By Nikole Tower, May 2018 Web Exclusive.
You may recognize his name because of his role as Billy aka “Fancy Pants” in the 2003 film School of Rock, starring Jack Black, but Brian Falduto has grown to be much more than the character he played when he was 11 years old.
As a professional actor and singer-songwriter with a history of work in music, film, TV, stage and radio, Falduto has turned the notoriety that came with his role as "the gay kid" into a multi-platform career that celebrates the LGBTQ community.
Almost a year after Falduto dropped his debut EP, Love One Another, Echo caught up with him to find out more about his music, his acting and his recent move to Los Angeles.
Echo: We’re nearing a year since the release of your debut EP, Love One Another. How has the reception been?
Falduto: The EP reaction has been cool. The EP is an acoustic, almost demo-y thing that we put together just because I wanted to have something out there that was mine. Currently, I’m talking to actual producers to get a fully produced, full sounding album out there. The most instruments in a song on this EP is like guitar, keys and vocals. It’s very simplistic. That considered, I think the reaction has been great. I think people are connecting with my lyrics which I appreciate because I consider that to be most important. It’s a very vulnerable thing to do and then to have people pick up on it and not make you feel foolish is awesome.
Echo: How would you describe the sound of Love One Another?
Falduto: It’s country influenced, but not really. The stuff I listen to is very simple melody- [and] lyric-driven. My friends never let me DJ at parties because I’ll put on depressing, simple melody songs. I love a good Willie Nelson track or a Tony Bennett track. It’s really just about the lyrics for me. I worked in country music radio for three years, so it's influenced [me]. Before that, I wasn’t that into country music. I think I was looking for a substitution for what used to be pop. Pop music now is that EDM stuff that I’m not really into.
Echo: How did the transition from acting to singing and songwriting happen?
Falduto: I’m still acting, but I was going full throttle at the singing and songwriting for a while. Acting, especially in New York City, it’s like you have to kind of wait for someone to hand you an opportunity. Whereas with music, I write myself and I can put out it myself and book my own gigs. I was eager to start connecting with people. I think music was allowing that. Music was also like a survival tactic. When I was working with country music, I went through a really hard break up, and I needed an outlet for everything I was feeling. I started writing music, and I thought it felt great. I couldn’t stop once I started. Even to this day, I just ended something with a guy a couple weeks ago, and once again music is such a great outlet for it.
Echo: You mentioned moving from New York City to L.A.; how did the change of scenery affect your music?
Falduto: I think that the vibe in the songwriting industry is very different in L.A. I’m still trying to grasp that. I feel like people who are pursuing music in New York City are going through it very differently than people who are pursuing it here. I’m still figuring out what exactly is the difference, but I have definitely noticed there is a difference. One of the benefits to coming here was to clear up my headspace a little bit and enter a new environment. I definitely have a lot more time to think, and therefore, song write.
Echo: I’m sure you get asked about School of Rock a lot. So, if you were able to talk to the kid who played Billy and give him some advice, what would you tell him?
Falduto: I’m getting emotional just thinking about it. It’s such a tricky question because there are so many things I wouldn’t change just because I’m so happy with my journey. I love my struggles because they give me something to connect with. Not to sound cliché, but I would probably pull myself aside and be like, try to be yourself. No one was really telling me to do that. In the movie they were, sure, and that’s what I became known for – standing out. Then, as soon as the movie came out, I was expected to just fit in. I kind of wished someone pulled me aside and said it’s OK to continue standing out. Instead of embracing that, I immediately tried to adapt to the circumstances around me. Then again, I’m not unhappy that I did that because I think the psychological effects it had on me as I grew older led to the awesome discoveries I’ve had about myself. I guess if someone was currently going through that situation, I would advise them to just try and embrace who they are, just keep going and not care what people think so much.
Echo: You have experience with both Broadway and the big screen. Do you have a preference?
Falduto: Not really. I have more experience on stage. Post-college, it’s mostly just been stage opportunities. I had a theatre performance major, so I’m a little more acquainted with that feel. Here in L.A., most of my auditions and my training and my management are based around film and TV opportunities. Up until this point it’s been stage, but I guess I’m trying to transition.
Echo: Do you have any new releases lined up? What’s next for you?
Falduto: Currently, I’m actually training to be a life coach. I’m launching a business, hopefully in June, to become a LGBTQ life coach and try and help people through the issues that you and I just talked about. That’s currently my focus. I’m trying to get involved in some acting projects. I’m writing a lot and talking to some producers to see who would be available to record in the fall. So, by 2019, I will hopefully have the fully produced sound that I talked to you about. A lot has to happen here to have that all line up. The plan is definitely in motion.