THE ZEN OF CREATION with

GEORGE ROBSON and THE HERD OF BUTTERFLY

Interview with Diane DiMemmo

September 14, 2020

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George Robson & The Herd of Butterfly are seriously pollinating. Or shall I say creatively percolating? Whatever the description, brothers George Robson (Lead Vox, Guitars, Violin) and David Robson (Backup Vox, Bass) are both driven by a similar foundational belief that their music should provide comfort and support to others. The band is rounded out by Kevin Foley (Electric Guitar) and Shawna Grabowski (Drums).


As I spoke with George and David during our interview, I was struck by the peace, joy, and harmony emanating from them that can only come from a place of shared vision. “A lot of times it's just about solidarity,” said George. “It's about having that feeling that even though the world sucks right now, a song is enough to connect you with that feeling that somebody else feels that way too; that you’re not alone. We stand with those who have dropped their ice cream cones.”


I was intrigued by that statement since it’s written on all of their social media accounts and Bandcamp page. George continued, “That's the image in my head. Everything that's wrong with the world comes down to that feeling of when you were a kid and you dropped your ice cream cone. It was the most devastating thing. It was this good thing that you thought you had, and then it was taken away. So that feeling of solidarity with everyone that feels that sense.”


“And if one person who has dropped their ice cream cone listens to our songs and feels a little bit better … that’s the goal,” added David.

That outlook fuels an impressive number of projects they’ve worked on thus far, which includes music (for The Herd and for other independent projects), screenplays, comedy sketches, short films, music videos, movie soundtracks, and a theater play. They describe their music as “punk meets folk in a really weird way; or urban folk.” The brothers feel they became best friends through writing music and comedy sketches together.


Although each of the band members have been working on independent music projects for years, their current lineup as The Herd of Butterfly has been in effect for just about a year. George has written 43 songs (“more actually during the quarantine”) and has been sharing them with the band to create new versions. George explained, “’Mama’ was a song that I had previously recorded for an EP on my own and then I brought to the band.”


“And we completely changed it,” laughed David.


George continued, “Yeah, when we played it together, Kevin had this amazing guitar solo and we all kind of looked at each other. That was the moment we realized we were a band. Because this was something new that we created.”


George and David admit that their process for songwriting might appear to be a bit counterintuitive. They’ll begin by sharing one chord progression, then go into separate rooms and brainstorm music and lyric ideas. “I feel like that's a bad [songwriting] practice, but maybe it's the brother connection [that makes it work],” stated David. “It always seems that where George stops is where I can pick up. So, we always aim for like a Lennon-McCartney situation where one person has the bulk of the song, and then the second brother comes in with that middle eight … and now we're going here; it becomes something different.”


David continued, “I think also naturally, with the two of us, whenever we write anything, we always talk about paradoxes. We love the idea of the heavy with the light. Like in all of our lyrics, there's something that's always slightly wrong, because you're thinking it's going one way, and we're like, ‘Yeah, actually we're talking about something else.’”

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MEMBERS

George Robson - Lead Vox, Guitars, Violin, and the Poetry

David Robson - Backup Vox, Bass, and the Spirit

Kevin Foley - Electric Guitar and the Magic

Shawna Grabowski - Drums and The Most Important Stuff 


HOME TOWN

Asbury Park, New Jersey

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That ambiguity is what also drew them to their band name, taken from instructor Lisa Triolo’s yoga classes at the Ohana Rising Yoga School. “I was doing a lot of yoga at the time,” George explained. “And something Lisa had a tendency of saying as we were transitioning was to do it like a herd of butterfly. It was a phrase that stuck in my mind; I just loved the duality of it ...graceful yet powerful. And especially with the way that we describe our sound, like we said urban folk. That was always kind of the intention. We can be loud and kind of punk and hard; but at the same time, there's a lot of acoustic instrumentation. So, finding that tension between the grace and the power felt fitting for what we were trying to do.”


Throughout the quarantine, George has been very active on social media, regularly releasing new versions of his original 43 songs. He used to be more deliberate, or what he calls “precious,” with the process but now realizes it’s more important to connect with his listeners regularly. He takes a very creative approach where he puts out one new song each week and follows it up with a lyric video. Then George and David will interview each other, dissect the song and talk about the songwriting process and what led to it. “So [listeners] get three different viewpoints from the same song. I think a lot of people resonate with that more, to be honest, because they feel like they're seeing the process and seeing a more honest version of some of these songs,” he said.


In addition to the original 43 songs, the guys revealed they have many newer ones that have been written recently. “The main thing that I really want to do next is record, even though I would love to play live which is the main way people can hear our songs,” he stated. “But in the next six months or so, I'd really like to get into the studio with all four of us. I think I've always figured we would probably do some kind of version of what we do live.”


And speaking of live performances, I just had to ask George and David to describe the feeling they get when on stage in front of their fans. David answered, “I think for me, it feels like I’m finally home. As soon as I'm in front of people, it's like, I'm not myself anymore. Everything becomes a little bit clearer.”


George added, “For me it's like sunlight going through a prism, and then all the lights explode into the room. Once you get onstage, it's like everything that you thought was around you is kind of refracted into the rainbow. And you feel this is why we're doing this.”


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Asbury Park Vibes is a media publication dedicated to shining a light on the live music scene, as well as promoting the artists we love! We strive to provide show reviews, photographs, and artist stories that bring fans and musicians closer together.

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