Lee Butler

The airwaves of the North West will never be the same again thanks to the launch of the brand new DAB station In Demand Radio! Brought to us by the team behind the monstrous Reminisce festival and featuring a huge array of superstar presenters, DMCWORLD checks in with Liverpool legend Lee Buter – the man taking care of the all-important Breakfast Show…

Lee a huge welcome to DMCWORLD…where in this crazy world are you today?

Hey Dan, I have just finished my radio show and now off for a run in Croxteth Park in Liverpool – trying to control my waistline listening to the bassline!

Ha! What was the first piece of music you heard this morning after rolling out of bed?

It was Alexander O’Neil ‘Criticize’ in the car at 5am. Always good to hear something groovy when I’m waking up! 

So huge news for you and the northwest right now thanks to the brand new DAB radio station ‘In Demand Radio’. But before we dive into that, let’s rewind for a moment and discover where your musical adventure began….

My Dad has been on local radio in Liverpool for over 50 years, he was also resident DJ at The Cavern so I’ve always been surrounded by music and radio. I used to help him with his mail for his radio shows when people used to actually write in for a request, I was only about 10 at the time and fascinated at an early age

What is your earliest memory of music as a child?

I remember my Dad going through all the 7” vinyl promos he would get sent, he would literally flick a few seconds of each on and decide if he liked it or not. I could never understand how he knew with such a short listen but now I do the same when getting mailed new music. Musically in my teens I was a huge Madonna fan, Bobby Brown, Luther – even a dash of Wham! 

How did dance music first enter your radar?

I left school at 16 in 1987 and was an apprentice spark. This new thing called acid house had landed and I was blown away by these 303 sounds. I used to take a tape deck to work and have it blasting on the building sites and everybody absolutely hated it. I then started travelling to some illegal raves, I left my work’s van in Blackburn, lost my job, went off the rails and was obsessed with house music!

Love it. First proper club you ever stepped foot into, can you remember what thoughts were crashing through your mind?

The legendary Quadrant Park! In 1987 it was a Sharon and Tracy club before it turned into the rave club that changed many people’s lives. I went there at 17 in 1988 trying to get girls up to the slowies at the end of the night and failing miserably due to my terrible bum fluff moustache! Then in 1989 The State in Liverpool kicked off which was amazing, but it was The Quad in 1990 that was the game changer for generations of people – absolute ground breaking nights in 90/91 where 3000 clubbers lost themselves totally swept away by the whole scene; the music, the drugs…John Kelly, Mike Knowler, Andy Carrol, James Barton –  truly special nights at the Quad!

Was a career in music always the No.1 choice or was there ever anything else on the table?

Once the acid scene came along I downed tools as a spark and truly had to become a DJ. My inspiration was John Kelly – his creativity on the decks blew me away with his use of accapellas and so much more! I passed my City and Guilds to be a spark, but climbing under floorboards was swapped for podiums! 

What did your family think of your career choice?

My Dad wasn’t impressed by all the raving and everything that went with it to be honest – I was off the rails in the late 80s and the 90s but once I got my first residency then they realised it was what I really wanted.

Your first big break in the music industry?

1992 at the legendary STATE nightclub in Liverpool where I got an early Saturday slot. At the time I was doing social clubs to earn money to buy my vinyl from 3 Beat Records, and when I got my chance at The State I started to get a real good following and things took off from there. 

It’s your birthday, 3 DJs you book to play…

Tuff one!! Have to be old skool here — locally then John Kelly for all his creation and passion! The big man Tall Paul – I love Paul’s sets, he’s played every year for me at the Reminisce Festival. Then I’d go for Jon Pleased Wimmin, I love his sets too – big tunes and real gems in the mix!

So onto In Demand Radio, a station that you joined after announcing you were leaving Radio City to take up the Breakfast Show reins. A major move for you! Tell us about the allure of this new radio station – why is it just what the north west needs, what drove you on to join this exciting new musical journey?

Anyone who knows me will know that my passion is MUSIC and in recent times I have had no input into the music that I’m playing on my shows at Radio City. This is a reflection of how radio now is, the same super safe music being broadcast on repeat across every station, across the whole country. All the specialist local shows we used to know and love have been dropped and most of the time when you tune in to your local radio station you won’t hear a local voice or those anthems that connect with the people of Liverpool. I feel the time is right for me to take on a new challenge to try and bring back all things that should be great about local radio, here, in Liverpool and the North West.

Great answer. What can we expect from your Breakfast Show?

You will be able to join me every weekday morning between 6am-10am for THE BREKKY BUTLER – all the hottest new shiny anthems plus an hour from 9am of the biggest old skool anthems in the Reminisce Rewind. The show is about having FUN and letting the music shine, but most importantly keeping it local with lots of interaction. The response has truly been mind blowing, in 20 years of radio I have never ever had interaction like it, I’m so thrilled.

