Sep 9, 2020
Sep 4, 2020
From The Sound and The Fury to Faulkner and MacBeth: A Conversation with Tennessee Jet
By Kevin Broughton
Tennessee Jet is a lot of things. Starting with the name, he’s mysterious and enigmatic. Pressed on his given and surnames, he demurs. Like the people in his songs, he sees himself as something of a character; a vessel for storytelling. “Tennessee Jet,” he says, “is an idea. Something I want to get across. I want people to go into ‘Tennessee Jet’ blind – not knowing anything about the artist.”
He’s cerebral – citing first cinematic directors and literary giants as influences on his art before acknowledging more traditional, musical sources.
Athletic? Yeah, that too. The former pitcher and second baseman hit .300 in the lower tiers of collegiate baseball. “I loved that game a lot more than it loved me,” he says. Realizing life in the bigs wasn’t in the cards, he simply moved on to a career in music.
And if all this seems unlikely for someone who grew up literally on the road (not surprisingly, he sings of “going Kerouac”) this Okie son of a bronc-busting dad and a barrel-racing mom knits it all together in poetic fashion. He’s a legit Renaissance man.
Jet’s third album, The Country, debuts on Thirty Tigers today and marks the most collaborative project of Jet's career. A songwriter, front man, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, he took a do-it-yourself approach to his 2015 debut and 2017's Reata, both of which found Jet playing every instrument himself. The Country references those early years with songs like the autobiographical "Stray Dogs," whose lyrics find a young Jet speeding down the Indian Nation Turnpike, his future wife riding shotgun, both of them fueled by a combination of love, truck stop gasoline, and the need to make it to the next show on time.
For an album that often pays homage to Jet's DIY past, though, The Country also finds him teaming up with Dwight Yoakam's touring band, whose members add Telecaster twang and Cali-country cool to Jet's raw, ragged edges. Paul Cauthen, Cody Jinks, and Elizabeth Cook all lend a hand, too. "I'm always looking to challenge the definition of what a specific genre is supposed to sound like," he says. "People are aching for truth in country music again, and that's what this record came to represent.”
There’s an ache and intensity to Jet’s reverence for country music as art, and the need for it to be preserved and nourished. Over the course of two in-depth conversations (several responses merited follow-ups) we discussed the state of modern country music, what makes a good cover version of a timeless song, the creepy death of a country legend, and much more.
Okay, ready to go?
Yeah, man. I’ve been looking forward to talking with you. I was telling my manager, “Let’s find people who want to talk about the music.” I’ve been doing interviews and it all just seems kind of general. Like What was the first instrument you played? Or Who are your influences/where you from/how old are you? So, I want to talk to people who want to talk about the record and the state of modern country music.
I’m your huckleberry.
You’re an Oklahoma native, but I don’t know that this album would fit squarely in the “Red Dirt” category. Can you discuss some of your musical influences, in light of your having “a head full of metal and a heart of country gold?”
Yeah! I tend to be more influenced by movie directors and literary figures. John Steinbeck is a huge influence. Stanley Kubrick, Sergio Leone…I’m really interested in their art and applying it to the music that I make. As far as Oklahoma influences, Steinbeck gives you that whole Oklahoma-to-California thing in Grapes of Wrath. Musically, it’s kind of all over the place, depending on what I’m listening to at the moment. Of course, traditional country was the first thing that I was exposed to by my parents.
And then, you tend to run far away from things that you were first into, then run away and back again. So I’ve got a pretty broad range of influences, everything from Merle Haggard and Dwight Yoakam to Nirvana and Bob Dylan. Just all over the place.
I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a recording artist cite cinematic and literary figures as their primary influences. Could we drill a little deeper on that?
Sure. I think people gravitate more toward what something represents, more than what the thing actually is. As an artist it’s your role to make it clear what you represent with something, whether it’s a song or an album cover. I think it’s the reason why some people identify with certain brands in a certain way: This represents a good time. Or This represents a refreshing beverage. Whatever it is.
And I’ve always felt that from an art standpoint, it’s good to be able to sit back and create characters. Because then, you can tell stories. And ultimately, the song is separate from the artist. The song is going to live on; the artist is just a vessel to tell a particular story. I look at producing songs as I think a director looks at movies. And sometimes with all the emphasis being placed on someone’s personal story, the songs aren’t heard in the way they’re supposed to be.
