“I didn’t know how to sing a harmony when this all started eight years ago,” Zach Beeken tells American Songwriter. But Beeken, Garret Nichols, and Colton Pack moved to Nashville in 2016 where they hit the ground running as Restless Road.
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“We just wanted to be country artists,” says Beeken, “But we didn’t know how to be a band until The X Factor.”
Beeken and Pack first met in 2013 while they were each auditioning as contestants for The X Factor, where they also met country singer Kane Brown, who was also auditioning for the show. Both Beeken and Pack were eliminated early on, but in an unexpected twist of fate, judge Simon Cowell invited the two back to audition as a band with Andrew Scholz. The trio, coined Restless Road, landed in fourth place of Season 3.
The three friends went on to Music City to develop their chops, writing songs and playing every stage they could. After some shuffling and a few years later, the country vocal trio of Beeken, Nichols, and Pack, known as Restless Road, became the first act signed to Kane Brown’s new 1021 Entertainment label via Sony Nashville in 2019.
Just weeks before a global pandemic took hold last March, Restless Road released their debut self-titled EP. Produced by Dan Huff, the four-track collection features their unmatched harmonies, bred from years of hustle. “Take Me Home,” featuring Brown, is a nod to John Denver and Pack’s home state.
“We’ve known Kane for eight years. It was unbelievably mind-blowing that he’d think of us for this opportunity,” Nichols noted on the 2021 CMT Music Awards red carpet “Since signing [to 1021 Entertainment], it’s been a crazy whirlwind. We’re back on the road in October for the Blessed and Free Tour, so it’s going to be awesome.”
Brown was the one who first played them their new single, “Bar Friends”—released on June 11. Penned by Jordan Schmidt, Kyle Clark, Tyler Filmore, and Geoff Warburton, the track is one of those, Nichols says, “We wish we had written.” As successful songwriters in their own right, with credits attributed to the likes of Rascal Flatts and Granger Smith, their motto remains “the best song wins.”
“Nashville is full of the most talented people on earth,” says Pack. “There are amazing songs being written here every day, and so many will go unheard. If we can play a small part in bringing some of those to light, then we certainly will.”
As artists, they feel the pressure of identifying their unique brand within the spanning country music landscape. Hailing from Pennsylvania (Beeken), West Virginia (Pack), and Alabama (Nichols), these three artists bring far-reaching influence to their musical table, finding common ground in the stories they tell.
The lyrics detail a phenomenon everyone in Music City can relate to: I got work friends, and I got church friends / I got hometown grew up on the same red dirt friends, I got great friends, and I got fake friends / I got girls that wanna try but we can’t stay friends / Yeah all in all, I’d say that life’s been good to me so far / But you know where I go when it gets hard / Out with my bar friends.
“If no one knew who Restless Road was and heard this song, they’d hear three guys who grew up in different places, but are reaching for the same thing—finding the best song and playing music that makes you feel good,” says Nichols.
Pack chimes in, adding, “Talking about ‘brand’, this song captures who we are and what we are trying to get across. We are all about friendship and having a good time.”
Photo courtesy Sony Nashville