Parker McCollum Looks Ahead to 2022: ‘It’s Pedal to the Metal Right Now’

Understandably, Parker McCollum is ready for another cup of coffee. It’s a quiet January morning, and the Texas-born singer is talking to the American songwriter on the phone from his Nashville home as he’s enjoying a rare moment of calm after an insanely busy year.

In 2021, McCollum released his first studio album cowboy gold chain, made his first late-night performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live in a single take, launched his own line of wine (more on this later), and got engaged. As if that wasn’t enough, the year also wrapped up with a New Year’s Eve show sale at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth. The best part of this show? His mother was in the crowd.

Now, McCollum is preparing for another insanely busy year. He plans to play at least 150 shows in 2022, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s followed his schedule over the past decade. The 29-year-old cut his teeth as a touring musician before signing to MCA Nashville, and he remains one of the toughest performers working in the ring. Of course, he’s not just touring for the sake of touring – he also hits the road to support him cowboy gold chain, an album featuring co-authors Tony Lane, Randy Montana, Miranda Lambert and Rhett Akins. The lead single “Pretty Heart” is close to 100 million streams on Spotify alone, but we’re convinced the lead “To Be Loved By You” heralds the next phase of McCollum’s career — it’s the kind of spirited, radio-friendly national anthem that hits just as hard. On the playground and dive bar.

McCollum, who now lives only in Music City, spoke to the American songwriter about writing sad uptempo songs, tuning his live show, and re-listening to his favorite Randy Travis songs. Check out the conversation below.

American Songwriter: How’s the start of 2022 going?

Parker McCollum: Oh man, it’s really good. We just played MusicFest in Steamboat Springs. We headlined everything and ice skated three days in a row for eight hours a day.

AS: It’s been exactly a year since “To Be Loved By You” was dropped. Were you surprised by the reception of this song, or did you know that it will strike a chord with your fans?

evening: I kind of knew this song was one of the best songs I’ve ever written. I don’t think anything I do is particularly good, so the fact that he does absolutely nothing is a bit of a surprise to me. But at the same time, I usually think all my bullshit is disgusting.

as: But did you feel there was something special?

sM: All my love songs are so sad, and they’re my favorite songs, which is still kind of that song, but it’s still cool and rocking and feels good, so it sounded like I was exactly what I was after.

as: completely. It’s so much fun, driving takes heartbreak.

evening: Yes, I think I really needed it because I was really bored of standing on stage and singing slow, sad songs every single day.

AS: It could also be swapped out for a quick sad song.

evening: Yeah, I guess I’ll try to rip myself off this thing and do it again.

as: Were you surprised by the overall reception of the album?

evening: I mean, it just felt like the other two albums. I sat around thinking it wasn’t good and that I missed the mark, that I wasn’t good or talented, and then it was [received] Really good and I say, “Well, maybe I’m not that bad!”

AS: Which of these songs was your favorite to play live?

evening: “To Be Loved By You” is definitely one of my favorite games. “The rest of my life” – the band came off stage, doing vocal work, just me and the harmonica. I really enjoy playing that. That was my unmemorable favorite song. And you know, “Why Indiana” is actually a song that I really enjoy during a live show.

AS: Do you have a special arrangement for that song live?

evening: Yes, there are two different arrangements that we do just to build the introduction. But other than that, it’s directly about the records.

AS: How do you keep the live show up to date, both for you and your fans?

Pat: We try to create a new show every two months, as far as arrangements and playlist and things like that. It’s kind of surprising, none of it is outdated yet. I think that’s a good thing. There’s a lot more beat on this record compared to the previous ones, or a lot of cheerful and fun songs, but none of them pop or lack meaning or anything. All songs definitely come from the right place. I mean, we play huge arenas and bleachers and stuff, so we needed to beef up the playlist and this album helped us do that.

as: So what makes you live a good life? How do you know when to really land?

evening: It always seems to fall on me. I’m always trying to figure out what was weird tonight or what didn’t feel right tonight. Maybe because I was hungry or didn’t feel warm enough. He always seems to back away from me. So the nights I really take care of it and I’m really ready to play and full connection, it’s like nothing else ’cause I know the band and I’m playing it and we sound great. It’s like nothing else – some nights you won’t feel it, so I’m really thankful and I really appreciate the nights you feel comfortable.

as: Speaking of performance, I know you made your late-night debut a little while ago. How would you feel while playing Jimmy Kimmel Live?

evening: Oh man, that was really cool. Playing one of those shows is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid. I saw Ryan Adams & the Cardinals on Conan one night I guess when I was really young when he was doing the super rocky thing. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time. So, to be in this studio and be in L.A. for a few days with the guys, just have a good time…

as: Around this time last year, I also announced a wine brand. Where did the wine project come from?

evening: My aunt is in a partnership with a couple of California vineyards, and when “Pretty Heart” took #1, she was like, “Hey, I’ve got this really, really, really red wine, and Country Radio has been really good for you through the COVID. You gotta name this wine. “To Be Loved By You” for your next song and send it to all radio stations as a thank you. So we did it and we packaged it. As soon as it arrived we tasted it and everyone was like, this isn’t just some cheap red wine. I mean, it’s really good. It has been upgraded to reserve status, aged in French oak casks no matter how long. Really high quality wine. We were like, This is too good to be a gift, so we started selling it on the site. We sold nearly 2,000 bottles in the first two days.

AS: Who would have thought 2021 would be the year to become a wine brand.

evening: I know! That was the last thing I saw coming.

AS: Do you have any other notable events from 2021?

evening: I got engaged back in July, met George Strait and had a short time, drove to Randy Travis’ house and slept with him, threw first pitch in a Rangers game. Julie, what else? Just crazy crap. The stands, which can accommodate 20,000 people, are sold out. It was totally unrealistic.

as: How was New Year’s Eve? You are in Texas?

evening: Yes, we played the Oklahoma City game on the 30th, then on New Years Eve we were in Fort Worth at Dickies Arena and then on January 1st at AT&T Center in San Antonio.

as: How was that show for Fort Worth?

evening: It was josie, man. My mom lives there so she had to come and get all her friends. We sold it off, so that was a good way to end the year.

as: You are playing these bigger stadiums now. Does it feel different when playing for audiences of this size?

evening: Nah, I’ve been playing those pitches in my head for a long time, you know? It’s just watching your dream unfold in real time. It’s a wonderful experience.

as: Have you been writing or recording any new material lately?

evening: I always bounce something in my head as much as I write. I didn’t sign up at all but I’m sure this is around the corner. I’m very busy, you know. I’m doing 150 shows this year, not to mention all the radio shows that got me running across the country. It’s really hard to find the time to get into the studio. But I’m sure we’ll get there in the next 60 days somehow.

AS: Do you find time for yourself these days?

Pat: No, none of that. It’s metal pedal now. The next 24 months will probably define the next 20 years of my life, so it starts now.

AS: Are you a New Years Resolution type of guy?

evening: [laughing] Absolutely no, no. Man, my only goal this year is to stay locked up. I feel very busy all year long. You start touring a lot. My ultimate goal this year is just to take good care of myself mentally and physically so I can maintain this kind of schedule.

AS: How do you usually do that?

evening: The gym is a bit of a sanctuary. I know it’s cheesy to say, but it’s my place where I can go and be myself for a few hours and go crazy. I go to the gym all the time on the road. This helps a lot. And eating – eating and sleeping.

AS: What do you hear on the road these days?

evening: At this time of year, I always take part in old Randy Travis songs – “Hard Rock Down Your Heart”, “Look into the Heart, Not Hand in Hand”, “Amen Forever”. These songs put my mind to where I want this time of year to be, so a lot of old Randy Travis has been lately.

cowboy gold chain It is out now via MCA Nashville. Listen to it here.

Photo by Tyler Conrad/True PR

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