When looking through a broader scope, what the world is living through right now will be in history books around the world. At the same time, the music released during these trying times will provide just as accurate of a snapshot of what navigating this year has been like, and with his final two single releases of 2020, Jacob Bryant has done just that.
“Good Ol’ Boy” follows August’s “Baptized By the River,” songs that delve into respect and values and cleansing and God respectively. Bryant connects with both, and he says he hopes listeners feel the same connection as they listen. And with rocking guitars and pounding drums immediately catching the ear, grabbing listeners’ attention and drawing them into the lyrics is easily done.
We chatted with Bryant about the great successes he’s had over the past few years, all about his two new singles, his big plans for new music and more!
Pro Country: Your 2019 album Practice What I Preach debuted at number one on the iTunes country charts. What is it like to open the chart and see your name above and among some of the biggest names in the genre?
Jacob Bryant: It was definitely unexpected [laughs]. We had a couple make it into the top 10, but we never had anything that debuted like that. It was unexpected, but it was very humbling.
PC: You’ve been active with releasing music this year; releasing five singles that have accrued more than one million combined streams. How encouraging has it been for you to be able to continuously see that support, especially following the success of Practice What I Preach?
JB: When we released “Pour Whiskey on My Grave,” it ended up getting to about 21 million views on Facebook, and as far as the streams go, it was well over a million as well. It’s been really awesome to have fans that truly support me and stay behind me, especially in the new normal that we’re living in today.
PC: Is there a level of pressure you feel to match or surpass those numbers on releases that have followed Practice What I Preach and subsequent singles?
JB: It definitely makes you want to one-up yourself every time you release something new. Once you’ve achieved that status, you always want to do more, be better and do your best to wow the people when you put something new out. It definitely adds a little bit of pressure to give it your all.
PC: The first single you released this year, “Tell Me,” has earned over 500,000 streams itself since its release. What do you think it is about the song that has allowed it to connect with people the way it has?
JB: That was actually the first song I ever wrote with a guy that has since become one of my good buddies and songwriting friends, Wyatt McCubbin. That was me stepping outside of the camp of guys that I typically write a lot of stuff with. I think it was something different that they can definitely hear, but I’m also staying true to who I am. It has a unique, new flare to it.
PC: Your new single, “Baptized By the River,” follows June’s “Can’t Say No to You.” Why did you feel “Baptized in the River” was the right follow up?
JB: I’m drawn to that southern rock, edgy, Skynyrd and Tritt mixture. It’s not necessarily outlaw, but it rides the fence of rock and country. That particular track reminds me of how the world is in need of a big baptism right now. It has a little bit of that “light at the end of the tunnel” vibe for me. Cutting it was a little bit lyrical, but also the music on it was really engaging for me because of my influences. It was a really fun song to record, and it’s definitely a good one to play live.
PC: Though “Baptized By the River” was an outside cut, how have you been able to put yourself in the story?
JB: I was actually a praise and worship leader when I first started doing music, and I’ve always tried to influence God in some of my songs. Even though I don’t necessarily live the perfect lifestyle or anything like that, it’s just nice to stay true to my roots and have a little bit of Christian influence in there. Even though I’m a hell-raising beer drinker, I can love God at the same time [laughs].
PC: Given the current state of the world, what do you hope listeners take away from “Baptized By the River”?
JB: I’ve always said that you can build a church anywhere. I’ve always called myself a barstool preacher because I have tunes like “Sometimes I Pray” that I wrote about my mom, and you’ll see grown men crying in the front row. I’ve just always tried to influence God in my music and shows; maybe I can be the turning point for somebody to dig into the book. On those particular songs, I just hope people take the same thing that I take from it. I’m not a big believer in the “hellfire and brimstone” fear-mongering of man-made Christianity, I just believe the Bible is an instruction manual for your life and helps you be a better person.
PC: You released your newest single, “Good Ol’ Boy” last Friday, and you’re continuing to work and record new music. What information can you give about the new music you’re working on? What can listeners expect to hear?
JB: We’ve recorded 25 tracks, but we’re gonna probably narrow it down to 12 or 15 tunes to put out a full record. We have about four or five more to go in and track, and once we get the whole batch together, we’ll really dive in and pick what we think are the best songs to release as a full project. For right now, we released “Good Ol’ Boy,” which is also influenced by the state of the world today. You can walk in a restaurant and hold the door for the people behind you, and they don’t even say “thank you” anymore. It’s a little bit of an anthem for the people that were brought up like I was brought up; if we didn’t hold the door for somebody, my mom, dad or whoever would tear us up [laughs]. It’s one of those songs that pays homage to the morals of growing up in the country and having that southern mentality of helping thy neighbor.
PC: Your bio labels you as a “road dog,” playing well over 100 shows per year. What has the adjustment of live performances largely being put on hold?
JB: We were on the road more than I was at home. The adjustment has been a little weird, because I really don’t know what to do with my hands, as Ricky Bobby would say [laughs]. At the same time, it’s been kind of a blessing because we had a little baby girl, and I got to see her grow a lot more than I would have if I had been gone. It’s been really cool to see her walking and talking and not having to miss any of that. I’ve tried to take the good out of it as much as I can, but it’s also given me a bit of a fire up under my ass to get back to work and get back on the road.
PC: Can that down time give you a bit of a creative boost as well?
JB: For sure. I’ve actually never had the ability to write happy songs; I’ve always written dark, down in the dumps, crying in your beer tunes [laughs]. I’ve actually been able to channel that inner happiness with the stuff that’s changed in my life, like having a daughter. It’s definitely been a good influence on my songwriting.
PC: Along with working on and compiling songs for your next project, what are your plans for the rest of the year and going into 2021?
JB: I’m just going to keep my nose to the grindstone with my writing and write as much as I can. I’m praying that everything goes back to normal so we can go back to doing what we love. When I started this, my whole dream and where I feel normal and safe is on stage, so the quicker we can get back to doing that, the better. I’m keeping an optimistic outlook on everything and hoping things change back sooner rather than later.
*Images courtesy of HBPR and Jacob Bryant Facebook page*