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Interview: Restless Road discuss their summer anthem ‘Bar Friends’ and share their TikTok secrets

The fast-rising trio open up about the busy year ahead.

Restless Road
Credit: Sony Music Nashville

Restless Road – Zach Beeken, Colton Pack and Garrett Nichols – made a splash in 2020 with the release of their self-titled EP and the track ‘Take Me Home’, which samples John Denver’s classic song ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’.

Signed to Kane Brown’s label, Restless Road have been releasing new music in 2021 starting with ‘Took One Look at Her Momma’ and the new single ‘Bar Friends’. With a busy year ahead, and plenty of fans on TikTok, the trio is gearing up to move to the next level of their fast-rising careers.

I spoke to the band this week to discuss new single ‘Bar Friends’, talk about their journey so far and to find out what their TikTok secrets are…

You recently released your new single ‘Bar Friends’. Why did you choose that song to be a single?

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Zach: ‘Bar Friends’ is a song that just says everything that we want to say. It’s all about having fun, having good times and more important than that, it’s about having friends and good people in your life who got your back no matter what. That’s what we’re all about. The song is just so fun to play and so catchy and sing along that we just cannot wait to get out there and start playing it for people.

The song is perfect for this time of year as we’re in starting to see the weather heat up. What’s the reaction been like from the fans?

Colton: It’s been really insane. This has by far been our biggest song yet…

Zach: The hottest, hottest song! It’s hot!

Colton: I think it’s gonna continue to grow because we’re just starting to really get into summer and bars are opening up. As the summer continues, I think this song is just going to continue to grow. We have our first show next week so we’ll really be able to start telling shortly how much of an impact it’s making.

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At this point you must be really excited to be getting back out there and playing shows?

Garrett: It’s gonna be insane.

Zach: We’re really excited. Kane (Brown) was out playing a show and he sent us pictures and made us really jealous. We’re ready to live it up next week!

Has not being able to get out in front of fans and play live been one of the worst parts of the last year for you?

Garrett: It’s been tough, because that’s  the nature of what we do but I was saying the other day that it’s great that we’ve been able to take this time to grow our fan base and really connect with a lot more people. We tried to do live streams and Instagram and TikToks to try and stay in touch with people. I think it will almost make it a little sweeter when we go back out. It really made us appreciate the live show and the connection we have with people because when you don’t have that for almost a year and a half, it’s something you really want to get back to. The fact that we’re about to travel next week and meet all these new people, I think it’s gonna be awesome.

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Restless Road
Credit: Sony Music Nashville

Has this time given you the space to regroup and really hone in on your sound and your vision for the future?

Colton: Yeah, and a lot of time this year was spent writing. That’s a big part of who we are and who we’re going to be moving forward but at the same time, we always say the best song wins. ‘Bar Friends’ is a song that we heard and immediately just fell in love with because it embodied everything that we are as a group and that we wanted to give to our fans. We have some other stuff lined up for the summer too before we go back out on the road. We’re just honestly really excited to get back out there and see how much of an impact the EP made because the EP has now been out for close to a year and a half. (We want) to see how people have digested it, if they’re going to sing it back and how much of the words that people know. Honestly, it’s going to be a really special moment to get back out there for the first time.

I feel like ‘Bar Friends’ and your previous single ‘Took One Look At Her Momma’ really showcase what you’re capable of as a band, more so than what we heard on the EP. Has it been important with this new music to show the different sides of what you can do?

Zach: Oh, absolutely. One of the cool things about being a trio is that we can cover so many different sounds and styles and lean on different people for different things. We’re really happy with ‘Bar Friends’ because we wanted a song that was like an anthem and we just wanted a drinking song. I think it’s fair enough to say ‘Bar Friends’ is perfect for that. The next songs people are going to hear from us that are coming out this summer are also going to be completely different. You really can’t say that they sound like anything else that we’ve put out. We just want to keep giving people new flavours. I think it’s gonna make for a really exciting show when people come see us this fall.

Are singles the way forward for you at the moment or is there another EP on the way?

Colton: I would say at least till the tour starts up singles are the way. Things are starting to pick back up in the music, just in general, so it’s been really tough this year to plan long-term. We’ve had to plan for the moment so we’ve been trying to do that. I would assume once things really start picking back up with the tour come September, we’ll probably have that conversation as far as are we going to continue with the single game or are we going to push more for an EP or an album. I can tell you this, you’re going to continue to get music from Restless Road regardless of if it’s one-by-one or if it’s in a bulk. It’s really important right now for people to hear from us and that’s something that we’ve always wanted to do. The pandemic made it a little more difficult to release music but I’m glad now things are picking back up again.

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You’re making your Grand Ole Opry debut this month. That must be pretty exciting?

Garrett: It’s one of those things where it’s just very surreal. When you’re younger you watch your Country music heroes do the same thing and they’ve all touched that stage and got to play there. When we found out we were gonna play there, we just couldn’t believe it. It’s gonna be awesome. We can’t believe it.

