Will you tell us something about the past of the ‘Mystery Girl’?
I was born and raised in London. My dad played in different pop bands. I grew up with a lot of musicians around the house. My father was listening to Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, The Beatles and lots of other big artists of that era. Since then I’ve always been in a musical environment. Years ago I started to work in Denmark Street, London, in a guitar store called ‘Vintage and Rare’ where I got in touch with a lot of musicians. The Scream’s guitarist Barrie Cadogan also used to work there. At a certain time I wanted and I decided to go on and move further. Meeting quite some bass players in the shop I wanted to know everything about the instrument and started to learn to play it. I’ve been in different bands for the last 10-12 years. No big names. Playing rock ‘n roll as well as electro. I also DJied quite a lot.
What did you exactly feel joining that legendary rock band?
I’ve met Bobby before, I knew Barrie for 10 years, I also met Andrew before at different gigs (note JL: Andrew Innes was a longtime Scream member) and I loved Primal Scream since forever. So my name came up when they looked for a new permanent bass player. Sometimes there’s a certain amount of luck involved, knowing the right people at the right time, but you make your own luck as well. I really worked hard for the last 10 years to get somewhere. A journalist asked me if it felt like a ‘baptism of fire’ after joining the band. I must say that description fitted well when Bobby called me with the good news. Signing with the band was the right thing to do and I’m very proud of it.
Where and when was your first gig as the new bass player?
It was actually a radio show. But my first proper concert was at the Clockenflap Music & Arts Festival in Hong Kong, December last year, before 30.000 people . I was quite nervous but my desire to do it overided my fear of doing it. It was amazing.
Do you have creative space within the band?
Bobby was very generous to let me come in and be myself. He said not to try to be Mani which gave me a great deal of trust. Of course I want to do justice to the Scream music as it is recorded, but there’s a big difference between the songs on record and their live renditions. For gigs we change the arrangements for some songs. In that way I can be part of the creative process on stage.
What about Bobby?
Bobby is an amazing lyricist. He knows his literature and poetry. He’s a truth seeker, a very passionate person. He’s an true artist. All members of the band are great individuals, obsessed with music and an amazing knowledge of it. The beautiful thing about Primal Scream is that they made records like Screamadelica, Exterminator, Vanishing Point, musically all very different avenues. That’s why they are such a great band, they’re still open for all sort of influences, still working hard, still experimenting and I’m releaved to be in there.
Isn’t the rock ‘n roll world still ruled by men?
I agree that men are definitely still prominent in the music industry. But as long as I’m in the music business I never had any kind of sexist offensive experiences. I was the first woman to manage that shop in Denmark Street and I wanted to prove myself in that sense, but I found nothing other than great friendships.
Do you have a ritual before going on stage?
Oh I drink a couple of vodka’s with coca cola and then I do some yoga… (lots of laugther… so no yoga at all, only vodka’s). About an hour before going on I’m really focused as most of musicians are before a show. The adrenaline starts to flow…
Who’s you’re favourite bass player?
I don’t have one favourite, there are several. J.J. Burnel from The Stranglers, Jah Wobble, Simon Gallup from The Cure, Steven Severin from Siouxsie and the Banshees, Gary Mansfield, Robbie Shakespeare and… oh is it that late, need to go to do the soundcheck… you can come too…
Many thanks Simone Marie Butler for taking time to do this interview !
Well folks, I guess you know something more, but certainly not all about Primal Scream’s new bass player. And I’m pretty sure Simone Marie (her parents choose ‘Marie’ as 2nd name after Elvis’ daughter Lisa ’Marie’ Presley) wants to keep it that way. But hey… some mystique in rock ‘n roll is cool and Simone is totally cool !
Afterwards the concert was one of Scream’s best gigs I ever witnessed (12). A mixture of electro punk, sonic psycedelica and dynamite rock’n roll. An impressive cocktail of past killer tracks and songs of the excellent and critically highly acclaimed new album ‘More Light’. It’s, except for the ballads, a ‘Louder Than War’ performance . You know, when the music enters your mind and body and you wonder what will happen next. Amazing !
Here’s the setlist… and pics of the gig
Selist – Vooruit in Gent – 13 november, 2013
To end this piece here’s single ‘It’s Alright, It’s Ok’ from new album ‘More Light’
Website Primal Scream
Facebook Simone Marie Butler
NME’s review of new album ‘More Light’
Album ‘More Light’ on Itunes
Thanks to Mani, Ian, Reni and John for reforming The Stone Roses…