Your Opinion: Anti-Country
We have a few issues facing us in the Outlaw/Underground/Insurgent/True/REAL/Hellbilly/Neo-traditionalist country movement. The first is how many different words are used to describe the music and artists that have created a small, but very strong music scene with a loyal following. Not only are there many terms, but these terms mean different things to different people. And to make it worse, now pop/mainstream country is starting to steal names like “Outlaw” and “Real” to use as their own marketing terms.
Another problem is that this is a “big tent” movement, meaning there is a wide variety of music that it entails. My term for this music has always been “REAL” country, but now pop artists like Josh Thompson are using that term. And let’s be honest, is someone like Those Poor Bastards REAL country? Or how about Joe Buck? Yes, I think they are more country than pop performers, but I think that term is misleading, and leaves our left flank open to fair criticism about what is “REAL” country or not.
Another problems is these bands themselves don’t know what to call their music. If you call it country, most people think of what they hear on the radio. If you’re like me, you’re tired of when you tell someone you’re a fan of country music, having to qualify it by saying, “Yeah, but not that crap they play on the radio.”
And yes, I do think that it is still important to hold pop country and Nashville’s major label’s feet to the fire and call out their trespasses. They have stolen the word “country” from the people and we can’t give up the fight to take that word back. But does this have to be hand in hand with fighting for the music we love?
Some people have asked me why if I am really for REAL country music, why don’t I cover people like George Strait and Alan Jackson? The easy answer is because there’s dozens other outlets for those guys. I’m trying to shine the spotlight on music that nobody else will cover. But they could be labeled REAL country as well. So are we going to group George Strait with Joe Buck?
There is a strong, beautiful, and powerful movement of artists right now that have more respect for country music than modern day mainstream country has for itself. We need a way to unite these artists under one flag, to push the music forward. My idea for that:
This idea started last summer when a band I was in was touring with a guy named Paleface, who was a founding member of the “Anti-Folk” movement back in the early 90’s. You might remember him from an article I did on Hank Williams’ birthday.
Anti-folk really was a cross between folk and punk music, very similar to how the music in this current underground country movement is a cross between punk/metal and country. Just like our movement, the artists were being locked out of the folk institutions, and just like us, the anti-folk artists and fans had nothing but deep reverence for the traditions and previous artists in the folk world. Anti-folk was also a big tent movement, with all sorts of artists working under that name, and still working under it today. The parallels are deep to what those artists and fans were facing then, and what we face now.
The idea really took hold for me when Taylor Swift won the CMA for Entertainer of the Year, and I proclaimed country music was dead. Autopsy IV from ninebullets.net left a comment: “perhaps you should just say “fuck it” and walk away from country altogether”¦.start a movement and call it anti-country”¦.sort of like the folk/antifolk thing.” A few days later I went ahead and secured the domain anticountry.com. Since then this idea has been simmering in my head, and as time goes on, I grow more and more confident this is a good idea.
I understand there are some challenges to this term taking on, the biggest being that people might think that we are wanting to be ANTI what traditional country is, when in truth, that is what we are trying to embrace. The anti-folks faced the same challenge and overcame it, but it will take education. That is what anticountry.com would be for, and we would prove our loyalty to the heritage of country music with things like the Reinstate Hank movement.
Another is that I personally could start using term “Anti-Country” to describe the very identifiable movement that has cropped up with artists that all have ties to each other, but for it to really take off, the artists would need to embrace it, and so would the fans. I’m sure there would be some who will love it, and some who would want to distance from it.
Another criticism that I’m sure will come up, is that some people don’t want this movement to go mainstream, or become a “scene” or be “hip.” Some think it already has. I fully understand that concern, but I’m not looking to take this movement mainstream or add the spoon fed public to our ranks of fans. I’m looking to strengthen the support for our favorite artists, so that they can afford to come to our towns and continue to make the music that we love.
Simply put, “Anti-Country” would be a simple term for describing a movement of country-based artists that all exist outside of the Nashville establishment and that all have direct or indirect ties to each other. Who would be included? Without much work you can draw direct lines between many artists who are clearly part of this movement, and the trunk of the tree starts with Hank III, but can easily include artists not directly linked to Hank III, or artists who may not even like Hank III or identify with his music. And yes, there would be safeguards put into place so that Nashville could not steal this term from us as well.
