Country Music's Hatebreed: Lakeview Fuse Hardcore Riffs With Nashville Songwriting, and They Want You to Stage Dive to It (Exclusive)

The first and most important thing you need to know about Lakeview is that they want crowds to stage-dive at their shows. Once you know that, everything else about this country rock band makes sense. Hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and currently based in Nashville, Tennessee, Jesse Denaro and Luke Healy are taking their passions for metal and Americana into an emerging genre that really doesn't have a name. "Blue-collar County Metal," "Yallternative," or "whatever your flavor is," these guys just want to annihilate stages with their heavy country jams just like their idols in bands like Hatebreed and The Acacia Strain.

"People are saying that we make heavy country music," Denaro told via Zoom. "We just write what we feel like writing. Sometimes it's not very heavy, sometimes it is." With decades in the hardcore and metal scene between them, the pair connected and began writing music together, with their sound eventually evolving into some guitar-heavy country songs. "It's just a byproduct of us," Denaro said. "It wasn't one day we were like, 'Hey, we should make a heavy song.' It was just kind of as we started to write more songs with each other. If you listen to the songs we've put out, it's almost like a roadmap of just an exponential growth of me and Luke both finally finding where we fit the most comfortable."

"This all started with us just kind of screwing around writing songs anyway," he continued. "It wasn't like, 'Let's go be musicians and be famous.' We were like, 'Hey, I want to write these songs,' and 'Yeah, let's try it.'" Healy adds, "We were like completely not touring. We were like, 'Yo, we've already lost everything to music in our lives. And we're old and men now, and we're still just now starting after all these years.'"

With the prospect of getting "real jobs" and a looming future where they'd each "settle down," they guys realized they "had to scratch the itch" and see where it led them. "We were just writing country songs together," Healy recalled, "and like Jesse was saying it just kind of progressed from that point on. Heavy songs, doing the heavier stuff. It was kind of like a riff idea comes along and we're like, 'Yeah, we can make that work. We like this stuff.'

"It comes a lot more natural when we write," he went on to say, then noting another heavy metal musician they often work with, "like with Cody Quistad from Wage War, and he's always bringing some really good a— beaters to the forefront. And we're like, 'Yo, no matter what, we're going to find an idea in our notes somewhere that is going to work for this type of song.' And that's how 'Loser' came about." 

The song Healy mentions, "Loser," is a 2021 single that Lakeview released. Lyrically it's the story of a guy who has to face the fact that his girlfriend has come to the realization that she is out of his league, which is something he seems to have known all along. Musically, the song is structurally similar to many of the songs played on mainstream country radio, only with the added element of a heavy metalcore-esque guitar riff that perfectly compliments the song's rhythm.

"Come coming out of the label, too, helped a lot," Healy confessed about how their band sound's has evolved after they got out from under label representation. "I'm not saying the label completely dictated everything that we were allowed to release or not release, but..." Healy and Denaro then noted that both "Loser" and its follow-up "Song of A" were both older songs they had written that never got released.

"We truly get to do whatever we want now," Denaro said. "And I think I'm grateful for people understanding what we're doing. I think it helps that it's just kind of a natural thing that's happening for us as far as this is just the music we make. It's not like we saw somebody do it and we're trying to recreate it. It's just like, we don't really know what else to do, and this is the stuff we make."

"I think we've been blessed for people to actually connect with it," he added. "Some people don't understand it, which I'm not confused about that at all. It makes sense to me... It's been a cool six or seven months of me and Luke just kind of doing whatever we want, writing whatever we want, and we're really excited."

Healy then noted that one crucial factor in the evolution of Lakeview has been performing for audiences and seeing crowd reactions. "Playing live, really a lot of that guided that," he said. "Finally, after COVID ended and everything was kind of opening back up, with being out on the road a lot more often, it was like, 'Okay, these songs are fun to play. This is what we grew up playing, this type of vibe and doing this stuff. And then these other songs are still really great because we love songwriting.'"

He added, "We love the sadder songs. We like the more chilled stuff, too, just as much. But playing it live, it's just like we're not used to going out in front of a whole bunch of people and they're just kind of sitting there or just standing there. It's kind of like, 'Yo, what are we doing?' And everybody still loves it, but we don't love that. We don't like that.

Denaro then noted that Instagram and TikTok have been helpful for Lakeview to figure out what fans are enjoying, saying they basically use the social media sites "as market research" for their music. "When we go play shows, there's certain songs that we're really stoked on, and then we play them live and we're like, 'Oh, this is something that we'll just put on an album and maybe not highlight very much.' And it's a really cool song, but it's not something that these people are connecting with."


