Listeners constantly try to pinpoint exactly who Andrew Beam sounds like, and though it’s flattering for the North Carolina native, he’s perfectly content being and sounding like Andrew Beam. With elements of 90s country, picking skills developed from a bluegrass upbringing and country rocking guitars, Beam taps into various lanes at once, all but assuring he’ll never be pigeonholed.
His newest release, “You Should See the Other Guy,” is the first glimpse Beam is giving into his forthcoming album Selma by Sundown, set for release in April. The song, which features the double entendre of a physical and mental confrontation, has been a consistent fan favorite in Beam’s live show, and with a studio version now under his belt, his new single is sure to reach for and wide; to those fans requesting it and beyond.
We chatted with Beam about his bluegrass upbringing, all about “You Should See the Other Guy,” what listeners can expect from Selma by Sundown, his upbeat attitude for 2021 and more!
Pro Country: Who are some of your early musical influences that have had an impact on your sound?
Andrew Beam: I grew up listening to 90s country on cassette tape, and vividly recall singing every hit from Alan Jackson’s “Little Bitty” to Deanna Carter’s “Strawberry Wine” riding in the car with my parents. Honestly, I listened to a wide range of genres, but this era of country has really influenced our sound. Mainly because there is a wide range of people not hearing traditional country on today’s radio, and my mountain dialect cannot deny that: Country. Ain’t. Dead. I would attribute my songwriting to a wide range of influences from which I have gained inspiration, resulting in a country genre melting pot.
PC: Your bio mentions that you grew up as the son of a bluegrass-picking preacher. Did having an introduction to music through a more rootsy, down-home method teach you anything in those early years?
AB: Bluegrass definitely taught me many things. One: four chords and a capo can be used to play just about anything. But, in all seriousness, bluegrass really helped develop my right hand as a guitar player and gave me a deep appreciation for cross-over artists like Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley. When Dad first taught me how to play, we did not have bass, banjo, etc., so we had to use two guitars at the house to sound as close to a band as possible. I have always used pretty heavy picking to really beat the sound of my Martin, even now, much to my luthier’s disapproval.
PC: When did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in music?
AB: I am very fortunate to have had two dream jobs. One, being a game warden. I always thought I would make a career out of Law Enforcement, but it was during this time that people started recognizing me from local gigs on patrol. Eventually, enough folks just kept saying I needed to go full time and bring back real country, and eventually, I listened. I left the badge behind in May 2018 and hit the road playing music. We were really making great progress until COVID halted everything, and obviously everyone in the industry. Regardless, we are here to stay. I have had the greatest journey with the best people in some extraordinary places in the short time since starting the second dream job.
PC: What emotions were you feeling as you were preparing to release music again with your single “You Should See the Other Guy” that was released last week?
AB: Since Joe Taylor and I wrote the song in 2018, “You Should See the Other Guy” has been a huge hit at the live shows. We would usually play it twice per request, and by the end of the song, everyone was already singing along. I’m feeling pure excitement as this song becomes available to our fans, and we hope it gains more of a following as word spreads.
PC: Can you talk about the inspiration behind “You Should See the Other Guy”?
AB: Joe Taylor called me one day and asked if I was familiar with Glen Campbell’s “Gentle on My Mind,” and told me he had the idea to write a song about Campbell’s character 20 years later. It’s a tale of regret, and self-tail-kicking if you will. The obvious cliché regarding being in a fight, but the double meaning of losing the battle to your own relationship decisions immediately intrigued me. A few days later, I went to the studio with a decent working copy that Joe tweaked into what would become our first major single.
PC: “You Should See the Other Guy” blends traditional country lyrics and vocals with southern rocking guitar and drum lines. Is it at all important for you to tap into different sonic influences and have that level of versatility in your music?
AB: Giving a nod to various influences is an obvious factor in all of the music. But creating my “sound” is most important in regards to establishing our place in the industry. I love hearing fans’ opinions on the different voices that I sound like, to the point I’ve actually witnessed them argue. For example, “He sounds like Keith Whitley…no more like Gary Allan, Daryle Singletary…” and (with the help of my producer), any one of the artists with The Heartbreakers behind them on my latest track. At the end of the day, I’m proud of our country/rock background, but no one can deny “that’s Andrew Beam” when our song is played.
PC: Joe Taylor, who produces for RCA Victor/Moonwatcher Records, is serving as your producer. What have you liked about working and writing with Joe? What can you learn from collaborating with someone who has had his level of success in the industry?
AB: I really cannot say enough about Joe Taylor since working with him in 2017. He saved me from moving to Nashville as a complete nobody, has opened my mind to write and think from a production point of view, helped me dodge more than a few speedbumps and headaches dealing with booking, has an extensive network of musicians and industry professionals, wows the audience as my lead guitarist, works magic in the studio, and has even driven the bus to shows; making his 40+ years in the industry very apparent. I owe it to fate for putting us together at the perfect time, which has allowed us to work together and build this thing straight out of South Carolina’s Lowcountry with really just the two of us handling business, and backed by the best friends and fans in the business. We are really a lot alike, and admittedly, I can be hard-headed. Above all else, I have learned to listen to the experienced professional on and off stage as he has become a huge mentor.
PC: Your bio also mentions that you are working on a new, original studio album. What information can you give about the music you’re working on? What can listeners expect to hear?
AB: “Selma by Sundown” is my first album and is going to drop in mid-April. The album is honestly a collection of songs that seemed to resonate from the paper to the people at live shows. It has rocking anthems, slow steel rides and swampy songwriting stories. From start to finish: Solid. Gold. Country.
PC: Of the things you can control, what are your plans for 2021?
AB: The biggest plan for 2021 is to adapt and overcome, finding a way to hit the road and promote the new album. Things could change drastically in the upcoming months, but we all just have to keep our thoughts positive and productive. I have already been writing up a storm this year and look forward to reaching more fans.
*”You Should See the Other Guy” is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*