I know this is a pretty arrogant thing for one person to propose. I’m just a music writer. Normally these things are grown from the artists, though the term “Outlaw” was started by Tompall Glasser’s secretary of all people. But unlike a lot of other previous music movements, this movement is not regionalized, but nationalized, so there have been few opportunities to get all the artists in one place face to face. We also lack a vocal leader. I don’t want to be the leader of anti-country, I think it should be grass roots. But someone has to get the ball rolling.
At this point this is all just talk, but if this moved forward, Anti-Country would be OUR movement, OUR term. That is why I need your opinion below, positive or negative. Hold no punches, and shoot me an email if you don’t want your thoughts in a public forum.
March 30, 2010 @ 9:43 am
I’d use the term…
March 30, 2010 @ 9:45 am
That sounds good Trigger.
I just prefer to call this period in time
‘THE SWIFTACOLYPSE” and we must survive it somehow.
I feel the same way you do about covering people
like Sunny Sweeney and Rachael Brooke..who else will?
I ALSO am getting MUCH kudos for covering
the legends we all know and love so well.
And they are ALWAYS more than willing to spend
time with me in ANY way possible.
After all if Ray Price “too country” for radio…
isn’t that a GOOD THANG?
March 30, 2010 @ 10:01 am
works for me. but i’m not sure what bob wills or spade cooley would have to say about it.
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March 30, 2010 @ 10:11 am
I understand what is meant when you say “anti-country” but I don’t like it. For me, real country DOES NOT include metal and punk or anything else. It is what it is, nothing more and nothing less. But I understand your point.
Why does it have to be “anti-country”? Why can’t it be a “true” statement like “Anti-Pop Country”? I mean, that’s REALLY what we’re talking about here. That way nobody has to explain anything about what it means and it’s VERY clear.
All of us here ARE anti pop country and would have NO issues with that title. Why use a title that is conflicting?
March 30, 2010 @ 10:47 am
I can dig it, but I can also see how it would confuse people even more than the “not the crap you hear on the radio” footnote does. Still as an umbrella term it could serve a higher purpose.
March 30, 2010 @ 11:02 am
I see two sides of it. On one hand it would be a nice term that doesn’t cause any confusion amongst all of the other bands that aren’t really country. There’s an umbrella with quite a few artists under it and calling some of them country isn’t all that fair to them or country. It would be nice to have a general term to have everyone included in it, outlaw country doesn’t even really apply to the larger percentage of the acts out there.
But on the other hand there’s exactly what OkieWolf said. There’s a fair segment of the fanbase that is around for the country and nothing more, and using anti-country could alienate some people. And it could possibly be alienating anyway, some people have a natural aversion to anything “anti-“.
Right at the moment I can’t really say one way or the other if I consider it a good idea. Some sort of umbrella term is needed but I can see some problems with the use of anti-country. Explaining these things to others is a pain but I’m not sure anti-country would make things any better. It could set the minds of people to the “anti-Nashville” side of things as opposed to the “pro-underground” even more than already happens.
The most important thing would be what the artists themselves think of it. If a lot of them took it and ran with it then obviously it’d carry some weight but if not then it might lead to even more confusion to use the term.
March 30, 2010 @ 11:09 am
“…some people have a natural aversion to anything “anti-”.”
Damn those anti-anti sons of bitches!
In all seriousness though, I don’t know. I gotta think about this for a while.
March 30, 2010 @ 11:28 am
The fact that REAL country should not include metal or punk is the reason we need a new term for artists the fuse the two genres.
Believe it or not, your criticisms over the last few months is one of the reasons I think we need a new name.
“Anti-pop country” is a good idea. It sound more like a statement though than the name of a genre to me.
March 30, 2010 @ 11:47 am
I did a lot of studying on the anti-folk movement and also talked to Paleface about this. Yes, there was some initial confusion to Anti-Folk, but in the end it was almost a non-issue. The music speaks for itself. And they were working without tools that can help dispel myths and misinformation like the internet.
