Koe Wetzel didn’t name his newest album Sellout for nothing.
He was on musician/comedian Dean Delray’s Let There Be Talkpodcast recently to talk about a multitude of things like quarantine, covering William Clark Green’s song “Outcast,” and his decision to sign with Columbia Records.
They dug into the discussion about what it’s like to be an independent artist and how Koe believes signing a record deal is advantageous to developing his career beyond the Texas country/red dirt music scene.
“The reason behind it was as an independent artist, there’s only so much you can do for yourself, uh, as far as getting out on a global spectrum. We don’t want to be a band that stays in Texas or around Texas forever.
After many years touring around Texas and solidifying his presence there, it was time to make the jump.
“We’ve been independent for so long it was just time to kinda make that move. And we talked to a couple different labels, and Columbia just felt right. They said they didn’t want to change anything we were doing, they’re kinda lettin’ us be us, so it kind of goes with sellout, you know.
I took the idea to ‘em. I was like I don’t want y’all to get mad or anything, but this is how it’s gonna be. The intro and everything, and they were like we f*ckin’ love it. Let’s do it.”
Of course, the journey to getting a record deal hasn’t been easy. With hardly any radio play whatsoever, Wetzel and company have managed to earn their fans organically out on the road.
“It was definitely live shows and just playin as much as we were, cuz we didn’t get any radio play. We still hardly don’t have any radio play. I think there was like maybe a couple stations that would push our shit.
Even after we were selling out every room in Texas nobody would f*ckin play us, and so definitely didn’t come from radio.
His sound is hardly something you can just put in a box in terms of genre. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t get the radio play he deserves, though I hardly doubt that’s the main reason.
His music is as unique, and often as explicit, as Wetzel himself. Unfortunately, that makes the barriers to entry in mainstream country music in particular that much harder, as authentic as it may be.
“It’s like, oh we’ll throw it in country, and they’re like no we don’t want him we’ll give it to rock. Like no, we don’t want him, we’ll give him to hip-hop. Hip hops like no, we don’t want him either. It’s like you just keep bouncin’ around, so it’s like okay, we’ll just keep playing music live then.”
And thus far, his commitment to stay true to himself and own who he is unapologetically seems to be paying off. Combine that with a rabid fan base that’s ever-growing, and it’s nearly impossible to use the word sellout in the same sentence with him.
Of his fan favorite William Clark Green cover, it was a signature drunk creation:
“One of my good buddies William Clark Green wrote that song and put it out on his record in 2009. And so in high school, we would always listen to it. One of my best friends had passed away, that was me and his go-to song when we would get real f*cked up in high school, and we’d throw it on at a party or something and everybody was like ‘wtf is this sh*t?'”
So we tracked it a couple different ways and it just didn’t feel right, so we set up some room mics and got me this classical guitar real quick and we were shit hammered drunk at this point… and we went in and made the guitar sound like that, added some light steel…
It kinda gives you that deep dark feel… especially if you’re drunk as shit at night and you’re in your feels.”
He’s itching to get back to his bread and butter and what he’s best at, though… his live shows.
They’re unlike anything you’ve ever seen and he’s truly one of the best in the business. Other than an acoustic tour with Hardy that consists of five stops in Texas soon, the band doesn’t have anything planned.
Hopefully, he can get back out there ASAP, because we’re all desperate for live music. And I have a feeling he’s going to be selling out a whole lot more than “himself” when the time comes. Thanks to all of the uncertainty due to COVID, according to country music’s newest self-proclaimed sellout…