Kyle“Trigger” Coroneos on Finding Joy & Meaning in Music

Kyle“Trigger” Coroneos on Finding Joy & Meaning in Music

Ashley Rindsberg

Kyle Coroneos is a professional freelance writer, music journalist, and critic. As a popular music and cultural commentator, he has been interviewed, quoted, and profiled by The New York Times, The Washington Post, BBC, CNN, Fox News, and many other outlets. Along with his website Saving Country Music , he has previously written for Uncle John's Bathroom Reader, and multiple other periodicals.

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Ashley Rindsberg: So hello everybody. Today we have with us Kyle “Trigger” Coronas who, um, runs saving country and occupies a very interesting. Uh, position in a very interesting space and that's kind of as an influencer, an arbiter of taste and an advocate for, um, country music, which is a American art form, a very important one, a quickly evolving one.

That's something I think we'll probably get into. But before we do, I want to ask you, Kyle, why trigger? Where did that come from? What are the names come from? Um, tell us a little bit about it.

Kyle "Trigger" Coroneos: Well, it's, uh, I'll try to keep it as short as possible. Long story short. It's a, it's, it's a nickname that was bequeathed to me.

Uh, like all proper nicknames. I didn't create it for myself, but, uh, it started actually, when I was a kid, I was, uh, me and my buddies were kind of all into, uh, shooting each other with paintball guns and it just sort of evolved from whatever, uh, Uh, sort of Raphy and, uh, young punks shooting, paintball guns at each other and our friends and our, uh, adversaries.

And I just got the name, the trigger man. And so that sort of became, uh, a handle. And then, uh, later it kind of became, uh, I don't know if you would have CBS or a citizen band radio. We're kind of big back in the eighties and nineties and stuff. It's all of our friends had that. So that just became sort of my, my handle, the trigger man.

And then, um, As time evolved. And like, you know, there was all these like mass shootings and stuff. I just sort of short that to trigger. And, uh, if that also happens to be the name of, um, Willie Nelson's guitar and gene Autry's horse, so it kind of works for the country music. Well, you know, and now it's even been shorter.

Most people just call me trig. So it's kind of, it's short for the trigger man, but.

Ashley Rindsberg: Cool. So, you know, on that note, where, where was it that you were growing up and was that a part of your connection to country music? Or was that something that came later?

Kyle "Trigger" Coroneos: Uh, definitely it was actually the nickname kind of falls into that because I grew up in this Southern part of Dallas, Texas called Oak cliff though specifically I was a little bit farther south of that in a little suburb called Duncanville.

And it was a really interesting place to grow up in because it really was sort of where the country met, um, sort of the inner city, uh, long story short in that part of, in the eighties. Um, and Dallas, um, You know, my specific little area was, was officially a suburb, but just north of there, uh, Dallas was in a huge sort of crime wave.

And so there were a lot of inner city families working class, especially black families moving into that area. And they were sort of clashing with sort of redneck Advil that was original to that area. And so I kinda grew up sort of in a culture war, race war, if you will. And it was, it was kind of interesting, you know, but I got to experience a lot of different cultures, including obviously country, uh, country music and con, and sort of rural core culture as well as a lot of inner city culture that was sort of moving into that area.

Um, so, you know, when I was growing up. I didn't, I, as aside from Willie Nelson, I honestly didn't listen to a lot of country music because the country music on the radio at that time, I just didn't find appeal. And it was like Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, with they call these days, they call it the class of 89.

It was really the sort of commercial explosion of country music. And it just was kind of cool. It was popular music country music that I didn't really find that much appeal in. Now these days, um, time has been kind of that music basically because a lot of today's country music just is so pop and so commercial that there's a lot of nostalgia that has, has, uh, made that music more appealing than the music of today to a lot of consumers, even younger consumers.

And so. You know, at that time, the country music I was listening to was sort of classic, you know, classic Willie Nelson, uh, and those kinds of artists. But it really wasn't until, um, sort of my late twenties that I really reconnected with country music, uh, through artists like Hank Williams, a third, and who were hearkening back to the original.

Um, sort of soul and sounds of, uh, authentic country music. And that's why I was like, wow, this is the music I'd been looking for my whole life. And, uh, and that's where I reconnected with it. But of course this music wasn't being played on the radio. You didn't see it on award shows. It wasn't part of the mainstream narrative.

And so that's where I sort of got excited about, Hey, someone needs to be covering this music. It's, it's amazing. And if people know that it's out there, uh, then there will be more fans of it and then it'll be supported and consistent.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, it, it it's really true. And I say this sort of as an outsider to country, but I remember I discovered through Johnny Cash.

Um, I discovered that that more original, more pure kind of country, the Hank Williams. Um, I remember an album. I had a, I think it was like Hank Williams with Elvis and some, some something along those lines, something that was like really distilled down to the basics. And it's a completely different sound than the kind of, uh, pickup truck and shotgun country music that I grew up with in the nineties that, you know, the Garth Brooks and like these kinds of anthems that were, uh, a little bit overly sentimental and nostalgic, and it felt a little bit like a little bit, you know, chincy a little too much tensile in it, but, um, but you know, going back to your, your growing up in Dallas, um, and you know, obviously.

The role that Texas plays today. And the culture is a really interesting one because we're sort of returning to this idea of Texas as a, as a Heartland where it had been on a cultural fringe for so long in America. And now the country is turning its attention back to Texas in such an interesting way, and possibly to country as well to country music.

But I think, you know what you're saying, what you're pointing to is that might not necessarily be a great effect because what we have is the American pop culture machine, just cannibalizing this art form. So, you know, I might be wrong about that. That's obviously your area of expertise, but can you talk a little bit about that, that phenomenon and why we do need to be saving country music?