Probably most hardcore country fan’s first reaction is going to be negative. But “Anti-Country” is just a term. The most important thing is the music.
The “anti” I think is powerful. We all have to appreciate that to 90% of people, 90 PERCENT, the word “country” means Shania Twain’s cone bra and Garth Brooks suspended over a concert stadium shooting fireballs out of his ass.
March 30, 2010 @ 12:21 pm
I get what you’re saying but the ‘anti’ word gives the wrong idea to people who are not in the know, which is most people. To differentiate between real country and the modern pop garbage I usually just call it ‘old school’… I use the term ‘punktry’ a lot as well. Which most people don’t get, but that’s ok. ha
A lot of music blurs the lines. It’s ok to not fit in 🙂
Martin Luther Presley
March 30, 2010 @ 12:27 pm
Even though I’ve beend familiar with the Anti-Folk scene for a long time I must say my initial reaction to your suggestion was negative, but now that I thought a bit about it, it makes more sense. I (I’d say we all) can relate to the problems you mentioned. Back when IBWIP started – cool as it was/is – I thought it might confuse people who just get to know this music, that IBWIP talks about REAL country music and then, well, there’s Joe Buck or AssJack and even if they come from the same spirit as Hank, Jambalaya it’s not.
I face the problems you’re talking about in little every day unimportant stuff like making a mixtape for friends as an introduction, thinking “do the Fox Hunt, SHB and Joe Buck on the same CD? and to what exactly is that supposed to be an introduction?” I faced the same questions when I thought about starting a German blog about this music. So, while I’m not entirely convinced yet, I must say it makes much sense. I guess it’s also a matter of how much the musicians themselves would embrace it. For example, I doubt Joey Allcorn wants his music to be called anti-country!? And Dale’s ‘ameripolitan’ pretty much bombed, didn’t it? But, like the Shack*Shakers ‘agridustrial’ only shows that they’re just as confused!
March 30, 2010 @ 12:30 pm
Love Dale, but Ameripolitan was the worst. Sound like something my nephew would order at Baskin Robbins with sprinkles on top.
March 30, 2010 @ 12:41 pm
I’m glad so many are voicing their concern about how people will perceive the “Anti.” That is why I wrote this, to get good feedback. And eventually that concern might be what kills the idea.
But think about it like this:
If I was poking around somewhere and heard that an artist was calling himself Anti-country, I would be immediately turned off, but then I’d also be intrigued enough to go listen. If what I heard was some sort of butt rock, then I’d probably write a blog flamethrowing them for using the term.
But if I pulled up and heard something like Hank III or Lucky Tubb or .357 String Band, then I’d go “Holy Shit, this is the music I’ve been waiting for my whole life.” Which is incidentally the thing I said when I first heard Hank III.
At some point someone will probably use Anti-Country, even if we don’t. And since it’s an umbrella term, Agridustrial, noe-traditional, or God forbid, Ameripolitan could all work within the anti-country term.
March 30, 2010 @ 12:50 pm
Honestly this is the first I’ve heard of Anti-Folk. Unless of course my memory is shorting out again.
I still don’t know. I think that overall, there’s so many genres lumped together in this scene that even calling it Anti-Country is somewhat limiting.
I do (and always have) hate the term “Cowpunk”.
Maybe we should be looking at what these bands all have in common to help come up with a name for it.
March 30, 2010 @ 12:54 pm
Anti-Nashville might clarify it to people better…. It would be wise to not have counry in the title at all; because no matter what we do, “Country”, (for the next 20 years), will carry the Garth Brooks imagery.
Martin Luther Presley
March 30, 2010 @ 12:55 pm
yeah, cowpunk is awful, too, and more linked to the roots of alt. country (‘whatever that is’ – man, this problem is old, ha!)
I just asked myself what all these folks that played the Deep Blues Festival called themselves? was their an umbrella term? deep blues – was that meant as one? is their a parallel somewhere? like deep country?
