Every day you learn something new. That’s what they say, right? I firmly believe that’s true and on Wednesday, August 22, 2018, I learned a few new things, even before the clock struck noon. Part of the reason I continue to learn new things is because I really try to keep my mind open and give things a chance before I run away. I hope all of you will join my little tribe and keep the door open a little bit, just long enough to read this interview before you go running off. If you can do that, I’ve done my job and I’ll really appreciate it.
About a week ago, my husband’s phone rang and it was a representative from Kore PR, a public relations firm here in Nashville. They were wondering if Think Country might be interested in interviewing one of their clients, a country rap duo. He quickly passed the phone to me, as he only handles photos. I agreed to the interview because in my mind, country music has really evolved and while there are, and always will be, country music purists, there are also those who love modern country, bluegrass, “bro country”, outlaw country and the list goes on and on. Whether you’re on board or not, country rap is here, and it’s here to stay. The fans are out there and they are passionate. Think Country has to cater to all types of country music fans and I don’t think it’s up to me to decide what kind of country music I should cover, especially when I’ve never even been to a country rap show to say I’ve experienced it. How can I honestly say I dislike it if I’ve never experienced it live? I can listen to something on a recording all day long, but until I see something performed live, I don’t completely discount it. I say this because I made that mistake once before and it was a huge mistake.
Quick story and I’ll get into the interview. When I first met my husband, before we were ever dating, he was a big fan of the metal band Metallica. I couldn’t stand listening to them. I would insist he turn them off when I was around. Finally, I caved and he dragged me to a show, just about kicking and screaming. After seeing the band live, I was hooked. They were incredible. I have been a devout fan ever since seeing that show. I enjoy them live and I now enjoy their records as well. I now appreciate their musicianship and the passion they put into their playing. I needed to see that in person to understand it. That was 1991. For that reason, I may not like a band I hear on the radio, but I keep in mind there is a chance I might feel differently if I saw them live. There’s also a chance I might not, but I reserve hope.
I also need to add there’s the human factor. I sometimes feel we are quick to judge a book by its cover when it comes to bands. This is particularly true when it comes to bands society tends to associate with a “wilder” element. Metal, rap, punk, anything edgier. I think country rap absolutely falls into this category. I have to admit, I was skeptical too. When I heard that Long Cut was a country rap duo, I imagined redneck madness with the local county jails being overcrowded before the shows were even over.
This is why it’s really important to remember that in every band, no matter the genre, be it country rap or smooth jazz, there are human beings that comprise that band. Human beings are separate entities and how they are inside and how they think and behave when they aren’t playing the part they do on stage is very important. In the end, that’s what counts. Not many humans can sustain the energy level that they do on stage 24 hours a day, every day. Remember that. They go home. They sleep. They eat. They take their kids to school. They do regular people things just like everyone else. Sometimes you need to talk to them and find out what they’re about when they aren’t “working”. Some might immediately jump to the conclusion that people who play certain types of music are less intelligent or are somehow less capable of feeling positive human emotions. People may even fear them a bit or feel they aren’t worthy of getting to know. Just an observation I’ve made over the years. I’ve rambled on long enough. Let’s go get inside the heads of Long Cut, shall we?
Think Country: We are here with Long Cut. We have Bryan (Thomas) and JT (Adams). Let’s start from the very beginning, where are you from? Are you from the same place? (They both kind of looked at each other without saying anything) Are you both from this planet?
Bryan: We’re both from the USA. ‘Merica.
JT: Originally from the Dallas area.
TC: Both of you?
JT: Bryan’s been all over.
Bryan: I’m kind of a transient, a mutt. I kind of started all over the country. I was born in Wyoming.
JT: Born in Wyoming, Mom had a warrant. She was on the run.
TC: On the run at birth? This is interesting already. Maybe we should just stop right here.
Bryan: I grew up in Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, mostly Oklahoma.
TC: Oklahoma’s where they couldn’t catch ya, huh?
JT: Colorado and North Carolina is mostly home. I started out in Texas, left Texas, went out to California, spent some time in California and wound up in Colorado and that’s where I’m at now. That’s where I met Bryan.
TC: How long ago was that?
JT: A handful of years ago.
