Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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Mixtape, 2/7: PIZZA PARLOR

MIXTAPE is back with our Country Queer Staff series. This week we sit down and talk to Adeem the Artist about punk rock, Nick Lutso, ditching Facebook to cook, Savage Garden (!!!) and more. Strap on your creepers or cowboy boots, while Adeem and I high five like 90’s cartoons over their place list…PIZZA PARLOR.

Did you have a particular pizza parlor in mind while making this mix? Or are you making your own pizza to this, as your tag line suggests?

I do have a favorite pizza parlor. It’s Benny Tudino’s in Hoboken, NJ. What I wouldn’t give to pop in for a slice the size of a human baby and a piece of candy from Benny right now! I went by there on Halloween and there was a demon across the street busking. That demon lives in my mind fulltime. 

My favorite pizza parlor in the world is this punk pizza place in Austin, aptly named The Parlor! They now have coffins outside marking the seating areas and their jukebox had everything from Tom Waits to the Misfits. 

I love our shared experience of pizza married to the macabre! At the start of the pandemic I had a craving for a garlic pie. In CNY everybody carries a white pie that’s basically just this like garlic roux sauce with fresh mutz. As a teenager, picking up a garlic pie and a side of wings with blue cheese was just about as good as a Friday night could be. 


A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

But nobody in Knoxville makes them! So, I set to figuring it out and I got pretty good at making them. At the height of the pandemic I bought a case of pizza boxes and delivered some to friends. I’ve made some really good pizzas. I could probably open a shop. 

If you open pizza joint, I’ll come and work for you. Now, this song, “Old Men,” by Georgia English reminds me very,very,very much of “Little Boxes,” by Malvina Reynolds. 

I had never made this connection but it does have a similar lilt to it. I remember the first time I heard this song was in person and I was just so thrilled with it. The way she masquerades her feminist rant as a campy folk song full of zingers is my favorite. She is such an understated songwriter. 

I think what I like the most about doing these interviews, outside of having these amazing stories about queerness and musical inspiration, is being able to hear a song and then dive deep into the artist. Point being, I really love Georgia English now. But also…I screamed when I saw the Nick Lutso song, because I think he’s kind of a genius and also we have Twitter-bonded over our mutual crush on him. Personally, I think “Where Did The Gremlins Go?” was the song of 2020. 

Oh, big time. He came on my radar when he put out the “I Wanna Be At The RNC” video on Instagram. I kind of went back and got caught up and then followed in real time. I think what he created over the last year is top tier world building. 

Waltzer is very new to me, and maybe it’s because of the passing of Sylvain Sylvain, but they’ve got a very New York Dolls thing going on.

Oh yeah, I can totally see that. I came across Waltzer doing Buried Treasure and was an instant fan. Great pizza making bop. 

Speaking of making pizza — what’s your favorite pizza to make? Style of crust? (I am a trained pizzola, i.e. I can make neopolitation pizzas in an oven from that region) My personal favorite pizza is an adaptation from a pizza joint I worked at in ATX — goat cheese, roasted potatoes, fennel, black pepper-bianca style (i.e. no sauce.) or a putanesca/pisladerie style pizza-caramelized onion, anchovies, garlic, basil, and a whisper of chili peppers.

Oh,that sounds so good. I am now daydreaming of a post-pandemic day with us making pizzas together. It would be tough to pick a single favorite but I think that a garlic pesto with hot sauce on a thin crust with olives and banana peppers is close to the pinnacle. I also make a really amazing smoked pork bbq pizza with purple onions and a Carolina sauce that is chilling. 

Adeem, it would be an honor to make pizzas with you. And a smoked pork bbq pizza sounds dope as hell. I’m really quite excited that you picked this theme, because your music reminds me of a pizza parlor-a little campy, a little weird, but straightforward and home-y. 

This is the possibly warmest compliment I could receive.

The mix has a pretty savvy blend of country, the weird, and the glam –very you. And then there’s Louis Armstrong. Why did you pick this track?

In November I deleted Facebook & became obsessed with cooking. I would just pore over these vision boards for Thanksgiving — just picked that as a thing to look forward to when the world felt like it was crumbling. I made a massive meal- it was obscene.

But leading up to it, I mostly cooked my staples while reading recipes for thanksgiving and prepping my thanksgiving playlist. So for November & December this song became one of my pizza jams as a sort of “Thanksgiving song.”

It’s such a cool little jazz stroll! I’m really quite fond of jazz and novelty tunes. In terms of novelty, I’m not going to lie, I hadn’t thought of “The Gaslight Anthem” in many moons, so it was a surprise to realize that Brian Fallon is a countryish musician now. 

Right? I love Gaslight, but some of my favorites are actually his solo songs now. They did have these heavy Springsteen vibes, though, and I was always most enamored with Nebraska so I guess that tracks. 

How did you find country music and thus, Country Queer?

Well, I was born in Gastonia and grew up a white kid in the greater Charlotte area in the 90’s so I came by Country music pretty naturally. I found Country Queer on Twitter in a pretty roundabout way? I was being more open about being queer & exploring gender expression.

Also, I was newly very into Country music — probably in part to the evangelism of Tyler Mahan Coe — and finding that these two things were intersecting for people was fascinating to me. I was instantly enthralled. 

So many people assume I’m straight because I have facial hair and a wife and when I advanced in this songwriting competition last year, Country Queer tweeted about it and said “one of ours!” I was teary eyed. It was such a big moment of feeling seen. 

Oh, Adeem! That’s so cool! Being seen and being listened to is such a hard part of the queer experience, finding that space, and I’m so happy Country Queer was there cheering you on when you needed it. It’s the bi/pan curse being assumed straight, and we should write a song about it together one day.  

Total tangential aside, in terms of being seen and being heard,this Darren Hayes song slaps. How did you find out about this, because another scream happened when I realized that this guy is one of the SINGERS OF SAVAGE GARDEN. I NEED EVERYONE TO KNOW.

Okay so, like, first of all I was obviously obsessed with Savage Garden for, I guess, my whole life. You know, he came out kind of in conjunction with his solo career and was basically blacklisted in America. He’s like famous as Darren Hayes in most other places — not just Savage Garden. That whole album- the tension & the spark — is full of great songs & great sounds. It’s a shame he’s not a bigger deal here than he is. 

Honestly, Adeem, I really think you hit the nail on the head for being campy, whimsical, effervescent and fun with this playlist. I really feel like I know you more just by listening to it. Final question though…Pineapples on pizza?