Kyle "Trigger" Coroneos: Sure. Well, first off, I mean, when it comes to this Texas, specifically, Texas is an extremely diverse place, that doesn't always, you know, when, when it comes out, uh, you know, on a national landscape or an international landscape that often gets distilled down pretty significantly, whether it's, you know, the new abortion law that's causing a lot of, um, controversy right now, or whether it comes to country music.

And, um, you know, luckily for me, um, right. You know, when I was very young in my late teens and early twenties, I immediately left Texas and I went traveling around the country and that allowed me to see Texas from the outside looking in. And it was funny cause you know, whenever I went other places, um, I just traveled around.

I was working, I was working construction jobs and um, I'm a go around and, you know, as soon as people heard you were from Texas, they were like Texas, you know, screw with Texas or whatever, you know, it just became like a narrative about who you were. Uh, it was so, uh, integral with your identity. And, uh, and it, it was very healthy for me because I was able to see perceive Texas, how other people perceive Texas, not just as a native Texan.

And so, you know, there's a lot of sort of misconceptions and stereotypes about Texas and you're totally right. That gets ingrained in a lot of ways into country music. And, um, but, but what's interesting about Texas. Country there, there is like if one of the sub genres of country music, the modern sub-genres, I mean, you have like bluegrass, you have other sort of, you know, like bro country, you go sort of break it all down, but there is a very distinct, uh, scene of music.

That's Texas country or Texas music. And it's very, it's, it's more singer songwriter based. It's more heady, it's more involved. Um, you know, It is grown out of the traditions of great songwriters, like guy Clark and Townes van Sant who were more progressive. Um, and their era as country music contributors, you know, they were songwriters first and then it broke down to like genres.

And the only reason that they were considered in the country genre is because country entertainers were the ones who were recording their songs, but these people saw themselves as poet laureates. They saw themselves as a songwriters first as you know, artists sense of words. And that tradition is still very much alive here in Texas and in Texas country music.

So, um, you know, that's sort of the contribution that Texas has and, and more traditional. It's Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, who were the Outlaws, who back in the seventies, revolutionized country music. So before the outlaw movement country music was very much centered in Nashville, Tennessee, on this location called music row and music row is, uh, 16th avenue in Nashville where basically every single part of the Nashville and of the new country music industry is based.

And it's where all the labels are aware. All the managers are where all the booking agents are, where all the song publishers are. We're all the, um, everything is the studios are. So everything was centralized on this one campus in, uh, in Nashville. And since. People that were located on that campus actually where the, the ultimate they didn't own the music.

The music was actually, it was like a mid-level command bureaucracy in Nashville where the labels were actually owned and operated by big corporations on the two coasts and New York or in Los Angeles. So here was Nashville and, you know, sort of in the United States. And so they had these strict, like budgetary restrictions they had to fall, fall under. And like they had to, everything had to be more of like a conveyor belt system because, um, they had to like show profit and loss or they wouldn't, you know, the, their, their commanders, you know, they're the CEOs on the two coasts we get on, you know, we get on the label managers in Nashville.

So what ended up happening is Nashville became this conveyor belt where you had producers like Chad Atkins, they would choose you'd have an entertainer. Let's say it was Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings. They didn't get to choose what songs they would record. It would be Chet Atkins who would choose what songs they would report, the, uh, the players who would play all these songs, the instrumentalists.

And it would all just be sort of this automated, uh, industrial system of music-making when, meanwhile, we're looking at rock artists and pop artists who got to write their own songs and play with their own players and choose what, you know, the, the creative direction of their music. So in the mid seventies, they chose to rebel, like they rebelled against this music roast.

And they were called the Outlaws for it. That's why, and it turned out to be the most commercially successful movement in country music. Up to that point, they released an album called the Outlaws. That was a compilation. It was like previously, mostly previously released material. And it became the first platinum salvage selling album in country music history.

So long story short, I was reading up about this, all this history. I wanted to write a book on outlaw country. And meanwhile, I was seeing there was a, another artist named Hank Williams, the third, who was the son of Hank Williams, Jr. Grandson of Hank Williams. And I was reading up about how he was having these same exact problems in the mid two thousands.

And I was like, wait a second. This is 30 years later. And we're still fighting the same fights in country music. It's the same thing where you have big producers and big label owners decreeing from on high, how artists should create their music. And so it seemed like this was a, like a battle of evermore and eternal, struggling country music, where it was like the big business centrist was coming in and trying to make stuff for automated, more pop.

And then you have country artists fighting against that system, trying to, you know, for their creative freedom. And so that's where “Saving Country Music” sprang from was this idea that this is an ongoing thing. It's an eternal battling country music where you have authentic artists from the country or from anywhere, uh, Europe, you know, there's, there's, there's country artists from all over the place. But you know, these are authentic creators, trying to express themselves within the commercial confines of this corporate structure and like coming in to advocate for those artists and they're creating.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. I mean, there's a lot, there's a lot there, um, that I love to talk about because it's such a universal story of the battle between authentic art and creation and people are trying to do what they're trying to do for the right reasons and the corporate interest on the other side, where it's just like, how do we make this into a factory?

How do we make it into a machine? And it even, you know, there's some notes there. Uh, the story of hip hop where hip hop even sounds like around the same time, like the late nineties and early two thousands, where this really authentic on the ground grassroots musical movement starts hitting up against the corporate machine.

And it's just a recipe for disaster, I think on both the commercial and in artistic front. Um, and it also makes me think about, uh, that great movie by the Kahn brothers inside Lou and Davis, where you see this artist strength struggling to, to exist as an artist in a world where he's being thrown into these rooms to play what pop songs that are supposed to make a lot of money.

