Chayce Beckham on His Musical Interests & Coming Full Circle Back to Country

Long before Chayce Beckham hit No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart with “23,” he was a teenager growing up in inland Southern California with varied and diverse musical interests. The American Idol season 19 winner, who cites outlaw country legends Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard as influences, even went through a reggae phase — “around the same time I started smoking weed,” he tells Billboard’s Behind the Setlist podcast. 

“I just really branched out and looked for anything and everything,” says Beckham, who once sang and played guitar in The Sinking Sailors, a four-piece with a Caribbean-meets-skater sound not unlike quintessential Southern California band Sublime. “I wanted to be a rapper at one point, and I wanted to be a punk rocker, and I wanted to be a reggae artist, and then I made my way back to country music,” he says.

Coming full circle was a fateful — and fruitful — decision for Beckham. “23” topped Billboard’s Country Airplay chart (dated April 6) and has amassed nearly 500 million streams globally through June 20, according to Luminate. It marked the first time in 12 years that a No. 1 Country Airplay song was solo written by the performer. The previous artist to accomplish the feat? Taylor Swift with her song “Ours.”

Not that reggae-drenched rock didn’t suit Beckham’s voice, but his delivery is perfectly suited for songs such as “Everything I Need,” the latest single from his debut album, Bad For Me (released April 5 on Wheelhouse Records). The song, along with “Devil I’ve Been,” a frequent show opener, came from a writing session with John Pierce (Zac Brown Band’s “Sweet Annie,” Jon Paris “Your Heart Or Mine”) and Lindsay Rimes (Nate Smith’s “World On Fire,” Kane Brown’s “Cool Again”) while on Luke Bryan’s 2023 Farm Tour. 

“A bunch of the songs that are on the project we got from bringing the writers out on the road,” he says. “That was really good for me. I felt like it was just a lot more relaxed. I could kind of just be a little bit more creative and not so pressured into the songs.”

Listen to the entire interview with Chayce Beckham here or at Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iHeart, Amazon Music or Everand

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