We were able to have Iron Butterfly answer some questions for us and man they gave us a ton of answers.
1) why and when did they come up with the name of the band, Iron Butterfly?
1966 ….. Doug Ingle ….. came up with the name Iron Butterfly in San Diego. Iron depicting HEAVY and Butterfly depicting light and colorful. The style of our music.
2-What got all of you started in music? Where there earlier musicians that influenced you and your compositions?
Ron Bushy (founding drummer) – Personally I started in Clinton CT at the age of 11 living with my Grandparents. I carved my drum sticks out of wood dowels, made a practice pad out of wood and an old tire inner tube. I taught myself to play in my Grandpa’s garage…..no one even knew what i was doing. My Dad was in the USN and did not like the noise, he actually bought me an Accordian….which I hated even made me take lessons…which taught me by numbers, not notes. So I never knew how to read notes or music. I used to listen classical music and opera growing up…. later in high school I joined the Marching Band at Mission Bay High School in San Diego graduated in 1959 then went to San Diego State, BS in Marine Biology planning to go to Scrips Institute of Technology. I got side tracked into music and formed my own band the BUSHMEN……played clubs then joined the VOXMEN. Later went to Hollywood to make it…..ran into Iron Butterfly at Bido-Litos a club in Hollywood. I knew some of the guys they came to listen to us play at The SeaWitch, then I went to hear them play, and they asked me to sit in and thats all it took they turn around and said we want you in Iron Butterfly
Ray Weston (current Drummer) – I guess listening to music on the radio and records my parents had gig me interested in music. When I was old enough (7years old) I started buying my own records. One day the Beatles came along and I, like everyone else, thought this was the best thing EVER! And that’s when I got the bug to become a drummer. From then on my ears were pinned to everything and anything. From Rock n Roll, to West Side Story and all musical genres that attracted me in-between!
Composition – lyrically speaking, this comes from everyday experiences. Sometimes hearing or seeing words can spark an idea to write about.
Dave Meros (bassist) – Back in 1964 my dad brought home an old piano that somebody had given him. He was a musician of sorts (drums mainly, but also piano and a little trumpet) and thought the piano would be fun to have in the garage. This was the year that the Beatles came over and played on the Ed Sullivan Show so the rock music bug had bitten lots of us kids and I was immediately attracted to that piano and would sit there for long periods of time just figuring it out on my own.
After a couple months of this my parents realized that I had a true interest in it and asked me if I wanted piano lessons. Without hesitation, I said YES! I had a super good teacher who was very inspiring, so I became a little classical pianist for five or six years before getting distracted by other instruments and eventually being in rock bands playing bass. Early musical inspirations include the Beatles first and foremost, but really ALL of the British Invasion bands, and perhaps to an even greater degree, the Motown and Philly Soul stuff that was coming out during that time period. I was always attracted to bass parts, even years before I started to play bass, so when I finally picked it up at the age of 20 I was home.
Martin Gershwitz (keys) – Both of my parents were musicians, my dad a church organ player/choir director and my mom a flute teacher with about 10 to 12.000 students over her life time …I started with the flute at the age of 5, with the piano at the age of 6, and with the violin at the age of 9 !!! Yes, Bach and Beethoven, Schubert and Händel, and more classical ones influenced me !!!
Mike Green (percussion) – Honestly what got me started in music at age 15 was one word, “girls”, playing music helped you get the girls. Earlier musicians for me that switched the reason from girls to the music were drummers of the day. Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Ron Bushy and well known African talking drum players. The most important single influence was my “big brother” and mentor, Joe Lala.
3-Did the Vietnam conflict have any influence over the music you wrote?
Yes and no I am sure it did, but that was a long time ago.
4-In 1968 Iron Butterfly’s unique sound was known for leading the way to hard rock and heavy metal. How do you see yourselves in the history of music, then and now?
Actually people use to say we were the first Heavy Metal group…..we just wrote and played our music and it came out like the name Iron Butterfly.
5-Tell us about any shows that really sticks out in your memory?
Ron – They all do……we left Bido-Lidos and went straight to the “Whiskey a Go Go” for 31 consecutive days as the opening act for all the Major artists at the time, we played with all……after that we went to The Galaxy 3 doors up from the Whisky and played there for 3 months……all the big acts would down and listen to us we played 5 sets a night 7 days a week we got tight and wrote new songs got signed to Atlantic Records ATCO….went into Goldstar and recorded our first album HEAVY.
Ray – There are many shows that were special. But playing Germany and Scandinavia were memorable because of the ecstatic audience reaction.
Dave – I don’t have any particular single show that sticks out, but I do have a sort of category of shows that stick out in my mind, and that category is the small to medium sized venues. We treat every show like we’re playing a stadium, with all the energy of playing to a huge audience even if it’s only two or three hundred people. The reason I like this type of show is that both the band and the audience get the feel or vibe of a bigger show, but the sound in the smaller places is usually much tighter and better than in a big cavernous hall, and of course there is more personal connection with the audience.
Martin – That has to be the one back in 2010 in Bern/Switzerland, when Lee Dorman (original bass player) and I went to the dressing room during the drum solo of “In-A-Gadda-da-Vida”, and we couldn’t hear the stage sound at all, therefore we started talking, having a beer and a Jägermeister in the process, and we only realized a few minutes (about 13 or 14) later, that we weren‘t done with the show yet … we eventually made it back to the stage, where our drummer had just finished a 18/19 minutes drum solo … the club owner later told us, that the song was about 34 minutes long, therefore twice as long as the original version – most likely a world record !!! 🤗
Mike – In this incarnation of the band, there really are almost too many to mention, things stick out in my mind as I reflect back on the shows we have done. Usually it is a fantastic audience that is participatory and receptive.
6-What advice would give to new and original music acts to find their way in this modern digital age of music?
Ron –I will say this, don’t give up on your dreams……the music industry has totally changed.
Ray The best advice is – believe in yourself wholeheartedly! Go into it professionally minded with a pro attitude. Spread the word with your music and make fans and friends so they can spread the word. Take no prisoners!
Dave – I am just as confused as everybody else about how to navigate within this new version of the music business. I’ve actually done a lot of reading and thinking about this for years now, going back to the time when people started thinking about this, with Napster, etc. I could actually go on for a couple pages here, but bottom line, the advice that I’d give is to play music because you love music. Then, even if there is no payoff it will still be something that is satisfying and worth doing
Martin – #1, believe in yourself, and #2, don‘t be a copycat, and #3, definitely write what you feel and what also makes you happy – and be true to yourself, simply be who you are.
Mike – This one for me is easy, “PLAY” your instrument, do not rely on electronics that allow you to do nothing but program info into a computer for sound. Regardless of how those sounds actually “sound” they lack the passion and the emotion that can only be come from PLAYING, TOUCHING and KNOWING your instrument. Every beat, note, chord etc MUST come from you and the feeling you have when playing it. To me that is true art. It is not even so much of ability and it is emotion and the feel that you are really in that pocket.
7-What can we look forward to at the show at the Westcott?
Ron – We will play our hearts out…..we always have weather its 10 or 100,00 we give ourselves you.
Ray – Every show is special! Westcott can look forward to hearing Iron Butterfly songs played with the same energy, freshness and enthusiasm as when they were recorded and played back in the day. We all perform Iron Butterfly songs with 100% commitment!
Dave – You can expect some very faithful representations of lots of Iron Butterfly classics. When I say faithful representations I don’t mean just the notes and arrangements, I also mean that we play with the energy and INTENT that was present back in the band’s peak period of the late 60s. It’s a rock show for sure, with lots of dynamics and all the psychedelic goodness that you might expect!
Martin – A great show with even greater music, played by 5 excellent musicians, who are extremely proud of keeping the IB music going for all you people and fans out there – and BTW, we were at different times part of the original line-up, too !!!
Mike – You can look forward to a show that will make you react and feel like a part of IRON BUTTERFLY and a musical period bygone. You will feel the impact and power of a live show that the musicians love to play every night, A show that will look, sound and feel fresh and new yet classic IRON BUTTERFLY. We play every show as if it were for royalty as we look at the audience as royalty, we love performing for each and every audience. Most importantly expect to GET 10 times what you GIVE we respond to and are driven by the crowd and their reaction to our sound.
8-What’s next in the future for Iron Butterfly?
We plan on touring and getting our music out there for a new and old generation of Iron Butterfly fans.