And some of them actually do, but it, it sort of kills him, um, kills his soul. So, you know, that seems to be. This, this trend seems to be almost in hyperdrive today because of the ubiquity of mass media. I mean, we have screens in every corner of our lives and where there is a screen, there is a mass media company corporation pushing something because they're advertising something else.

So, you know, when we look at someone who is really almost from my point of view, emblematic of this whole thing today, who is Taylor swift, who started out as this country figure? I mean, I remember when she came out and she had that whole day flat with Kanye west at the Grammy's and like, she was a country music singer in everybody's eyes, and then suddenly she wasn't, then she was a pop singer.

Um, and you know, I don't, I don't know where I know little NAS who is sort of a rapper in the country space. Um, I'm sure it falls somewhere on this spectrum as well, but it does seem like. This is all accelerating in one sense, but in another sense, I also imagine that with so much independent media and with artists being able to get out to their audiences without a label and without a promoter or a manager or a big company behind them, that there's also a countertrend as well.

Do you find that to be the case?

Kyle "Trigger" Coroneos: Absolutely. No doubt. I mean, you're a hundred percent correct. I mean, so first off I would say, you know, when I, when you have a site called saving country music, people sort of draw certain conclusions on that. That aren't always true. I mean, like, there is definitely the need to do something exactly like what I'm doing, but in the hip hop realm, you know, and in the rock realm, and even in realms like food and.

You know, uh, products of different sorts. Like there's no doubt that, um, we're all kind of, uh, brothers and sisters in arms in this, in this sort of pushing back against, uh, you know, sort of overreaching, corporate interests. And not that all corporations are evil or anything like that, but just sort of the, the commercialization of, of life and, and looking always at bottom line, as opposed to, uh, what's best and what's more sustainable.

Um, and what makes a life more enjoyable? So, you know, there's, there's definitely like, um, you know, I think hip hop music needs need saving too, you know, I think, I think all of it does. And, um, specifically when you're talking about, um, the, uh, As far as like Taylor swift and a little non-sex and like how, how the media is portraying that, you know, there's country music is in a very interesting space because right now it's like really hip to sort of use.

Country music as a cultural sounding board. And, generally speaking and traditionally it is a predominantly white and predominantly conservative art form. And that's most certainly true like that, that stereotype type is generally true, but it's also always pushed the boundaries. Like country music has always been very blue collar.

It's been very you know, like advocating for, uh, You know, sort of overlooked rural agrarian people and their rights, um, and also blue collar factory workers. A lot of the songs you think about some of the classic Merle Haggard songs are about this very thing. Um, you know, and it also has a lot of, um, you know, traditions and, and African-American culture that unfortunately have not been emphasized over the years enough.

Um, but now it's also like, it's almost like, um, because it, it makes such a good whipping boy, um, for media types, like people love to sort of make country music, seem more conservative or are more insular than it actually is. Um, but when, when you were talking about how there's been a, sort of a backlash now towards the corporate style of music, you, you, you couldn't be more correct.

When I started saving country music in 2008, um, There was absolutely no outlet. There were some outlets for like Americana or folk music or things like that. Um, like no depression and such, but there really wasn't an outlet for country music. That was the stuff that was not being played on the radio. Um, and so that's what I started advocating for.

And, and really the reason there wasn't an outlet for that stuff is because there was no commercially viable business model that you could bring to covering that kind of music. These days, you have artists like Sturgill Simpson, like Tyler Childers, like Cody jinks, like whiskey Myers, um, that, uh, Brandi Carlile that have now created a D these are big stars.

These are artists that like can sell out theaters, smaller arenas, have, you know, certified gold and platinum records. And they've done this solely without the support. Country music, radio or big award shows or mainstream music. And now they've become so successful that they, you know, the mainstream is paying attention to them.

You know, I mean, uh, Jason, his bull has been nominated for a CMA award, which years ago we would have never considered that surgical Simpson was nominated for a genre Grammy album of the year, a couple of years ago, right beside Beyonce and Adele and Justin Bieber and Drake it's like, you know, I mean, that was a guy, like when I wrote about circle Simpson, it was like 2012 or 2011, whenever it was like, I was the first outlet ever talk about that guy, not to brag, but it was like, back then, he was just a no-name from Kentucky.

Now, all of a sudden here he is on an international stage. And that's because as soon as consumers find out that they have. Better options out there in the marketplace. They make better choices. And now with streaming now, with YouTube now, with podcasts like yours, you know, people can find this information.

They can find these artists and they're making better choices. And now the independent side of, of country music and in music in general is almost just as big as the mainstream.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, that's um, that's really interesting. And I think that's, again, it's across art forms, even beyond music, we're seeing the same.

And, um, in the world of writing, I know the same, the same is true is that you don't need to have whatever the corporate world has decided is the right book for the moment to be the right book for you. You can actually go find what is the right thing for you. And most importantly, they can that author, that writer, or that musician can find you.

And that's the amazing thing of what's going on today. And the same is true in, in media and journalism as well, which is, um, a bit of a separate conversation. But I, you know, one thing I wanted to ask you about is really about country itself. Like, you know, to kind of peel away from the universal, uh, aspects to all this and think about what is it about country.

Cause you know, and there is something to it. I remember traveling in Nicaragua once I went to the east coast, which is Caribbean. And I was expecting to get there and just be like, you know, inundated by reggae in a great way. And I was like, this is going to be awesome. I love reggae. I'm going to listen to the radio all day long and everywhere I went, it was country music.

These were, um, black Caribbeans, um, wearing, you know, cowboy boots and the 10 gallon hat or however many gallons. It is. I'm not sure, but. And it was country just across the board. And you're opened my eyes to something, which is that I had always thought of country as being very much hitched to a certain kind of cultural experience, which is the one you talked about, the stereotype, you know, the, the, the south and the pickup and the whatever else.