Bryan: We met about five, six years ago.
JT: I was Bryan’s opening act for a long time.
TC: Really? So, you were doing something completely different?
Bryan: Yeah, we were both country artists.
TC: Were you more mainstream country at the time?
Bryan: I was doing more mainstream country rock, kind of like a Brantley Gilbert, Eric Church style. Then he (JT) was kind of his own thing, more unique. It was a lot of cover band stuff but also his original songs, they were very different. He’s got a song in a movie with Vince Gill. He’s done very cool stuff on the original song side of things. I don’t know, we kind of hooked up, I was playing a lot of big shows, amphitheaters and stadiums, bigger type shows…
TC: Were you just going by your name then?
Bryan: Bryan Thomas, yeah.
JT: With a “Y”.
TC: Bryan with a “Y”, like Luke Bryan. Got it. Now, what does JT stand for?
JT: Well, in Texas we keep things simple, you know. Like JT. My sister’s KC.
TC: And your Mom is…
JT: We call her T.
TC: Well, okay.
JT: We got Mama T. We got PJ
TC: And Dad was just? Non-existent?
JT: Yeah, he’s gone.
TC: He’s G.
JT: He’s a gypsy, truck drivin’, gamblin’ fool.
TC: There’s a lot of those out there, don’t feel bad.
JT: What is it they call ‘em? Truckers? Lot lizards?
TC: No, those are the women that are the lot lizards.
JT: A lizard chaser.
TC: So, how did all this morph into this country rap, country hip hop thing? What do you call it?
JT: Well, you know, we’re artists, big time, and I think sometimes a lot of artists kind of bottleneck themselves…
Bryan: Bottleneck. I knew that word was coming.
JT: I think it’s a great word because I see it a lot. That was one thing Bryan and I really wanted to do was be the tip of the spear of something new. We’ve always been the type of people to be up to a challenge, you know, and set the tone. This was an opportunity we saw to take what we’d been doing and our capabilities that are in our arsenal to expand and be different.
TC: There are other people doing it now. How long ago did you start doing this?
Bryan: Initially, I was actually playing some shows with some bigger country rappers and I was doing acoustic songwriting and opening for these guys. Well, I became good friends with a couple of them, and I mean, these guys are major national touring artists, and the mentorship and the advice that I was getting from these guys and the fact that I was so interested in it and the fact that I had heard him rap, it was almost like the planets aligned. We were sitting down a few years back. We just got done playing for 5,000 people, no rap at all, just country music. We’re sitting in my living room and I’m playing guitar and he busts a freestyle and I’d been thinking about doing a country rap thing for a while with these guys and I looked at him and I’m like, “You know what? You wanna do country rap? I’ll make us a million dollars.” Right there. I knew it. I could feel it. You know?
TC: Yeah, sometimes you do just know.
Bryan: Sometimes you can just tell, and so we thought about it for a couple years, you know, kicked the idea around but never pulled the trigger. I was actually out here at the time living in Nashville and got a call from one of the guys I’d been exploring the idea of country rap with, one of the big guys, and that day I called JT and said, “Hey, I just packed up my truck, I’m driving to Colorado right now, you and I are starting a rap group and we’re gonna cut a record, like, right now. I sent him two songs and by the time I got there he had five more written in a day and a half. We hit the studio and got to work. I think for us, we just have such a high level of mentors and advisors in this genre and the thing is there’s a handful of people doing this that are just really, really good, but there’s a lot of people who aren’t, and there’s a big void and a lot of opportunity for us to come in and fill a role and fill a spot in this genre together. Honestly, I think if you ask either one of us, the smartest thing we ever did with our career is move on and make this change and jump on board together and take the bull by the horns. Like I said, we have such a great team of mentors who know what they’re doing and who are great at it, but we’re able to take that and still able to do it our way, you know, Long Cut’s doing the heavy lifting in this scenario.
TC: It’s good that you’re willing to take advice and listen to people who have done it before you. Your heads aren’t so big that you’re not willing to take advice and learn.
JT: You can’t be that way.
TC: So, let’s say I had no idea what you guys do. How would you describe your music and what you do.
JT: I would definitely say with country rap being a new genre, there isn’t really a definition you can just write out.