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♬ original sound – lakeview

He continued, "At the end of the day, we don't really care who here, 'the important person here in Nashville,' if they like it or not, because the actual people that listen, buy the music, support you, they're in the middle of Kansas and Arkansas and wherever." Healy chimed in, "The real-life people, the real-life folks that are out doing what we're doing. You know what I mean? We still wake up at 5:30 and go out and work a full day... Every single day. We're hoping that will change at some point. But this is what we write the music for. It's the regular Middle America folks out there that are fighting to survive every single day working their asses off this. That's what Lakeview's for, not to cater to Nashville."

As we've established, Lakeview doesn't put too much stock into labels, but they did note "Blue-collar country metal" as something that they feel could accurately sum up who they are. This is something that Healy believes is strongly represented in working-class culture among music fans. "I always said, [fans at] a Lamb of God show, they're at Jason Aldeen the next weekend wearing different shirts. I've always said that. I've said that my whole life because it's so true. Because I'm that same dude."

Noting the crossover fanbase for both country music and rock music, Healy added, "It's like, 'This is good. And also this is really good. This is all so good.' And you can't put yourself in a box. If you put yourself in a box, as even just a consumer, not just a creator, dude, you're just missing out. You're missing out on good times on both of those spectrums. Both of those spectrums bring a completely different atmosphere. And we're kind of trying to blur those lines. We're like the Hatebreed of the country community." Denaro then quipped, "Hatebreed country."

Healy continued, "We're like those dudes who, are at a show. And it's like, yeah, we're kind of like that of this genre right now. It's like, yo, we are not doing the whole standing around thing anymore at country shows. And it's working. It's fun...Our generation comes from that and they want that. They always wanted the stage dive out at a country show. They just know that it was never a socially acceptable thing. Well, guess what? Now that's changed." He added "We want to let them know that that's allowed... that is more than welcome at any Lakeview show. That and beyond."

With a wealth of experience behind them, and an unwritten future ahead, Lakeview is only worrying about grabbing the bull by the horns and living in the moment. On Friday, they dropped their new single, "By Now." Speaking about the new track, Denaro shared, "We wrote that with one of our best friends, Quin, who also wrote songs like, 'Hits Different' [and] 'In Case You've Forgotten.' Almost everything we write with him."

He continued, "It just comes from an idea of basically in the chorus, we say, 'By now going out on the town, she'll be looking like around with a girl I just met.' And that just means I should be over this person by now. I should not be picking up that phone call when I get that phone call. And I think we've all been through a relationship or a hookup or whatever with somebody, and your conscious brain is like, 'This is bad.' But what you do is not that. You're like, 'I'll just say hey,' or 'I'll respond back,' or 'I'll pick up the phone, meet him out for a one drink,' and it always turns into something more. It's just about that, about that whole situation.

Healy offered, "It's a hitting it without quitting it, even though you should have quit it. It's that. And it's very frustrating... Coming from a man, it's like we all know that women totally have control of us... And that song is about that type of frustration, that relationship you have with somebody that you just know, 'Crap. Soon as they hit me up, it's the game over. I'm definitely going to end up back at your place because I can't say bye. I can't.'"

The band has lots more on the horizon, as Denaro revealed, "We got more singles coming out. We got a bunch of festivals, a bunch of just our own headlining shows. It's hard being in the genre and being so, I guess left of center." He added, "It is that it hard for us to get those nice opening tour opportunities. We're basically just like... We tested it out in California where we flew all the way out to California, played three shows, and we ended up selling some of them out. People came, it was shocking to us. I was like, 'Oh, people actually want to see us play.'"

Denaro continued, "So we're just basically going to test that throughout the whole country. Hit markets that we've never been to, and just go to your hometown and play a headlining show and, hopefully, people will show up." They also have a few really exciting festival slots lined up, playing alongside some big-name bands and artists. "We got some really cool festivals like 'Tailgates and Tall Boys' where we're playing with Nickelback and which is a dream... and playing with Colt Ford and some other folks like that. I think it's going to be a really, really fun, eventful summer and the rest of the year for us for sure."

Fans can check out more of Lakeview's music by clicking here. The band's official website also offers more info about what they're up to and where they'll be playing soon. Keep it locked to Pop for more exciting country music news, reviews, and interviews!