Get To Know: Restless Road [Exclusive Interview]

"We have a motto in our band called 'keep your eyes on the road,' and it’s all about staying focused on your dream."

Written by Jeremy Chua
Get To Know: Restless Road [Exclusive Interview]
Restless Road, Pictured (L-R): Colton Pack, Garrett Nichols, Zach Beeken; Photo Credit: Matthew Berinato

Life’s a roller-coaster full of ups and downs. Some throw in the towel after the ride, and some emerge with renewed resilience, zeal and passion. For rising country group Restless Road, their journey is the latter to a T. 

Comprising of Zach Beeken, Colton Pack and Garrett Nichols, the band began their musical journey in 2013 when Beeken and Pack teamed up as contestants on season three of The X Factor. On the show, they met fellow contestant (and now country superstar) Kane Brown, who ended up becoming a close friend. Beeken and Pack ultimately finished in fourth place, and Nichols joined the band in 2015.

However, through some unexpected detours, changes, triumphant highs and valley lows, the trio ended up hitting pause after and worked various jobs to sustain their dream. “I think all of us would agree that that made us stronger and it honestly makes what we do now that much better,” Beeken shares humbly. Things started changing in May 2019, when Brown saw a video of Pack covering “Good As You.” Following that, he contacted Pack and expressed interest in working with the band and bringing them back together. 

Fast-forward to February this year, Brown announced the launch of his new record label, 1021 Entertainment, a worldwide joint venture with his label home Sony Music Nashville. Marking a full-circle moment, the hitmaker signed his longtime buddies, Restless Road, as the label’s flagship artist.

Though a nationwide lockdown took the band off the road opening for Brown last year, like true go-getters, Beeken, Pack and Nichols were determined to make the most out of that curveball. On top of writing and getting new songs prepped up, the trio filmed a vlog series called “Keep Your Eyes On The Road” and took to TikTok to expand their fan base. It’s all paid off, as they now boast 1.8 million followers on the platform alone.

Sounds Like Nashville got to chat with the promising new group recently to find out more about their 2020 silver linings, musical inspirations, paying tribute to John Denver with their song “Take Me Home” and triumphing over adversities. Burger fans out there, Nichols also shares a must-order menu item the next time you visit his old workplace, Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint in Nashville, Tennessee.

Introducing the next artists you have to “Get To Know”: Restless Road

SLN: As we’re coming out of the pandemic and returning to a welcomed level of normalcy, what’s been the biggest silver lining for y’all from this past year?

Colton: I would probably say social media. When the pandemic hit and all that, we really took to social media and just tried to grow that. We went from about 200,000 overall fans on social media to almost 2.5 million. I think that’s been the biggest silver lining because we’re really excited to see the impact our social media has had on these live shows coming up. It’s going to be a big year. We’re on tour with Kane Brown, so I think we’re just really really excited to see the impact of social media on the fans and how that transfers over to live shows. 

Garrett: It’s also cool too, like he said, because we have all these fans that we haven’t got to meet because of the pandemic. I think getting back to performing and getting to know these people in person and not on the screen would be really, really cool and fulfilling for us because at the end of the day, this is why we do what we do. The fans are everything to a band and music artist. They kind of drive everything we do. 

It’s been many years since Restless Road began this journey on The X-Factor in 2013. Since then, there’s been lots of highs, lows, speed bumps, milestones and even different jobs along the way. What made y’all want to stay committed to the dream for so long? I know Zach, you worked at Old Glory, which is just on Music Row, right?

