Brian Falduto was once known for delivering the memorable line, “You’re tacky and I hate you,” as Billy in 2003’s School of Rock. Two decades later, he’s rocking out in real life as a country musician.
On Friday, the 30-year-old performer released an anthemic new single titled “Big Boys Club” about looking for serious love as a gay man within a landscape that can often seem full of lustful hookups and disappointment.
“‘Big Boys Club’ came out of me being a bit fed up with dating. I mean, dating — particularly in queer culture — can be exhausting. It’s a string of first and second dates, waiting for responses, bad communicators, disappointment, swiping that amounts to nothing, being ignored, feeling undesirable, bad sex with strangers and ghosting,” Falduto tells PEOPLE in an exclusive statement. “The list goes on because the efforts are boundless.”
He continues, “I wanted to write a song that celebrates those of us who are consciously stepping away from toxic dating patterns and putting in the effort to show up in a more intentional, vulnerable and relationally satisfying way.”
The song follows his latest releases, “Hottest Guy Here” and the viral “Same Old Country Love Song,” as the third single from his upcoming EP, Gay Country.
Shortly after “Same Old Country Song” dropped last year, the track earned millions of streams via TikTok, where it was featured in videos from Falduto’s School of Rock co-star Jack Black as well as influencer Tate Hoskins.
“It’s been amazing, to say the least,” says the musician of the success. “As an independent artist, I spend a good amount of mental energy self-validating my efforts because if all your work is fueled by external standards of success, you’ll run out of gas quickly. But I’d be lying if I downplayed how meaningful the messages of support and encouragement I’ve been getting have been.”
In 2021, Falduto spoke to PEOPLE about how playing “the gay kid” in School of Rock made it difficult for him to come to terms with his sexuality growing up.
“I was denying it before I even had a notion of what [being gay] was,” he said at the time. “So by the time I realized I was potentially gay, I was already homophobic towards myself, essentially.”
Today, not only does he feels confident in his identity, but he’s helping others through the same journey. “Just this morning, someone slid into my DMs to tell me that they and their partner love [‘Same Old Country Love Song’] so much that it will be the first song they dance to at their wedding,” says Falduto.
He adds, “I’m very grateful, and I’m just trying to soak it all in so as to not miss this moment. It’s also just a testament to how many queer people have felt left out by country music for so long. I hope the song continues to find those that need it most. Country music is no longer an exclusive genre.”
“Big Boys Club” is available now to stream and purchase.