As an example, if someone’s a new artist and has lived on the streets – been homeless – for ten years, you’d listen to that song in a different way than if the person grew up wealthy. So I want the emphasis to be on the song first and the artist second. Shows like American Idol and The Voice have placed so much emphasis on a person’s story, it makes it hard to decipher what’s really great art, or whether you’re a fan of a person’s story. Does that make sense?
Yeah. A bunch.
I was listening to “The Raven and The Dove,” and I texted my publisher and said, “Man, that sounds like a Cody Jinks song.” He said, “It is.” Makes sense. What’s your relationship with Cody like? Have y’all collaborated before this song?
We have, yeah. We’ve written a lot of songs together. The first time, we wrote a song called “Lifers,” the title cut of his album – I guess three records ago. We also wrote another song called “The Wanting,” another title track of his. I guess he’s recorded about seven songs that we’ve written together.
He’s just a great friend and co-writer. And honestly, co-writing is not something that I typically enjoy. But there are certain people I get together with and really enjoy the process. Putting two heads together on a song is sometimes beneficial.
There’s a line in the chorus where you speak of being “scuffed up by the devil but washed in the blood,” and having “been forgiven for all my sinnin’.” Cody – on the Lifers album in particular – makes frequent use of spiritual/faith themes. Is that something that resonates with you personally, and influences your writing?
It certainly does, yeah. I think that we’re here on this Earth to try to inspire positivity and love. So I think that spirituality is really where that starts.
Were you raised going to church?
Yes I was. In Oklahoma.
“Johnny” is a song that really stands out; it’s distinctive and grungy and punky. Is there a story behind the song? I’m also curious about the name “Delia.” Any significance to that?
There is. That song’s about Johnny Horton.
Yeah, it’s kinda interesting because musically, it’s the least country-sounding on the entire record – probably by a pretty good margin. From a lyrical standpoint, it’s a pretty basic biography of Johnny Horton, and some of the things about his death. He was very into, uh, mystical things. I’m searching for a word here and not finding it… “paranormal” would be the right word, I guess. And the song just sort of lays that out. It’s something good to dig into: the things he said about how he was going to die; and that he would contact (songwriter) Merle Kilgore after he passed on, to prove there was an afterlife. That’s where “the drummer was a rummer” part comes from.
Yeah, that song is probably good for an hour-long conversation by itself. The “Johnny” at the funeral is Johnny Cash – who read the eulogy, so there’s two Johnnies. And Delia…they’re all there. It’s a bit of an Easter egg, that song, to dig into and just run the characters. A lot of people think the “Merle” in the song is Haggard, but it’s not; it’s Merle Kilgore. But yeah, I just wanted to write something that was musically different. It’s inspired by Nirvana, as you can tell. Lyrically, it’s very country. And Johnny Horton was a trailblazer of sorts.
You’ve sent me down a Johnny Horton rabbit hole, man.
Oh yeah? [Laughs]
I’ve read up on some of this stuff, and it’s crazy: Horton married Hank Williams’ widow, Billie Jean. Williams’ last gig was at the Skyline in Austin; Horton played there before being killed by a drunk driver. Did Horton really have a premonition that he’d be killed by a drunk? I mean, reading it gave me chill bumps. Surely some of this is folklore?
Yeah! It’s a movie, isn’t it? But by all accounts…I mean I’ve seen interviews with people like Merle Kilgore and there’s a lot of hard evidence for these things. The people who truly knew Johnny Horton knew that he was really into mysticism. And he had all these recurring premonitions. But you know how it goes; there will always be elements that make the story look better. And the characters in the song are there for you to bend in a way that makes the story better.
But whenever there’s a story like the Johnny Horton thing, there’s no real need to embellish anything; it’s all right there. It’s just a matter of writing it in a way that says “The drummer was a rummer and he can’t hold the beat,” and make it singable.
And what was it about that story that made you want to put it into a grunge format?
I felt that if it were written as if it were a 50s country song, it wouldn’t have an impact. To write it in a straight-up folk way would have been to obvious. In this case I just felt like – the story’s so wild – if you’re thinking about crashed cars and chaos, what type of music lends itself to that story? The music is supposed to feel like a car wreck.