And it made me realize that it's not that because those weren't those people, they were very different people. So what do you think it is about country specifically that has this enduring appeal, where music has changed so much in the past however many years we want to measure, but certainly the last 10 to 20 years and yet country has, uh, remained such an important force in American music.

What is it about it?

Kyle "Trigger" Coroneos: In my opinion, it's about authenticity. You know, there is country everywhere. When you think about country music, And it's traditional boundaries. It's the American south and the American west, but every, you know, you go anywhere and everywhere. There are small towns, there are people farming.

There are people ranching, there are people growing their own food. Um, there are people, uh, having get togethers on back porches and listening to music. Um, there are people that love their family. They, they look up to their grandparents, um, and there's something wholesome and like, uh, grounding about that experience that you hear in country music.

And, and, you know, as, as much as like sort of the commercial side of country music is definitely like a nostalgia to a fault or, or very. It gets very cliche upon those themes. Um, it's still very, it's comforting to people and, um, I definitely, uh, you know, just, you're making that point about Nicaragua.

That's very interesting. And I've never heard about that, but there's, I mean, there are country, I've written about country artists from Africa. I've written about country, a country guy from Iran. There's, uh, you know, tons of country artists from Europe. There's a huge country scene right now in Sweden. Um, and when I say country, I don't mean like close approximations, I'm talking authentic country music.

In fact, Country music. That's more authentic than a lot of the commercial country you found in the United States. Just amazing artists who are inspired by the traditions of country music and want to express it and express it and, and what is authentic to them. Like, so when you talk about authenticity, it doesn't mean you had, you had to grow up on a farm and riding horses.

It's what is authentic to you? What is, you know, honesty, like you can hear that honesty come through in the music. You know, the old saying is country music is three chords and the truth, and that's really, that's what it is. You know, it's like, it's a very simple folk style of art form. Um, you know, that, that doesn't take itself too seriously, but also that expresses itself, um, authentically and, you know, authenticity is obviously something that you can argue back and forth because most certainly in country music, you know, people.

You know, they emphasize their accents or they put on the big 10 gallon hat when they really have no need to be wearing a big cowboy hat, you know, but that's, you know, so certainly that's, you know, what authenticity is, is sort of a beautiful idea, but you know, a lot of the, like the independent artists that are doing well these days are those kinds of authentic people.

There's an artist named culture wall who actually grew up in Canada and he like this guy is the real deal. Like he, he, when he's not writing music or performing he's out running cattle, that's what this guy does. And he does that. I mentioned Tyler Childers earlier and he, uh, awhile back had a really good, um, I don't know what to call his speech.

I think it was in an interview where he talked about how we're so many people have moved to Nashville. He has, he has stayed home in Kentucky because he wants to interact with authentic country people and like use that the verbiage and the pentameter that these authentic people use that he's connected with it so that he can then turn around and use that in his view.

Ashley Rindsberg: Um, yeah, that's amazing. That's, it's, it's obviously something that's very important in the culture, uh, which is authenticity. You know, this is the search for authenticity because it feels like people have kind of lost their sense of groundedness, their sense of identity and belonging. And that feels like a way to connect to something that is real because country, I think probably in its best sense are manifestations.

Isn't really about, um, the veneer, you know, maybe in some senses, it is, and it does do that, but it really feels like it's not about the bling. It's not about the cars. It's not about the w you know, dollar bills flying through the air and the music video or whatever else. It is about things that are much more connected to actual physical, fundamental reality, such as land, such as the, you know, the natural environment, the people who are around you, whoever they are, regardless of their social status or wealth or other, any other things, they are the people that are important because they are here.

And that's really an interesting idea in the culture we live in today, where everything is so measured. How many followers you have or how much money or how many Bitcoins you have in your wallet or whatever else it might be. So that's really something that does differentiate the country. Um, the country is an art form.

Kyle "Trigger" Coroneos: Yeah. I mean, like compare it to like hip hop, for example, where a lot of today's pop music or even like adult contemporary country music. And it's in its true form is like the last bastion where you still hear artists playing. On wire and wire on wood, you know, like they're impressing with their fingers on, you know, uh, on acoustic and electric instruments, they're singing without auto tune or, or some sort of voice enhancement.

It's like it's raw, it's, it's, uh, authentic type of like folk art that, um, his, uh, you know, sort of resisted the ones and zeros. Now I say that, but if you turn on mainstream country radio, you're going to hear what, you know, a lot of what is basically a, a Southern form of pop or hip hop. And that's why. You know, that's why there's sort of this cultural clash going on in country music right now, because, and again, nothing against hip hop or pop or anything, like whatever kind of music people find appealing is that's awesome.

You know, but that's not country music. You know, country music specifically is sort of that authentic. Um, you know, human played instrumentation and a raw emotion puts a song. And so, you know, you like the biggest song right now in country and mainstream country music, um, is a song by Walker Hayes, uh, call I think it's called fancy.

Like that's what it's called. And you listen to that song. It's a hip hop song. It's a, it's a white southerner speaking in a very. You're very hip hop pentameter, uh, you know, which really is like a, uh, a version of cultural appropriate, you know, appropriation. And that's what the appeal of this song is like, you'll have a lot of people go, oh, I never thought I liked country music till I heard his Walker Hayes song.

And the reason is, is because it's not a country song, it's a hip hop song. You know, there's another huge artists named Sam hunt who was kind of one of the pioneers of this. And, um, you know, it's like, it's electronic instrumentation. It's, uh, you know, uh, 8 0 8 drum beats and it's all this kind of, you know, it's electronic music that has like these Southern stereotypes put in the.

