Chase Bryant believes in second chances and a little divine intervention. The country singer stared down a world without him in it and the loaded end of a .357 revolver. Bryant almost lost his battle with depression that day at a gas station parking lot in May 2018.
With his new album, Upbringing, Bryant reflects back on those dark days and the joys of being alive. The artist bears his soul, offering an honest expression of a man who is a little battered but faced his demons.
“I feel like this was kind of my autobiography. What was growing up? Who is Chase Bryant? What got him here?” Bryant tells Outsider in an exclusive interview.
Songs like “Upbringing” and “Think About That” take listeners back to Bryant’s roots. A little like John Mellencamp, they take a look at small-town living, loving, and heartbreak.
Chase Bryant’s Ode to Heartbreak
But part of that process is confronting that moment in the parking lot. “High, Drunk, and Heartbroke” is both an ode to greats like Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard and a reflection of himself.
Chase Bryant had been one of country music’s rising stars. At 21, he had two Top 10 singles, “Take It On Back” and “Little Bit of You,” in 2015. He also toured with artists like Brad Paisley and Tim McGraw. But he increasingly felt like an impostor playing pretend at being a country singer.
In his personal life, Bryant fell into a deep depression. And in a moment of desperation, the singer says he pulled the trigger. But Bryant had unknowingly loaded only five bullets, instead of six.
“I feel like the luckiest man alive,” Bryant says. “[Artist] Jack Ingram one time told me a very dark comment, but it makes so much sense. He said, ‘You are the luckiest man I know. You dodged a bullet at point-blank range.’”
With his upcoming album, Bryant wants to reach out to others who feel lost or in a similar dark place. If his music can heal the soul, then that’s worth playing.
“I want to be honest for the first time in my career,” Chase continues. “I wanted to talk about things a lot of people didn’t have the nerve to talk about. And maybe I could give people the nerve to talk about and hopefully save somebody’s life with it too.”
A Spoonful of Oil
Chase Bryant isn’t staring at his spoonful of oil. The country singer compares his recent album to a parable from the novel The Alchemist. In the book, a sage tasks a young man with carrying a spoonful of oil down a mountainside. But the young man becomes so focused on the task at hand, he misses out on the wonderful sights and experiences around him.
“I felt like with this record these songs had to be recorded,” Bryant says. “It’s not like we had to go for mainstream pop-country today. We were really just in there and ‘Hey man, be yourself. Play guitar like you play guitar. Sing like you sing. And play with a great band.’”
Behind every great singer is a great band. Bryant approached Upbringing guitar in hand by just finding the joy in music. Playing music again, Bryant realized some joys are worth the price of pain. And he’s glad to still be here, sharing his sound with others.
“This record gave me a lot of hope,” Bryant says. “This record helped me through one of the hardest times in my life. I don’t think I was ever fully rehabilitated until I got to go in there and make this record. I was an inch closer to feeling free.”
Chase Bryant’s new album, Upbringing, drops on July 16.