It’s chaotic; it ebbs and flows, up and down. It’s like cinema. I wanted the song to feel like a mini-movie. Johnny Horton is fascinating and a big influence on me, but I think if I wrote a song about a 1950s honky-tonker that sounded like a 1950s honky-tonk, people wouldn’t gravitate to it. But if you give it that type of musical edge, it might draw people in, and they might go down the same rabbit hole you did.
I hear a hint of Steve Earle in your voice; do people ever tell you that, and is he an influence on your work?
He is. The record I Feel Alright is one of my all-time favorites…
…I’m going “Kanye” on you here and I’m gonna let you finish…
…but my very next question was gonna be “The song ‘Hands On You’ sounds like it belongs on the I Feel Alright album.”
Ha! I would agree. That album had a distinct feel with the baritone guitar, the 12-string, the mandolin and multiple stringed instruments. This was one of the cuts on the album where I was trying to record the kind of country song that you just don’t hear anymore. I’ve found that if I turn on modern “country” radio today, I end up writing songs I wish were on the radio. So at times I try to write a Marty Stuart- or Dwight Yoakum- or Steve Earle-sounding song. Because unfortunately, you just can’t hear those on terrestrial radio these days.
We’ll get to that in some detail, I promise. But when I heard the opening riff of “Hands On You,” my very first thought was, I Feel Alright.
Well, I take that as a real compliment. And I probably wouldn’t have made that connection until you brought it up, but yeah. So thanks.
Not long ago I did a ranking of all his albums before he got all political, and I put I Feel Alright right up there with Copperhead Road as his best albums.
As an album, I Feel Alright is his best work for me. I love it. And there’s something about the way it was recorded, too; it’s got teeth to it. It’s the kind of album that if you put it on in the car, you find you’re driving faster and reaching to turn up the volume. It’s just such a great album.
Yeah, there’s not a bad cut on it.
Let’s talk about the two covers on the record. “She Talks to Angels” is an intriguing, blue-grassy take on the Black Crowes’ original. How did you conceptualize that arrangement, because you really put your own stamp on it?
Well, my approach to covers in general is that if you’re gonna do one, your version has to be so uniquely “you” and uniquely different, or else there’s no point in doing it. And that can be a disservice to the artist who did it originally. And so on “She Talks to Angels,” if you try to do it the way the Black Crowes did it, you’re not gonna get close. So if you’re gonna do that song, you better do something drastically different. And something I’ve learned about great songs: You can do them drastically differently, and they’ll still be great songs and still resonate. So that was the idea behind that cover.
Any belligerent feedback from the Robinson brothers?
Ha ha. I don’t think they’ve heard it yet. So, we’ll see.
They’re probably bored and a little ornery right now.
You know, different people perceive folks’ covering their songs differently. I read somewhere that Prince didn’t like people doing his songs, but there were a few he actually liked. For me, I love different versions of different songs, and I would love people to cover mine and do them however the hell they wanted.
So I don’t know, but like anything, I’d hope they dig it.
You put together a nice little ensemble for “Pancho and Lefty:” Elizabeth Cook, Cody Jinks, Paul Cauthen and yourself. And I love the Mexicali horn arrangement. So many people have covered it; what was your vision for making that song yours?
Well, you hit the nail on the head: So many people have covered it before. I was playing a show Cody and Paul and some other folks in Dallas around Christmas time. We wanted to do some songs we could all sing on, and “Pancho and Lefty” is such a standard. It’s a lot of people’s favorite song. So we did it during a set in Dallas, and there was such a great feeling in the room. And as I was finishing up the record and had pretty much all of the recordings and said, “You know what? We need to get in the studio and put that one down.”
But the challenge was, so many people have done the song. And I thought “If you’re gonna do it, you better adhere to your own rule and do something really different.” So for me the idea became, “What if every verse and every instrumental break became its own character?” Because Mickey Raphael [harp] has the first solo.
So I sing the first verse; Jinks does the second verse and a chorus; Mickey does a harmonica solo; Elizabeth does a verse and a chorus; Brian Newman – he’s Lady Gaga’s bandleader – he comes in and plays the horn part, which is maybe my favorite part of the whole record, honestly. Then Paul comes in and sings a verse, and I finish it up. So it’s all about really making it an ensemble thing, making it a little different. And of course, really leaning into the Southwestern aspect of the song.
