By Brian Ives
Yesterday (August 5) The Cadillac Three released their long awaited second album, Bury Me In My Boots. The band’s heavy metal and punk rock influences have caused some folks to question whether or not the trio is “country”; to be fair, they look more like a rock band, and often sound like one as well.
None of this bothers frontman Jaren Johnson in the least. “I kind of like that they don’t know what to call us. Someone said that we’re Nashville’s best kept secret. What’s funny is, all three of us were born and raised in Nashville.” It’s worth noting that hardly any country artists are native to Nashville: almost all of them travel there to make it in country music.
But geographic roots aside, Johnson says that the industry often questions their country-ness, given the amount of feedback on their guitars. “I got in a fight with a radio program director one day, because he thought that we weren’t country; [he said] we were too rock for country, or something like that. So I say, ‘Well, what’s Sam Hunt?’ And he says ‘Sam Hunt’s country.’ And said, ‘Sam Hunt’s more ‘pop’ than pop artists!’ Now, Sam’s a good buddy of ours, but I was just trying to make a point there.”
But this era of country music seems to have its share of artists who fall a little outside the box, including Chris Janson and Kip Moore and that’s the case for The Cadillac Three as well. Johnson agrees: “I think Janson is more country than half the stuff that’s out right now. He grew up in the mountains; he’s probably in a tree somewhere right now with a bow and arrow, you know what I mean? I think a lot of times, when people say ‘These guys aren’t really country,’ those artists are more country than the stuff that they call ‘country’ these days”.
Like The Cadillac Three, Moore shows a lot of rock influences: “Kip’s last record [2015’s Wild Ones], was a kind of Kings of Leon/Bruce Springsteen kind of thing. And I think there’s room in the genre for all of us to bring our things into. The genre is constatntly morphing.”
That diversity is seen on the tour that The Cadillac Three is currently on; they are currently on Florida Georgia Line’s “Dig Your Roots” trek (along with Cole Swindell and Kane Brown).
“That’s the awesome thing about country music, and the awesome thing about those guys,” Johnson says of FGL. “We started around the same time as those guys did. And they said, ‘Man, let’s just bring our friends out on tour!’ And they have a bit of that rock and roll attitude: ‘We don’t care what anyone thinks: put The Cadillac Three on the bill!’ And we said ‘Yes,’ because you really can’t turn down the biggest tour in country music.”