Music defines Chase Bryant. At every level and in often unexpected ways, his truths are expressed in melody, lyrics, hooks and sounds, but his reality goes even deeper than that. Chase's heritage is defined by music. His upbringing, his craft, his inspiration and his obsessions are all centered in the same, which explains how a 21-year-old Texan could already be a top-flight guitar player, head-turning songwriter, Red Bow recording artist and co-producer of his debut album.
Chase focuses his muse on the commonalities people share. "We all have a destination," he says. "We all have dreams we want to follow. I'm no different than anybody else, I just sing about it. It's my job to put the party on and give people a good reason to have fun."
Raised in Orange Grove, TX, Chase's grandfather played piano in Roy Orbison's first two bands and, later, for Waylon Jennings. His uncles co-founded the group Ricochet, which had several hits in the '90s. "From the time I was a kid, the only thing I wanted to do was play music," he says.
"I was two or three years old and heard Jerry Lee Lewis' 'Lewis Boogie' come on my grandfather's record player. I remember hearing him say, 'My name is Jerry Lee Lewis and I'm from Louisiana' … and I had an identity crisis! I thought I was Jerry Lee and would walk around saying that. In school, I was the odd kid. There were 20 guitars in town and I owned all of them."
Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard, Tom Petty, Vince Gill, Bob Wills, Steve Wariner, Bryan Adams and more were early influences, but a confluence of releases brought him to a turning point. "Keith Urban's Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing and records by Sarah Buxton and Jedd Hughes did it," he says. "I knew I wanted to play mainstream country – I always knew. But those records told me that I could be that and still write guitar riffs that would stick in somebody's head."
"I never wanted to be anybody else," Chase says. "My grandfather always told me 'you can't be good at being anybody else. You can only be good at being yourself.'"
Songwriting was an integral part of his development. "It goes back, of course, to getting my heart broken in school," he says. "Some girl broke up with me – I may have been 11 or 12, and I just wrote it down. I was never great at reading, but I liked words, phrases and sentences. The only way I knew to let people know me is through writing. I'd just look at my life, grab some paper and put it down."
Because of his Roy Orbison connection, someone suggested a meeting with Roy's widow, the late Barbara Orbison, a prominent Nashville publisher, who signed Chase on the spot, making him her final signing before she passed.
That road led Chase to BBR Music Group imprint Red Bow Records, to which he signed in August 2013. Despite being on the cusp of exceptional achievement for someone so young (having recently been named one of "The Best Things We Saw at CMA Music Fest 2014" by Rolling Stone) Chase sees little difference between himself and the audience. "We're all fans," he says. "We're all friends. And the music is our connection. To me, it's a lifelong relationship and we'll all get where we're going together. That's the beauty of music."
"We're all fans. We're all friends. And the music is our connection."