The Buttertones

by Elaina Ransford

All Different Flavors
“I’m on the freeway so if I stop talking I got into a horrible accident,” says Dakota Böttcher, guitarist for Los Angeles-based group The Buttertones. Incidentally, it is the only “I” statement that he will make during our conversation and one of the few times that any of the members of the independent rock band will ever allude to themselves as individuals.

The cohesiveness shows. The Buttertones are a uniquely L.A. band: comprised of five gorgeous young guys, their sound, as Sean Redman, bassist, says “Fits into the indie alternative college rock universe just fine.” And yet, despite their flip admission of fitting a particular bill, The Buttertones don’t quite suit any single category.

“We have the culture of Echo Park and Hollywood, but at the same time, we want to make something different,” says Richard Araiza, guitarist and lead vocalist.

Böttcher, Redman, Araiza, saxophonist London Guzman, and drummer Kobe Modeste, met in Hollywood in 2011, and began playing music together as a reaction to attending a music school they all mutually detested. As they developed their sound, they also became inseparable friends and prolific musicians. To date, they have played practically every venue in Los Angeles, and are a household name in the 20-something Echo Park/Silverlake/Los Feliz crowd.

“In the four years that we’ve known each other, the city has really shaped us: the experiences, the shows, the parties…” Redman trails off and the others laugh. It’s clear that they are considering the plight of the latter.

When asked about their band name the guys become animated, frantically talking over each other. “I mean, butter is an ingredient in a lot of food, and it really brings out the flavor. We have different flavors, so—” Redman is interrupted by Guzman: “It makes you think of a ’50s doo-wop group.”

Despite their retro name, The Buttertones are decidedly of the 21st century. In particular, they are part of Los Angeles’ 21st century. They speak enthusiastically of their teenage fans—comparing their existence in the city to that of participants on MTV’s The Real World—and they flippantly reference their day jobs: “We dabble in acting and, you know, modeling shit.” However, they make it clear that they don’t plan on kicking it on the East side forever.

“We want people to experience us around the world,” says Redman.

The rest of the band agrees, adding that they will remain independent, despite any form of fame: “We’re such a unit. We’ve taken things into our own hands. We’re going to do things by ourselves as long as we can. We’re building our own little empire.”

Photographer: Stefano Galli at Stefanogalli.com.

Stylist: Abi Arcinas.

Photography Assistant: Julian Fernandez.

Styling Assistant: Janelle Lopez.