By Zach Schepis
Photo courtesy of Chase Byrne.
Chase Byrne was halfway through his stay at Dartmouth College when he fell madly in love for the first time. She was a devout Christian and he wasn’t, but the differences didn’t seem like they would really matter.
That was until Chase returned one year and discovered his love had cheated on him with a friend from her Bible class. Her excuse? God had told her that the two of them should take it slow.
“I was devastated, but I also thought it was one of the most absurd things I’ve ever heard,” Byrne tells BTR. “So I took up my pen and paper and it all kind of just came out.”
What came out was “I Can’t Talk to God”–the very first song that the songwriter penned. Now his unique and happy-go-lucky blend of country music can be heard on a dozen different radio stations across the states. His self-titled EP debuted earlier this month and is available on iTunes.
Byrne had no idea that he would be touring so soon, though he did always have a natural penchant for entertainment. Born to an arts-loving family in West Virginia, he picked up both the piano and guitar at a young age, but it was the act of performance that really excited him. He loved getting in front of people, making them feel comfortable and making them laugh.
He took to the stages at Darmouth Colege doing stand-up comedy, where he learned how integral the role of humor is to any performance. Following the comically tragic episode with his religious girlfriend, Byrne took to songwriting–but not without importing some of the laughter he’d learned along the way.
“I showed that first song to some of my friends, as a joke,” says Byrne. “I wasn’t expecting any kind of serious reception, but they really liked it. So I wrote another one, and another one. I started playing open mics, and took it from there.”
Byrne’s popularity continued to grow as he played more shows across his campus, most notably sorority parties–gigs he swears by as being some of the most fun.
No matter the audience, Byrne’s heartfelt delivery is the charm that enchants listeners. While he acknowledges his role as a country music artist, he’s quick to tip the 10-gallon hat towards other styles like classic rock, jazz, pop, and bluegrass.
He points out that country music is a genre that’s known for its great use of storytelling. It’s the perfect medium for Byrne who employs the music as a vessel, shuttling along meaningful and self-aware experiences to curious strangers. It’s a lesson in sincerity and honesty that any artist and lover of art can appreciate.
Byrne graduated and hit the road with these autobiographical tunes, rambling from the peaceful backwoods of New Hampshire out into the roaring jungle of Los Angeles. Leaving his support system of friends and family wasn’t an easy journey for the budding artist, and has turned out to be one of the most trying experiences of his life.
“That three-hour time difference doesn’t seem like much, but I’ve seen it destroy relationships,” Byrne reflects. “You go to call your best friend, and by the time he finishes dinner to return your call you’ve just sat down to have yours.”
Distance aside, the very idea of shuttling the typically rural sounds of country music out into the swaying palm trees and technicolor avenues of LA might sound like a jarring leap. Some artists might experience an identity crisis of sorts, but not Byrne. He feeds off of the cultural diversity, the multitudes of sounds, and creativity that such a sprawling city has to offer. There’s no room for competition in his outlook, only countless moments of inspiration.
To tell the truth, it doesn’t matter what city Byrne ends up in. His charisma and passion for connecting with audiences spurs him to go the extra mile, to sing with conviction and create memories that last.
“There’s no better feeling I’ve had in my life than playing songs you wrote to people who are dancing and going crazy to it,” says Byrne.
“But when they’re literally singing along to the words that you’ve put on a piece of paper… it’s probably the biggest high I’ve ever felt in my life. There’s something magical to it.”
To hear the rest of the Chase Byrne interview, check out the latest episode of Discovery Corner on BTR.
Find your own way to interpret Chase Byrne by clicking here.