Drum­ming to Cirque beat

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Circus - Tanya Macnaughton

ALL Paul But­ler wanted to be while grow­ing up in Ade­laide was a rock star.

Now he trav­els the world liv­ing an­other dream – play­ing drums for Cirque du Soleil.

“When I was in high school my teacher sug­gested I broaden my hori­zons,” But­ler said.

“He got me into study­ing per­cus­sion, which took me to study­ing clas­si­cal per­cus­sion at univer­sity and was a big step in mak­ing me a more di­verse player and think­ing out­side the box.

“The per­cus­sion depart­ment was right next to the jazz depart­ment, so I spent my time be­tween the clas­si­cal per­cus­sion course and hang­ing out with the jazz guys and play­ing with them when­ever I could, and then do­ing pop gigs on the side.

“In a town like Ade­laide, if you pi­geon­hole your­self into one thing, you might not get enough work. Be­ing able to say yes when the phone rang to one thing led to an­other and an­other.”

But­ler said he saw three op­tions when pur­su­ing a full-time job in his field – join­ing an orches­tra, tour­ing in a mu­sic the­atre pro­duc­tion (he worked on The Sound of Mu­sic) or join­ing Cirque du Soleil.

A trip to Las Ve­gas five years ago put him in con­tact with the per­cus­sion­ist on Cirque du Soleil res­i­dent show O and he was hooked.

Fate stepped in shortly af­ter when a per­cus­sion­ist friend on Cirque pro­duc­tion Cor­teo con­tacted But­ler to say he was mov­ing across to an­other Cirque show, Kooza.

But­ler au­di­tioned and not only re­placed him in Cor­teo but con­tin­ued to fol­low in his foot­steps by re­cently join­ing the cast of the high-en­ergy Kooza dur­ing the Aus­tralian tour.

“Like most Cirque shows, Kooza has a world mu­sic in­flu­ence,” he said.

But­ler, who per­forms a drum solo dur­ing the sec­ond act, said he loved his bird’s eye view from the band’s po­si­tion at the top of Kooza’s trav­el­ling tower called the Bat­a­clan.

“We’re at the level where the per­form­ers are when they’re fly­ing up in the air,” he said.

“It’s crazy to think I’m in my com­fort zone on the same level while they’re up there.”

But­ler said his fel­low cirque per­form­ers had in­spired him to try the odd cir­cus skill, but when hand­stand prac­tice started to hurt his hand, he de­cided to pro­tect his liveli­hood.

In­stead he works on how to speak the var­i­ous lan­guages spo­ken by his cast mates.

“I learn how to or­der a beer and ask where the bath­room is,” he said.

■ Com­mu­nity News­pa­per Group has 10 dou­ble passes to give away to Kooza. En­ter at www.com­mu­ni­tynews.com.au by 10am, March 31.

Pic­ture: Carl Dz­i­unka

Paul But­ler in Kooza.

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