Country music artist Tucker Beathard has taken radio airwaves by storm with his gritty debut single, “Rock On”. The song is about a troubled guy pondering an ex who has long moved on, wishing her the best but regretting not putting a “rock” on. The 21-year-old Nashville native’s troubled track record extends beyond the lyrics of his songs. Tucker, the son of award-winning songwriter Casey Beathard and brother of University of Iowa starting quarterback, C.J. Beathard coins himself a “troublemaker”. The country music artist’s rebellious nature has paved a foundation for penning relatable songs like “Rock On” and “Momma and Jesus” both featured on his recently released debut EP, Fight Like Hell.
I recently sat down with Tucker in Ann Arbor before wrapping up his national headlining tour in support of the EP. Tucked away in the back lounge of a shiny tour bus I was greeted by the country music artist who was dressed in ripped jeans, a white t-shirt, brown untied boots, a beat up old baseball cap and painted with tattoos on his left arm—an instant indication of his bad-boy persona. We shook hands and sat down to talk about his fight like hell to make a name for himself amongst family men who have already blazed the path he now finds himself on.
College News: Just out of curiosity how often do people mispronounce your last name?
Tucker Beathard: [laughs] It’s really rare when people get it right honestly.
CN: I was watching a video interview you did and the guy interviewing you mispronounced your last name when he introduced you.
TB: Oh my, he asked me right before and he still pronounced it wrong.
CN: Oh my goodness, and he still messed it up. So at what age did you discover you had a passion for music?
TB: I think ever since I was born I was just drawn to it, had a knack for it and started playing drums. It wasn’t until I was about 15 or 16 when I really realized it. When I started writing songs and picked up the guitar that I realized this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
CN: So you and your brothers were in a band when you were younger. Was it a country band?
TB: I guess technically—it’s tough to explain—because even now, me writing my own stuff, I never really did shoot for a certain genre. We just wrote music that sounded good, that felt good to us. When it came to songwriting, growing up around my dad who’s a songwriter in country music it was kinda what we just did. Musically, it came from a lot of different influences.
CN: Awesome. You were originally going to go to Middle Tennessee State University to pursue baseball. What made you have a sudden change of heart and put it all out on the line for a music career instead?
TB: I think when you find your passion—I don’t know, I always felt like I was never really understood. It’s tough to explain. Internally, I just felt like I didn’t fit in with people. I have a lot of friends and what not but I never really felt like I did and when I found the passion for music it was just so relaxing and I felt like I figured out my identity. When I got the taste of that and had the opportunity to not do school I just had to do what made me happy. I would rather be broke on the streets doing what I love.
CN: Do you feel like if you had done baseball you wouldn’t have had time for music?
TB: For sure. I mean I still would have done it but I wanted to do it full-time.
CN: Who would you say is your favorite baseball player?
TB: Pete Rose or Dustin Pedroia They just play the game so hard, they play with passion and bust their ass.
CN: Tucker Beathard, I know you grew up in Nashville but was there ever a time throughout your career that you didn’t want to do country music and wanted to try another genre? Because I feel like your music is more on the rebellious side of country music—more like artists such as Eric Church.
TB: Yeah, it’s tough. I just like making music and now it falls into country music which can be tough because there’s a lot of songs that nobody has ever heard before that are some of my favorites but they’re too abstract for country which is frustrating to be put in a certain box. Not that I don’t want to make country music but I just want to make music.
CN: Exactly, and I think that’s what’s so challenging. A lot of artists I’ve talked to have said the same thing. There’s music people haven’t heard and probably never will just because it doesn’t align with the genre they’re considered to fall under.
TB: Yeah and I hate it as an artist being constrained to one thing.
CN: What are some of your favorite genres outside of country music that you think influence your work?
TB: More than anything: rock. 70s rock at the beginning for sure and then I got into some punk-rock like Blink-182—they’re more pop-punk. That’s one of my favorite bands of all-time. That kinda got me into playing guitar.
CN: Your dad Casey is an award-winning country music songwriter. In what ways has he influenced you as a musician?
TB: I think just by watching and growing up around him and how he takes so much pride in his lyrics and he really pours his heart into his songs and you can tell that. When I got into songwriting I realized that’s how you do it, that’s what it’s all about.
CN: You both have very different styles. Do you think you’ve influenced him to any degree?
TB: I think so. For sure. We both are different in so many ways that he’s like ‘Man, that’s cool. I never thought about that.’ We feed off of each other really well like that and I think definitely more with edgier guitar stuff. We don’t play guitar the same. He plays the chords and I don’t know how, I just put my fingers down until something sounds good.
CN: That’s awesome. So your EP, “Fight Like Hell” released last month. Has the reaction been what you expected?
TB: I really didn’t know what to expect, honestly. I knew I was relieved to have more music out and not be represented by one song and for people to see more of what I’m trying to do. I didn’t expect radio to be so welcoming to me in the first place. I know “Rock On” is the most mainstream song I’ve got but I didn’t expect them to eat it up like they did.
CN: What is your favorite song off the EP?
TB: “Fight Like Hell”. I think sonically it represents me the best. Lyrically it’s simple, universal and kind of a motivational anthem that feels good. It’s probably my favorite.
CN: Walk me through your songwriting process, Tucker Beathard, what’s it like? Is it more structured or spontaneous?
TB: It’s pretty spontaneous. I don’t like the idea of just going into a room and just trying to pound out a song. I like to mess around with different things whether it’s guitar effects or whatever it is and try to get inspired by it. There’s a lot of different ways that songs come about whether it’s something you saw, something you read or whatever. You get inspired and just jot ideas down.
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CN: Do you ever experience writer’s block and how do you overcome it?
TB: [laughs] Yeah, definitely. Writer’s block is a mother. I guess I just try to overcome it by realizing that if you’re not inspired that day to write something it’s all good, just wait for something to come around. I think as a songwriter you need to always keep your radar on and read and look into the deep meaning of things you come across.
CN: What would you say is the hardest part about being on the road?
TB: Staying healthy. There’s a lot of temptations and stuff. Being on the road is weird. You’ll be out for a while and get mentally drained and start to go crazy and want to go home but then you go home for a day and you’re like ‘Dang, I need to go back out on the road.’
CN: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
TB: Yeah, me and the band get into a circle, pray and take a tequila shot.
CN: How do you manage to keep each show interesting and make it not seem like a replay of the last show and keep fans engaged?
TB: Because it’s not. Nothing is really scripted or planned other than set-lists and those usually change in the middle of the show. I’ll decided I’m doing something else. Every crowd is different so just don’t go into the show expecting anything, just go with the flow.
CN: What does the future look like in terms of a full-length debut album?
TB: Hopefully as soon as possible. I’m ready and I can’t wait to get it out. I’m assuming it’s going to be sometime early next year but I don’t know. I’m on the road a lot.
Look out for country music artist Tucker Beathard’s EP on sale now.