Zach: That’s a really good question. Yeah, I worked in a bar on Music Row and I know Garrett did as well. We literally went from being on a record label and working with music industry people and us being a band to me being behind a bar and wiping up their spilled drinks, syrup and clearing dirty dishes off the table. I’d be wearing an apron and they’d be like, “What are you up to now?” And I’ll be like, “Oh, I’m working on music,” and I’m wearing a blue apron [with] pizza stains all over me. That kinda sucked, yes. But honestly, I think we all have a chip on our shoulder. How do we keep on doing it? I don’t know. We just don’t quit. We have a motto in our band called “keep your eyes on the road,” and it’s all about staying focused on your dream. It’s easier and harder to do in some seasons of life, and it was definitely hard being in that kind of place and just feeling like, “Oh man, we used to have something and now we don’t.” It is hard to keep holding on to hope, but that’s really what we did. 

Garrett: Well, to add to that, I think it’s one of those things where it really did suck, like going from feeling like you had something to not having anything. But honestly, looking back on it, I think all of us would agree that that made us stronger and it honestly makes what we do now that much better. I think the bad times made these times so much better, and it just makes all of us appreciate it more because if you didn’t have that adversity, I don’t feel like you’d appreciate it as much.

Zach: I always tell people that that year that I was working in the bars and stuff, that’s the year I’m really most proud of, because it proved to me that, “Hey, you can land on your feet and you can take care of yourself and hang in there and figure this out.” Yeah, when we were 18, we lucked out. We went straight from high school to national TV, X-Factor, and it feels like we hadn’t been through as much adversity as we have now. I’m really thankful for those adversities because it really builds you into somebody who’s legit and can have a long lasting career. Even today, who knows, maybe five years from now, who knows what’s going to happen? We just gotta stick together and stay strong. I think if you’re someone in a situation where you feel like [giving up], just don’t quit. You don’t know what’s around the corner, because I can promise you the three of us did not know what was around the corner.

Colton: Our biggest thing is that even through all these years, we knew music was supposed to be what we were supposed to be doing. Nashville is always like, who can stick it out the longest. They call it a ten-year town. I started coming here in 2009, and 2019 is when we got our break. I think it’s just determination, believing in yourself and just not giving up on what you want to do with your life.

Y’all introduced yourselves last year with “Take Me Home” from your debut EP. How special was it to put a unique spin on a John Denver classic?

Zach: Oh man, it was the coolest! Colton’s from West Virginia, so “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is basically the national anthem for them. (laughs) And for me, my mom and dad took us on a trip through Yellowstone and my mom was obsessed with John Denver. So she had John Denver’s greatest hits playing. I grew up driving around in a minivan and my mom would [share] every John Denver song with me. He was one of the first artists I can remember listening to as a kid, so the fact that “Take Me Home,” this version of a John Denver classic, can be our first big song coming out of the gate was super cool. 

Garrett: Here’s another crazy thing that happened a couple of weeks after we had released it. My mom somehow had a family friend who lived in Florida who actually lived next door to Taffy Nivert, who was one of the original songwriters of “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” She had heard our song and told my mom’s friend, “Have you heard of this group? They kind of remixed the song,” and my mom’s friend was like, “Well, I know Restless Road! Do you want to talk to them?” So we were sitting at lunch one day and we got a phone call from Taffy Nivert and she said, “I love y’all’s version,” and told us all about her life, songwriting process, old stories about John Denver and how they wrote the song. It was just incredible. The whole thing was just a special experience for us because things like that just don’t happen.

What was the inspiration behind your infectious song, “Took One Look At Her Mama”?

Zach: That’s one song that we actually wrote last summer through quarantine. We were all shut in and were like, “Dang, we need a song idea,” and I said to Garrett, “Do you remember four years ago, we had this funny song idea called ‘Took One Look At Her Mama’?” 

Garrett: The way that came about, I think about four year ago, we had played the CMA Fest down here in Nashville. We had our family over, I was dating this girl, and I asked my Dad, “I really like this girl, but how do you know she’s the one? Give me some fatherly advice?” And he said, “Son, all you got to do if you want to know if a girl is the one is to take one look at her mama. That will tell you everything you need to know, what she’s going to be like, all that kind of stuff.” So during the quarantine, when we were looking for an idea, Zach said, “What about that title? It’s a pretty good one for a song. It’s like, getting to know her more and you go home to her mom and see how she’s raised.” So that’s kind of how it came about.

