Tucker Beathard
Dear Someone

When the rain keeps fallin', fallin' on you
The weight of the world is weighin' on you
And all you've got is the end of your rope
When your heart keeps breakin', achin' on you
Haters keep hatin' on you
Ain't but really one way to go...
Fight Like Hell.

Tucker Beathard didn't set out to be a scrappy country music, anti-hero, the voice for the unseen and un-listened to. Like a lot of kids his age, the 22-year old songwriter/scrapper looked down the barrel of expectations and found himself balking at the sports/college track, the "pipe down and fit in" ethos.

But unlike Beathard's peers, he'd already started fronting a gritty "get in the van" kind of band, who were committed to playing original songs that spoke to their own experience. Slightly rough, defiantly loud, meant to go right through you – even the spare acoustic songs have an emotional intensity that's palpable – Dear Someone was lived without apology and forged on the road.

"I was booked for 90 minutes, no covers in Gainesville," Beathard remembers. "There were maybe 15 people total, five who really got it. But we played with everything we got. We did that every night from the time I started this…and it shaped me, trying to win people over like that. When you're out there, it's about the songs, and the playing, and what you've got to say."

For Beathard, who grew up on a mix of Blink-182, Mindy Smith, Eminem, Rush, Filter, Deftones, Train and his father's demos, songs and velocity were the grounding points. Add in the expectation of playing sports, going to church and trying to fit in – like so many middle Tennesseans – and the youngster figured out pretty quick he was not cut out for what so many aspire to.

"I'm a lot more emotional than I show," he confesses. "And I don't like the attention, so I hold it all in, but the trouble with that is it just builds up inside. Whether it's sad or a chip on my shoulder, I feel things maybe more than most. It's where my songwriting comes from – the ability to get into those feelings – but it's hard when you're growing up."

All of those emotions temper Dear Someone. Whether it's the failing and trying sentiment behind "Momma and Jesus," the scruff-of-the-neck faith of "Underdogs" or the all-out passion of "Fight Like Hell," these thirteen songs capture the friction and fuel that fires an outsider coming into his own on his own terms. Like S.E. Hinton's Pony Boy, the lanky dirty blond isn't rebelling just to rebel.

"There's a difference between rebelling just to rebel and going against the grain for something you really believe in," he explains. "When I was a kid, I tried different ways to find myself – from popping pills in the bathroom before school to something as ‘good-kid-goes-bad' as egging the principal's office. It was all that stuff, trying to get out… and it gave me a bit of an edge, even then."

From that edge came the leap that changed everything. After a particularly bad argument with his father, the then 15-year old athlete hurled himself into his room – and thought he was ranting to himself about how much he hates life, hates school, hates everything. His father, 2004 and 2008 BMI Songwriter of the Year, Casey Beathard, was in the hall listening.

"He said he didn't know if I was going to run away, burn down the house or kill myself, but he wasn't leaving me at home," Beathard recalls. So making his kid get in the car, the pair went to a songwriter's ‘In The Round' in Lieper's Fork. As the guitar was passed, the elder Beathard called his son up to sing one.

His song struck a chord with the crowd, – and the boy. "I went up and sang an original song that was about being judged. I wrote it when I was grounded. But when I got up there and sang it, and saw people respond, it literally saved me. I knew what I was here to do, what music can give people – and I got serious about writing songs."

He also got serious about getting into trouble, getting into good schools on baseball scholarships and getting into more trouble. Eric Church's "Homeboy," written by Casey, is inspired by his son crashing into walls trying to find the way out, but as Beathard cautions, "Writers start with an idea, but then their imagination can run wild. I'd grown up going to a middle school with a bunch of redneck kids who were living in trailers. They were the realest, truest people, and I loved them. Then, because of discipline problems, I got sent to this school where there were a lot of preppy overachievers. You go there to get into a good college, to play sports – which is what Beathards do – and get scholarships."