You’re the fourth person I’ve interviewed in a year, incidentally, who’s made use of Ms. Cook’s talents. She seems to make everybody’s records better, huh?
She does. She makes everything that she sings on better. She ended up singing on three songs on the record, and she’s the only female singing harmony. She’s just so versatile; she’s extremely country but also has a real edge to her voice. Elizabeth has such a unique voice, and she’s such a pro in the studio.
If we did awards for lyrical couplets, I’d nominate this one from the album’s title track: “Yeah, I miss you like the country/Radio don’t play no more.” Such a self-evidently truthful statement. Do you see any reason for hope that Nashville might repent, or has that ship sailed?
Well, first of all thanks for saying that. Uh, I think a lot of people feel that way. The problem is that there’s such an entrenched system, and such a machine, that self-preservation is paramount for it. So I don’t think there’s any way for it to change from within. I think the only way to get this type of [independent] music heard is to create a completely different system and let the original one atrophy on its own.
I mean it’s got to be frustrating. Take the last two or three of Cody’s albums, for instance; they’re chock-full of songs that would be perfect for mainstream radio, if any of their executives actually had a soul.
Man, I think so. I know it gets into an area of subjectivity and opinion, but country music means something to me. It’s not just something that’s put on for background fodder. It’s an important art form that needs to be preserved; people need to be made aware of it who aren’t. Maybe there’s something in it that can mean something to them or help them through a tough time.
And right now what we’re getting isn’t that. And it’s unfortunate.
The folks who make quality, independent country music – who get no mainstream airplay – have to rely on touring and social media and word-of-mouth to get their material out there. With the pandemic, the “touring” element has gone away. How has it affected you, and do you see any reason for optimism going forward?
I always try to maintain an optimistic outlook. Whenever there are negative things going on you have to try to look for positives and opportunities. And it’s unfortunate that I’m putting a record out at a time when I can’t go out and tour behind it. But at the same time there are people who are hungry and have time to search out music online and find things. Hopefully there’s a little more opportunity to have songs get heard in an otherwise cluttered field.
In a weird way everything’s frozen. Life feels mundane right now for a lot of people. So I think now more than ever, people need art for an escape. And so hopefully, until we can get things more to a live, in-the-flesh setting, the online thing will thrive. That’s what I’m hoping.
The Country is available today everywhere you buy or stream music.
Sep 2, 2020
|Photo by Elise Kingland|
We’ve got a video premiere for you from countrified roots rockers The Joe Stamm Band today. Joe’s rich, character-filled voice is the centerpiece of the band's new single “Bottle You Up,” a love song from the heart. It’s a commercially accessible sound without kowtowing to the trends of the day, instead keeping it real with an in-the-pocket rock ’n roll band playing the hell out of this catchy country rocker. RIYL: Chris Stapleton, Whitey Morgan, Cody Jinks, The Steel Woods.
Joe on “Bottle You Up” -
"There’s been a grand total of two times that I’ve done one of them, “I just wrote this song and now I’m posting a video of me playing it to Facebook” type of things. One of those times was just yesterday (as I’m writing this up). The only other time was a couple years ago and the song was 'Bottle You Up.'
I’d just got home from a Sunday afternoon gig, and I sat down at my kitchen table with a little glass my mom had recently purchased for me. It said, “Apple of My Eye” on the side of it. I started pouring Busch Light down into it. Then emptying it. Repeat. Pretty soon I was writing a song and about 25 minutes later, I had “Bottle You Up” down on paper.
All them beers convinced me I should take the song straight to social media. So I did, and pretty soon folks were requesting “Bottle You Up” at shows. It didn’t take long to realize we were going to have to cut it on our next record.
While you can still find that old acoustic performance on YouTube, we did decide to go down to Nashville and have our buddies at Midtown Motion put a bonafide music video together for the song. We’re pretty happy about the results. Though I’m not sure the feller in the video was by the song’s end…"
More information about the Joe Stamm Band and their upcoming album below the player.