March 30, 2010 @ 1:04 pm
good stuff here. i’m liking it. though i’m liking anti-country less. i suppose i could deal with it but it would just require more explanations. or so it seems. i might have to just stick with my standard, ‘real country music fan’ and be done with it. see my problem is i love bob wills and spade as much as hank sr, johnny cash, and kris k, along with hank lll’s country, then there’s gram, emmylou….etc. hell, i don’t know.
March 30, 2010 @ 1:07 pm
Yeah it’s been called Deep Blues, which pretty much started based off the film with Robert Palmer (not THAT Robert Palmer haha). It’s also been called punk blues, alt blues etc. Same problem on the blues side of things, just calling it blues means lumping it in with those assholes that play Mustang Sally and Sweet Home Chicago.
But, I think a big reason why the music itself is called Deep Blues was because the Deep Blues Festival had so many great bands for those three years that I think a lot of people were ok with it, because the Deep Blues Festival was such a positive event.
So then we get the options of Deep Country, as suggested, Muddy Roots, Deep Roots, etc etc.
March 30, 2010 @ 1:08 pm
*started with the BOOK Deep Blues, then later was the film. That damn memory of mine!
March 30, 2010 @ 1:15 pm
As both a ‘real’ folk fan and a ‘real’ country fan I see what you are saying. I love ramblin jack elliott and the like but draw a line at john gorka or kingston trio type stuff. Similarly I love Wills to Waylon to Wayne type country. My problem with ‘anti-country’ would be the fact that “anti Folk” really didnt go very far at the time and is all but forgotten now (and it’s less than 10 years on!). Also folk music, although it has it branches of styles, it covers a smaller musical range than ‘real’ or ‘insurgent’ country does. The broader ‘folk’ music gets the more it touches and becomes Jazz or Country music thus blurring the original ‘folk’ sound. Country music done right can have touches of jazz/blues/boogie/punk/rockabilly and still be seen at face value as country music.
In the end it maybe old and worn, but ‘insurgent’ still suits best in my opinion. Merle Haggard is insurgent because he sticks to the honky tonk sound, Wayne Hancock is insurgent because he grows on the 50’s sound, Hank III is insurgent because he does what he pleases not to please, Whitey Morgan is insurgent because he plays outlaw with a heart and not aggression. Bob Wayne is insurgent because he plays outlaw with aggression.
Plus I like the notion of an ‘insurgency’ fighting to take back what is rightfully theirs!
As a community we spend too much time naming ourselves and not enough time standing up for ourselves. I like Country music you got a problem with that?!?
March 30, 2010 @ 2:11 pm
I’m going to have to veto the term “Anti-Country”. I’m with so many others that can see having to explain themselves to people that they love country music, but hate the shit made in Nashville.
I’m kind of going where Nlindsay was saying and look at what all the bands have in common. They all support free music, corporate Nashville sucks ass, they have their “country heroes”….Me personally I’ve loved III’s term Hellbilly. I wish he would have labeled his country set that.
March 30, 2010 @ 8:01 pm
Acoustic—Emo hahaha!!!!!!!!!! Something that gives the impression of pain/sorrow and also a minimalist instrumentation.
March 31, 2010 @ 5:38 am
At 56 I find myself impressed with the groups enthused with the new music that sounds old country but has a fresh new sound. I have been to shows in the last 10 plus years (several hundred) ranging from Rage Against the Machine to Dale Watson. I have seen Hank III at least 10 times. I like the 3 in 1 show. I grew up not listening to the Beatles and Stones but Sabbath etc. The age group at Laylas back in December to see III was, as most know, young to old. My wife and I enjoy metal,country and rockabilly. As I have said before you have to look harder to find music that fits your ear.
My fear is Anticountry will be perceived as Anti-american.
May be better to be anticountrymusic.com
Still some folks will associate anti country as against the old stuff.
This weekend we will be seeing Lucky Tubb on Thursday and Jackyl on Friday night.
My guess here where I live very few will be at the Lucky show.
As Hank said “we will keep beatin it into their heads..”
March 31, 2010 @ 6:44 am
I call it Outsider Country.
Anyone with a country influence that is not willing to sacrifice the creativity, roots, or evolution of their music for a corporate dollar is an outsider country artist to me.
It is a large umbrella and that is what my friends and I call it.
