He sells out venues and plays for thousands of fans across the country these days, but back in high school, he had quite a unique gig to earn a couple dollars… picking up dead chickens.
And Koe recently sat down on Steve Rinella’s (outdoorsmen, author, conservationist) MeatEater podcast with some of his crew during a trip to snowy Bozeman, Montana, for some duck hunting.
They got into some of the details for his forthcoming country album, but of course, they also talked quite a bit about hunting and where he grew up in east Texas.
Koe was raised in Pittsburg, Texas, saying it was, at one time, the chicken-producing capital of the world. Most of his friends owned chicken houses, and he said the whole town smelled like chicken shit all the time:
“You come into Pittsburg, you smell chicken shit. I love it.
No but that’s the deal, you live there your whole life, you’re like, ‘Oh it’s just another day.’ Everybody else comes in, they’re like, ‘What the fuck is going on in this town?'”
He says he got used to it and the smell never really bothered him much, and eventually he got in on the chicken business, as well.
Koe explained that his grandaddy was an electrician and used to run electricity in said chicken houses:
“My grandaddy, he worked… he was an electrician, so he would go, whenever they were either tearin’ down or building a new one, he would go in and run all the electricity.
Whenever they’d take out all the chickens, there would be 10 or 15 of ’em left that had, you know, a broke foot.
He would take us to go pick up dead chickens, and then we’d get there, and there would be a couple of them alive. And he’s like, go have at it. So me and my buddies would just go around and I don’t know…”
Dre, Koe’s best friend and tour manager, also chimed in, adding that it was actually really normal to do that kind of thing where they lived:
“And it’s such a normal thing. It wouldn’t be like… we got a buddy we both grew up with, and we’d go to his dad to get some money ‘cuz we needed some money for something.
And he’d be like, ‘Hey boys, come over here, pick up a couple dead chickens. Oh yeah, I’ll give you boys $20.’ And we’re like, ‘Alright.’ It was just normal growing up.
Or somethin’, you know, whatever it was that day. Or move these bags from here to there, whatever. But it was just normal. We ate a lot of chicken growing up.”
And if you’ve ever been in an area that has tons of chicken houses like this, then you know how disgusting it can really be.
Tyson has quite a large chicken production operation here not too far from where I live out in western North Carolina, and honestly, seeing all of that can help you understand why people become vegetarians.
Though, like Koe, I guess I’ve never found it quite disgusting enough to actually stop eating chicken:
“And most people would be like, I could never do it after seein’ all that. But I’ve seen a lot worse, I guess. Eat a lot worse.”
I guess this one (kind of) makes sense now?
At least, maybe it helps explain where some of the inspiration for the outrageous “Post-Sellout” bit about the chicken farmer might’ve come from…