With a baseball scholarship in hand, it looked like Beathard had turned a corner. Only weeks before he needed to report to school, he called the coach and said he wasn't coming. His heart was in music, he needed to follow the songs. Follow the songs he did, and it wasn't long until a bidding war began. At 18 and 19, Beathard had plugged into how it felt to rage against the machine, to not fit in with a voice authentic to his age. Like Taylor Swift, he was writing his truth in real time – and raised around songwriters, he understood how songs worked.

I'm gonna run outta road before I run out of tread
I find a line to cross every change I get
If the wild runs out, if I ever settle down
God knows it ain't no secret
It's all by the grace of Momma and Jesus

"I grew up on rock drummers, and I want that in my music," Beathard says. "But there's a lot of country in there, in how I write and what I want to say. In country, you have to be able to strip it down to just a guitar and your voice. If it can stand like that, then you've got a song."

To keep the intensity, Beathard enlisted Kings of Leon producer Angelo Petraglia. They went into the studio and started working on what would be Beathard's Big Machine debut. That was until CMA Music Fest. Having been out on the road, playing scrappy gigs and opening for Aaron Lewis, "Beathard Country" was a little louder and denser. The powers that be deemed it "too grunge." Suddenly the label who said, "We've got nothing like you, and we will make this work" was looking to hedge their bets.

Co-producers came in, nothing came out. Beathard, who played Bonnaroo the same week, continued on the road. "Feeling good about people liking something I'm not? That's not fair to anyone. I'd rather be hated for who I am and what the music is, because that's real. And the people who buy in? They're on the same page, they know what I'm singing about. They feel it, too."

When iHeartRadio's Bobby Bones found "Rock On" and began playing it, momentum came from left field. Beathard laughs and says, "Someone at the label said, ‘Sounds like Bobby Bones just picked the single.' They had to own it. They went out and worked it, and it went to number two on the charts."

Even bringing in co-writer and compatriot Jonathan Singleton, then Keith Urban collaborator Dann Huff, there was never a comfort zone between artist and label. It's not always as easy as just having a hit, being a success, but there is for many artists that line you can't cross.

Dear Someone has some of that fury, but also some of that faith. Having spent three years crisscrossing America, often in a van, he knows what his music is worth. Beyond the obvious, he sees himself as a typical kid trying to scratch out a place in a world where the gap is growing. To him, selling out the songs is selling out the very people he wants to share them with.

"I was raised to lead by example. I'm not going to post cover songs on YouTube or do shirtless selfies. That's not my strength, and it's not what I want to build my career on. And I know there's a whole underground of streaming services and networks of people who care about music. Those people are coming (to the shows), and those ‘music-first' fans matter."

I'm one of you, underdogs
Who got tired of being backed up against the wall
Yeah, I'm one of you, bunch of no ones
From nowhere that nobody wants

"Everything happens for a reason," Beathard says of the delays with his debut release. "You can sit around and bitch or you can let it make you stronger. This stuff all just drives me and fires me up. If you give me the guns to fight, and I have these songs, I'm looking forward to getting out there and making it happen."

"Because if I can be a voice for anyone, if I can send a positive message or make you believe you can, that's what music's for. It's not making money or having a career, but taking life by the horns and being inspired while you do it. That's what ‘Fight Like Hell' is all about: whether it's your faith, or your country, or cancer, it's about standing up with everything you've got and not backing down no matter what anybody says."

"And then if you do come up short, you know you gave your all. In life, that's what it's all about. You don't have to believe in me or support me, just don't hold me back."

Whether it's the generous post-breakup "Better Than Me," an ode to the unbreakable bond with his brothers "I'll Take On The World With You," or the wrong-side-of the-tracks girl in "Whiskey In A Wine Glass," Beathard strikes a chord that exists in the same kind of rejection Waylon, Willie and their kind embraced years ago. He's not trying to tell other people what to do, he just knows what he can't be.

"What I don't want is a record that just fits in. If it doesn't stand out enough, if it's not something people are scared of, then we didn't get it right. And I want to be on radio; but I want it to be my music – not something anyone else could've done. When I got in the van with band, that was my college, and I learned what I need to say and what the music needs to do to give people what they need. For that, I'll do whatever it takes."