You know, like maybe they mentioned trucks, maybe they've mentioned back roads. Maybe they mentioned horses and stuff. Sort of like little non-sex like, you know, it's like he talks about Wranglers and horses or whatever. And then all of a sudden it's a country song. Well, not necessarily theirs is, are there country elements there?

Sure. But they're sort of the stereotypical elements, not the authentic elements. And so that's where we have this, you know, the culture war divides, country music straight down the middle and, um, You know, that's part of like, like, again, there's nothing wrong with, um, hip hop cadences. There's nothing wrong with electronic music.

There's some amazing stuff being made, uh, by electronic music, art. I mean, I'm like, I mean, when I was growing up, like I listened to, you know, Trent Reznor and not an inch nails, I listened to NWA. Like I heard it all, like the Beastie boys, you know, like these were like really foundational, important artists that, that had massive reverberations throughout culture and, and were very creative and innovative.

And, uh, you know, that stuff should be celebrated as well. But you know, there's something to be said about. Um, you know, keeping, you know, the, the raw expressions, you know, like that's, what's so cool about multiculturalism. You know, some people look at it, country music and they say, well, it needs to be integrated.

It needs to evolve. And of course it needs to evolve and it certainly needs to make sure that it's being open to people of all backgrounds. Uh, Th th you know, black people come from the country to, you know, there's a lot of Latin artists out there that are from the country. I mean, you talk about Nicaragua, go to Mexico, like, like Mexican culture is all like printed printed shirts and cowboy hats.

Tejano music is the, is the country music of, of central America. Uh, you know, Columbia music is the country music of south America. So the, all of this stuff is important. We should be inclusive and we should be open-minded to it all. But at the same time, like we shouldn't be, we should make country music into hip hop music, because then you lose that cultural diversity that makes, uh, the tapestry of poppy and popular music.

So interesting and so diverse, you know, so that's the sort of the battle that's going on right now, you know, in country, Yeah.

Ashley Rindsberg: you know, it's a bit like you have these, uh, these monstrosities that are bred in, in private zoos through we have a tiger and a lion breeding together and it's, you don't need whatever that thing is that it, that it produces you need tigers to be tigers and lions to be lions, because that's what makes them beautiful is that they are the thing that they are supposed to be.

Um, in terms of the cultural divide in country, it being musical in one sense, in another sense, I feel like it's also political because, you know, I remember, and this is probably much more a, an effect of the corporate influence in country. But when I was a kid and we were, America was going through the first Gulf war in the nineties, we were all made to stand outside.

I lived in Las Vegas at the time. As a kid, we were all made to stand outside, put our hand up, hands on our hearts and sing this country song about God bless America, where at least I know I'm free. I'm sure you know, the song. And it was like this kind of, even at the time, I'm like, Hmm, this, this feels odd.

Like we do have our own pledge of allegiance. Why are we all singing this country music pop song that's on the radio, um, in supportive of a war that, I mean, I didn't care one way or another. I didn't, I was, you know, nine years old or whatever, but you fast forward to the next war in Iraq. And we have one of the biggest, uh, biggest and most vocal opponents of the war with the Dixie chicks, as far as I remember it.

So, you know, there's it fractures along these lines that are not completely expected because again, you feel like the stereotype is this. Flag-waving just kind of like gung ho literally, uh, you know, caulking the, the shotgun. Um, but it's not necessarily that there is a diversity of thought and opinion that runs through our country.

And breaks in whichever direction, your brakes. So, you know, that's something that I just noticed. Um, but I wanted to ask you about another sort of offshoot, if I'm right in calling it an offshoot of country, I'm not sure that I am, which is this new wave of folk rock. You know, people like the Lumineers, um, uh, Edward Sharpe and the magnetic, uh, Africa with the rest of the zeros and the magnetic zeros.

Um, and, and I forget the name of the band right now. You may know they have this amazing video where it's just the four of these guys playing this great rhythm in. Locations that cuts from like them standing in a water fountain to them standing in someone's like some warehouse to someone's bedroom. Um, I have to look it up if you don't, if you're not familiar with it, but it's part of the same kind of folk rock, some of it kind of blurring into country.

Um, and I just wanted to get your thoughts on that because it really does seem to now be a force in music and in the culture. Do you feel like that is connected to country? Is that an off shoot, an offspring of country music? Or is this something that's a parallel or a different tradition?

Kyle "Trigger" Coroneos: Yeah, so the band you're talking about is the dead south.

I think they're from Canada originally. And it's funny because like, they are huge, that video you're talking about is a massive, massive video. And so back, like, I want to say maybe 2013 or so, there was definitely a big roots music research and some popular music. And it was mostly the Mumford songs was like the big pile driver of this.

And then the luminary li excuse me, Lumineers came along, uh, with Hayhoe and, you know, the, I think that was, they, it was coined the, what was it, the millennial whoop or something like that to sort of describe that, that style of music. And then, so now this is what you would traditionally call. Um, Americano music now, Americana is very similar to country music.

Like they're, they're basically, um, very close cousins and, you know, it's all still roots music, right? Like roots music would encompass country like sort of what we would consider traditional country music, bluegrass blues, and even more sort of regional music, like, uh, uh, you know, uh, Zydeco music or, or Cajun music and things like that.

Um, so all of that goes into American roots, um, and Americana is more sort of the broad term for that. And so country music kind of fits in there. Um, but Americana is also considered less of a commercial. You know, a commercial realm for country music, even though, like I said, like it like Mumford and sons were the biggest band in whatever year that was 20 12, 20 13.

