Conroe, Texas-native Parker McCollum has taken Nashville by storm—he moved to town earlier this year—shaking up the formula that determines what belongs on country radio. The 29-year-old artist aims for “Luke Bryan success with Chris Knight-caliber songs.”
On July 30, the breakthrough artist turns the page into a promising new chapter of his music career with a new LP, Gold Chain Cowboy. His MCA Nashville debut LP follows Hollywood Gold EP(2020), which was met with widespread critical acclaim, becoming the top-selling debut country EP of 2020. McCollum penned all 10 songs on the project, produced by Jon Randall, including his Platinum-selling No. 1 hit “Pretty Heart,” and his latest song on country radio “To Be Loved By You.”
When McCollum was in his early teens, the only people who listened to artists like Chris Knight, Hayes Carll, and Robert Earl Keen were McCollum’s older brother and his friends. Inspired by this music, he first attempted to write songs at 12 or 13 years old. It wasn’t until he was 15 or 16 that he was able to write a song from start to finish.
“I was in high school at the time, and my brother and sister left for college, I was the only kid left at home. So I would stay up really late at night on school nights and got on my roof and burn one and then climb back in my window, play guitar till two or three o’clock in the morning,” he says. “Crazy stuff would come out and I’d write it down on paper.”
One of the first etchings was “Permanent Headphones”—which he released on an early 2013 EP. “That was the first time my brother had ever heard anything that I’d come up with where he was like, ‘Man, that’s actually really good. You could do this for a long time,'” McCollum recalls. “And that was enough for me to be foolish enough and believe him. And here I am, still trying to do it.”
Moving to Austin after high school, McCollum told his parents he was enrolled in community college. He wasn’t lying at first, but his priorities shifted to the local stage circuit after a few weeks. In the revered venues of Austin, McCollum transformed from being a fan of Randy Rogers Band to joining his management group.
In the back of Rogers’ tour boss, the country star told McCollum, “I think you have what it takes to be a star. And I would like to help you get there and maybe avoid some of the mistakes I made.” This was pivotal to the breakthrough artist’s carer. From there, Rogers accompanied McCollum to every publishing meeting, and eventually label meetings until he inked a deal with MCA Nashville.
Creating his label debut, Gold Chain Cowboy, felt like an unconventional process to the artist who released two previous albums of solo-written songs. Here, McCollum shares songwriting credits with Randall, Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers, Randy Montana, Rhett Akins, Miranda Lambert, and Songwriters Hall of Famer Tony Lane.
Each of these ten tracks pieces together to tell the artist’s story through the present moment.
One of the most recent cuts, “Falling Apart,” brings his romantic life full circle. McCollum wrote the song with Lambert and Randall while he was broken up with his now-fiancée, Hallie Ray Light. One night, he constructed a hook in his mind: What if I just wanted someone else. He brought the idea to his write the next day, and Lambert didn’t like “how mean it sounded.
“She was like, Maybe you’re better with someone else, which I thought was really cool. It sounded like what I was trying to get across and did it justice,” says McCollum.
“I understand the major record label game, I understand what country radio is,” McCollum says. “But I just felt like if I signed then put out a record of beer songs, and dirt road songs, and trucks and all that, just fall right into the end of the mix with the rest of them and not have the ability to stand out or be an artist in a true sense of the word.”
He credits Randall’s production ear for guiding him through the process, generating an evolved sound that still feels authentic to his artistry.
“A lot of the other producers in town probably would have taken me down the road of kind of sounding like everybody and sounding like what works, and I was willing to risk it all,” McCollum says. “I’ll always be willing to die on that hill of remaining myself and sticking to my guns.”
On August 13, McCollum joins Dierks Bentley for the 2021 Beers On Me Tour kicking off in Salt Lake City. See tour dates, here.
Listen to Parker McCollum’s new album Gold Chain Cowboy, below.
Gold Chain Cowboy Track Listing:
- Wait Outside (Parker McCollum, Jon Randall, Randy Rogers)
- Dallas (Featuring Danielle Bradbery) (Parker McCollum, Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers)
- To Be Loved By You (Parker McCollum, Rhett Akins)
- Drinkin’ (Parker McCollum, Lee Miller)
- Falling Apart (Parker McCollum, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall, Randy Rogers)
- Heart Like Mine (Parker McCollum, Tony Lane, Ben West)
- Why Indiana (Parker McCollum, Erik Dylan, Randy Montana)
- Rest Of My Life (Parker McCollum)
- Pretty Heart (Parker McCollum, Randy Montana)
- Never Loved You At All (Parker McCollum, Corey Crowder, Brian Kelley)