Flatland Cavalry Lead Singer Cleto Cordero Tells All About ‘Homeland Insecurity’
Flatland Cavalry are leading the charge (pun intended) of a booming Texas music scene. Along with the likes of Aaron Watson, Wade Bowen, William Clark Green and much more, the Lone Star State is as strong as ever when it comes to the music being produced. With many fans growing tired of the Nashville machine, Texas is more popular than ever for music lover.
After the release of their second album, ‘Homeland Insecurity’, we spoke to lead singer Cleto Cordero, fresh from two sell-out shows to celebrate the release of the record. He told us all about writing on the road, how he’s happy to remain and independent artist and would love to head to the UK on the Texas Music Takeover.
Hey Cleto, how’s it going?
I’m doing aright! We’re recovering from this weekend, from the shows we played!
Yeah, it must have been a big weekend for you – album release weekend?
Yeah, it really was. We played Billy Bobs to kick it off, it was a really good crowd. Corpus Christi the next night, they were both sell-outs. It’s been a really good weekend, we had a great time and blew off some steam. We’ve been working hard so it’s been great to finally enjoy the new stuff.
You must have been so excited to get ‘Homeland Insecurity’ out there and release that new music to people?
Oh yeah, there’s always a different energy when you’ve got a new record. We were excited to see people and they were excited to hear the new songs. Exciting times!
I know it’s early days, but how have you found the reaction to the songs at the live shows?
It’s been incredible. All the new songs we’ve played, there’s been people singing them. Last night, people were asking for new songs! The response has been really really great. So far, so good I’d say!
That must be cool when you’re releasing the new album, the second album can come with a lot of pressure, so it must be good to get a great live reception to the songs?
Absolutely, I guess the pressure is there but we just keep our heads down and keep working. We worked so hard on this record, we’re just glad it’s been received well.
It’s been three years since the debut album and it must have been a wild ride in that time, playing show after show, how did you guys find the time to fit in the writing and recording of a new album?
That was the hardest part, I guess. We’re always on the move constantly, you know you have a job to do so you can either shut down or keep going. There’s songs along around us, so whatever we’ve learned, the places we been, people we’ve met, there’s songs right there. It was a challenge but you just try and make something heartfelt. It was the hardest challenge we’ve had yet. You have your whole life to make your first record, then you get 18 months to make the next one.
Do you think your songwriting has changed in the last few years?
I think so. You’re always learning, you try and learn from others, as far as lyrically I guess it’s more purposeful. Each line is meant to be there, it’s not an accident. When you’re starting out you’re just trying to get by with what you know. On this album, I guess the songs are lyrically richer.
I feel what you’re saying. In terms of your approach, do you try and write from experience? Do you make up stories? How do you approach writing a song?
I guess experience is the best way to get the story across. It’s hard to tell the story of something you haven’t done. You meet people, you have interactions, and realise they have the same problems you do. We’re all worried about getting older, we’re all a little depressed, a little anxious, uncertain, I think that’s the thread that was weaved with this record. It’s just everyday life and trying to find the story.
This is a difficult question, but do you have a favourite song on the record? Maybe for the lyrics or a song you love playing live?
Those are all different questions I guess. A couple of the lyrics that I love are in ‘Years From Now’, it ties the whole record together and all the insecurities and uncertainties that came before it.
You guys come from Texas, and there are some really great artist coming from there right now with the likes of William Clark Green, Parker McCollum, Cody Jinks. Do you think Texas is going through a really special time musically?
Yeah, I guess so. Everyone is out there working, so it can be hard to see the perception. It seems to be a thriving scene. The guys like Blake Owen and Randy Rogers laid the groundwork before us and we get inspiration from them. It’s really blooming now and I’m excited to see where it goes.
People here in the UK are really starting to pick up on the Texan scene, especially with the way Nashville is going. Do you guys ever look at the Nashville country scene and have an opinion?
I guess it’s just a different ball game. Texas is independent, it’s an independent scene. Texas songwriters and artists aren’t at the mercy of a label that might say “hey, you gotta sound like this and we can sell more stuff” and that seems to be the major difference. I’m not saying that’s bad. I guess Texans are stubborn and do what they want to do. We play Nashville three times a year and I have nothing bad to say about it, we just want to do our own thing and write our own songs.
Aaron Watson says the same thing, it’s important to him to control his music. Do you think you’ll always try and keep Flatland Cavalry independent?
Yeah, I think so. I don’t think I’d ever, unless it was on our terms, I know it puts you in front of a lot of people but in times of Spotify and social media, an artist can reach a lot of people without having someone tell you what to do. I think it’s a great time for independent artists.
I guess the proof is in the fact that you’re talking to someone over here in the UK, without really actively trying to push your music here?
And that’s incredible! The fact you’re calling us from the UK is bewildering! We dream, that’s what it’s all about, but when we started four or five years ago we never knew our music would spread across the pond. The fact that you want to listen to it is incredible. It shows the strength of social media.
I think the Texas scene is growing here, we have a great songwriting culture and history, and the Texas Music Takeover is coming here annually now with people like Pat Green and Wade Bowen involved.
Yeah, I’ve always wanted to do that. I want to be invited, is it in London?
It is, there’s all sorts going on during the week.
I’ve been to Dublin and that was fun, I’d like to go on that London trip though, that’d be awesome! It’d be incredible!
Well hopefully we’ll see you soon! I have to say again, I’m loving the album!
Thank you! I’m glad you’re digging it!