And the Lumineers, like these are massive arenas selling out artists. Um, No Americano draws very deeply from country music, traditions, um, and you know, bluegrass and folk music. So country music was bred out of like Appalachian folk music that originally came from, uh, Uh, the British Isles, you know, you had Celtic and, uh, and Scottish immigrants that moved to the United States and settled in like the Appalachian region and brought those that instrumentation and those sort of folk traditions.

And, and then it merged with blues. Uh, so you know, like black blues music from the deep south. And so that's how you get country music. So you have fiddle tunes and stuff like that. And then you have sort of those, those bluesy sort of Hank Williams influences that come from, uh, uh, the black traditions.

And then like you have the banjo that comes directly from Africa. So this all created a melting pot, which has country music, excuse me, country music sort of branched off. Until like the super commercial and super poppy style of music, especially in the 20 and the, and the, and the 2010s that's when you started to see a resurgence and more of this authentic route style of music, you saw it both in country music on the independent side with artists like Sturgill Simpson and later Tyler Childers and Cody GenX, and these kinds of guys.

But you also saw that in the Americano realm with Mumford and sons, Brandi Carlisle, the Lumineers and these kinds of artists. Um, so, you know, I think that, um, I consider that stuff still country music in some respects. Now Mumford and sons has gotten really far into like rock and roll these days. I mean, I would consider them a straight up rock band at this one, but, um, But certainly when they started out in the deep, you know, the, um, uh, oh, I keep, I keep forgetting that name.

The, the dead south, the dead south are definitely, they fit in that, in that realm. So, you know, I consider these guys, you know, I consider them country music. Um, but there's qualifiers there. Right?

Ashley Rindsberg: Right. Yeah. I mean the dead south, uh, is, you know, especially in the video, um, which people have to go check out, just go to the dead south of the checkup, the YouTube page, and you'll see this incredibly done video in its simplicity and its spellbinding and the music is amazing.

Um, But they really kind of connect to people who are, are, are not as familiar with the sort of pure country music tradition. It's kind of a, an entrance into that space into that field. That is a little easier, I think for people who are coming from rock or, or a bit from folk, but, you know, I was just saying these all reached back to the same traditions and I think.

Too, you know,  it's almost like there's a, there's again, another divide there, which one is a kind of a musical divide. There's the musicality that is coming from the different musical traditions of the British Isles. As you mentioned, uh, the banjo from Africa that kind of melding into this really instrumental, um, Appalachian country music, which like, you know, the, the ultimate stereotype of which is the deliverance banjo ref, which, which is actually amazing.

I mean, when you look at it, when you watch that scene, it's, it's truly incredible. Um, and then there's the other side of it, which is the politic, uh, as you mentioned, the poet Laureate of, of folk music, which is. The tradition of Townes van Zandt and the tradition of, um, you know, w you know, we both have a mutual acquaintance who was an acquaintance of Daniel, of, um, towns with Daniel who I know personally, he's a, he is a poet, he's a musician, but when you meet him, it's a poetic nature.

It's a poetic approach to the music. It's about the writing. You go to Daniel's, uh, farm in France, and he's showing you this room just full of binders, binders, and binders, and binders and binders of, of songs that are poems. And I think there's this kind of, that kind of split in the music as well. And that, that movie had mentioned inside Lou, Lou, and Davis, which the cone brother movies, you're watching the struggles of a poet.

Um, as much as a musician, which I think is also something really fascinating because there are very few contemporary art forms today in pop and the popular culture, not pop culture, but in the popular culture that are so directly to. To poetry and there's tradition of poetry. And that is certainly one of them.

And you really hear it in the songs, in the lyrics. And I think that's something that is so special. I don't know if you, if it's the same thing in what I would call quote, unquote, pure country music or more traditional country music, you know, that might be something you might intone on, but I think that is something very unique about the whole genre.

Kyle "Trigger" Coroneos: Yeah. You're a hundred percent correct. I mean, uh, Townes van Zandt, I'm going to paraphrase him here, but he said something to the effect of that. He was just a poet and the music was sort of this thing that was getting in the way, you know? Um, and I'm glad that you mentioned Daniel because there's a great photo.

People should Google it or whatever of it's Townes van Sant. I think he's got a fiddle in his hand and then there's guy Clark and then there's Daniel. And I had been seeing that photo four year. And I was like, who is this guy? Like, he's standing with these two Titans of American songwriting. And like, even when I would see the photo in like a big periodical, they wouldn't say who Daniel was.

And I was like, who is this guy? Nobody seems to know who he was. And then, you know, um, a guy was making a documentary about him. Um, reached out to me about it. I finally, I found out who he wasn't you're right. It's like, that's what I kind of, one of the things I try to do at saving country music is connect those dots because without that.

These, you know, these artists and their, and their music or their poems, whatever it is, they just get lost. And it's so crazy to me that there's so much great stuff out there. And you know, it's not going to appeal to everybody, but if, if like your meat, if you're like me, and you're like looking at this photo, you're like, who is this guy?

There should be a way to connect those dots and like, find this music if it's out there. You know, if, if, if you hear what's on the radio or what have you, um, and you're, you know, you know, that there's something better out there. You know, when I, when I was growing up, like I would hear the music on the radio and I would hear these like glimmers of stuff.

Like, I, I didn't even listen to much country radio when I was growing up. I listened to classic rock, but I'd hear bands like the Allmand, you know, like every once in a while you hear an Allman brothers saw, or maybe they would play the grateful dead or something like that. And so I knew that there was a whole other world of music out there.

That I wasn't being exposed to, but that was probably really cool. I just needed to figure out where it was, you know, this was before the internet. So, I mean, you just kind of had to have that cool uncle or that, uh, older brother or older sister, um, you know, there's a, there's another music film, um, almost famous.

