Zane Williams on sellouts, bro-country and rapping with Kevin Fowler
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By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
When Texas country singer-songwriter Zane Williams moved to Nashville after college in a bid for stardom, he eventually ran into a pretty big roadblock.
"My music was never trendy," Williams said, with a rueful chuckle.
So what's he doing rapping and fronting like a bro-country blockhead on his latest single, a duet with Texas star and Amarillo native Kevin Fowler?
Perhaps the title offers a clue: "Sellout Song."
No, Williams isn't selling out; he's just making fun of the state of mainstream country music.
Williams — who'll return to Amarillo to open for The Josh Abbott Band at 9 p.m. Friday at Midnight Rodeo, 4400 S. Georgia St. — said he wrote the tune "as a joke (and) really just to prove if that rapid-fire lyric is what works, I can write that."
He didn't intend to record it, but when he played it as part of a song-swap at Billy Bob's, Fowler expressed interest in cutting it himself.
"My new CD that we're fixing to go record is even more traditional country than I've ever done ... and I didn't really want to rap on it, even as a joke," Williams said. "But I was like, Kevin Fowler would really have the sense of humor to do that song and the budget to do a decent video."
"Sellout Song" by Kevin Fowler, ft. Zane Williams
A full video is in the works now, Williams said, and in fact, the duo met up the day before my interview with Williams to shoot some scenes.
"(Fowler) went to the Buckle and got all the gaudy rings and jewelry and tight shirts," Williams said.
Now, it's not that Williams has anything in particular against the melding of rap and country, even if it's not his cup of tea.
"I think, these days, people listen to all kinds of music and the most popular seems to be that hip-hop, pop, R&B stuff," Williams said. "I do think when you can take that sound and can combine it with county elements, I do think it sounds new and fresh to people's ears."
"Country music can be deeper and better than that."
But he's not really a fan, either.
"I kind of liken the bro-country stuff ... to high-fructose corn syrup," he said. "It's titillating. It kind of pushes the right buttons, appeals to your baser instincts. But it's kind of empty calories. It rots your teeth after a while. There's not a lot of substance to it.
"If every single song is about getting drunk on Fireball whiskey on the lake with some hot girl, I feel like country music has gotten out of balance," he continued. "There's more to life than that. To me, country music was always good at portraying all the different facets of life — being a father, working through sickness or divorce, but also some party songs and having a good time.
"Country music was — and still is — so much about the lyrics that you can write a great song about all of these different topics and not just party or hook-up songs."
There's a time and place for whooping it up, in other words, but "country music can be deeper and better than that."
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