Zach: We’ve got our families coming to town and we’re gonna play a couple songs including one off our EP that we we’ve always dreamed of playing at the Opry. Reba is going to take the stage after us, which is just ridiculously cool so we’re we’re pumped.

That must be slightly mind-blowing?

Zach: My dad might be more excited to see Reba than then he is to see us because he’s the ultimate Reba fan.

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You don’t get much bigger than Reba do you so to be playing before her is incredible…

Colton: Absolutely!

Zach: That’s what’s cool about the Grand Ole Opry, if you go there to play a show you don’t know who else is gonna be there. It could be anybody so it’s really cool and exciting.

Is there any danger of any of you becoming overcome by the moment and bursting into tears on stage?

Garrett: (points at Colton and Zach) These two probably, yeah!

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Zach: Let’s try not to talk about it, alright? (laughs)

(The group bursts into laughter)

Colton: I’m just hoping that I can get through the entire song without crying. We’re playing ‘Bar Friends’ and I think I’ll be good on that song but on ‘It Ain’t Easy’, I’m not quite so sure. Of course it drops down to me on that last verse so these guys are depending on me to be able to finish the song. We’ll see (laughs). It’s still TBD.

I’m looking forward to seeing it even more now…

Colton: Everybody loves a good crier on stage, I’m sure (laughs).

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Restless Road
Credit: Sony Music Nashville

Is there anything else you have planned for the coming months?

Zach: Catch some fish… get some sunshine.

Colton: It’s just now really getting to the point in Nashville where it’s getting pretty miserably hot and it will stay this way for a little while. Honestly, I really think that everything we’ve been looking forward to this year has been music related because we’ve had so much time to ourselves to fish, to go outside and to do all these things. We haven’t actually had time to really socialize and meet people and to get back into that. I would say, the bulk of the stuff we’re looking forward to is stuff like that. It’s been absolutely insane. We did the CMT awards last week, which was mind blowing to us that we got to be a part of that. Then the Opry and we’re hitting the road next week. We’re in rehearsals right now. Things just really feel like they’re back to normal for us because we’ve just been so busy. I hope it continues to be busy like that from now through the end of the tour. It’s been been an incredible year and I think that we’re just really looking forward to the rest of this year.

You’re hitting so many milestones along the way as well, which is also incredible particularly given the last year. That must make you feel validated and that you’re on the right path?

Zach: Absolutely, yeah. We’re just so grateful for the Grand Ole Opry and getting to be on the CMT awards. A really crazy thing that happened this past week is Randy Travis flew to town and surprised us and made a TikTok. He just posted it and that blew us away. All these things are really good reminders that we’re doing this for a reason and if we just keep going great things can happen.

I remember speaking to you guys about TikTok last year when we chatted and since then you’ve become masters of it. I tried to figure it out after our conversation…

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Colton: Did you figure it out because we still haven’t!

You’re obviously doing something right because you’ve got 15 million likes on there. How have you mastered it?

Zach: We have three singers and we try to do things that you could only watch or see on our channel. If you want to hear three guys sing Country music songs in a mash up, you pretty much have to go to our channel to watch. We were doing parody songs and drinking songs, and for a while no one was was doing that. It’s just finding little things that’s unique to us and highlights what we do, that has been something that makes a difference. I’d be lying to you if I said that we really knew what works and what doesn’t, cuz I swear, we get ideas and we’re like, ‘this is going to be awesome’ and then no one watches it (laughs). Then we do things that took us 10 minutes and everybody watches it. It’s really just about doing anything and everything, just being creative and not getting too caught up in the views and the likes and everything. Just keep going and keep posting.

TikTok has become an important platform for artists to increase their reach. Have you found that it’s been important in terms of getting your music wider?

Colton: Definitely.

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Zach: It’s very helpful.

Colton: I feel like it’s a really massive tool for anybody, even people that are established right now. The majority of your younger audiences is the bulk of TikTok. It’s really important if you want to have a long career to get those people involved from an early age and fall in love with you and continue to be a fan of you throughout their life. TikTok is a really important tool right now but it’s not the only tool. That’s one thing we really do try to tell ourselves. It is really easy to get caught up in putting a lot of time and effort into a TikTok and then it doesn’t do anything. It’s easy to go down that hole. It’s really important but at the same time, there’s so many other different platforms and so many different other ways for people to hear you, it’s not the only thing. We try to keep that in mind always, especially since we have blown up so much. We have this expectation on all the stuff we do so it’s really easy for us to fall down the TikTok rabbit hole. We’re trying to make sure that we don’t get too bummed out if something doesn’t go viral like we want it to.

I’m going to spend some time looking at what you guys are doing on there…

Colton: You can either be a trendsetter or a person who follows trends.

If I can even find trends on there, I’ll be doing well the moment..

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(the band laughs)

Colton: It takes lots of hours and hours and hours of sitting and scrolling.

Restless Road’s new single ‘Bar Friends’ is available to stream and download now. Listen to the track below:

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