The bandmates of Restless Road know how to merge a four-way call with confidence and ease. After all, they’ve had a lot of practice in the past few weeks.
Since the COVID-19 quarantine took effect, the three artists — Zach Beeken, Colton Pack and Garrett Nichols — have been hunkered down in their separate homes. Still, they’ve found virtual ways to stay in touch with their fans, their team, each other and — one afternoon in late March — with Country Now.
“Along with everyone else, we’ve had to get creative. We are a band, and we’re trying to follow the guidelines of the CDC and stay separate from one another,” Nichols explains, admitting that their social media expertise stopped short of mastering one particular app. “We launched our TikTok the other day. It’s really funny — we’ve all had to learn it, and Colton had a little mishap….”
“They didn’t have any problems [learning TikTok.] I was struggling really bad,” Pack ruefully interjects. “I had made the TikTok, and I thought I was sending it to them [privately], and I accidentally posted it. Let’s just say it was really tough for me to figure out how to use it.”
Technical difficulties aside, Restless Road had an important reason to stay connected: They’d just dropped new music when the quarantine took effect. Their self-titled debut EP came out in late February.
“The reaction has been absolutely insane,” Beeken reflects. “I know for a while, me and the guys, our faces were just glued to our phones, because it was an outpouring of messages, and tweets, and Instagram. We just had smiles tattooed on our faces. We were so shocked.”
Restless Road marked the culmination of years of work and evolution for the trio, who first met as solo artists on Season 3 of TV singing competition The X Factor. A series of reconfigurations and lineup adjustments ultimately landed the bandmates in Nashville, where they continued to hone their songwriting skills.
They found a famous fan in Kane Brown, who signed the trio as the flagship act on his brand-new record label. Moreover, Brown offered the group a spot on his 2020 Worldwide Beautiful Tour and even pitched them a song, “Take Me Home,” a nod to John Denver’s classic “Take Me Home, Country Roads” that Brown had saved but never cut himself.
Restless Road included “Take Me Home” on their EP, with Brown appearing as a guest vocalist on the track.
“When Kane sent us this song, we all fell in love with it right away,” Beeken explains, pointing out that the song was more than just an opportunity to collaborate with one of the genre’s biggest stars. It also highlighted the trio’s mutual love of classic country.
“Growing up, I was a big John Denver fan. I wanna say that that was the first country singer I was ever introduced to,” Beeken goes on to say. “When I was, like, eight, my family went on a trip through Yellowstone and my mom played John Denver’s greatest hits as the soundtrack. And I know Colton is from West Virginia, and that’s the state song, so it’s in his DNA. So when we heard it, we had to do it. And we were like, ‘Kane, you have to get on the song with us.’ And he hopped on it, and he sounds amazing.”
The three bandmates’ country roots have long been what brings them together, even though they hail from three different states and embrace a diverse blend of styles in their music.
“Really, the one thing that does unite us is we do all have a common love for classic country music,” Beeken reflects. “What our band revolves around is having three unique, individual voices and personalities — but the icing on the cake is the harmonies, and the coming together.
“When we’re writing and listening and trying to feel out if something’s gonna be good for us, we wanna basically feel like, if we can just sit down with an acoustic guitar and sing the song and it makes you feel something, then it’s the right track,” he adds.
Case in point: “It Ain’t Easy,” another track on the new EP, spotlights Restless Road’s signature harmonies while also boiling down to a compelling, relatable story. The trio remember writing the song during a retreat in the mountains of Georgia, with help from a stellar roster of songwriters that includes Steve Bogard. A revered Nashville writer, Bogard has also co-written songs like George Strait’s “Carried Away” and “Carrying Your Love With Me.”
“I’d had this idea about how a lot of things in life are sort of black and white and simple, but at the same time, they’re not easy,” Beeken says. “He was literally the perfect person to share it with. He and the other co-writers just totally brought it to life, and I remember when we heard the thing for the first time, I cried. I cried the first few times I listened to it, because it just couldn’t get any more perfect lyrically, and with the harmonies. It was just everything I ever wanted to say.”
As they look toward their musical future, Restless Road acknowledge that it’s an uncertain time, with many artists hitting pause on their tour schedules or music release timelines. Still, the band is putting an optimistic spin on their time in quarantine.
“We just did our first Skype write the other day. We were able to cut vocals on a song and stuff,” says Pack.
“Honestly, I’m actually curious to see how this time will affect how people write or interact in the future,” muses Nichols. “[Writing over Skype] was one of those things where I don’t think anybody knew it could be done, and it worked pretty well.”
Musical inspiration comes from an artist’s surroundings, and in Pack’s case, that’s his parents’ house in West Virginia. “What’s neat is that we’re all in different places right now,” he adds. “We’re all pulling from different parts of life. I’m back home in West Virginia, and I’ve been working on a fence almost every day. I know that’s not what Zach and Garrett are doing. It’s funny how even stuff like that helps you open up different creative doors in your life.”
For other members of the band, creative inspiration may be coming from a much — uh, wilder source. “I [always tell my parents] I’m too busy for yard work,” jokes Beeken. “I gotta watch this last episode of Tiger King real quick.”
The band’s review of the viral Netflix documentary?
“It’s incredible,” Beeken relates. “It’s like a train wreck that you can’t stop watching. You cannot take your eyes off of it.”
“But you have to plan a day for it,” Nichols cautions. “Because you will not quit watching. Just wake up one morning, make a cup of coffee and start Episode 1. By nighttime, you’ll be done.”