TC: Right, so you’re writing it.
JT: I think the left and right lateral limits are being written every day as we’re writing, as we’re creating these new songs that are far left on the hickhop/country rap side, as well as filtering into that mainstream country and bringing in our history and bringing in our experience and combining the rap behind it. There are songs he and I wrote two years ago that we’re bringing back out of the dungeon and transforming them into country rap. So, it’s not like it’s in its own genre with walls built up. It’s in its own genre, but we’re trying to really expand it into the mainstream. That’s kind of a plan we’ve been putting together with our PR firm and our advisors saying that you guys can really take hickhop/country rap, possibly, hopefully we are the tip of that spear, to that next level. So, if I had to define what we are, we’re kid-friendly for sure. We have a fan base across the board from nine-year old people to seventy-year old people.
TC: So, in other words, I have an eight-year old granddaughter and I could bring her to a show and I wouldn’t have to worry about her hearing things that she’s going to have nightmares about?
JT: That’s the thing I think, a lot of people hear the word “rap” and they kind of start pre-judging what rap music is, you know, but you’re missing another word in there, “country”, and country is all about family and camaraderie and friends and warm and fuzzy type of feelings, right?
TC: So, it’s fun, right?
Bryan: We don’t cuss on the real.
JT: No. We got what we call “Little Dippers”. One of our first shows as Long Cut we go out on stage and there’s 15 ten-year old kids right in front with their parents and they’re wearing our shirts and they’re having a blast.
Bryan: We’ve got ‘em all up on stage and we’ve got pictures with ‘em.
TC: That’s really interesting. You’ve sparked some interest with me. I won’t name any names but I know of some other country rappers that don’t have even have PG-rated shows where you could take kids. I mean, I suppose some people would, but most people would not.
JT: I think the situation dictates with the venue. I mean, you go to a venue and our show starts at 11 PM that night, we’re throwing whiskey off the stage, but the show that we have, like the one at The Moxi, I think it was, they allowed all ages. It was a regular venue. It really surprised me it was all ages.
Bryan: We try to book our shows all ages. We’re big advocates of starting your fanbase young. Why not? I mean, kids like music too. We’re both fathers. I’m not going to make music my daughters can’t listen to and neither is he.
TC: That makes sense. There’s nothing worse than telling your kid to get out of the room because you’re rehearsing because they can’t hear what you’re singing.
JT: We’re actually talking about cutting a record with our kids, including them.
TC: That’s really cool.
JT: It is, and that’s where it’s really unique is there’s no boundaries in this genre. I always felt like when I would sit down and write a country song that I had limits, that I had a formula that I had to follow. Subconsciously, that starts developing as a writer. This is real challenging in the beginning, but then at the same time it became really exciting because there were no limits. So, when we started writing songs like “Sweet Tea” or songs that are just completely different from what you’re hearing right now in the genre, that’s what I’m excited about, for those to come out and for people to sit there and say, “I didn’t even think about hickhop sounding like that.”
TC: When you were growing up, say, teenagers, what were you listening to?
JT: Randy Travis, Korn.
TC: So, you listened to everything from country to thrash metal.
JT: You can’t go wrong with Korn.
Bryan: I feel like as kids we both mostly listened to country music, like 90’s country and older, at that time 90’s country was the new stuff.
TC: Now, you’re driving around in the car. What are you listening to?
Bryan: I think our problem is, we’re both really bad about this, we almost never listen to other peoples’ music.
TC: So, you’re mostly listening to your own, probably because you’re just…
Bryan: Studying. We listen to our own music and the other people who are directly influencing ours, in our genre. So, we’re listening to ourselves like crazy, of course, just trying to get better all the time. Of course, if we’re just listening to music just to listen to music, we’re listening to Randy Travis, George Strait and Alan Jackson, but usually when we put something on the radio it’s us, it’s Demun Jones, it’s Upchurch, it’s Adam Calhoun, it’s The Lacs, you know, it’s the bigger players in the genre we’re in. We never want to feel like we’re trying to imitate them, but there’s nothing wrong with having influence from the people who have figured it out.
TC: Do you tour with The Lacs?
