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Chase Bryant talks about going acoustic, country legends, forging an identity in Nashville and more

Chase Bryant

Jeff Johnson

Chase Bryant



It takes guts to cast yourself as James Bond. For Chase Bryant, it was a chance he couldn’t pass up.

In the video to his new single Room to Breathe, Bryant dons a white tux and surrounds himself with cards, cars, martinis and beautiful women.

“I was a huge James Bond fan,” Bryant said by phone while traveling from a gig in Alabama to a studio in Nashville. “I was a really big fan of that lifestyle, the fashion sense, the whole thing — it made sense to me.”

The 24-year-old Texan has made a lot of noise in his short time in Nashville. His first single Take It On Back was a huge radio hit, and after touring with Brantley Gilbert and Tim McGraw, he’s setting his sights on a debut album for release in 2017.

On Tuesday, he’ll be at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg for the second annual 99.5 QYK Guitar Pull, an acoustic singer-songwriter showcase in which country artists trade songs and stories. Bryant probably won’t wear a tux, but he might deliver an acoustic rendition of Room to Breathe, a pop-rocky single that has as much in common with Maroon 5 as it does Keith Urban.

He talked about stripping songs to their core in our interview.

This format, six guys performing acoustically in the round — is that something you do very often?

Yeah, we do it from time to time. It’s a chance for people to get behind the song and learn where all that stuff came from.

This lineup is you, Gary Allan, Tyler Farr, Josh Turner, Chris Lane and Kane Brown. Are you tight with anyone in that group?

I know all those guys. I’m big fans of all of them. Gary, I was a fan of for years. Of course, Josh Turner. And Kane, he’s really exploded onto the scene in a whole other way. His touring business is ridiculous, one of the most rabid fan bases out there right now, period. He’s got a better handle on touring than 90 percent of us do. He’s a really talented kid, too, an encyclopedia of country music. He’s not just another face in the crowd.

Of that group of guys, is there one song that you’d love to hear the story behind?

Life Ain’t Always Beautiful by Gary Allan is probably one of the greatest songs ever written. The first two lines, “Life ain’t always beautiful, sometimes it’s just plain hard,” I mean, it doesn’t get any cooler for a listener than that. We all know where that comes from, and that’s directly from the heart.

Do you have an acoustic-show-stopper?

Acoustic sets, I tend to lean on ballads a lot. I know that sounds crazy, but that’s one chance that the ballads work well, because people are there to hear the song, not necessarily to see the face playing it. They’re there to hear the songs.

How was your CMAs experience? Best thing you saw, coolest person you met, experience you can’t stop thinking about?

Walking around by George Strait, being in the same hallway as him. That’s one of those things — who would have ever guessed?

There aren’t many people from that era who are are still out there doing it — Dolly, Willie, Strait. When you see performers who are still out there able to win over new fans at that age, is there any part of you that thinks about where you’re going to be at that age?

Look, I’ll never be George Strait. George Strait, Ronnie Dunn and Kix (Brooks), those guys, man, there’ll never ben another one of those, period. As much as people want to say that somebody’s next, nope, there’s never going to be another George Strait, there’s never going to be another Garth Brooks, there will never be another Brooks and Dunn, period, zero, there’s no chance of it. The only thing I can hope is that one day, people want to hear my music, just like they wanted to hear them. Those guys laid landmarks of their own, and that’s what we all have to hope to do as artists.

And I think there’s some great ones out there doing it now, men and women. There’s some great females out there, which I thought this genre needed for a long time. Maren (Morris) and Kelsea (Ballerini) and girls like that. I just feel like this genre’s in a really good place.

There’s a very crowded field of young men who are trying to get to that next level. God knows you’ve probably been confused with Chase Rice at some point in your life. Is it hard to stand out among your peers in the music industry right now?

Here’s my thing: I feel like it’s going to be hard for people to stand out in this town if they just keep trying to be somebody they’re not. I know people gave Florida Georgia Line a lot of crap. I know people gave Sam Hunt a lot of crap. And it’s stupid. Those guys have done a bunch of great things for this genre. Sam’s made great record. FGL’s made great records. This genre has just morphed, and I think that’s why it’s still the greatest genre there is.

For me, I don’t know that it’s hard to stick out when you can just be yourself. When you can be yourself, I feel you’re going to be more successful that way. And the fans that know that you’re not being realistic, you’re trying to be somebody else, trust me, this genre can read square through that and point the finger.

Your song Take It On Back is in a birthday card. When you were growing up, starting to write songs, did you ever think you would ever write a song that would end up in a birthday card at Walmart?

God, no. I never even knew if I would ever be able to write a song that would be on the radio. I’m so thankful for the things that have happened in my career, the people that make these things happen. It’s not me. I make the craft, and then people have to get it sold, people have to get it played, people have to book the shows — there’s so much more that goes on than just me. I’m thankful for that. I never imagined in a million years it’d be in a birthday card.

Has anybody sent you that card yet? Have you sent them out to anybody yet?

No, I’ve been looking for them! I can’t find them! I went to Walmart the other day and they didn’t have them. I really want to get some.

-- Jay Cridlin

[Last modified: Monday, November 21, 2016 2:27pm]


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