When Bryce Butler was a little kid, he often waddled into the kitchen while his parents watched old Eagles concerts and beat on bowls with wooden spoons. Twenty-two years later, Butler is still beating on things as the drummer of North Texas metal bands Seeker and Lizard Professor. But he recently got a big break when he was asked to join the ranks of progressive death metal stalwart The Faceless.
The Faceless, an LA-based band fronted by guitarist Michael Keene, released its fourth album, In Becoming a Ghost, on Dec. 1. Its third, Autotheism, reached the No. 50 position on the Billboard 200.
“It’s a dream come true,” Butler tells the Observer on the phone after completing a sound check in Seattle. He performed with the band in Texas for the first time last night at Trees and said The Faceless "is in my top five favorite bands, so whenever this happened, I was fucking freaking out.”
Butler says he tried out earlier this year, before The Faceless went on the the Summer Slaughter tour, a festival of extreme music, but the band picked another drummer.
“I guess they ended up not being happy with his performance, because [band manager] E.J. Shannon called me two weeks before this tour was supposed to start and asked if I still wanted to play for The Faceless and I was like, ‘Uhhh, yeah!'”
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He says the band asked him to send in another play-through video of him drumming “Xenochrist,” one of The Faceless’ signature songs. It's filled with an array of blistering blast beats and requires technical precision.
“I was pretty scared, but I sent them that video, and they were just so sweet about it," he says. "They liked it a lot, and it just kind of went from there.”
Butler has always aspired to be a professional drummer, and his Sunnyvale ISD teachers and classmates used to mock him for for not wanting to pursue "an actual career."
“A lot of kids used to talk shit to me about drumming, and it’s sad to say this, but a lot of my teachers in school would laugh in my face," he says.
Butler says his detractors only motivated him. He takes his craft seriously, which is good, considering he had to learn The Faceless’ entire set list in just 13 days, while on tour with Dallas metal band I Am.
“Long story short, we didn’t even practice at all. Not even once. Our first practice together was the sound check of the first show,” Butler says. “We played 'Xenochrist' because they knew I could play it, and then the show was the first time we played every other song.”
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The Faceless’ tour supports In Becoming a Ghost. While it's only 11 days, Butler believes this new gig will be permanent.
“They’ve already talked to me about Europe, which is gonna be all of February, and they’ve mentioned in April going out again and playing the new album in its entirety, and they’ve also mentioned in October doing a 10-year [anniversary] Planetary Duality tour, which would be fucking sick.”
Butler may have to drop one of his many North Texas bands with that kind of itinerary next year, he says, but it will be worth the chance to join an internationally touring band.
“It’s been funny because it’s really hard for me to control my fan boy,” Butler says in a tone that's half joking, half serious. “I just have to act normal and not act like I’m freaking out that I’m playing drums behind Michael Keene. It’s crazy. I can’t believe this is happening.”