Bryan: We don’t tour with The Lacs, but we’ve played with The Lacs and we will be playing with The Lacs again. We’ve played with Demun Jones and we’ll be playing a lot more with Demun Jones and there’s some other bigger names that we’re looking to be playing with within the next year as well.
TC: In your opinion, and it’s understood that this is only your opinion, who is the leader in your genre right now? Or who is your biggest influence or mentor?
Bryan: I think we both have to answer this.
Bryan: Yes, because it is an opinion thing. I think biggest influence, by far, for me, is Demun Jones. Absolutely. I’ve played a ton of shows with the guy. He’s a great dude. I can call him on the phone and he can tell me what I’m doing wrong and what I need to do to do better. Helluva guy. As far as who’s right now playing the biggest stages, who’s the biggest names out there, I think it’s Upchurch and The Lacs. I think they’re probably the two biggest out there. I think within two years Demun Jones is going to be the biggest thing out there just because if you’ve ever been to one of his live shows they’ll blow your mind. The talent is unreal. The energy of the live show, phenomenal, but that’s just me fanboying a little bit.
JT: I think being a writer, I would agree that Demun Jones is probably one of my favorites in the genre. His lyrics, his writing is a little bit more intelligent, you know, he really kind of takes that extra step instead of just finding the easy way out as a writer, that sometimes can be a bad habit. I think he’s constantly pushing himself.
Video courtesy of Demun Jones and YouTube
Bryan: We’re not saying anybody does that that we’ve mentioned, but there are a lot of writers out there, in general, who take the easy way out.
JT: I thought this was my opinion. (As he gives the “just joking” courtesy wink)
TC: In regular rap they do a lot of sampling. Do you sample in country rap like they do in mainstream rap?
Bryan: Definitely. I would definitely, without question, put in Will Ferrell talking.
Video courtesy of xXModernDayMonsterXx and YouTube
TC: Or could you sample a little bit of an Alan Jackson song?
Bryan: Yeah, sure.
JT: I’m gonna put a little bit of Rocky Balboa in one. I’m thinkin’ like when he’s talking to his son in the new Rocky, when he says, “Nothin’ hits harder than life”, that whole thing. My Mom’s a big Rocky fan. A Rocky quote would be good.
Photo courtesy of Quotezine Videos and YouTube
TC: For Teresa. T.
JT: T. Mama T.
TC: I’m getting it. I’m learning. I’m new to this, but I’m a quick learner.
JT: We got you.
TC: Do you guys do co-writes? I’m used to talking to mainstream country artists. Do country rappers go on co-writes with other country rappers or just other songwriters in general?
Bryan: Yeah. We’re kind of picky about the people we’ll write with.
TC: That’s common. I hear that a lot.
Bryan: Yeah, I’ve written with a couple hundred people.
TC: Okay and how does that go? Does it usually work out well if you get with the right people?
Bryan: As far as the country rap stuff, I think we’ve only had the opportunity to write with a couple people, you know, but I feel like if you get the right person in the room.
TC: It’s all a matter of whether or not it gels.
Bryan: Good writers can write anything.
TC: When I went to listen to your stuff on Spotify, I could only find two songs there. Where do people go to find your music?
Bryan: We, rather than doing the whole album thing, we’re taking a very systematic approach of singles only. Releasing one single at a time, keeping them coming. We just started this seven months ago.
TC: So, this is new?
Bryan: Yeah. We both kind of picked up and just stepped off the country thing at the end of January (2018) so it took us a couple of months to figure out kind of what we were doing and then we started dropping singles. That’s kind of our game plan is release singles, keep ‘em coming and keep the content fresh and not really focus on trying to sell albums. These days that’s just so hard to do.
TC: It can be. A lot of people have short attention spans these days. People buy singles.
Bryan: Yeah, so that’s our game plan. Make every song good enough to be a single and release it. We’ll do it one at a time and keep ‘em coming quick.
TC: How’s it working for you?
Bryan: So far, pretty good.
JT: It’s fun.
TC: Okay, good!
JT: We’ve got two music videos attached to those singles on YouTube and that was fun.
TC: Where did you film those?
JT: “Country Roads” was filmed in Poudre Canyon, Colorado.
Video courtesy of Long Cut and YouTube
TC: Is that where you’re based, in Colorado?
