Honesty in music is as important to Parker McCollum as breathing. He rejects the music of mainstream, not for its fabricated artists or over-produced sound but, for its lack of creativity and genuine stories of truth and passion. As a musician and performer, he looks up to the art of pioneers such as Ryan Bingham, Ryan Adams and Townes Van Zant, artists who have lived their songs and have the battle scars to prove it. A mix of Americana, Texas Country and Indie Rock is the genesis of McCollums music career and he channels his creativity into delivering a genuine sound all his own. Kicking things off with his first single, "Highway" is a driving introduction to this spirited artist who aims to inspire and entertain in a way only one who declares he has no story of his own to tell can, by making one up with words and music. A song about living on the road, Highway was inspired when McCollum went on a tour for the first time with Six Market Blvd. Being on the road and playing shows was something he had dreamed of since he was a kid; when he finally got out there and saw what it was all about, he jotted it all down for easy reference.
When I got home, I just wrote all about it, he said. I sat in my room for about an hour and that's what came of it. Its all true: the Louisiana woman, my momma and my baby being so far away that I didn't even bother trying to go home. I was just out there, on my own, living and playing, at last, on the highway.
Before the highway beckoned, McCollum lived the life of a college kid in Austin. He was raised in Houston during the heyday of country music listening to greats like Willie Nelson, George Strait and Johnny Cash while his family introduced him to Texas artists like Cross Canadian Ragweed, Pat Green and Cory Morrow. Working with his grandfather on a ranch, he was exposed to legendary songwriters like Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, and even Porter Wagoner and Buck Owens. Music was a staple and his own experiences began when he learned the violin and played in the orchestra during his years in elementary school. He picked up the guitar at 13 and began playing open mic nights at Puffabellys Old Depot in Spring and even scored a few other shows here and there finally managing to get a gig in Giddings when he was a sophomore.
I got to drive there by myself and everything, he recalls. I was 16 yet looked like I was about 10 or 11. But, I played, and I think I turned a couple of heads. It was just enough to want to do it again. From then on I've just been picking and writing and singing, hoping someday it would take me somewhere that school never could; otherwise known as a dream.
With a penchant for writing poetic lyrics, McCollum follows the masters: Hayes Carll, Todd Snider, Ryan Bingham and other talented songwriters who saw major success. As he grew older and began to grow with music, it was guys like Adam Carrol, Joe Ely, and Chris Knight that he was drawn to.
All these artists crank out beautiful songs one after another. During my last two years of high school and my first year of college, I went through phases where I would learn their songs and start to sound like them and dress like them.
It wasn't until he bought John Mayers CONTINUUM on vinyl, that McCollum felt the urge to be different.
Mayer was so different and honest from such a young age that I just kind of took that and ran with it. He taught me to let my writing be free, and let the melodies and lyrics create themselves.
Following the work of Ryan Bingham just as closely, McCollum acknowledges it is the emotion that a songwriter portrays that makes the art so honest and real.
You can hear the heartache and past troubles in every word of his songs. That is what catches me and inspires me to be so genuine, he admits.
As McCollum goes in to the studio to complete his first full recording, fans are getting a sneak peek with the EP, A RED TOWN VIEW which was produced by Corby Schaub, long-time guitarist with Ryan Bingham. Inclined to create music reminiscent of a bygone era, McCollum says he feels a more rock vibe but that country music roots are the driving force of his music. I find myself loving blues, soul and folk rock these days, he says. I have always loved them, I was just so heavily influenced in country music that it took a while for me to break away and really follow my ears and my heart. Its not about a genre, its just who I am, I guess.
As with most great songwriters, the question of how they write their material is at the forefront. For McCollum, it all goes back to the beginning: his brother Tyler, drilled into him that all you have to do is write a great song. Hoping to follow in his footsteps, McCollum admired the ability Tyler showed in stringing lines together with witty, clever and intelligent lyrics that put the listener in a special place.