Um, if you've ever seen it, you know, it's like the old, older sister is the, is the one that turns on the, the, you know, the main protagonist on to like cool music. It's like, Hey, here are these records. You know, it's like, that's what I try to do with saving country music. I try to be like that cool uncle or cooled or sister, this like turning people on to that, the real stuff that's out there that otherwise you won't find, you know,

Ashley Rindsberg: So what, you know, looking ahead, what do you seeing happening?

What do you, where do you think this, this is all going, um, in terms of these sort of clashing forces of, of pop culture, CAMBA, cannibalizing country, a country reasserting itself, where do you think that the trends lie? What P what should people keep be keeping their ears open to?

Kyle "Trigger" Coroneos: Well, I definitely think that with the advent of the internet and streaming and podcasting and YouTube and all this stuff, I definitely think that the independent side of, of music is going to continue to gain market share.

And I think it can only open up the music more, including mainstream music. You see, uh, the mainstream of country and the mainstream of music in general. They're now having to pay more attention to more authentic artists and more sort of on the fringes type stuff, because that's what people are listening to more, you know, and.

So I think it's definitely headed there. And I think that can only be positive. I mean, when I started saving country music, it was, you know, like the roots of country music had been virtually abandoned in the mainstream. There was no support behind independent or very little support behind independent artists.

Now we're seeing these artists, you know, again, like there's, they're selling out venues there. They're winning big awards. They're, they're selling lots of albums. So there's a lot of promise I think, in the future. Um, my fear is. Is this sort of rabid, you know, the same, the same tools that are being used to, um, by, by independent artists to get their, their information out there, social media and YouTube and the stat, you know, new media sources that are not tied to.

Mainstream corporations is also one of the biggest challenges because I think right now, you know, I think social media media is making us all a little crazy. I think that it's, you know, that the, the rabid polarization in culture in general is making, um, is, is causing a lot of friction. That's bad for the overall health of culture of which music is a portion of, you know, one of the great things about USIC is that it can bring people together from disparate backgrounds, even something is that's supposed to be so much like such a niche thing, like, like country music, like everybody can enjoy country music and everybody can enjoy.

Pop music or, or whatever kind of music it happens to be. It's one of it's, it's one of these rare things in culture. That's a big tent. And so, but what I'm afraid is, is like, as, as media, as culture becomes significantly more polarized and political it's it's encroaching. Music's ability to bring people together and to see a common struggle to walk in someone else's shoes, to see why from a different perspective than their own, you know, like I think you can, you know, if you're, uh, a white guy from, uh, you know, from Texas like me, uh, you know, it may be hard to see the black experience in America, but you can hear that through hip hop and vice versa, you might be a, you know, black intellectual from New York city and just, you know, stereotype, all white people from the south as being closed-minded racists who listen to country music.

But if you actually listen to good country music, you'll see that the struggles of poor people are like universal. You know, that everybody is struggling. Common problems. And that we have this universal nature about all of us and music to me is the way to bridge those, um, those cultural and even political divides.

And it frustrates me that, um, both music is being used as a wedge, whether that be the sort of Dzigan aesthetic, um, American, you know, like overly, overly boisterous American Anthem that like takes all the subtlety out of, you know, the beauty of being an American or that can be. You know, someone stereotyping country music is being all racist rednecks when there's a tremendous diversity within a country, music, listenership, like you said, in Nicaragua, like, or even, you know, like you talk about, um, Merle Haggard.

And what he talked about is in regards to workers, right? Johnny paycheck, you know, uh, had a big, you know, a big Anthem, um, you know, about, uh, you know, uh, take this job and shove it, you know, so, I mean, like, it, it talks, it takes, you know, country music and music in general, it takes from all these different diverse backgrounds and it can be where we come together and like share in our experiences.

And I just, my fear is, is that's going away as we, more and more used music as a cultural identity, as opposed to just a form of community.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, it's a great point. And it's, it's one of these things that I haven't been thinking about a lot, which is, um, something that Neval Ravi contour is a prominent investor and sort of a thinker in a number of spaces.

He says, the more we cling, the more we emphasize identity that the less happy we are because we polarize ourselves. We polarize the environment around us. Um, we make it about either or, but I do see, you know, I think that the singer's name is the mask guitarist. If I'm right about that, he's got, whereas these like frills on front of his face and you can't really see who he is.

Um, and he's partnered with, um, some very famous, it might've been Reba McEntire, but I might be wrong about that. But in any case, he's got these great videos where. In the videos, it's not the con it's not the country music scene that you're going to expect to see in a music video. It's something much more than that you would expect to see on Netflix in terms of like cast of characters there.

Um, there's some like gender bending and just stuff that you really wouldn't associate, but the music is a very country sounding to me at least. And I think that's kind of where, what you're talking about, the, where you can maintain the musical tradition and still open it up to new influences, new aesthetics, new ideas, and, and the, the music itself can be okay with that.

And I think that's what people, people get very afraid that if we open to something new, the identity that we've always had is just going to collapse because, you know, they're, they're suspect that it's too brittle, but if something truly robust, like a tradition of country music, which is deep and it's rooted that it is resilient and it can accept new things without being.

Distorted and contorted. Um, so I think that that is probably where opportunity does lie for progress and also for the maintaining of a great tradition. It is maintained by opening it up and not by shutting it down. So, yeah. That's important.

Kyle "Trigger" Coroneos: I think you're talking about Orville Peck.

Ashley Rindsberg: That’s right. Yes, yes.

Kyle "Trigger" Coroneos: Yeah. So Orville Peck. Yeah. He wears these masks and he's, you know, he's, uh, open, uh, an out gay guy in country music and that's that's so that is unusual, but, but I will say like, you know, one of the great things about contributes, likewise. Saving country music. You know, I wanted one of the sort of goals that I had is I wanted to make sure that it was a, you know, it was an art form that was open and inclusive to everybody.

