Lounging comfortably in the afterglow of another opening set on Dierks Bentley’s Somewhere on a Beach summer tour, country newcomer Tucker Beathard still can’t believe he gets to play in the “big leagues.” In the last few months alone, though, he’s put some impressive stats on the board.
Still only 21 years old, the young artist’s first single, “Rock On,” came out in March and has now broken into the Top 10 on the Mediabase country chart, mixing adolescent angst with old-soul wisdom and a splash of hard-rock attitude. Embraced by fans and critics alike, the song promptly landed Beathard on a number of up-and-comers lists and spurred the release a five-song EP, The Demos — Vol. 1. Now, with a full album in the pipeline, he’s working through another big step in his career: his first major tour.
“It goes by faster than you think,” Beathard says, cooling down on his bus after a recent show in Noblesville, Indiana. “We were looking back like, ‘Wow, it’s already been two or three months [on tour].'”
In person, Beathard still puts off the vibe of a shy, teenaged songwriter, but he flips a switch when he gets on Bentley’s massive stage, getting audiences fired up along with tourmates Cam and Randy Houser. After a few years of sweating it out in tiny clubs where no one knew his songs, the reaction he gets from the crowd nowadays makes his live-performance experience a whole new ballgame.
“You can definitely see the impact that having a song on the radio has,” he says. “I don’t feel any different, but you can definitely see the fan base growing— just the fact that people are singing along to a song is something that I’m not used to.”
In fact, Beathard has always been so committed to his own songs that he’s never played covers — even when rowdy crowd members would inevitably call for them. Not only are they singing along now, though, they’re also joining up with the Mother Tuckers, Beathard’s new fan club that he hopes will eventually become much more.
Beathard says part of the reason fans have latched onto “Rock On” so strongly is it’s conflicted emotional setup, a back-and-forth mix of pissed off and down in the dumps that just about anybody can relate to — especially younger fans. At least, that’s how he felt when he was growing up, and he wants the Mother Tuckers to address it.
“I want it to be more than just a fan club,” the singer explains. “I think it’s more like if you believe in me, we’ve got each other’s backs. It’s more like a family thing.”
Beathard says he had trouble expressing himself as a kid and felt like people never understood how he felt, and not having anyone to talk with about typical coming-of-age problems made them even harder to work through. It was finding common ground with his favorite bands which finally made the difference, and now Beathard wants to pass that connection on to a new generation.
“That’s why I want to take pride in everything I write and try to give off some kind of message that can help somebody, and have some substance to it to actually make a difference,” he says. “It’s not about fame or fortune, that never has been my goal. I just liked writing songs and being able to help myself out writing songs, but it’s even cooler now that I can possibly help somebody else out with my music.”
With that in mind, fans who sign up for the club will receive a downloadable letter and a copy of the first song Beathard ever wrote (at the age of 15), a Mother Tuckers patch with a number based on when they joined, and access to exclusive music, meet-and-greets, pre-sales and more, but what they’ll really be getting is a kind of social media-connected support group.
That level of fan connection is new for Beathard, but he’s got one of the best teachers in the business to look up to. Being on the road with Bentley, Beathard sees how the superstar works the crowd every night and hangs out backstage with fans like they’ve been old friends for years. It’s only the beginning of his journey, but Beathard says Bentley’s tour is already making him feel like a pro.
“When you surround yourself with successful and great people, that’s how you become,” he says. “So just being in this environment and being on a top tour like this, you learn a lot at every show. … It’s almost like getting called up from Triple A to the MLB.”
Dierks Bentley’s Somewhere on a Beach tour continues with stops scheduled through October 28th. Click here for cities and dates on the trek.