Brian Falduto is More Than the 'Same Old' Country Singer
The country music singer’s journey from sassy child icon to the “Hottest Guy Here.”
“You’ve heard this song a thousand times, but this time it’s about two guys,” twangs Brian Falduto. “It’s the same old country love song but it’s gay.”
Falduto — who rose to fame as Billy, Jack Black’s sassy stylist in the 2003 cult film
School of Rock
— is transcending his child-star origins with a vibrant country music career.
After releasing “Same Old Country Love Song” to much acclaim, Falduto recently followed up with “Hottest Guy Here,” a queering of the revenge song trope.
The last decade has been busy for Falduto. After coming out at the end of college, he worked at a country music station.
A tough break-up, and series of toxic relationships, made Falduto realize he was unhappy “because I barely had any idea who I was,” he says. “My life was entirely focused on external validation and approval.”
Falduto found solace in writing. “I decided I wanted to help others in the queer community to do this work as well. So, I got certified as a life coach.” Falduto’s introspection is evident in his lyrics.
“I tried Dolly, I tried Keith… but there’s no song for me,” intones Falduto in “Same Old Country Love Song,” alluding to Dolly Parton and Keith Urban. In this interview with
, the singer discusses his musical inspirations and aspirations.
OT: If you had to pick three country albums that have most impacted you, which would you pick?
by Carrie Underwood – I had always been into country music, but when Carrie won
, I really began to transition over. I had been a big fan of her, and voted for her to win, so when she released her album and began performing at the country music award shows, I followed. As a result, I became a fan of all the big acts at the time: Luke Bryan, The Band Perry, The Chicks, Keith Urban, Sugarland. Not to mention, I think “Wasted” is one of the best written country music songs of all time, and “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats” are strong contenders as well.
Me and My Gang by
Rascal Flatts –This album has so many bops and is “Exhibit A” when I reference the “music I used to listen to” that has influenced my current releases. The hooks, the melodies, the harmonies, the cheese – this album came at the peak of Rascal Flatts’ career and really hit the nail on the head for me.
I’m really struggling to choose a third. I’m tempted to go with an early Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, Jo Dee Messina, Zac Brown Band, or Randy Travis album – all artists who have been hugely influential on me and all of which would be a fair selection. But I think I’m going to go with
by Faith Hill. It was the first physical album I owned and so, of course, it has a place in my heart. I remember bouncing around the house as a young kid with my Walkman in belting full out to “The Way You Love Me,” as if I was performing for a sold out arena, something I still do around my apartment from time to time, if I’m being real with you, just without the Walkman.
From what I can hear, your songs are pretty classic country, with more nontraditional lyrics. Can you tell me a bit about why this is?
I think that as far as emerging queer voices in country music go, there’s a lot of cool stuff happening that I have a lot of respect for, but I’ve still been looking for something to fill the void left from my younger days, or even my days out of college when I began working in country radio, when I’d be searching for myself in these sounds I loved. I wanted to return to that late '90s country, early 2000s sound because that’s what I grew up on. It’s a gift to “little me,” who longed to be normalized by the songs he heard back when. Plus, I love a simple melody and catchy hook and a storytelling lyric and a little cheese, so this project has been very much an opportunity to indulge in those elements.
What’s your favorite or most personally meaningful lyric that you’ve written
I have a song that’s yet-to-be-recorded where I say, “You know the moon never actually changes, we just take what we can see and we call it phases,” about a past relationship where my ex, when looking back, referred to us as just a phase. I love that one. But if I’m choosing a lyric from a song that’s been recorded and released, I’d go with the climax of the bridge on my single “Same Old Country Love Song,” “It’s the same old country love song but it’s mine.” It just sort of summarizes the entire reason why I’m out here doing this.
Why is a queer reclaiming of country music needed?
Representation matters. I personally feel like a strong testament to that. I was in a movie when I was a child and, though I wasn’t ready to embrace it at the time, the way in which I unapologetically carried myself on screen was something that allowed young boys all around the world to see themselves and no longer feel like they were the only ones out there who might be a little more effeminate or eccentric or sassy than their peers. Country music is like this untapped genre that’s weirdly out of sync with the representation conversation at the moment. Women, black people, queer folks – it’s extremely difficult for anyone who is not a straight white cis male to break through on mainstream country music radio, and that needs to change. Country music is about storytelling, and
+ people certainly have stories to tell that we can all learn from.
Can you tell me about the TikTok that Jack Black made with “Same Old Country Love Song?”
I mean, how lucky am I? Not only did my first ever professional audition as a child land me in a cult classic film that continues to have an impact to this day, but the star of the film and one of the world’s most loved celebrities is someone I can call a friend and supporter? He was so sweet to shout out my song to his 14 million followers on Tik Tok — I actually can’t handle it. And this was following a bunch of previous traction that the song was already getting on social media – from influencers, from fans, from people who have been waiting for something like this. I just woke up this morning to a new comment on the Official Lyric Video that I feel rather accurately reflects what the effect has been like: “To all the people who think this song is unnecessary, or just pushing a gay agenda or whatever crap, just look at these comments for a few seconds, and see how wholesome and healing this song is for us.”
School of Rock
influence your trajectory?
School of Rock
was more of a negative influence than a positive one for a while. It resulted in a ton of internalized homophobia because of how people commented on and interrogated my sexuality afterward, it gave me mixed messaging about what made me special and worthy, and it set me up with a really warped idea of success that I was constantly comparing myself to for many years to follow. Ironically, towards the latter half of my twenties, it became something I’m so incredibly proud of; it’s something I love to talk about because of what it meant to people and because it allows me to have a voice in queer mental health conversations that is a unique perspective. It didn’t necessarily impact my musical interests, but I love how many kids it’s motivated to pick up instruments. I truly do believe the message of the film is beautiful and has aged well. Be yourself, know that that’s enough, and stick it to the man.
Want to learn more?
You can listen to “Hottest Guy Here” and “Same Old Country Love Song” and the rest of his music on
. You can also follow Brian on Instagram