Members of local queer country band Country Risqué recently stopped by not one but TWO shows to chat about their brand new record with an incredible name: Doe-Eyed Loverboys & Saints. Miles Gordon discussed topics ranging from queerness, representation, and power under capitalism to the best color for pants with Katsy Pline on a recent episode of Heartbreak Ahead, then joined MJ along with bandmate Daniel Bromfield on West of Twin Peaks Radio this past Sunday to share more about their album and inspirations.

Here’s a few highlights from each conversation with the band that describes themselves as “America’s riskiest country band.”

Katsy: How did Country Risqué form?

Miles: I’ve known Daniel Bromfield, my collaborator in the band, for over 10 years. We went to the University of Oregon together in a vortex of a place called Eugene, Oregon. And I say it's a vortex because you better get the heck out of there otherwise you will stay...I actually have a song about that called “Ball Rolling Slowly” that isn't on the album. But at any rate, we graduated and kind of went our separate ways. We hadn't talked in like three years and he hit me up to come hang out in the Bay one weekend when he was visiting his folks; I was living in Sacramento at the time. We ended up playing what would be one of the last shows at San Francisco's Honey Hive Gallery on Valentine's night in 2020. We both played solo sets and like…the idea kind of came into being that weekend.

We were just hanging out in our homie Connor Watson's living room, listening to Faye Webster and talking about queerness and country and stuff. Daniel had worked briefly with a country band in Portland before coming back, and he was talking about that, and Connor said very simply, “We can do that here.” So we ended up doing it. Connor, unfortunately, was not involved in the final venture. He started a stoner metal band called Bongfather, who are amazing. But that was also ironic, because we ended up getting their guitar player Richard [Moog] in the end to come play with us. So we all kind of became one big family in a way…but that's the story.

MJ: What was it that drew you to country music? Did you listen to it growing up?

Daniel: I did not, and I’m not really sure exactly what it was…I spent a long time not really wanting to enter country music because I grew up with this image of it being kind of conservative. You know, this was like when Toby Keith was doing his thing. I grew up in San Francisco having this image of country as very monolithic. But I think country has room in it for lots of different styles and sounds. I really like the Beatles, and they took a lot of influence from country music. I was also in this group called Punisher in Eugene that was very early sort of 50s/60s-type rock, and it's very similar with, you know, three or four chords. I like to have very simple lyrics that I think express a lot. I generally find that very simple language is a lot more expressive to me than the really specific, almost clinical sort of songwriting that I see in a lot of music. And I just love the beat, a swung beat.

Miles: I come at things from a little bit of a different angle, and I think actually what contributes to the success of Country Risqué is Daniel and I’s ability to contrast and build off of each other in that way. I kind of grew up, after a fashion, in Grateful Dead world. My mom is a Deadhead, and she took me to a lot of shows. As a teenager, I've seen various post-Jerry iterations probably 30 times. That's sort of my base for country music. The Dead aren't too terribly far off from it, right? Then I got turned on to Gram Parsons and that school of country, which was incredibly impactful for me because it's kind of’s country that was trying to make country cool again, which was very important because it wasn't. But yeah, I sort of dove in head first through, like, Emmylou Harris and working my way backwards. That being said, I had no dream of doing a country project at all until this whole thing essentially happened and dropped in our collective lap.

Katsy: The record is coming out on Rocks in Your Head Records, a local SF label. How did you get connected with them?

Miles: For those that don’t know Rocks in Your Head Records, it’s the boutique label of Sonny Smith of Sonny & the Sunsets. We got connected with him by pure happenstance because we got put on a bill for the release show for this band called Del Bombers. Del Bombers for whatever reason didn't want to headline their own release show, so we ended up headlining and Sonny Smith opened, which was completely topsy-turvy. He hit me up the very next morning being like, “Hey, loved your music. Let me know if you need help recording,” and we're like, “Sure, how high do I jump, you know?” So we ended up recording the record over a three-day period and a couple overdub sessions at his place up in West Marin.

Katsy: Country music, with a couple of notable exceptions, has largely been concerned with the intimacies and contradictions of compulsory heterosexuality, with tales of heartbreak and woe always told from the perspective of a straight narrator. How do you navigate the gap between your experience of desire as a gay man and the heterosexual desire that the archive of country music has to offer?

Miles: For me, personally, even if it’s been told from that perspective, there’s a certain universality almost to the experience of desire generally, even if that’s not the direction my own desire is going in. I feel like, to an extent, I've always been able to relate to that aspect…relating to the emotion of what’s being expressed.

MJ: Any other big plans post-album release?

Miles: Do a tour. We've got about five running concepts for the next album; we just have to pick one and go with it. We're kind of taking our time with that just because splitting attention’s always difficult. We've had prompts from various quarters being like, “Oh, you should be working on that.” “You should be doing this.” Like, no, no, no, let's take a breather. Let's enjoy this. Let's do this right. It’ll come when it does, relatively soon.

Daniel: This is the first real album roll-out either of us has ever done. We definitely want to at least get our sea legs a little bit before we get back in the rain.

Listen to the full Heartbreak Ahead interview with Miles Gordon here, and tune in to the West of Twin Peaks interview with Miles and Daniel Bromfield here. Doe-Eyed Loverboys & Saints is out now. Catch the band at their next Bay Area show on April 18 at the Ivy Room with Indianna Hale and more!