Travis Denning: The Happy Hour Q&A

"Beer is the Elixir of Where I Come From," He Says of the Profound Redneckness of His New Song

Travis Denning truly doesn’t know where that beer’s been, but he does know where it’s going.

That’s the takeaway from our happy hour Zoom call on Monday (July 10).

Denning had the happy hour with reporters to talk about how his last single “After a Few” just made it to the No. 1 spot on the charts, and to share the story behind his new song “Where That Beer’s Been,” that he wrote with Rhett Akins, Chris Stevens and Jeremy Stover.

He played both songs from his home in East Nashville while he was drinking a Jack and Diet Coke. Only because he was out of beer, but did say that his favorite beer is an open one. His go-tos right now are Miller Lite, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Macon Progress.

On the success of “After a Few”:
“It is stupidly amazing. I’m so thankful. The fact that this was a historical run (65 weeks) to No. 1. I think it was a testament to the fact that good things take time and I have a little chunk of country history. When that song finally got a chance to really be heard, it hit top 10, and I was fully prepared that we’d be on fumes and just celebrate that it was in the top ten. Being patient and taking its turn to get up there, some real magic can happen,” he said. He added that Stover, his producer, had told him the day they were writing it, “Boys, were here to write a wall hanger. We’re gonna write something that will get us a plaque to hang on the wall.”

On the day he wrote “Where That Beer’s Been”:
“It was one of those things where, growing up in Georgia and now being here in Nashville, people say some profound redneck stuff all the time. So I had that title in my hook book forever. Then I happened to be at a songwriting in 30A (Florida) and Rhett (Akins) walked into the house and said, ’Man, y’all got any ideas?’ And I told him I had this title ’Where’s that beer been,’ and he said, ’Well, hell, I know where it’s going.'”

On why beer turns up in so many of his songs:
“I mean, literally, beer is the elixir of where I come from. It’s part of coming home from church and watching NASCAR and dad was cracking a beer, and all the fun of first kiss, first trouble, it was always there. I don’t go out of my way to make sure it’s there, it’s just because of the way I was raised. There were a lot of cold cans popping.”

On digging deep for his next batch of songs:
“The actual songs coming out of this have come from a much different place. When this all started, it was the longest time I’ve had off the road. That’s given me an opportunity to pump the brakes and honestly, dig a little deeper and go write songs about the shit that made me fall in love with country music in the first place: a lot of songs about fishing, my family and my relationship with God. For that, I’m very grateful for this time.”

On playing guitar after being off for a few months:
“Man, I put on my Les Paul which is a guitar I know front and back and left and sideways, and as soon as it went over my neck I thought, ’Oh, this ain’t good. This don’t feel right.’ It took warming up to get used to it.”

On what he was thinking when he tweeted recently, “I love this country through thick and think”:
“There’s no denying that this year sucks. Between the pandemic, political tensions, and the number one thing that’s been on my mind is the racial tension and the issues with the black community and police. I came from a town that was pretty 50/50 as far as white and black. So I saw it. I get where they’re coming from. It’s so tough. I’m super thankful that that conversation is more out there now than it’s ever been. And I know what I gotta do to make things better. I know I can be better all the time.

“But I will say, I think this country — through thick and thin — we have the power and the possibility to work through anything. It really starts with people making a conscious effort to be better every day.”

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