Propelled by hard-driving beats and high energy, FortyTwenty has spent the past 15 years making its mark on the hardcore country scene with a 21st-century style of hillbilly boogie.
With slogans like “So Country It’ll Make You Puke,” and “Purveyors of Fine Music,” FortyTwenty has used the better part of two decades to perfect its seamless transitions from honky-tonk originals to metal covers (and back again) at breakneck speed – and with ferocious intensity.
“It’s kinda like a punk show, only way twangier,” said Jedd Beaudoin of F5 Magazine.
The five-piece group sprang to life in 2002, taking up residency at a country dancehall in Lincoln, Neb., for “Old School Wednesdays.” The hall happened to sit just blocks from the house of Lern Tilton, a punk-rock-refugee-turned doghouse bass player.
From the group’s early years in Tilton’s basement, much of the songwriting and lead-vocal duties have been split between Tilton and Cowboy Dave Wilson, another Nebraska native. The two first met at the dancehall years earlier, striking up a friendship through a common love of 1950s and 60s country music.
J.J. King, a previous punk bandmate of Tilton, and Jon Bradley, a previous country bandmate of Wilson, helped form the group’s original sound on drums and twangin’ telecaster, respectively. Llegendary Lloyd McCarter, meanwhile, countrifies the project on pedal steel.
“Even with its swagger and promising songwriting, it’s the steel guitar that gets me every time,” CMT’s Craig Shelburne said.
Following the release of its debut record in 2003, “Lowdown and Dirty,” FortyTwenty was invited to Nashville by Country Music Television to record four original acoustic songs for a segment called, “New Voices, No Cover.”
The group’s sophomore release, “Sober and Stupid,” came out in 2005, receiving significant radio play in various markets. The record hit the No. 5 spot on the Freeform American Roots Chart, the No. 8 spot on the Euro-Americana Chart, and the No. 12 spot on XM Satellite Radio’s X-Country Chart. Both records were recorded with producer A.J. Mogis at Presto Studios in Lincoln.
A third album is in the works, which will be supported by an extensive North American tour.