Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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Q&A With Brian Falduto

By Christopher Treacy

Our new Song of the Week in the current CQ ROundup is about as queer as it gets. You may remember Brian Falduto as an endearing tyke in School of Rock, or maybe you’ve come across his mental health podcast as @thegaylifecoach. But Falduto is also a musician, letting his rainbow flag fly higher than most of us can reach. Musically, “Same Old Country Love Song” rings many familiar bells… and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, as we learned below, it was purposefully made to sound like something you’ve heard before. The lyric, meanwhile, is laid out so matter-of-factly, it comes across with an air of transparency we don’t often hear. It is the same olf country love song, indeed… but it’s gay!  

Falduto was kind enough to answer some questions for us about the process of writing his new single, which is the first release en route to a new EP entitled Gay Country—because what else would it be called? And what else would we expect from someone that refers to themselves as, “…the gay male version of Jo Dee Messina”?

Was there a snapping point for you with regard to this topic—the intersection of commercial potential and queer country songs—that served as the catalyst for writing your new single?

Honestly, I feel like this has been in the cards for me for a while. I started being fairly blunt with calling my music “gay country” about four years ago. And then just before the pandemic began, I was down in Nashville doing some writing and I noticed I had all these fun, lighthearted lyrics pouring out of me, which was a contrast to historically heavier sentiments I had put out there. I got the idea to boldly call my next EP Gay Country and I had a vision of what the album artwork and overall vibe would look and feel like. From there, it was just about deciding which songs belonged on this project, tuning up the melodies and solidifying the structures a bit, and getting it recorded.


A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

Of course, with the pandemic, everything got delayed bigtime, and then it took me a minute, personally, to sort of rev back up. Ironically, this single was the last song to be added to the project. I had only finished it a week or two before I went back down to Nashville to record. It was originally intended to be a deep cut that tied the whole EP together if the listener got that far, but we ended up having too much fun with it to not have it be the single. 

All along though, I was nervous someone would beat me to the punch on this concept while it was patiently waiting in the creative wings of my brain… because it feels like it’s something that should’ve happened by now, doesn’t it? That’s the whole point of the song in a way. With all the awesome sounds coming from emerging queer voices these days, a part of me has been left wondering, “Well what about the sounds I grew up on? Where’s that gay country song I never got as a kid?”

It also feels like an evolution of me as an artist and a human in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of permission on these songs to be who I am and to call it as I see it. 

“It won’t ruin any lives” – this cracks me up, mainly because it goes without saying… but there are folks out there that believe it will ruin lives. Did you struggle with finding a way to succinctly address that whole mess? The song really does a great job of touching on all the issues without lingering too long on any of them. I imagine this was a bit of a songwriting challenge. 

I’m so happy you picked up on that because it’s one of the things I’m proudest of with this tune. I was adamant when writing that the comedic element here be that this is the exact same song we’ve all heard thousands and thousands of times… but it’s just gay. Which, in and of itself, is simultaneously comedic and problematic, so I knew that it was enough of a dichotomy to build a song off of. And yeah, the challenge became resisting the temptation to pile more on top of that. It required me to repress some instincts in a selective way that honored the original concept of the song and contributed to its potential power. It was definitely a less is more type of vibe.

I’m starting to believe that the issue of same-sex love songs never hitting the mainstream may actually become eclipsed over the next few years. But that’s coming from someone who’s perpetually immersed in queer music submissions. Am I dreaming?

If so, I think we have the same dream! It may already be happening. I can think of a few examples in other genresMuna, Lil Nas Xbut I suppose it depends on what we’re defining as a love song, what we’re counting as mainstream. I do think it may take a minute for something unapologetically queer to break through on the country charts, but I’m hopeful. It almost seems as though mainstream country radio is headed in the opposite direction, unfortunately, with a lot of the sounds and sentiments that are pushing the envelope being relegated to underground or alternative lanes.

What I love, though, is that in the streaming age, this isn’t stopping anyone. We’re just creating more lanes, and by doing so, we’re continually expanding the country music umbrella so that there’s room for all with or without mainstream approval.

Can you talk a little about the deliberate musical choices you made? The song has lots of 90s-era appeal, but it’s a modern production all the same. We’re you purposefully going for that ultimately relatable mainstream country flavor? 

It’s very inspired by Maddie & Tae’s “Girl in a Country Song,” actually. They said something really boldly feminist with that song and got a huge hit out of it, but they were only able to do so by disguising it in the Trojan horse of a song that sounds like every other song on country radio.

“Same Old Country Love Song” needed to have the 90s-era, early 00s appeal with the modern touch or else it wouldn’t have been as strong a message, I don’t think. It had to be the song we’ve “heard a thousand times.” 

Outside of strategy, though, it was also just me allowing myself to be indulgent and nostalgic. I listen to a more eclectic mix of genres these days, but as far as what comes most organically to me as a songwriter, it’s music in the style of what I grew up on: Rascal Flatts, Shania, Twain, Carrie Underwood, Zac Brown Band, The Chicks, Brooks & Dunn, Dolly Parton… I’ve always called myself the gay male version of Jo Dee Messina. 

Christopher Treacy has been writing about music and the music industry for 20 years. He’s contributed to The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Herald, Nashville Scene, and Berklee College of Music’s quarterly journal, as well as myriad LGBTQ+ outlets including the Edge Media Network, Between the Lines/Pride Source, Bay Windows and In Newsweekly. He lives in Waitsfield, VT.