JT: Yes. We’re back and forth, from North Carolina to Colorado. Colorado’s definitely home. My kids are out there, a lot of our fans are out there, and you know, before you start taking over a big town like Denver, we were kind of saying, “Let’s take over Fort Collins and Northern Colorado”, that type of mentality. Our advisors were telling us to stay focused on Colorado. There’s nothing coming out of Colorado in hickhop. A lot of these artists are traveling to Colorado and playing these bigger venues so it’s really opening up the opportunity for Colorado to really kind of grab a foothold in hickhop. Hickhop. What do you think about that?
TC: Hickhop. Yeah. I’ve heard that term before, but you guys are different. I’ve heard of like, Cowboy Troy, but he’s different from you. His hickhop isn’t your hickhop. He’s more mainstream.
JT: So, “Pleasant Grove”, our other song, well, we have a group of buddies called the “Spit Cup Posse” and it’s growing as our fanbase is growing now.
TC: That’s what your fanbase is kind of called right?
JT: Yep, “Spit Cup Posse”. Yeah, it’s pretty cool, it was his (Bryan’s) idea.
*Sitting on the table in front of Bryan the entire time we were talking was a miniature spit cup emblazoned with a Confederate flag design.
TC: I don’t know where I would have gathered that idea.
JT: So, where we all kind of gather as a group and hang out and do barbeques and family events and stuff is in this trailer park called Pleasant Grove, and I’ve been going there for years. We’ve all been going there for years and so, I don’t know, one day we were sitting there at the kitchen table and D Willie Phats, which is like the “Spit Cup Posse” chef was making breakfast and we had some guys out back playing horseshoes, you know, and we have a horseshoe pit in the yard, that’s why it’s in the song. It just worked. It was just so easy.
TC: I don’t know why, but I’m picturing Chef from South Park, does he look like him?
Photo courtesy of Amino Apps
JT: No. He’s in the video.
TC: I haven’t yet seen the video.
JT: He has his own YouTube channel as well. He’s an amazing guy. So, he’s a good buddy of ours and that’s where “Pleasant Grove” came from. I think that was the most fun I had recording a music video was at Pleasant Grove, being able to see your friends smile so big because they are a part of it and maybe sometimes they don’t feel like they are because they’re not on stage.
TC: You made them a part of it.
JT: You have to. It’s gonna take a tribe.
(Bryan showed me a small clip of the “Pleasant Grove” video at this point so I could see D Willie Phats and the general scene at Pleasant Grove where the video was shot.)
Video courtesy of Long Cut and YouTube
Bryan: I think that was what made my heart so warm was being able to kind of sit there and see Terry (smiles and happily laughs a little), he was so happy. These guys, the smiles on their faces were so awesome because they are a part of it.
TC: They’re like family, right?
JT: They are. This was kind of like our tribute, our thank you, saying, “Hey, let’s make this important to get done now”, and let ‘em know we appreciate the support and when the video came out it was bigger than I ever could have imagined.
TC: That’s great. Well, it’s nice to be able to include people that have been with you since the idea came up and obviously they’ll probably be with you until the idea becomes bigger or even if tomorrow you decided to fold it, they’d still be your friends. Those are the people that matter in the end.
TC: Touring. People want to come out and see you. Where are you going to be playing shows?
Bryan: Right now we are completely focused and honed in on Colorado and North Carolina. We’re growing the home bases. Like I said, we’re just coming up on our eighth month doing this, so I feel like any artist who has kind of been through the paces before and built up a band and a name, you kind of learn quick if you don’t have a solid home base, there’s no point in trying to go out and do a road tour or anything like that. You’ve really got to build that hometown crowd and have a place to come back to when you get off the road. So, right now our focus is every big show we can get on in Colorado and North Carolina, whether it’s a big artist coming through or a festival, whatever’s going on, that’s kind of our goal right now is to turn Colorado and North Carolina into the places where everybody knows who we are.
TC: Where in North Carolina are you targeting, or is it the whole state?
Bryan: We stay southwest of Asheville.
TC: Oh, so not that far from Tennessee then.
