Pittsburg, Texas native Koe Wetzel has spent nearly a decade touring and building up a following with his hard-hitting blend of rock and country, paired with irreverent lyrics that deal in striking honesty. Among his indie album releases are 2016’s Noise Complaint, which included the tracks “Something To Talk About,” “February 28, 2016,” “Fuss & Fight,” and more. He followed with the 2019 project Harold Saul High, spearheaded by songs including “Ragweed.”
This former Tarleton State University linebacker grew up inspired by hard-scrabble country artists such as George Jones, but also the grunge of Nirvana and rap lyrics of Notorious B.I.G. Since 2015, he’s sold over 200,000 units independently, and last year, he made a major career shift, inking a major label deal with Columbia.
The title of his latest album (and first Columbia project)–Sellout–was aimed at directly addressing fans’ concerns that this longtime independent artist would shift his approach to music now that he’s on a major label.
“I just wanted to (expletive) with people a little bit,” Wetzel told the St. Louis Post Dispatch recently. “Coming from Texas, it has its own kind of music, and people are such diehard fans that whenever an artist leaves Texas or goes off and starts playing for other people, they just feel a certain way about it. I think after we put out the record, they listened to it and understood what I was trying to do. And now [the album’s title Sellout] is just kind of a goof. We reached a lot of new fans with this record, and I think we still have our old fans, too.”
He says signing with a major label was a way of teaming with “somebody that could put our name out there and get us in front of a lot more people. There’s only so much you can do as an independent artist, and I felt like we hit a brick wall.”
Just don’t expect his freewheeling, fiercely independent brand of music to be watered down anytime soon.
“We’re a hundred percent authentic,” he says. “If you don’t like what we’re doing, it’s cool. We got people out there that do. We’re not out here to impress anybody or make somebody…like us. We’re not going to change for anybody.”