Interview: Chase Bryant Wants to Be a Country Music Pioneer
"I wrote the whole record, co-produced the whole record, played all the guitars on the record, a bunch of other stuff," Bryant tells The Boot. "I always said, if it was good, it was my fault, if it was bad, it was my fault. I wanted the whole record to be my fault. I didn’t want to blame anybody else; I really wanted it to be something that I could take full ownership of."
Bryant's co-producer on the forthcoming disc is his "best friend," Derek George, and the artist trusted in their friendship to get the results he wanted.
"I told him, ‘I really want full blame for this,'" Bryant continues. "If somebody likes it, they like it, and they know it was my thing. And if they hate it, they also know it was me who did it."
The rising star didn't have any hesitations about putting himself fully out there with this project.
"I would say that the record has a lot of angst like ["Room to Breathe"], a lot of young mentality to it," Bryant explains. "I’m 23, and I finally hit a point where I realized I wasn’t necessarily walking into a room anymore going, ‘I have to write the biggest hit of all time.' ... I wanted to write things that I knew about and things that I had been through and things I’ve lived through, and that’s kind of where this whole thing came from."
Bryant's got a voice and style that could just as easily work in pop, jazz or rock -- but he's always felt most at home in the country genre.
"I play it because it’s honest; it’s real," Bryant says. "I love pop music; I’m a fan of popular music. But I also realize that the evolution of country music is what drives me. When I look at country music, I look at it like I look at cars or trucks: If you ever looked at a Chevy 40 years ago, it looked nothing like it does now. I think that’s part of the thing that makes it so great, is that it’s always changing; it’s always different.
"I think there’s guys that are pioneers and move and do things that are going to change something or, not necessarily change it but help something. And then there’s people who are settlers, who just follow the pioneers," Bryant adds. "I wanted to be one of the guys who was going to do something that was maybe little different and change the face of something. But ... there’s one thing that’s always the same, and [that is], it’s so true; it’s honest. I don’t think anybody ever said you have to wear a cowboy hat to sing country music; I think they just said you have to tell the truth."
The evolution of country music is what drives me ... I think that’s part of the thing that makes it so great, is that it’s always changing; it’s always different.
Born into a musical family -- he's the grandson of Jimmy Bryant, who played with Waylon Jennings and Roy Orbison, among others -- Bryant never imagined he would do anything except for have a career in country music.
"I was the odd kid in school. I was the kid that got picked on. I was the kid who was told it never would work, but music was where all that stuff went away. It was where, I step up onstage, and I become this whole other person," Bryant remembers. "That’s kind of what changed me, and the reason I play music. But I’ve known that, I feel like, since the day I was born. I feel like we’re all meant to do something, and this was what I was meant to do."
Nonetheless, the Texas native is surprised at his success.
"I’m from a town of 800 people. I never thought in a million years that this would be happening. But it didn’t surprise me in the sense where I took it all to heart. I think it surprised me in the sense that I wanted more, so I worked harder," Bryant muses. "Success for me is like food for an animal: I think it’s what helps you grow. I got told no a lot of times, and then I wanted to turn 'no' into 'yes,' and I decided the only way to do that was to keep working and keep working and keep carving and carving and carving.
"I think success is humbling," he notes. "I can’t say I’ve been to the top of the mountain yet, because I’m still climbing it. But I’m going to do everything I can to get there ... Success for me has never been a roof; you just kind of do it until you’re done. To me, the successful thing has been pretty humbling, pretty different for me."
Thus far in his career, Bryant has found himself on tour with Brantley Gilbert and Tim McGraw, and performing on the Grand Ole Opry. But his favorite moments are the day-to-day things that remind him how fortunate he is to be living his dream.
"It’s waking up the next day and going, ‘I’m still doing this. I’m still doing it,'" Bryant admits. "There comes a time in any career where it’s over -- no matter who you are, no matter what you do ... It’s going to happen at some point. And every day you’ve got to live that day like it’s going to happen. So I’m just thankful to people for making my career happen."
Bryant hopes to have his new record out by the end of the year. In the meantime, "Room to Breathe" is available for download on iTunes.
Chase Bryant Says Tim McGraw's Emoji Game Needs Work