In Demand Radio will feature many world famous names such as Tiesto, Roger Sanchez and Judge Jules – who’s shows are you especially keen to check out?

The man Roger Sanchez – he is an absolute legend and his show is pure class. But we have some of the hottest local lads and girls on too who are really shining on the station. 

Here’s a big one. Ten big classic tunes you’ll be spinning for us…

So in no order as its too tuff !! 

Ten City – That’s The Way Love Is

A truly heartbreaking anthem yet so uplifting. Incredible vocals and an amazing story in the lyrics!

Ten City - Thats The Way Love Is

Phase 2 – Reachin

Another real gem. Such a positive soulful message too, you got to keep on reaching! 

Phase II - Reachin' - Brotherhood Mix - 1988

Black Box – Ride on Time

Just one of them breakthrough Italian anthems that hit the charts and woke so many up to this new piano Italian sound – so uplifting! 

Black Box - Ride on Time (Official Video)

4 For Money – A Moment In Time

Memories of the Quadrant Park with this incredibly powerful screaming pianos and heavy kick drum! 

4 For Money - It's A Moment In Time

Hyper Go Go – Never Let Go

Huge for me in the 90s and these were the piano masters – timeless Liverpool anthem 

Hyper Go Go - Never Let Go

FPI Project – Risky

The Italian masters. I love this tune, just so so uplifting and brings back so many amazing memories 

FPI PROJECT - Risky (Official Video)

Mory Kante – Yeke Yeke

That acid riff and crazy vocal. Memories of Cream with Paul Bleasdale. TUNE! 

Mory Kante - Yeke Yeke (Hardfloor Remix)

Sandy B – Make The World Go Round

The get out of jail anthem when your dancefloor ain’t moving! The baseline and the vocal! 

Sandy B Make The World Go Round

Space Brothers – Forgiven

My fav trance anthem – such an emotional vocal and riff. Amazing!

The Space Brothers - Forgiven (Original Mix)

Artemisia – Bits and Pieces

The ultimate scouse anthem – just goes off…all the time! 

Bits + Pieces (Original Mix)

Behind the musical adventure though Lee you have journeyed on and overcome an even bigger adventure, one of alcohol and drug addiction. It was a battle that saw everything from your marriage, health and work crumble. There will be people reading this who are going through their own problems thinking there is no way out. How did you find the inner strength to stop, what got you off the death rollercoaster, how did you survive?

Recovery is the most amazing thing. So many of the 90s generation have ended up with an addiction issue and so many of the younger generation too. My ecstasy use led to cocaine abuse and a terribly painful place of paranoia and bad mental and physical health. As  much as I hated doing it and the damage it was causing me and all those I loved…I just could not stop! I reached out for support and it’s the best decision I ever made. It took me longer that it should have to finally put the beast of addiction to bed, I did all the group meetings and one to one sessions and eventually learned to recognise that addictive voice that was blagging me all the time to ‘just have the one’, ‘don’t go mad’, ‘you deserve a blow out’ etc. etc.. Once I learnt and understood that this was my addiction talking to me then I had a chance to finally compete against it…and eventually I won! 

I am so so passionate now about helping others, I opened up publicly and now I help so many because the rewards are truly so special. You get your health, wealth, creativity, energy and love for life back and you get the respect and love of your family back too. People can change if they work hard at their recovery and learn 

Amazing words Lee. Another issue you have tackled head on is knife crime with your raising funds for the No More Knives  charity. What do you think is the answer to this ongoing problem that has taken hold in every town in the UK?

What comes with recovery is a massive passion to give back. I’m huge on fund-raising and awareness, I’ve raised lots of money for the NHS in lockdown through my live DJ streams, but the knife crime issue is scary. I teamed up with Paul Bentley from No More Knives and we did a charity boxing event to raise money! I think it’s so important to get into schools to talk to the younger generation and make them realise the horrendous consequences of knife crime from every side. From the person using the knife to the horrible pain that is caused to the victims and their families. We need to educate our children and give them hope too

And finally, obviously the world’s dancefloors are gathering dust thanks to the Covid 19 pandemic. Many people think the days of Reminisce, Creamfields and Glastonbury are over with little hope of mass gatherings happening again. What are your thoughts on clubland’s future…will we be back cheering on our favourite DJs soon or are we in for a long wait on the sidelines?

It’s been the most awful time and it’s the lack of hope that’s so hard to cope with for the clubs and festivals. We really seem to be the last on the list to find a way for us to get back to business! It’s heartbreaking to see so many venues and brands nearly at the point of collapse. Some who have put their heart and soul into it!  We all have to support each other and hopefully get the support off the government to survive, I’m trying to stay positive that we are nearing the end of this crisis and that we are on the verge of finding ways to get back to normal as so so many are suffering – not only with the virus but also because of the effects of the virus. Hopefully soon we can be feeling the base and losing ourselves in the music again.