You probably remember Brian Falduto as Billy “fancy pants” from the classic film School of Rock. But now Brian is moving far past his iconic movie role. He is about to release his “Stage Two” (on which he wrote each song) and he recently released his emotional and raw lead single “Rainy Day.” Brian is even taking over our Snapchat account today! We spoke to Brian about his memorable movie role, his newest album, and how his personal experiences have inspired his music.
Young Entertainment Mag: Our readers remember you as Billy in the movie School of Rock! Do you have fond memories from working on that movie?
Brian Falduto: Definitely. It was the greatest experience of my life to this day honestly. Getting to take part in such a unique and fun, yet professional experience at age 11 was super impactful on my life. I was having a very “adult” experience with a family of kids my age and we were living for it. I think my favorite part about that process is that the entire group of us from the movie still have a thriving group text going. Name another major motion picture that can say the same.
YEM: What’s your favorite Billy quote from the movie?
Brian: Haha, I don’t know. Is this your way of getting me to say, “You’re tacky and I hate you?” 🙂
YEM: Billy has been considered an icon for the LGBT community. How does that feel to have played a character that resonated with so many?
Brian: It’s been crazy. I hate to sound ingenuine but I still struggle to find the words. It was a horrible thing to have to carry for a while while I navigated the social structures of my surroundings; I’ve opened up about that plenty. But full circle, I can only say that I am blessed. To be able to connect with people just because I was brave and authentic as a child, that’s cool. The messages I receive mean so much after everything I’ve been through. And it’s important to talk about in the time we live in.
It all does feel a bit disconnected though. I feel like I’m reaping in the benefits of work done by a child I don’t know. I mean, it’s been 15 years! I don’t exactly remember it all like it was yesterday because it wasn’t. I grew up and I’m a different person now. That time in my life has affected me greatly but that character lives and breathes on its own now. The movie still circulates and they’re making musicals and television shows about it and I’m honored to be a part of it all. I love getting the occasional reminders of what it all meant to someone. It’s beautiful. But it’s also just not the reality of what I’m living in day-to-day so it’s a strange feeling to be perfectly candid.
YEM: School of Rock is about music and you’ve continued in music with the release of your new album! Tell us about “Stage Two.”
Brian: Yeah, it’s weird because if you told me as a child actor that I’d be doing music 15 years later, I’d have been like, “Nah, acting or theatre all the way,” haha. I didn’t think I had the skills required for musicianship because I was always surrounded by such insanely talented instrumentalists. But I’m so psyched to have discovered a passion and a talent for songwriting. My new album drops November 2 and it’s filled with story songs about relationships primarily. Music seems to reach the same part of my heart that love does.
There’s 7 new songs on the record. They’re all very different from one another so I’m certain there’s something for everyone. It’s my first studio project and I’m so excited to share it with everyone. I write songs because I love the opportunity to tell a story and connect with others because of it. The movie was a huge chance to do that and my songs are little mini chances to continue doing that.
YEM: I’ve heard the album was inspired by the book “The Velvet Rage.” Tell us about how the book made an impact on your music.
Brian: Definitely. I didn’t actually read “The Velvet Rage” until after all the songs were written and the album was planned so to say it impacted my music would be a bit of an overstatement. I am personally wrapping up a time in my life which I found was very accurately described in Alan Downs’ book. All of the songs on the album were written during this tumultuous time and reflectively, they all share elements of a stage in gay psychology known as Stage Two: “compensating for shame.” The LGBT Life Coach in me recognized the importance of Down’s message and as tribute to this book that moved me greatly, I am naming my album after it in the hopes to draw additional attention to it. There are a lot of things that have come into my life in the past few years that made me wonder where they were all along. This book is one of those things. I want the person behind me to pick it up sooner.
YEM: Do you have a favorite song from the new album? How about a favorite song to perform live?
Brian: You’re gonna make me choose a favorite song?! Gah! Ok, well, my personal favorite track is the acoustic rendering of the lead single, “Rainy Day.” It really captures the emotion and rawness that I felt in that dark and desperate place where I was writing it. But if I had to branch out from the single, I’d say maybe “What If.” “What If” was the second song I ever wrote, but it took me forever to get it where I wanted it to be. It’s current state of development is spot on for release though. I wrote the song about a conversation with a friend about a guy I knew was bad for me. The song is basically an inner monologue that we tell ourselves when we enter territories ridden with warning signs. It’s one of my faves because I wrote it nearly four years ago but it’s meaning has resurfaced for me many times over the years in tandem with my inability to recognize my self-worth; all very reflective of Stage Two.
Don’t get me wrong! There are some very fun tracks on the album as well! Just because something’s unhealthy doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun. “One More (Mateo)” is a constant crowd pleaser live. It’s a fun little island tune written about a romantic night I had in Aruba. The song features my extremely talented friend Bronwyn Whittle and I know many a ‘Fanduto’ who’s stoked to have their hands on a recording of it because of how much fun it is live. “Kiss You Back” is another really fun sing-a-long: a true bop and perhaps country music’s first ever gay duet featuring Daniel Joseph Baker from America’s Got Talent.
YEM: Is it difficult to write and perform music that is so personal? Or is it more liberating?
Brian: So liberating. It was terrifying at first. I only began writing as a therapeutic practice. Taking that first step and drawing attention to what I was doing was a move that I’m still not sure how I worked up the courage for. Once those floodgates were open, I realized that the connection that comes from sharing your truth is so worth it. I’ve been doing it long enough at this point that I’m pretty much an open book. Having been a closed book for so long, it’s a refreshing and welcomed change of pace.
YEM: Finally, Spirit Day was last week. What advice would you give to young members of the LGBT community that are in the process of finding themselves?
Brian: You are already perfect.
Head over to Young Ent Mag’s Snapchat today as Brian takes over our account!