Bryan: No, it’s less than four hours from Nashville and 10 minutes from the border. It’s nice for us there because in 10 minutes we can be in Georgia, in 10 minutes we can be in Tennessee, we can hit Knoxville in a day, we can hit Northern Georgia in a day, we can get to Macon or Atlanta really quick. We can get over to Charlotte. Anywhere in that circle there’s a lot of cities and a lot of southern towns that really dig what we’re doing so it’s just the perfect spot for us. You know, we have a home there, so that 100-mile radius around it, there’s so many cities and towns in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina right there that are hot spots for us to hit, so that’s why that’s kind of our secondary because we do spend a lot of our time in North Carolina and there’s just so many venues for us to play. Then of course in Colorado country rap’s kind of taken a foothold and there’s just no other artists there doing it.
TC: It sounds like it’s blowing up there and you guys are kind of leading the charge.
Bryan: In Colorado for sure.
TC: Alright. Let’s get into some hard stuff. We’re going to delve into some difficult things. You guys look like you can handle the hard stuff. We always have the arguments between the country music traditionalists versus the “bro country” fans or the modern country fans or whatever you want to call it. Those arguments are going to go on until the end of time. You guys are a whole new argument for the purists. What do you guys do when you get a country music purist and they hear you and say, “That’s not country” and get argumentative, or do you just not say anything and ignore them?
JT: Oh, we love the haters.
Bryan: To be honest with you, we play plenty of shows where eight out of ten people hated us, and when you come from a country background and you’re playing a rodeo, eight out of ten people are going to hate you when this is the type of music that you do, but those two out of ten that love you, the beautiful thing about it, we ended up playing a show in Greeley (Colorado) at The Moxi and I look out and there’s 200 cowboy hats in the air losing their minds, and they had spurs on their boots.
TC: So, in other words, if you can snag a couple out of that bunch…
JT: Focus on your green apples. Convert your yellow apples and not worry about your red ones. It doesn’t matter if I can walk on a tightrope, juggle…
TC: And save a baby from being hit by a car, right?
JT: Right. Everybody’s gonna have a negative opinion, that’s fine, they can get in line, you know.
Bryan: Why focus on anything negative? What was it? Just the other day a lady said, “I don’t like your music.”
JT: Oh yeah, right to our face.
Bryan: She was like, “I like your country, but I don’t like your rap.”
JT: He just looked right at her and said, “Get in line.”
Bryan: I said, “Get in line. You think you’re the first person to tell me your opinion?”
TC: She won’t be the last.
JT: My Granddaddy told me that eight out of ten people in this world base their opinions off of other peoples’ opinions. If we woke up every day and focused on what those eight people had to say about something that’d be a pretty shitty life. If you can then take a chance and just kind of check it out, I would say the percentage at even 20% turns into 50% after they hear, after they see, if they listen. There’s not your rap country cussin’. We’re talkin’ about good, solid, valuable concepts that are in your country world. That’s the combination. We’re not forgetting about that. We’re just presenting it in a different fashion.
TC: You definitely caught me in the beginning when you talked about your shows being family-friendly, that really peaked my interest in you guys. Obviously, you can turn it up in your late night shows and make those into adult-type shows and that’s fine, but here’s more where I’m going with this. Maybe if some of the people that are against what you’re doing would slow it down and back it up and open their minds long enough to listen to the lyrics in your songs, maybe they’d see a little bit of their own lives in those lyrics.
JT: Regardless, it’s going to keep growing. It’s the fastest growing genre of music right now.
TC: I can remember way back in the 80’s when rap first really started coming on, and rap back then was really kind of PG-rated.
JT: The Will Smith days.
TC: The Will Smith days, yes, and people were going, “What IS this? This is never gonna last.” Rap just started getting a little more crazy and a little more crazy and rap is going nowhere, it just keeps getting stronger and stronger. You’re probably 100% right, country rap is going to keep growing and they can argue all they want, it’s going to stay so they can either jump on board or…
Bryan: …move over.
TC: Right. Move over. You don’t have to like everything.
TC: In the end, there’s still going to be the preconceived notion that country rap artists aren’t as talented as traditional country artists. In a celebrity death match or a showdown type scenario with a traditional country artist, and I’m not talking about a Garth Brooks or a George Strait, I’m talking about someone that’s on the same level as you guys right now, what is it you guys have that they don’t? What can you do that they can’t that would deliver the final knockout blow?
