Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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Q&A With Kristian Montgomery

By Christopher Treacy & Kristian Montgomery

Kristian Montgomery has been working hard on building a music career in Americana while juggling a demanding day job—it requires a level of persistence many of us lack. After a stint in prison related to a child custody case, Montgomery emerged renewed, writing songs from a more deeply personal space than had ever been the case before. He’d formed the Boston area band Bone Dry System in the early 90s and had managed to make some waves, but the emerging sound and feel of the album he made coming away from prison, 2020’s ‘The Gravel Church,’ presented him in a different light.

Montgomery is readying the release of his fourth album under the moniker of Kristian Montgomery & The Winterkill Band, ‘Lower County Outlaw,’ all recorded during ‘COVID times.’ While any substantial touring has been hampered by the pandemic’s extra innings, he’s nurtured his creative muse by continually writing and recording. At the same time, he and his wife (Montgomery is bisexual and married) have relocated from the Cape to a Vermont farmhouse that they’ve been steadily been renovating. They’ve switched from being avid fishers to raising goats. And the music just keeps coming.

As someone that likes to release music as it happens, “Annie, Pay Your Band” originally surfaced a while back. Now, more fully formed, it’s the lead single for the new album, which is due to arrive in early February. And it’s a dig, albeit a satirical one, at folks that use other people to claw their way to the top. Or, if not ‘to the top,’ maybe just claw their way out of dodge. With its trained eye on fame and fortune, our culture has nurtured an unhealthy dynamic where folks feel like it’s perfectly acceptable to use whatever they can to try and get ahead, moral compass be damned.

Simply put, Montgomery’s not having it.


A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

Even in the indie world, the music industry is a cut throat place. Or, rather, it can be. You’ve been making music independently for over 20 years. What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned about the indie world?

This is a great question and the answer is that the corporate world has crept into the indie world. Although expression itself has become more accessible through technology, actually getting your form of expression out there hasn’t become any easier. It used to be that you could go to a club and watch someone pour their heart out. To become naked before you and bare their soul… and they’d be discovered, and like minded people would follow them, because they identified with them.

We used to hear songs on college radio and find new artists randomly. Now we pay to get on playlists, we pay for streams, we pay a lot… and the return is so much less than the effort. But the lesson is to just keep making music. Saturate the fucking world with your art. Write more, keep creating.

That said, there are still lovely, nurturing pockets of community in indie music. Maybe you could share an anecdote about unexpectedly finding an ally or someone being unusually kind in offering an assist?

Yes! I’ve made wonderful and beautiful friends, some of who are internet radio DJs. In particular, Bumblebee Radio with DJ Kristen Eck who’s an amazing member of the LGBTQ community, and others who continuously play my music. The local bloggers have been generous with their critiques and the press has been kind. These are the people who have truly kept me going.

Humor helps – and “Annie, Pay Your Band” definitely has some amusing sentiments. What’s your favorite line in the song and why?

“That dress is tight, but after tonight she’ll be filling all her holes.” Take it how you will. It could mean she tore that pretty lil dress or it could mean something else. The character in the song is such a diva.

The video clip helps drive home the humor. Is it a series of visualizers? Tell me a little about making the clip and choosing the images. 

A friend made it for me. I asked for a cabaret kind-of feel and asked her to do several different ones and this is the one that I nearly shit myself laughing so hard every time I watched it. The others were a bit more artsy. This is the one that stuck. 

Maybe you could tell us a little of what we can expect from ‘Lower County Outlaw.’ Four albums in three years is a LOT of music to release, but they’re each distinctly different, so what sets the new one apart?

Lower County Outlaw is 12 songs, produced by Andrew Koss (Alicia Keys, John Legend) at the studios at Strawberry fields in Manchester, VT. It’s hidden in the mountains and a nice, remote place to make music. It’s about five miles from my horse farm. This album will be the sound I want people to remember me for. You’ll hear many genres, styles, influences but it will be…me. It’s my sound, it’s swampy, then triumphant and then melancholy. But that’s why I make records. They describe a large portion of time in life not just a fleeting moment. I want to connect, I want you to know me, to know my heart. These are my stories about the life I’ve lived. Country 102.5 in Boston said that my life is what movies are made of. It’s been said I make Hemmingway look like a cub scout with the adventures I’ve had. But, I’m a humble person, and in the end, they’re just songs. The world is busy, lots of people struggling to be heard and I certainly don’t have the resources yet to be in your face. But I want to be… in your face.

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’s the Managing Editor for CQ and lives in Waitsfield, VT.

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