And what's interesting to me, I mean, because you'll see the accusation that there's a lot of racism and sexism and homophobia in country music. And I would say that that is traditionally, that's probably true, but I think that those, the it's it's gone away significantly in the last many years, but you know, one of the ways that, that, you know, I try to open people's hearts to people that are different from them is through music.

So that right. Like now when I started saving country music in 2008, I don't know that there was any. Hourly, you know, gay people in country music. Now you S there, there are all kinds of artists and you can use music to open people's hearts to that. Like let's say, there's someone who's just, they're out there.

And they just, you know, they're just against alternative lifestyles, whatever they happen to be. Right. But if you present someone with music and it just ha you know, including like traditional country music, like really authentic, straight up like fiddle and steel guitar, country music, and that artist happens to be part of the LGBT community, or they happen to be black, or they happen to be of Hispanic origins.

You know, they're not even going to care that, that, that, that particular listener is not going to care. They're going to focus on is like, oh, This is great country music, right? And then all of a sudden you've taken someone who may have been, um, uh, you know, less than open-minded about someone who is different from them and you've changed their heart or their mind just a little bit, or maybe even a lot to where they're now open more open-minded to people that don't look or act like them.

And you can do that through music online. How you can do that through other mediums. I mean, you could scream at that same person that they're racist, sexist, and get out of here. I hate you and, you know, you're whatever, and just pass judgment on them. And some people are, you know, irreconcilable. I mean, there's straight up racists out there that do need to get lost and don't need to have a forum.

But if there's people that are just because of whatever it is, their upbringing, their, you know, whatever it happens to be are not as open-minded as they should be about people who are different from them. I think that USIC and country music specifically. Open those doors, whether that's Orville PAC, um, you know, there's, there's, there's, uh, there's so many artists in country music right now.

I almost feel, uh, we are trying to name them all off that are from that LGBT community. Uh, you know, uh, Brandy Clark and Sarah shook and the disarms. I mean, it just goes on and on Melissa Carper, there's so many great ones and, and they're making authentic, true country music that can go into the hearts of those heart and hearts and soften them through the medium of musical expression.

And I think that's really important. I think I, you know, but I think when you focus too much on identity, when it's like, that's the only thing you either you're talking about, what's the only reason you're talking about this artists music is like, Hey. You know, the music comes second secondary and their identity comes first.

You're missing the point. You're missing an opportunity to soften those hearts. And, and usually what that does is it hardens the hearts when it's like, Hey, you need to listen to this person because they're who they are, you know, because of their identity. You're, you're just going to make people, um, sort of go back into their own corners in like heart in their positions instead of softening them.

And that's what I find frustrating. Sorry. That's what I find frustrating as, as a journalist, I think, and using media right now, there's so much of an emphasis on identity and I respect it and I appreciate it. Um, but I think that they're missing, like they're missing the forest for the trees. You know, there's so much of it is like signaling as opposed to like figuring out pragmatic ways to open people's minds through the medium of.

Ashley Rindsberg: A hundred percent agreed. I think that's an incredibly, um, apt and insightful way to look at it and, and especially connecting it specifically to country music. Uh, I think that's really eyeopening. So on that note, um, where can people go to find more about you and what you're doing?

Kyle "Trigger" Coroneos: Um, well obviously the website

You know, that that will sort of give you a, uh, an idea, you know, and I'm, I'm covering news. I do kind of think pieces on kind of the stuff we've talked about here and try to, you know, write out reviews for, uh, and features for artists that I think, um, are worthy and not getting enough attention. And at the same time, you know, I try to talk about some of the mainstream stuff as well, and, you know, hold feet to the fire or give credit where credit is due.

Um, so, and I'm on Twitter. Um, you know, you can find me on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, um, you know, any of those, those outlets and follow along and, um, yeah. Great.

Ashley Rindsberg: So I, I do encourage people to go check out the site. You will absolutely learn something and, um, hit up Kyle on Twitter as well. And that what's the twitter handle?

Kyle "Trigger" Coroneos: Uh, it's under my name, which is Kyle Corona's. Last name is spelled C O R O N E O S. But I believe if you put in saving country music, like the little, the little ad is my personal name, but I keep it saving country music. So I think either way you'll find, you know, just search for it. You'll find it. And I really appreciate you having me on, by the way.

I, I, you know, I had heard your name before because of the Roach, the book you wrote about the New York times. I mean, speaking about like, I think you mentioned at some point trying to get information out, I heard it on a podcast. I can't even remember which podcast it was, but someone was talking about your book and, uh, and so when, uh, when you reached out, I was like, oh wow.

I was sort of. Yeah. Really excited to hear from you because, um, uh, yeah, so it's, it's funny. This is how we're connecting without those, like you said, the traditional mainstream outlets and blur, just finding the information that they're looking for. So I really appreciate you.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. Well, thank you so much.

And, and I do think that is another important point, which is that, you know, people always ask me, how can we, how can we find news that's reliable. Um, and I think the answer there is go out and search, go out and search for the stuff that you like. And I think the, the corollary to that is that if you're really not finding it, go out and create it, go out and do what you did in 2008.

And just take that first little step and get it by the URL, get the blog, figure out what it is. You're really interesting in interested in and, and do it and continue to do it. And. Uh, after a while, it'll grow into something great as just as you've grown, saving country music into something really great.

So thank you so much, Kyle. Um, we will, I hope be in touch and maybe even do a followup sometime, uh, round two, but in the meantime, thank you very much for joining us on the burning castle podcast and, um, listen to a great song for us tonight and I'll do the same.

Kyle "Trigger" Coroneos: Thanks so much for having me. It's been a huge pleasure.

Thank you.

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