Each week we’ll be bringing you an exclusive piece about artists on the Download Festival Australia lineup, or about the festival itself. This week, Matt Doria points the spotlight at Fever 333, and their revolution that is gaining momentum as each day passes.
All around the world, there is a fever brewing. Police brutality, poverty, sexism and queerphobia – all of these things are fuelling a well-overdue mutiny, driven by young and furious punks who simply refuse to keep drinking the Kool-Aid. And at the centre of it is something that virtually every single person on Earth can relate to; an easily accessible tool that transcends language, but unites dissonant cultures unlike anything else: music.
Rising from the streets of California, rapcore trio Fever 333 are taking protest music to new heights by encouraging their audience to participate directly in the narrative. Their debut EP - Made An America – out now on Roadrunner Records – is a solid stack of tunes in its own right, but wields a dual purpose of aiming to ignite a physical uprising. You can pop the EP in your headphones and have a feisty jam to it in your bedroom, but you can also take a step further and actually get involved.
“The movement is much greater than the music,” said frontman Jason Aalon Butler, formerly of letlive, in announcing Made An America. “The art is only a contingent piece. We want to make sure we’re just as involved in the activism and actual activation. We make it ostensibly clear that everything we do is in an active effort for change. It’s about bringing back that socio-political mindfulness. We’re trying to write the soundtrack to the revolution that we know is about to happen.”
It’s a common theme in the political punk sphere – the earnest ambition to write the soundtrack to the revolution. Bands with the same mantra come a dime a dozen in the year of our lord, 2018, but where Fever 333 are pushing the envelope and making a tangible leap forward is in their action. They build platforms from which to translate rage into positivity, and in forming Fever 333, they hope you’ll be inspired to do the same.
In a recent interview with Mixdown Magazine, Butler proclaimed, “I don’t want to just sit back and write the songs, and then hope that people listen to them and then go, ‘Alright, I’m gonna go protest.’ I want to be at the protest. I want to facilitate these spaces where people can express themselves and where they challenge and reject the things that are set up to oppress them. I want to offer them a sense of empowerment and for them to understand that I am just as disgruntled and frustrated as them, and I’m just as willing to be there with them in that fight.”
Above all, the driving force behind Fever 333 is kinship. It’s in their title: ‘Fever’ represents a unanimous asperity felt by oppressed groups in various communities around the world, and ‘333’ is the defining link in bonding those communities.
"The 333 at the end of our moniker represents the three Cs," Butler told Upset Magazine earlier this year. "C is the third letter of the alphabet, and the three Cs at the end of our name represent community, charity and change. That is the mission, to make sure everything we do holds true to those three Cs. We create a community, every cent we make we find a way to push towards a charity, and hopefully, at the end of this we are able to affect some sort of change that will be positive beyond our own timeline.”
Photo: Daniel Rojas
At the core of their activism is Fever 333’s live show: hypersonic and furious eruptions of riffs, pits, battlecries and pulsing lights dubbed by Butler as ‘demonstrations’. These serve as their own little rallies for this new, punkish rebellion, where signs and marches are replaced with pumping fists and mosh pits.
Their first demonstration was immortalised in legend from the moment footage of it landed. On July 4th, 2017 (Independence Day in the States for those unaware), Butler and co. took to the parking lot of doughnut shop in their native California to play a show only “announced” through cryptic Instagram posts. At this point, nobody knew what to expect – the band had not formally revealed their existence before it, and the whole shebang went down guerilla-style out of the back of a van.
The band launched into a three-song showcase that saw guitarist Stevis Harrison (formerly of The Chariot) whip around the pavement like trees in a storm, Butler climb the U-Haul and drummer Aric Improta (Night People) thrash to his heart’s content from the inside of it. It was an instant success – they wrapped up just a few minutes before the cops showed up to shut it down and the footage went viral on every music site worth its server.
Photo: Daniel Rojas
Since then, Fever 333 have worked hard to spread the seed of their anarchy far and wide. Their 2018 demonstrations in Europe sold out in seconds, and come March 2019, they’ll be starting (metaphorical) fires in Australia for the first time ever.
As those who managed to catch it live in years past will attest, not an inch of the stage will be left untouched by Butler's convulsive performance. To see him tear shit up at Download will be something truly magical – especially because on paper, nothing about Fever 333 should work. Butler’s vocals are screamed, rapped, hummed and sung – sometimes all in the same verse – over a battlefield of coarse, rumbling guitars, breakneck drums and electronic wallops that’ll put even your nicest headphones to the test.
So if you’re pissed off about the current state of the world, find comfort in knowing Fever 333 aren’t just fighting for you, they’re fighting with you. And when they touch down in March for their demonstrations at the second ever Australian Download, they’ll be channelling that fury into sets that revel in a league of craziness other bands could only dream of spurring.
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Written by Matt Doria - A writer who’s all about the three P’s: pizza, punk, and p…dogs.