Joe Stamm Band - The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny)
The Joe Stamm Band makes countrified roots-rock with an emphasis on the roots, drawing on Stamm's small-town upbringing in rural Illinois for a sound that blends heartland hooks with Nashville twang. It's a sound that's taken the songwriter from the college apartment where he strummed his first chords to venues beyond the Midwest, sharing shows with personal heroes like Kris Kristofferson and Chris Knight along the way. With his debut studio LP, The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny), Stamm begins building his own legacy, leading his band of road warriors through an album rooted in all-American storytelling and guitar-driven swagger.
Recorded in a converted barn outside of Iowa City, The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny) is a studio album that owes its electrified energy to Stamm's live show. It was there — onstage, guitar in hand, headlining a club in Peoria one night and playing with artists like Tyler Childers and Easton Corbin the next — that Stamm sharpened the edges of his self-described "black dirt music," rolling Americana, country, and blue-collar rock & roll influences into his own style. Some songs were autobiographical, spinning true-life stories of love, loss, and life in Middle America. Others, like the barn-burning "12 Gauge Storyline," were character-driven and fictional. Whittled into sharp shape by a touring schedule that kept Stamm and company on the road for as many as 150 days a year, those songs took new shape in the recording studio, shot through with amplified riffs, grooves, and arrangements that rolled just as hard as they rocked.
Fiction and autobiography come together on the album's title track, a coming-of-age anthem that finds Stamm writing about the humor, heartache, charm, and chaos of youth in America.
"Everyone falls into at least one — and usually several — of those categories," he says of "The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny)." "That song really captured a sense of things, a sense of people, and a sense of what it's like to grow up in America."
For Stamm, growing up in America involved a good amount of time on the football field. A teenage quarterback in a sports-obsessed town, he led his high school team to back-to-back state appearances, becoming a local celebrity along the way. When an injury brought his sports career to an end during his college years, though, Stamm found a new passion in music, diving into the work not only of classic country crooners like George Jones and Johnny Cash, but also the modern-day heavyweights of Texas' country scene, including Randy Rogers Band, Pat Green, and Reckless Kelly. Before long, he was writing his own songs — and just like his favorite Texas artists, he rooted his music in a strong sense of place, bringing a midwestern spirit to his own brand of country music. Stamm was soon packing venues across central Illinois, trading the athletic fame of his teenage years for an equally rewarding — and longer lasting — brand of recognition.
"I like writing about characters and coming up with stories," says Stamm, whose diverse past — including his time in an evangelical Christian household, his athletic days behind the line of scrimmage, and his creative rebirth as country music's newest rule-breaker — is woven throughout The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny), lending personal details to even the most fictional of songs. "Songwriting is where experience and imagination meet," he adds, "and each song finds a different spot on that spectrum."
With The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny), the spectrum is as wide as it is compelling, with Stamm roping together a range of honky-tonk hooks, rock & roll guitars, heartland twang, and country swagger. He's a songwriter. A bandleader. A storyteller. And while he'll always be a proud midwestern native — a man shaped by the creek bottoms, fields, and fence rows of Metamora, Illinois — he writes from a more universal perspective on his full-length studio debut. These aren't just his stories, after all. They're all of ours.
Joe Stamm Band's The Good & the Crooked (& The High & the Horny) is due out September 25.
Aug 17, 2020
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Jun 19, 2020
|Billy Joe Shaver|
Jun 11, 2020
A big party during the pandemic where they're playing FGL?
A big party during the pandemic where they're playing Cody Jinks?
Luke Bryan's "One Margarita" is his biggest hit in years...
When you meet a fellow Tyler Childers fan
Mainstream country is "fixing racism" by adding a rapper to every remix?
When the local crackhead looks just like Ray Wylie Hubbard
Every country artist who doesn't actually want to address the specific problems going on in our nation be like:
When you pretended to like Kane Brown to ask a girl out but she still turned you down...
"No way, Sam Hunt is not a pop singer"
May 13, 2020
May 12, 2020
Today, we speak with the Texas singer-songwriter-bus-driver, Larry Hopper. I hope you enjoy. (Also, he's taking over Galleywinter's FB page Thursday.)
FTM: Hello, Hopper! It’s been a while since we last spoke. I’ve been meaning to ask you, are you related to Jim Hopper from Stranger Things?
Larry: I said no to this interview.