March 31, 2010 @ 7:03 am
listen to this statement:
“hank williams is the king of [country music]”. it has a nice sound to it. and when people here that they sure the hell don’t think about the bullshit on radio country. at least i hope not, but who knows maybe some of them thirteen year old girls are listining to ol’e hank in their i-pods.
but what about this:
“hank III is the king of [anti-country music]” it sounds like he is against the old stuff, which might take more explaining to people what his music really is. so i would have to vote no on the term “anti”. its about getting people aware of the music. some cantankerus johnny paycheck fan might never listen to hank III cause they think he is insulting all that came before by calling himself “anti-country”. we need all those cantankerus souls to give the music a chance.
bottom line for me is why should we give up the term “country music”. why do we have to put shit like “anti”, “real”, or “true” in front of the term. i use the term “country music” every time to describe these hurtin’ sounds i love. thats what it is. the music should dictate the term we use and we all know what we listen to is country music! anything out of nashville should be labled what it is “pop music”. if you play a sold out show with nothing but tweens and fakes, then you are “pop” no matter what your style is. certain people listen to certain music. i have never found a “country music” fan that i haven’t been able to turn on to some hank III, those poor bastards, or any of the others. well maybe not the bastards, but i’ll keep trying.
my point is fuck them, country music is ours. the fuckers can have that run down shithole called nashville, shit they can have that sinful opry, and they can keep the phoney hall of fame. but the name “country music” is ours!
play the music fucking loud so all can hear. then tell everyone listening its country music. if we start calling it something else then what are we fighting for, they’ve already won.
its been awhile since i was on a good meth-rant, you done me a kindness triggerman. thanks pal!
Martin Luther Presley
March 31, 2010 @ 7:17 am
Outsider Country (Music)…I like that…
March 31, 2010 @ 8:11 am
My biggest concern, your biggest concern, and OUR biggest concern to using ANY term but “COUNTRY” should be because that term is OURS and has been stolen from US, the people. I thought I’d trained y’all better, but apparently there’s still work to be done.
But it still remains that “country” is still an awkward term for Those Poor Bastards, Biram, Hillstop, The Shack Shakers, Slim Cessna, .357, Joe Buck, and many many other bands.
Lots of people keep wanting to say that the name will be misunderstood. If you don’t like the name your self that is one thing, but I honestly don’t think misunderstanding will be a problem after the first initial thing people think when they hear it. And in some ways, I like that people will have a negative reaction when they first hear it, because 1. That means people still care about country music. 2. That initial negative reaction will get people to pay more attention to it instead of just yet another generic name that many bands have tried to use to delineate themselves from the crowd. 3. Because if people want to be intellectually lazy and not spend the time to actually listen to the music flying the “Anti-Country” flag, then fuck them. Those are the spoon fed that have allowed pop country to rise to power, and they don’t deserve to listen to good music, and I don’t want them clogging my concerts or flooding my scene with their douchbaggery.
Unless the “yays” rally pretty hard here or I start hearing some positive stuff from the artists themselves, the idea is probably dead. But honestly, I think misunderstanding the term is a non issue.
March 31, 2010 @ 8:39 am
I’m not sure what to think but I enjoy the concept. For me it is easy to support the bands we both love because they venerate traditional music while staying current with individual expressions. The old country bands sang music they new and loved from a time and era that is long gone. People like me grew up with rock and roll and punk rock and have grown into a love and respect of roots music. It only makes sense that others within our genre have done the same and paid respects to the traditional style by blending it with who they are today. Hank 3 blends metal and country, .357 string band is street-grass, Goddamn Gallows have a thrash- grass sound, the list goes on. It is hard to put a blanket name on it as the sounds are not easily classified and are not geographic specific. I think the early rockabilly bands must have enjoyed a similar movement of blending music styles.
March 31, 2010 @ 9:55 am
typo * they knew and loved (not they new)
The Pillsbury Dough Boy
March 31, 2010 @ 10:27 am
If you called it HILLBILLY, there would be an immediate understanding. That describes the “mentality” that the real music is rendered with, so traditional fans shouldn’t be offended or alienated. Nashville won’t have the chance to take it because, we’ve allready got our knives sharpened and our guns loaded for the fight this time.
