If the name Restless Road rings a bell, it’s because the rising trio aren’t as new to the country scene as it may appear. Though the group released their debut self-titled EP last February, their story begins in 2013, when Simon Cowell put Colton Pack and Zach Beeken together on Season 3 of the U.S. version of The X Factor. The group, which then also featured original member Andrew Scholz, went on to place fourth in the series, not too bad considering Beeken mostly auditioned in hopes of getting a girlfriend. Yet the most fateful part of their X Factor experience was meeting fellow contestant, Kane Brown.
The trio – now made up of Pack, Beeken and Garrett Nichols, who joined in 2015 – are the flagship act on Brown’s Label, with the country superstar also featuring on the trio’s hit ‘Take Me Home’. A romantic and contemporary spin on the John Denver classic ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’, the song landed the group on the Today show, as well as on-stage with Kane himself at the Staples Center in Los Angeles early last year. But the seven years in between weren’t easy, with several lineup changes (including Pack’s temporary exit in 2014) and an expired record deal putting the future of Restless Road in question – that is, until Brown offered a little hope.
Pack reunited with Beeken and Nichols after his cover of Brown’s ‘Good As You’ caught the hitmaker’s attention in May 2019. By February 2020, the new-and-improved Restless Road had an EP out and a supporting slot on Brown’s North American tour. The trio’s massive 2020 may have been curbed by the coronavirus pandemic, but Restless Road is ready to make 2021 their year.
Your band has been through so many changes over the years. What made you want to stick with the name Restless Road?
Beeken: I mean, you can’t outrun your destiny. It just felt like the name was more fitting today than it ever was. When Colton called us and we all got back together [in 2019], it felt like the most Restless Road this band has ever been. We’re no strangers to setbacks.
Nichols: All the adversity we’ve gone through, the challenges, the changes – everything has prepared us for a year like 2020.
What’s interesting about TikTok is just because you blow up once doesn’t mean you’re going to blow up twice”
Was the momentum-building start to 2020 part of what led you to jump on TikTok?
Beeken: Well, we got on there because our manager wouldn’t leave us the hell alone about it [laughs]. We had no idea what to do or how to do it. We probably made 15 of them, and no one was watching. Then all of the sudden, we made up this really stupid drinking song, filmed it, went to bed, woke up, and it had like, 80,000 views. Then at noon it had 500,000 views. When we went to bed, it had 1 million views. We were like, “Oh my God, we did it!” What’s interesting about TikTok is just because you blow up once doesn’t mean you’re going to blow up twice. You kind of have to be on your toes and figure out how to be unique to your channel. We’ve found success in doing parody songs and drinking songs.
Nichols: It really stemmed from trying to find new ways to connect with fans. I think we’re pretty funny, lighthearted guys. TikTok is a good platform to showcase that and lets the fans get to know us on a personal level instead of just people who make music.
That Taco Bell remix of Luke Bryan’s “One Margarita” was brilliant.
Beeken: It got us free Taco Bell for a year.
Pack: I’m ready for some Nacho Fries.
Social media is one of the many things Kane Brown has advised you on, right?
Nichols: Yeah, he’s full of great advice. He’s been such a great inspiration, with music and as a friend. He feels like an older brother to us. He’s given us complete freedom to do what we want, but he’s always sitting us down to tell us things he’s done right and wrong. It’s been really good to have someone like that in our corner to watch over us and give us advice along the way.
Starting with meeting Kane on The X Factor, it feels like your career has been one full-circle moment after the other?
Pack: It’s so true. Honestly it’s really kind of weird to think of how intertwined this entire seven years has been. There’s so many pieces of this puzzle, you can’t make it up. It’s unbelievable that we’re able to do this and that we’ve been given the opportunity to do this on this level.
Beeken: If you Google full-circle, it’s just a picture of us.
With all of your ties to John Denver, I assume “Take Me Home” is part of that too?
Beeken: Yeah. My mom was always telling my family about John Denver, so I really grew up with him and his music. And Colton’s from West Virginia, so “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is in their DNA. So when Kane sent us this song, it was, once again, a full-circle moment.
I saw that Taffy Nivert, one of the original writers on “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” reached out to you about it?
Nichols: Yeah, it was actually the craziest thing ever. One of my mom’s best friends grew up right next door to Taffy in Florida. So one random afternoon we get this phone call from my mom’s friend, and she said Taffy wanted to talk to us. She was so sweet and told us about all of her adventures with John Denver, how they wrote the song, and touring with him. She told us she loved our version of it and she was happy we took it on, and what a great job we did. It was one of the most surreal moments we’ve had.
The new song we have coming out is going to be huge for us. I think it’s going to be one that a lot of people say they wish they would’ve written”
From the looks of it, you’re headed for more of those soon. What do you guys see for the future of Restless Road?
Nichols: I just hope we can get back out on the road and see our fans. Also, I hope everyone will love this new music as much as we do.
Pack: This is the best music we’ve ever written. This year helped us to figure out what direction we want to go creatively. Even social media had a big influence on that, the more we got to see what people want to hear from us and trying to make that translate into what we’re writing. The new song we have coming out is going to be huge for us. I think it’s going to be one that a lot of people say they wish they would’ve written. It’s very vulnerable, it tells an amazing story. We’re always trying to find ways to better ourselves and connect with people, and our music, especially what we’ve written this past year, will hopefully achieve that. As a band, we’ve really figured out who we are, and the music that’s coming out this year is going to show that. I really think this is our breakout year, the year where we make our dreams a reality.
Beeken: Basically, we’re ready to party.
Restless Road's self-titled debut EP is out now via Sony Music Entertainment. Watch the video for latest single 'One Step Ahead' below.