Chase Bryant ready for big stage at Country Jam
Brad Paisley. Blake Shelton. Lee Brice.
The three solo male artists headlining this year’s Country Jam had to start their careers somewhere and at some time.
For Chase Bryant, 23, that time is now.
Originally from the tiny town of Orange Grove, Texas, Bryant makes his Country Jam Main Stage debut at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 16.
A lot country and a lot rock ‘n’ roll, Bryant comes to western Colorado with a strong lineage in music — his grandfather played piano in Roy Orbison’s first two bands and then with Waylon Jennings — that gave him a connection in the music industry and the passion to pursue music professionally.
In advance of his appearance at one of the largest music festivals in Colorado, Bryant talked about his start in music, how one Keith Urban album changed his life and how long it takes him to create that signature almost faux hawk hairstyle.
Melinda Mawdsley: I read you grew up listening to, among others, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tom Petty and Merle Haggard. Yet you are only 23. I can’t imagine there were many of your peers born in the early 1990s listening to the same music.
Chase Bryant: I was attracted to good music, you know. I was attracted to music that had a meaning and music that I was going to draw from. For whatever reason, those were all things I resonated toward as a musician, producer and songwriter. I was probably ahead of my time.
Mawdsley: Yet it was a Keith Urban album that specifically left a lasting impression. Why?
Bryant: I think the biggest thing “Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing” did to me was it taught me if I wanted to be driven and play music that other people weren’t playing I could do it. If you listen to (Urban’s) record, there was nothing like it. I picked up guitars and beat on them until they made the right noise. That record said I could probably have a little more rock influence and people would listen.
Mawdsley: You wanted to pursue country music but moved west after high school. Why west?
Bryant: Sometimes your compass is a little off, I guess. I think for me the biggest thing was it was my first shot to get out of my hometown and do something a lot of people said I’d never do. I think that’s what made me want to go. People said I’d never do it. I hated school. I didn’t want to go to college. I knew what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to end up in Nashville. I just had to get there somehow.
Mawdsley: Your family’s connection to Roy Orbison led you, his widow, Barbara Orbison years ago. How did that meeting get set up?
Bryant: It was one of those moments where you go, “How the hell did this happen?” It’s crazy. I think you just have to look at it and understand that hard work a lot of times pays off. It was a lot of hard work getting there. Somehow she ran across me. (Barbara Orbison signed Bryant after one meeting. He was her final signing before she died.)
Mawdsley: You had the opportunity to tour with Tim McGraw and Brantley Gilbert, both have played Country Jam. Did you learn any valuable lessons from those experiences opening for those guys?
Bryant: Well, you definitely learn how to work out with (McGraw). You learn how much you suck before you learn how good you are. He has like, what, 37 or 38 No. 1 songs? He goes on stage and people sing along to every song. They didn’t necessarily pay to see you. You have to look at it another way: It will take you a while to learn how to be a winner in an old’s man’s game.
Mawdsley: Well, here you are. You’ve released one EP with a full-length album coming.
Bryant: The record is in the fall. We just got out of rehearsals (in late May) and are ready to play a brand new set. It’s all going to be brand new music that nobody has heard before.
Mawdsley: Do you have a lot of time to write while touring?
Bryant: Oh yeah, every day. It’s fun to be creative, too.
Mawdsley: Describe what your life is like right now, as a 23-year-old up-and-coming country music singer.
Bryant: I’m a 23-year-old who’s doing it. It’s crazy. I had to start making decisions early and had to start doing things differently early. I figured out how to make that work. I’m running a business and have people work for me. I never thought about what it’s like. If I did, I may get cocky or arrogant.
Mawdsley: Last question. I have to ask, how long does it take you to do your hair?
Bryant: (Laughing). Not long at all. It’s pretty quick. I’ve got it down now. It used to take me forever, washing my hair six times getting gel out.