FTM: Your denial didn’t take. So what have you been doing in the 9 1/2 years since our last interview? Prison time?
Larry: I had some good toast about 4 years ago. I wanted to make sure and tell you about that toast. It wasn’t any special kind of bread, it was just the EXACT right amount of toasted. Not burnt, not under toasted. Can you imagine? It was so good!! I have some pictures of the toast if you need them.
FTM: I'm good. What are you doing to pass the time during quarantine, besides (insert tired beard grooming joke here)?
Larry: During what? No idea what you’re talking about.
FTM: These crazy times, buddy! Hey, when you and your wife are teaching your kids for in-home school, are you in charge of bad jokes and puns training, while she teaches all the other subjects?
Larry: My wife will be offended that you would think for ONE SECOND I would be the one who would teach puns. She has her doctorate in Punning.
FTM: Is it true you co-wrote a song for Cody Jinks?
FTM: Yeah right, Hopper; is it one that “accidentally got left off the album?”
Larry: It was the title cut of his 2019 release “After the Fire.” It was the number one country album for one whole week. Then he released another album the next week and kicked himself off the top spot.
FTM: Oh really? Does Cody owe you money or something?
Larry: I wish. I keep hoping someone will remember that they owe me money. Nobody does.
FTM: Most artists, and I use that term carefully, consume lots of art to keep their creativity flowing. What sort of books, movies, and music keep your muse alive? I’m assuming there will be a follow up question about coloring books, Tom Green films, and Hoobastank.
Larry: I only watch my extensive collection of Puppy Bowl recordings. I recently read a book about a little dog named Meli that went to the vet. It was quite the thrill ride. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but page 12 will surprise you!!! As for what I listen to, mostly my interior monologue of self doubt and fear and neurosis and anxiety and guilt . Also John Prine.
FTM: So I see you’ve been doing streaming concerts during the pandemic. What does that mean?
Larry: It just makes sense. Staying home is the best way for people to come see me.
FTM: No, I meant “pandemic,” I’ve always assumed that had something to do with pandas.
Larry: This is why I said no to the interview. Plus you barely even seemed interested in my really good toast story. The toast was excellent, the story was really good.
FTM: You live a wild life, Barry. I haven’t been stalking you, I promise, but I’ve noticed there are always a ton of kids in your social media photos. Are you starting a cult?
Larry: I hear there’s good money in it.
FTM: If your cult will have brisket and singalongs, I’m interested. Let’s talk about that later. Right now, I need to know what you think about how Red Dirt, independent country, and Americana music are kinda sorta mainstream these days. When we did that first interview, I’d have never dreamed that our buddy Drew Kennedy would be modestly more well known in 2020. It's wild.
Larry: I don’t know who that is, but the meshing of all the different musical subsets is bound to happen. It’s a cycle. Some kids get sick of mainstream music and there’s a movement of a new sound, it becomes popular and in that popularity gets watered down and pushed towards a more generic sound to appeal to more people. theres art and then there’s business and the 2 can only coexist in a small window before it becomes more business. That’s not to say anyone is wrong for that that’s just the nature of the beast. Radio stations have to sell ads to keep the lights on. They have the seemingly impossible task of staying true to their format but appealing to as many people as possible. People get mad at radio stations if they play a song that that person doesn’t think belongs. That’s bizarre to me. Just.. don’t listen to that song? I don’t like calling myself an artist but I’m sure not a business man. That’s why most people reading this think you’re interviewing the guy from the Lawrence Welk show, But there’s always good music to listen to. Mainstream or not. I’ll check out Drew Kennedy though.
FTM: Oh you know who he is; he asked me to tell you to stop texting him asking to open his shows all the time. It's getting awkward for everyone. Next question: Are you working on any new music?
Larry: I’m always writing. I have plenty of songs for a new album I just haven’t had time or money to record. And with the covidteen going on I have no idea what everything will look like when shows start up again.
FTM: You didn’t have to go on for so long. I don’t really care, it’s just something I have to ask since this is a music blog. But since we’re on the subject, will you be doing any boyfriend country songs?
Larry: I don’t know what that means.
FTM: Nobody does. Hey, it’s bizarre that I’ve “known” you online for over 15 years and I still don’t know your favorite N-Sync member. Care to elaborate?