Obviously we have to talk about the new single, “Bar Friends.” It’s another feel-good one that got me hooked on the first listen. It’s so universal in its message, too! Talk about why y’all wanted to cut that one.

Zach: We just felt like it was so universal, which is something we try to accomplish whenever we’re writing songs or whenever we’re looking for something to record. We want to be able to reach as many people as possible. Also, the song was stuck in our head before the chorus even ended. We’re big fans of catchy, anthemic songs. That’s the kind of music we like to listen to. When we heard the “Bar Friends,” pretty much on the spot, we knew it’s amazing and totally fits our vibe and what we wanted to do right away.

Outside of your own music, what’s each of y’all’s all-time favorite country song?

Garrett: I think mine would have to be… I remember when I was a little kid, I would sing “Real Good Man” by Tim McGraw. That one was really cool for me. I say that because, just as an early memory, that was the song that exposed me to country music. I just thought that was so cool. And you can imagine just a four year old singing that song. So that’s my all-time favorite song.

Zach: I’m just going to say, I don’t necessarily think this is the best country song of all time, but it’s my favorite country song of all time. It’s “Your Man” by Josh Turner. And another good one is “There Goes My Life” by Kenny Chesney!

Colton: I’m a story guy, so if a song tells a story, that’s what I really love. “Three Wooden Crosses” by Randy Travis is definitely up there for me. And I’m going to throw you a deep one that you’ll have to check out. There’s a Rascal Flatts song called “Ellsworth.” It’s also a story song! 

What else can fans expect from y’all for the rest of the year?

Colton: We’ve got some songs lined up for the summer! You’re going to hear more from us before the summer ends. We’re wanting to have people sing songs back to us, so we’re going to try to have as many songs out there before Kane Brown’s Blessed & Free Tour starts so that people know what’s in our set. I think this year is going to be filled with a lot of stuff and sounds that you haven’t heard from us, which is going to be exciting. Again, we’re going to just continue putting out music that we really thoroughly enjoy. Whatever plane that falls into, that’s what we want. We just want people to have a good time with our music and enjoy it as much as we do. So, you can definitely expect a lot more music from us this year!

Here’s a bonus question: Garrett, I know you worked at Jack Brown’s before this. It’s one of the best burger joints in town, hands down! So, for all Nashvillians and future Nashville visitors wanting to grab a meal there, what would you say is a must-order?

Garrett: I got it on my brain, bro! It’s a double Greg Brady with fries. A Greg Brady is my favorite burger. It’s two double wagyu beef patties and it’s got mac n cheese on it with some barbecue potato chips from Martin’s Bar-B-Que. But the secret to all of it is to have it with the Jack Brown sauce. Probably with that, to wash it down, there’s this white ice islandic ale that I loved to drink every night. So that’s my go-to order!

To wrap up, what’s one thing you want fans to know about Restless Road both as a country band and a group of guys?

Garrett: We’re just three normal dudes from different places who love to write and sing country music. When people look at us, we really just want to be inclusive to everyone and just have them look at us as three guys they’d want to drink beer with and sit around a campfire with and hang out with. We’re goofy, not very serious and just love to have a good time and be nice to people. 

Zach: Yeah, we’re three friends who support each other and want to uplift everyone whenever we release music and go out to play shows, and encourage them to live their dreams. That’s what we do everyday. We’re just trying to live the dream, and you got to have the people in your life who are your homies.

Colton: I think it’s really important for fans to know that we’re just the most normal, down to earth people. And if you ever see us out, we want you to come say hey. We just genuinely love being around people, and meeting new “bar friends.” 

Restless Road also shared with SLN about their recent Grand Ole Opry debut and why they chose to perform their heart-rending song, “It Ain’t Easy.” In case you missed the story, read it here.