JT: After the song ends the whole crowd goes crazy.
TC: That’s one thing. Let’s say he can play a guitar so good, but obviously there’s a lot of people that play a guitar so good and a lot of people can sing so good, but what can you do that’s different and better than that?
JT: Liquor sales at the end of the night?
TC: Well, okay, you’re gonna blow that away, but that probably won’t win the fight.
Bryan: Do numbers matter?
TC: Numbers definitely matter. In this town? Numbers are almost everything, dollars are everything in this town, but there’s got to be something that you guys can do that they can’t do.
JT: Let it go. (Looking over at Bryan, who clearly has something to say.)
TC: Let it go Bryan, we know you have it. I can see the wheels spinning in your head, it looks like your ball cap’s gonna fly right off.
Bryan: I’ve never been asked a question like this before.
TC: That’s why we’re different at Think Country, because we “Think” of different questions. That’s where the “Think” in Think Country comes from.
JT: We’re competitors. We compete. No matter who you put kneecap to kneecap, whether you’re an opera singer or a country singer if you wanna get up there and battle on your rap stuff. Like I said in the beginning, we’re artists.
Bryan: With us, I don’t even think it comes down to the fight. I think it comes down to the training and I feel like JT and I train for 24.
TC: This is the answer I was kind of looking for. I didn’t know it was the answer I was looking for, but I think that’s it.
JT: Hard work beats talent. A champion spends hours and years in private practicing for one moment.
TC: You need the Rocky sample in there.
JT: I got goosebumps saying that.
(One of them starts humming the theme song from Rocky)
TC: Now I’m insisting upon that sample for your next song, thank you. I’ll be waiting for it you know.
JT: Nobody sees us standing in the kitchen with headphones on cooking eggs and going through our entire set. Nobody sees that, they’re not supposed to.
Bryan: Nobody sees us in the gym running on an elliptical, rapping while we can barely breathe just so we have our cardio up enough to get to the show.
TC: Do you run up the steps at Red Rocks? Up and down and up and down? I’ve only gone up and down those steps once and that was just to see a show, those steps are crazy.
JT: It’s called the Seven P’s, right? Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
TC: So, you think your training…
JT: At the end, I know we’ve trained harder than whoever you put in the ring with us.
Bryan: Nobody works harder than us, nobody. I guarantee it.
TC: I think that’s the perfect answer to that question. That’s better than what I expected you to say.
JT: Our contender is faceless.
TC: Ooooh… ouch. You guys are deeper than I thought you were going to be, which is a nice surprise, I like that.
TC: We’ll move on to some fun questions now and take you guys off the ledge. Everybody’s opening up celebrity bars here. Let’s say you’re going to open up your own artist bar. What’s it going to be called and what’s the theme?
JT: I’d call it Dye Nasty’s and it’s not a bar, it’s a strip club.
TC: Well, alright. I have to write that because I have to be sure I know how to spell it.
JT: Dye. With a “Y”.
TC: Okay, and is Nasty’s with an apostrophe “S”?
JT: With an “N”.
(I have to tell you, I couldn’t stand it. These guys were kind of killing me at this point. I was laughing pretty hard on the audio. I truly hope I got the name of their “strip club” correct.)
TC: With an “N”. Oh my God. Alright. That’s one I’ve never heard. Never heard that one yet.
JT: (Asking Bryan) Can you improve that answer?
Bryan: For a strip club, I think that’s perfect. If I was gonna open a bar, I’d probably call it Spitters.
JT: Serve drinks in spittoons?
Bryan: Yeah, well, I’d serve drinks in something like this (pointing to the miniature spit cup I mentioned earlier), and that way when you’re done with your drink you’ve got a spitter.
TC: Well now I’ve got to get a picture of that, so when people read this they will know what you’re talking about. Alright, I’ll take a picture of you holding that thing, that’s perfect. (I then took a photo of Bryan holding up the object he was referring to.)
Photo courtesy of Patti McClintic
Bryan: I’d also have big 55-gallon spitters throughout the bar because I hate trying to find a trashcan.
