After high school, country up-and-comer Devin Dawson hit the road with his first band, Shadow of the Colossus, a death metal band running on teenage angst and lofty ideals. That's not to insinuate that Shadow of the Colossus were bad; in fact, Dawson and his bandmates signed with a legit label, MetalBlade Records.

However, Shadow of the Colossus refused to engage in online streaming for profit though iTunes or Spotify, choosing instead to share their music for free on Bandcamp (where it's still available, if you're intrigued). That decision made the band's touring experience a bit more ... primitive.

"I called it slum touring: We would all just pack up everything in a van and sleep in the van and ask people on the stage if their mom wanted to cook us breakfast in the morning and let us stay at their house," Dawson shares in an interview with Taste of Country.

Shadow of the Colossus also included Dawson's twin brother Jacob, who is now also a successful songwriter and producer in Nashville. After five years of metal, and during one of toughest times on the road, however, Dawson began to question his calling.

"It was another one of those moments of like, 'Is this worth it? What am I doing? Is this fulfilling to me in my heart and career and the way I want to spend my time?'" he remembers. Questioning everything turned out to be one of Dawson's best decisions, though -- and not just because he's been finding success in country music.

"These [country] songs that I am writing maybe have more chance [of success], but beyond that, they make me happier," Dawsons says. "I would [go on tour like that] for those songs. I would have this peril or this heartbreak or this trouble for those songs, but not for the songs I was playing in the metal band."

In addition to being one of The Boot's Artists to Watch for 2018, Dawson was recently announced as Taste of Country's first RISER of 2018. The up-and-coming singer-songwriter released Dark Horse in January and earned a New Male Vocalist of the Year nomination at the 2018 ACM Awards.

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