Larry: Timberlake is the only one I can even name.
FTM: Who are some of your favorite songwriters these days?
Larry: Other than the standards, Lori Mckenna is just unspeakably good. I keep expecting to move on from my Isbell fanboyness but he’s just such a great writer. The writing BJ did on the new AA record is so good. Courtney Patton is better than most. So are Jacob Furr and Gabe Wootton. Mike Ethan Messick. Jackie Darlene for sure.
FTM: Again, don’t actually care. Did you watch Tiger King? That was some crazy sh*t.
Larry: I did. It was sad.
FTM: I see you’re still not going to come out and admit that you were the fake Cowboy Troy troll on that Americana message board we used to frequent. Why is that?
Larry: I think the record will show that the Cowboy Troy user had better spelling and grammar than me.
FTM: Okay, I think this has gone on for long enough. I’m as bored as you are, if not more. Let’s do the lightning round! Do you have a Larry Hopper face Covid mask on your merch site?
Larry: yes. It comes in the shape of a shirt and you have to DIY your mask.
FTM: That’s a missed opportunity. Alright, favorite flavor of Swisher Sweets?
Larry: I don’t use them because of poisons. I need to stay healthy so I can overeat for longer.
FTM: That’s a hoax. Tobacco is grown from the earth, so it’s healthy. Bigly. Do your research. Next question is multiple choice: Are these times A)uncertain B)crazy C)troubling 4)frowsty?
Larry: Can I put “exhausting” as a write in answer?
FTM: If Sam Hunt asked to cowrite a song with you, what color would the Land Rover you bought with the royalties be?
Larry: I don’t think you can buy a Land Rover with royalty money anymore. I might could get me an old Isuzu trooper.
FTM: Jay or Jeff?
FTM: No, I meant Jay Cutler or Jeff Garcia. Read the room.
Larry: Jeff Garcia from the Grateful Dead?
FTM: You don’t know soccer at all, Lawrence. Who is the coolest celebrity you’ve ever met?
Larry: Henry Winkler
FTM: Ayyyy! Favorite Juice WRLD song?
FTM: That is an acceptable answer. What’s the first restaurant you’re going to sit down and eat at when it’s finally safe again?
Larry: Somewhere with chips and salsa
FTM: You thought that was going to be a trick question, but these are very serious. What is the highest number of feral hogs that has ever run into your yard?
FTM: When you’re writing a song: lyrics or music first?
FTM: Another serious question! I’m getting good at this! Spell “Thibodaux.”
Larry: Thibodeaux. I learned that from an episode of King of the Hill.
FTM: I was talking about the city in Louisiana and with this being an email interview, I gave you the answer and you still missed it. Anyway.. if you were doing a big nationwide tour, what particular food or drink would be on your tour rider?
Larry: 4 fried chickens and a coke.
FTM: Alright, now it’s the requisite time in a Farce the Music interview when we give you the opportunity to speak poorly of mainstream country. If you don’t say something funny, pithy, or meaningful here, you may lose legions of fans. No pressure.
Larry: jokes on you, I don’t have legions of fans.
Mainstream Country is awful but so is a lot of other stuff. I just don’t listen. I don’t care what they’re doing. It’s not for me. I am not their target. Honestly the only reason I even know the names of most of them is because of Farce The Music, haha. And it’s just name recognition. If I’m in a store and mainstream country is playing it lets me know that I still am not interested, but that’s the extent of how much I think about it. I don’t like most Jazz music, so I just don’t listen to Jazz music.i don’t have to make shirts about how much I hate it. I used to get worked up about what they were calling country music but labels are for the masses and the record execs. Something I work hard on reminding myself, and I wish more people understood: you don’t have to have an opinion on everything. In the time of this constant barrage of new information or media or whatever, we feel like we have to know about it all and have an informed opinion on every single thing. Just pick a few. I just choose to not care, as you can fell by the massive paragraph I just wrote on the matter.
FTM: So much for “lightning.” What do you think the water from inside a waterbed would taste like?
Larry: Pall Mall cigarettes and bad decisions.
FTM: Possibly. It’s just something I’ve been wondering about. Okay, last question: Would you rather have a sack full of punch or a punch in the sack?
Larry: I really said I wasn’t going to do another one of these interviews.