JT: I want those barrels on fire when you spit in ‘em. We’ll also have cocktail waitresses on T-Rex’s in Ghillie suits.
TC: Can women come to this place?
Bryan: Sure. All the servers will be bottomless, forget the topless, bottomless.
JT: As long as there’s a place for Mama T to hang out, and Mammaw. Gotta be able to bring the fam in.
TC: So, there’s a separate area?
JT: Yeah, I would say there’s an imaginary line drawn between your PG and…
TC: And your X?
TC: Do you have, like, a play area for the kids with a non-imaginary line? Like a separate room?
JT: Like a McDonald’s playground attachment.
TC: Oh, my goodness. That is definitely the most original answer we have ever had to that question, I think, by far.
TC: Okay, so your dream collaboration? Someone you would release a single with?
Bryan: Eric Church.
JT: I think it would be cool to open up the gates, and I say this loosely because he’s such a legend, open up the avenue for someone like Eminem to get into this genre, which I think he’s already kind of doing because he has a song with YelaWolf, which is great.
TC: Tell me about YelaWolf, is he another country rapper? I’m trying to learn.
JT: Yeah, huge.
Bryan: Yeah, but he’s more hip hop, but he’s kind of got southern roots.
TC: Eminem’s from Detroit, so he’s mixing it up then?
JT: Right. Eminem is phenomenal. Eminem is untouchable.
TC: He’s a pioneer, he really is.
JT: He’s so intelligent with his writing. You listen over and over and every time you listen you hear something you missed before. He’s the greatest artist/lyricist ever. Him and Kid Rock, I think,
would be a cool combination.
TC: I think maybe we could do an Eminem, Kid Rock and you guys collaboration then.
JT: And Eric Church.
TC: Hey, it’s a dream collaboration, why not?
JT: Over at Dye Nasty’s.
TC: Over at Dye Nasty’s, of course.
JT: Because we’re gonna have a stage there.
Bryan: We’re gonna sample Elvis on the track.
TC: And Rocky Balboa.
JT: And Tupac.
TC: See, now I love Tupac. You would not know it by looking at me, but I do.
TC: Next. Your dream tour. You’ve hit it really big. Who will be your opener and what venue do you want to kick it off at?
JT: I want to play in Najaf, Iraq. I want to put the stage right in the middle of the city.
TC: Najaf Iraq? You just want to start Hellfire?
Bryan: Who’s opening for you?
JT: I don’t know. I think there’s been a lot of people helping us out, giving us the opportunity to prove ourselves to them. I think that paying it forward would be something I’d want to take advantage of and turn it around and be able to open up a window of opportunity for someone else who was working just as hard, and maybe wasn’t as known.
TC: That’s good. That’s JT’s idea. What about you Bryan?
Bryan: I’d probably kick it off at Red Rocks.
TC: What about the opener? Are you going to go for an unknown too?
Bryan: Absolutely. I guess if there were bigger artists than me who helped me get big and I got bigger than them, I’d bring them up, and then also smaller guys that I grinded it out with, I’d give them a shot.
TC: What about co-headliners? Who would you love to co-headline with?
Bryan: Demun Jones.
JT: All day, Demun Jones.
TC: I’ve got one more for you. When you Think Country, what do you think?
Bryan: When I Think Country, I think playing in a creek with my five-year old. Giggin’ frogs in North Carolina. Drinkin’ sweet tea on my Mom’s porch. Diggin’ trenches with my Grandpa. Buildin’ fences.
JT: When I Think Country, I think goin’ hat down on a bull named Skittles. I think country to me is absolutely cowboyin’, being up in Cody, Wyoming chasin’ steer and roping and dallying down on something up there. Ridin’ fence lines in negative 12-degree weather.
Photo courtesy of Patti McClintic
TC: Negative 12-degree weather. Oh, man, we’re originally from Buffalo and I think of negative 12-degree weather and I think I’ve got to get out of there.
JT: I think when you’re handy with a rope that’s country to me.
TC: Well, that was the end. Thank you guys so much. This was a fun one. Power interview.
Bryan and JT: Thank you for the opportunity.
*I would like to thank Sandy and everyone at Edgehill Café for always making it my favorite place to conduct interviews. The drinks are always done right and the service is the best.
Long Cut can be found: