As John Butler fans already know, the music comes first for this global star musician. It's not that Butler doesn't appreciate his army of long-time fans. He just knows where he stands and where they fit in.
"I'm always struck that I get to do what I do," he says.
"This is my job. In the most literal of terms, my audience and the people who come to see me feed my family. I'm struck by how profound that is ... The things I don't understand - I make music purely for myself ... I am writing completely for me to work out the world around me. Whatever I like, goes. I don't make music for my fans."
The return to the road, after everybody's pandemic lockdown year, is like dipping a toe in the water. Butler says the tour will be "very nimble, very agile". It's just Butler and two crew members.
"I'm well trained," he says when I ask him about touring solo.
"It's nice to keep it simple. I always tend to play solo, after Home (his last album, released in 2018). It happened to coincide with a global pandemic."
The shows on the tour will encompass songs from his entire career, plus at least one new tune.
"I'm still making music," he says.
"There is one new song in the set. A lot of it is in utero, still producing at home and building it [a new album]. There is one new thing, that seems to have made it's way into the set. All these songs, they have a mind of their own. They do what they want."
Fans will hear much of his solid gold material.
"There are favourites in there, I like to play the favourites. Luckily, they equate to great songs. Better. Zebra. If it was boring, I wouldn't play it. As well as Ocean."
As he says of his songs: "It's always a trick to invite all the kids to the carnival." He says his song list will not be "cheesy" - like a greatest hits tour.
"I will play the songs that are funnest to play," he says. "Some I haven't played solo in years."
After such a long hiatus from the stage, there's sure to be a release of pent-up energy.
"Moving around can be hectic," he says of the tour, which covers 19 dates in 35 days. "It's quick. At the moment I'm on stage flicking that switch, it's fun."
Butler has always been an evolving musician, never resting on his laurels, and always giving a lot of thought to what next. Hitting his mid-40s, he's far from ready to coast the rest of the journey.
"I think I'm enjoying playing more," he says. "I hate leaving home more than ever. Playing shows used to be hard. Now, I love playing more than ever, and I hate leaving home ..."
As Butler gained traction around the globe, he music got bigger, as big as stadium rock, playing major festivals and headlining major European and American cities.
But, the essence of John Butler is as simple as the busker he was when he started out. He's engaging and direct. He's personal, and political when he wants to be.
"It's so interesting, it's so self-indulgent, I don't care if anybody does like it," he says of the package that is him - his music, his opinions, his spirit. "When I share it, I want to contribute. It's an interesting duality. I try not to question it too much. I try not to formulate it too much.
"These solo gigs bring that all into one dimension. I get to play a wide variety of music, and speak my mind. All these people are still there on that ride and appreciate the integrity, the authenticity."
- John Butler will be at the Canberra Theatre Centre on July 29. Tickets are $88.50 from canberratheatrecentre.com.au.