March 31, 2010 @ 4:34 pm
I don’t like it…sounds too anti-REAL COUNTRY.
David Lee is a jerk!
April 1, 2010 @ 12:41 am
I love it!!! Just kidding it sucks. Nah, it has a ring to it. Let’s call it Hillcore, nah … ANTiSEEN! NAH ALREADY TAKEN. Scumfuck Swing .. What about honkyfied, nah that’s me.
I really think “Country, not the shit that they play on the radio” sounds a lot cooler.
David Lee is a jerk!
April 1, 2010 @ 12:48 am
Would this be an attempt to get a good slogan for a t-shirt to sale on this page?
April 1, 2010 @ 9:10 am
Anti-corporate Country ———- Unadulterated Country
April 1, 2010 @ 10:51 am
Call it what you like, I’m just glad Triggerman that you cover music that, for lack of better words, seems obscure, raw and gritty compared to the mainstream manufactured mega-hits that clog up the airwaves.
The Pillsbury Dough Boy
April 1, 2010 @ 11:19 am
“Rawhide”, that’s the perfect name for it!!!!!
David Lee is on drugs
April 2, 2010 @ 8:28 pm
Lol yeah its raw and hide, as in obscure ..maybe not
April 10, 2010 @ 2:12 pm
I love it! Sorry for the belated response. I typed up a big wordy smart arsed one when I was in Los Angeles a couple of weeks back then went and deleted it accidently. I like the fact ‘Anti-Country’ is a contradiction in itself. It’s obscure, non-sensical and will ultimately lead people think and talk about it. There is a movement in existance and it needs a name. Why not Anti-Country? If people perceive it as Anti-American … well I would suggest maybe that’s not a bad thing either! True, pure, real country music is as American as apple pie & Coca-Cola and pop-cunt is not an honest representation of that. Pop country is the epitomy of everything that is wrong with western society – it represents greed, the dumbing down of society and rampant consumerism. Wrongly or rightly, America is pretty much the universal poster child for this. So I say if people want to perceive the movement as Anti-American, well let them because if being “Anti-American” means you are rejecting commercialism and consumerism to preserve something as precious as cultural history …. more power to it.
April 11, 2010 @ 6:27 am
i’m also a bit late here, but i gotta say that giving all our neo traditionel country stuff a special name, would be like giving up the fight. because the fight is telling the people again and again what country music was and really is. perhaps one day again the people will think of good music straight from the heart when they hear the words “country music”…
so we should just keep calling it country.
April 11, 2010 @ 6:47 am
oh, i forgot: why call music with distorted rhythm guitars etc country? call it punk. it doesn’t make the music worse. same good stuff as before.
i also don’t call my metal band “country” just because i love what hank williams & jimmie rodgers did…
Ry O. Ny
April 12, 2010 @ 9:46 am
I like this description. I believe if people are confused by it, then it falls in the “If I have to explain, you wouldnt understand” catagory. Plain and Simple. As fars as Anti-Country becoming a mainstream scene….Its only a matter of time before “everyone” jumps on “everything”. Fuck’em!!!! Ry O. Ny
June 17, 2010 @ 3:33 pm
i know this is an older post but isn’t that what the term americana is but it is a catchy name
June 17, 2010 @ 9:28 pm
June 18, 2010 @ 6:31 am
Bolognabrain » Travis Tritt to Start Own Label
July 3, 2010 @ 4:10 pm
[…] voicing their displeasure with corporate country. Folk-country, punk-country, roots country, and anti-country, just seems to be different versions of country music that is being ignored by the country […]
This New Shooter Jennings’ “XXX” Genre « Saving Country Music
January 10, 2011 @ 2:22 pm
[…] isn’t my first time at the rodeo talking about creating new music formats. 10 months ago I proposed a very similar thing called Anti-country, but I did so not by asserting my reality-tunneled ideas without any outside help, I submitted it […]
January 31, 2011 @ 10:24 am
Here’s a link to my personal salvo in the “Is THIS country music?” arsenal. It’s my video “reply” to Reba McEntire’s cover of Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy”: