When Birge’s former band wrapped their career run last year, he decided to hone in on his craft as a songwriter. Being a solo artist was something that had never crossed his mind—at least not until country star Clay Walker nudged him to hop on TikTok.
“Clay Walker is a veteran, he’s been around for a long time, so I was expecting this super profound piece of advice from him. But he was like, “You need to put your songs on TikTok!” That was not the answer I was expecting!” Birge recalls with a laugh.
While initially dumbfounded by the elder statesman’s advice, Birge eventually heeded it and took a stab at the platform. After chancing upon a video that stereotyped country music’s genericity, the singer decided to counter that by singing his response in a clip, without the slightest inkling of what was about to unfold. His career turned a complete 180.
In just under two weeks, that video amassed over 3 million views and boosted Birge’s followers on TikTok from a humble 50 to 130,000. It took on a life of its own—and one that was too big for Birge to ignore. Eventually, he decided to give listeners what they wanted and cut “Beer Beer Truck Truck,” turning it from a facetious tongue-in-cheek tune to one that encompasses the real-life storytelling beauty of country music. The song now serves as Birge’s debut single on RECORDS Nashville, label home to Matt Stell, Lathan Warlick, Lennon Stella and more.
“It’s become just so much more than I could ever dream of. That series of events is almost too insane to believe! There were so many things that went right that shouldn’t have,” a humble Birge reflects on his newfound success.
Sounds Like Nashville got to speak with Birge for an exclusive interview about his journey in country music, friendship with Clay Walker, and of course, the full story behind writing his debut single, “Beer Beer Truck Truck.” As a bonus, the Texas native also shares some of his favorite spots for live music and food in Music City.
Introducing the next rising singer you have to “Get To Know”: George Birge.
SLN: What was life like growing up in Austin, Texas? How did you get into music?
GB: It’s in your blood growing up in Austin, Texas. So many legends have come out of that city. My dad was a huge country music fan and some of my best childhood memories are driving out to the lake or ranch in his truck, windows down, and listening to the radio. I think I was drawn to country music because of the storytelling side of it. It’s one of the best genres, in my opinion, at doing a turn of phrase or making something you didn’t expect come in, or capturing the massiveness of life in just three minutes. I was really pulled into that. I’ve always wanted to play music, but I was never really learning to play other people’s songs. I just wrote songs by myself from as early as sixth grade probably because I didn’t know any better, and I think that is a huge blessing to me because it got me into that songwriting community in Austin and helped me learn how to tell a story. By high school, I was playing shows downtown with X’s on my hand, singing my own songs. They weren’t very good yet, but it was the best practice I could get to learn how to write a song, tell a story and connect with an audience. I feel very blessed to have grown up in that town and I definitely give it a lot of credit as far as raising me and who I am.
Who would you cite as your biggest musical inspirations?
Well, my dad’s name is George but my mom says I was named after George Strait! (laughs) So he’s definitely one of my biggest influences for sure! Coming out of Texas, I loved the Eli Young Band a ton. Willie Nelson was my dad’s favorite artist, so I listened to a ton of Willie as well. And on the current side of things, I love Thomas Rhett, Cole Swindell and what Jon Pardi is doing. It’s across the board, modern and old country. There’s so much talent in the genre, it’s hard to get sick of it!
Such great arists! But, if there is just one artist you could collaborate with, who would it be?
Man, that’s a hard question! I think given the opportunity to do something with George Strait would be unreal. Same name, I grew up on his songs, I know about every word to every song he’s ever put out. Just coming from Texas, I look at him as an icon, so it’ll definitely be a dream come true to do something with him.
What sparked the transition from country duo Waterloo Revival to solo artist George Birge?
I was in Waterloo Revival for a long time. We started as a bar band in Texas, and it grew to be something pretty special. It gave me the opportunity to get my first record deal, tour the country for the first time, and it holds some of the best memories I’ll ever have of playing music. COVID time last year, when everything shut down, I think it was a reflection for everybody. I started thinking about where I was, where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. Creatively, I had some stuff that I wanted to chase for a long time but just didn’t know when the right moment was for it. As my songwriting career started taking off and I started seeing a little bit of a different direction and sound that I had been wanting to do for a long time, I felt called to this opportunity to do a solo project. It’s been super fulfilling. Cody, the other half of Waterloo Revival, and I have remained incredible friends. He’s a great guy and a super talented songwriter. I know he’s got big things on the horizon as well. But I absolutely love the opportunity to chase some songs that I believe in, chase a country sound that I really believe in, and work with a producer I really believe in- Ash Bowers. It’s definitely been an exciting territory for me! That’s what we do it for, right? If you don’t feel nervous, you’re probably not pushing yourself hard enough. I definitely feel nervous, but I feel excited at the same time.
I know you have a pretty fascinating backstory behind writing and cutting “Beer Beer Truck Truck,” which involves the best combination: Clay Walker and TikTok! Would you talk about that?
It’s truly the most unbelievable series of events that have happened to me, but I almost feel like it’s fated that it all came together like it did. I’d gotten to be really good friends with Clay Walker. We co-wrote his single “Need A Bar Sometimes” together, which invigorated Clay’s career as well. Definitely exciting for me to be a part of that. Because we had gotten close through that, he had invited me to his house in Texas toward the end of December of last year. While we were there, I was explaining to him my situation—I had asked out of Waterloo Revival and my old record deal already and was chasing songwriting and finding some success, but I wasn’t really sure if I personally was going to play live music again. He looked at me and went, “Man, I’ll tell you what you need to do…” And Clay Walker is a veteran, he’s been around for a long time, so I was expecting this super profound piece of advice from him. But he was like, “You need to put your songs on TikTok!” That was not the answer I was expecting! (laughs) He made a good point when he said “there’s no platform that you’ll reach people faster if you have good songs and stuff worth chasing.”
And you heeded Clay’s advice… Right?
Yes! That night, I got on TikTok and created an account. The first thing I did was click the #countrymusic hashtag because that’s what I’m interested in. As I was scrolling, I saw a girl making fun of country music lightheartedly, saying, “It ain’t nothin’ but beer beer truck truck and girls in tight jeans.” I now know her as Eyrnn Chambers, and she’s a great person. At that time I looked at it and thought she made a really good point since those stereotypes don’t come from nothing. There’s a lot of it in our genre. But at the same time, I thought it’ll be fun as a songwriter to take those lyrics and, with a little effort, show her that I can turn it into a real song. That’s what I did! It came out so fast, and I think some of the best songs do. You find inspiration when it comes super quickly. I wrote the chorus in almost 30 minutes or less and I posted it that night before dinner. I had to have Clay’s social media manager show me how to post it. I had less than 10 followers, didn’t use the Waterloo Revival name, and had no blue checkmark. It was just my personal name. Probably more of a science experiment than anything. After dinner that night, when we came back, I had gotten 20,000 followers in three hours with a couple hundred thousand views! I was pretty content with that and thought it was the end and just a cool little moment. But for whatever reason, it continued to gain steam as more and more people connected with it. Over the course of the next week, it did well with a million views and over a hundred thousand followers. There was such a demand to finish the song that I actually called my good friend Jaron Boyer, who’s a big songwriter in Nashville, to ask if I got [swing] by his studio to cut a demo real quick. Once we recorded that, we posted it on YouTube, Soundcloud and TikTok, and that’s when it went really crazy. Every record label in town started calling me and things really took off.
I love the lyrical twist of “Beer Beer Truck Truck.” You really evolved it from a TikTok novelty track to a country song with depth, yeah?
When I went to finish [writing] the song and record it as a demo, I did spend the rest of the day trying to create a storyline and fictional characters to find that tension between the country and the city and make up something people could visualize. I wanted it to be more than just a meme or a joke. While it did start as a TikTok song, when I did write it, I put my full effort into making it a genuine piece of art and something I would be proud of. That’s my goal as a songwriter—to hit you with something you don’t see coming. And I think that is the beauty of country songwriting as a whole.
And now, that one song has changed the entire trajectory of your artist career!
It changed my life. I got a record deal, a songwriting publishing deal, I’m going out on some major tours this summer, and have some huge collaborations coming out. You never know when the inspiration is going to hit. I’m so thankful for the way people have supported this song because it’s more than just a meme. It’s become so much more than I could ever dream of. That series of events is almost too insane to believe! There were so many things that went right that shouldn’t have. I never in a million years thought I’d be on TikTok, I’ve never written a rebuttal song before, and [to have] people connect with it and the demo take off. Nashville’s a funny town. Everybody here is talented. Everybody who moved here moved as the best person in their hometown, so there’s no guaranteed easy path to success. I just got lucky to catch my moment, and I’m having a really good time on the ride.
You’re also out on radio tour to promote this single to country radio. How has that been going for you? Are you catching up with some old friends from your old Waterloo Revival days?
Having one shot in country music is a miracle. Getting a second shot is almost unheard of. I feel so blessed to be out there with a chance to chase a solo career. I have a lot of good friends on country radio that have supported me over the years or had been waiting for an opportunity to support me. I feel so proud of this project. The feedback from country radio has been awesome. Just the opportunity to go on radio tour and meet some new folks or old friends that have been supporting me [has been awesome]. The whole goal is to go out there and show these stations who they’re supporting and make them want to support me. I want to show them that I’m a genuine guy and that this is not an overnight success. A lot of work has gone into this. Like you said, when you see the title or the origin story, it’s easy to write it off as a bro-country song. But, that was not my intention when I wrote this. Getting to go out there, play the song for them and tell them the story has been really special. Especially when you can almost see it in their eyes when they understand the a-ha moment of what it came to be and what the song really stands for. So, for me, it’s been incredible and we’re really just getting started. I’m looking forward to doing more of that!
Speaking of Clay Walker earlier on, you co-wrote two songs on his brand new album: his single “Need A Bar Sometimes” and “Catching Up With An Ol’ Memory.” How did y’all even cross paths to begin with?
It’s pretty wild! Growing up in Texas, Clay was iconic. He’s got so many enormous, timeless hits that I grew up singing. Never in a million years did I think I’d get to meet him. At the very beginning of 2020, right before we had COVID lockdowns, I was in California playing a charity concert at Pebble Beach and Clay happened to be in the crowd. I didn’t know he was going to be there. I played a song that was really special to me, got off stage, the crowd seemed to be really receptive to it, and later that week, I got a call from Clay’s team saying that he’d like to write with me. That was immensely flattering. That’s also what it takes to make it in this industry. To have somebody believe in you and give you a leg up. Clay was that for me, and I’m forever grateful for that.
Do you remember when you and Clay actually first wrote together?
The first time we got together, it was actually over Zoom because the country had been locked down at that point. We wrote “Need A Bar Sometimes” over a Zoom call. To see how that reignited his career a little bit, got him a record deal, got him back on the radio, it’s his first charting single in ten years. It’s been really exciting to be part of that ride and to have Clay give me another shot on the record as well. I hope those songs are doing a lot for him, but he can’t imagine how much it’s done for me at the same time. So, I’m very very thankful.
Before I close with official wrap-up questions, I wanna ask some fun Nashville-related questions if that’s alright! First, favorite venue to play at in Nashville?
The Opry at The Ryman, no doubt! It’s the only venue in the world that I still get nervous at. I remember my Opry debut at the Ryman, I went to take the wireless microphone off the stand and as I was singing, my hand was shaking so bad. So I had to put it back on the microphone stand! (laughs) Hopefully the audience didn’t notice! But if people are wondering why it’s glued to the mic stand, that’s why.
I know you’re a big barbecue guy. So, which restaurant in Nashville has the best barbecue?
Shotgun Willie’s has the best Texas brisket anywhere in Nashville! I’m a Texas guy, so I gotta go with the Texas barbecue. And I would say Martin’s is a close second. I love that they’ve got a pit up there, and they make some great barbecue as well. But yes, Shotgun Willie’s has the best barbecue in Nashville- and I hope I didn’t just give away my secret! It’s really good.
Since Nashville has a big coffee culture going on, do you have a favorite go-to coffee shop in town?
For me, it’s Frothy Monkey. They’ve got a drink called the Golden Monkey, which has turmeric, honey and espresso in it. I’m clinically addicted to it!
What’s next? What else do you have going on for the rest of the year, George?
I’ve got a collaboration coming out at the end of this month. This artist is taking a chance on me and letting me feature with them. It’s truly unbelievable, so I cannot wait to announce that. I’ve also cut a five-song EP that I truly couldn’t be more proud of. It’s me and the sound I’ve always wanted. I’ve never believed in anything more. I cannot wait to share what’s behind it with the world. We’re going to be out touring for the rest of the summer to early Fall and I can’t wait to play some of those songs for new audiences and see their reaction.
Lastly, you’ve been riding this Nashville or Music Row roller-coaster for some time now. What’s the biggest life lesson you’ve learned through all of this?
The biggest life lesson that I’ve taken away from all of this is that you can always get better. I came to town having to put in a lot of time in Texas writing songs and playing live shows. I was not an overnight act. When I got my first record deal, I was like, “You know, if these songs aren’t hits, I don’t know what these people are missing.” I almost put it like it’s not my responsibility. I was really proud of those songs at the time. But, as I opened my viewpoint and allowed myself to learn from those that had been more successful than me, got into rooms with writers who have had more success than me, pushed myself to get better at doing what I do and hone my craft, it started to open the gates for me. Being able to take your ego and pride out of it is the secret to this town. There’s so much talent here, and so much to learn from. I know I can say without a doubt that I’m ten times the songwriter that I was when I first moved here.