Some would call Butch Parnell’s music folk. Others would see it as country. And still others might consider it indie. So which is it? Well, it’s all that and then it’s not really any of it at the same time. Growing up with Bob Dylan records and Rolling Stones albums left a mark on Butch that at first glance might not seem so apparent. And you probably will not to hear his immense love for the bands Oasis or KISS either, but they are there. So how do you define the music of Butch Parnell? It’s honest. It’s simple. And it tells a story that almost anyone regardless of age can relate to.
Growing up in a very rural part of North Carolina provided an excellent opportunity for Butch to develop as a musician. ‘When you don’t have neighborhood kids to play with you have to entertain yourself. And that’s where music came in. My brother and I would play music all the time, because there wasn’t much else to do’. By age 12 Butch knew he wanted to be songwriter. So after high school Butch decided to go to music school. ‘I wanted to go to music school to learn to be a great songwriter, but they were only interested in turning out high school band teachers and atonal composers. I wanted to write pretty songs that would resonate inside of the listener’. So after 2 years Butch left school to tour with a friend’s band who was getting some major label buzz. ‘Columbia was trying to sign the band. And I thought I would just join the band and would be set’. But that wasn’t the case. Nothing ever materialized for the band and it eventually broke up. But while Butch was playing in that band he kept quietly writing songs. And after 10 years of writing he finally had something he thought was pretty good. And then one faithful evening he ran into one of his favorite songwriters. ‘I met Ryan Adams when I was living in Charleston, SC. And somehow I ended up playing some of my songs for him. And he told me that he really liked them. That was all the validation I needed’. So Butch left Charleston and moved to New York City to per sue his own music.
After a year of living in New York Butch had written a bunch of songs. ‘That first year songwriting was so easy. I wrote about an album’s worth of music and I sent the demos to my friend that I used to play in a band with. He heard them and decided I needed to record them immediately’. So Butch’s good friend Price set up everything. He arranged a producer and studio and Butch flew to Springfield, Missouri to record his first album. ‘It was all very fast and exciting. In 10 days I went from having nothing to having recorded my first album’. The album which was released under the moniker Runaway Dorothy was released to great reviews and grabbed the attention of some musical royalty. Roseanne Cash and Adam Duritz of Counting Crows have both stated their love of it in interviews and on social media.
The next few years saw Butch touring in support of the album and playing festivals like SXSW and CMJ multiple times. And in 2014 after signing a one album deal with the label Rock Ridge Music Butch released the second Runaway Dorothy album. ‘This was a very difficult album for me to make. It seemed to take years. And I was in a terrible mess while it was going on. I was homeless and living on my brother’s couch. I was broke and obsessed with getting the album right.’ After completion the label decided to hold the album’s release for one year. And when it finally came out Butch and his band toured in support of it. But it didn’t get the attention the first had. So in 2015 Butch quietly again starting writing and recording songs. ‘I didn’t know if there would ever be another Runaway Dorothy album, but I as making demos for songs as if there would be. But after listening to the first set of demos I decided to just release those as my first Ep using the name Butch Parnell’. So in late 2015 Butch’s first Ep ‘The Brightness' was released. Six months later the second Ep ‘The Shatter’ followed it.
Now Butch is set to release his 3rd Ep which is has aptly titled ‘The 3rd’. It’s a 3 song Ep that will be released on the 3rd day of the 3rd month is 2017. Why so many 3s? ‘When I as making the second album and going through a very rough time I decided to go see a psychic. I was there to talk about my relationship problem but all she wanted to talk about was my music career. She asked me if I as about to release my third album and I told her that I was about to release my second. She said that she saw an album with a huge ‘3' on the cover and that was the one that was gonna make it big for me and not to stop before more that. So it seemed fitting that my third Ep with three songs on it be called ‘The 3rd’. And I put a huge 3 on the cover just for good luck. I mean third times a charm. Right?'