Country Next: George Birge
We take pride in introducing fans to country music’s brightest new stars through our Country Next series. Here, we chat with George Birge.
George Birge; Photo by Dustin Haney
George Birge is already an established songwriter, but now he’s finally getting to experience success as a performer. A burgeoning country artist, Birge began his music career in his home state of Texas, writing songs in a high school band. After some persuasion, he moved to Nashville to pursue his dreams of becoming a country music star.
It wasn’t until the release of his viral debut song, “Beer Beer, Truck Truck,” that people all over the country began taking notice of Birge’s talent. And, “Beer Beer, Truck Truck” might never have made it onto paper if it weren’t for the help of two people – country superstar Clay Walker and music educator and influencer Erynn Chambers.
During a songwriting session, Birge was advised by Walker to create a TikTok profile to gain attention to his music. And, when he did, a viral video of Chambers (@rynnstar) poking fun at male country artists, saying they only sing about “Beer Beer, Truck Truck, girls in tight jeans” caught his eye.
After seeing Chambers’ clip, Birge posted a response video that included a twist on her chorus, and in just a matter of hours, Birge’s video took off, accumulating thousands of views. Reaction to the video prompted Birge to finish the song, which Chambers has since shared on her TikTok page. She is also credited as a co-writer on the official release of the song.
“The last few months have been life-changing for me,” George shared in a recent press release. “My favorite part about songwriting is taking something obvious and putting an unexpected twist on it. Collaborating with Erynn and seeing people connect with the story of this song has been absolutely amazing. I couldn’t be more thankful to Records’ Barry Weiss and Wide Open Music’s Ash Bowers and Brendan Rich for believing in me and my music. I cannot wait to see what the future has in store!”
Birge, who has written with artists like Matt Stell, Chris Lane, Gary LeVox, and Jay Demarcus, spent some time with Country Now, where he opened up about his journey in country music fan-favorite “Beer Beer, Truck Truck” and upcoming projects.
Read on to learn more about George Birge in this exclusive Q&A below.
When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in country music?
It’s funny. For some reason, it’s always been in my blood. Growing up in Texas, country music was about the only thing we ever listened to. As early as I can remember, I would sing along to the radio in my dad’s truck. It was just one of those things. I think what drew me to country music was the storytelling aspect of it. So, I started writing songs in middle school. I had some buddies that I grew up with who helped me form a band. We weren’t your normal high school cover band that was playing everybody else’s songs. We didn’t know any better, so we wrote our songs. So it was always in my blood and what I loved to do. I always had a passion for it. But, if you tell somebody, ‘Hey, my goal when I grow up is to be a country music star,’ then nobody believes you. So, you’ve got to take it with a grain of salt. So, I never thought it was something I would do professionally. It was just something that I did because I loved to do it. But, we started playing out in Austin more and more, where I grew up in the bars, and we started gaining a pretty big following. Then, I got a call from some folks in Nashville telling me that it was a place I needed to be. So, after some significant convincing, I packed up my stuff and moved to Nashville to chase this dream.
What were some of the first things you learned about the music industry when you moved to Nashville?
Coming out of Austin with all of the attention that I had and with all of the excitement and all of the people behind me, I thought I would get to Nashville, and it would be a pretty fast track. But, I got here and realized that everyone here is one of the best from their hometowns. The amount of talent here is truly unbelievable! So, it’s not a matter of talent, but it’s a matter of getting that opportunity or getting that break. So, it took me a while to get going. At first, I was a little disappointed. I wanted things to move fast. I’d wonder, ‘When am I going to get my turn or get my chance?’ But then I realized that is the beauty of Nashville. You get here, and you learn how to get better because everyone here is incredible. So you learn how to co-write, how to go to showcases, and how to put on a live show, and you get developed by the industry here. That was difficult for me to understand at first. Once I realized that it was a learning process and it wasn’t going to happen instantly, things started to open up for me. I started to figure out how to grow as an artist, and it’s been a pretty incredible journey so far.
Can you tell us the story behind how your debut song, “Beer Beer, Truck Truck,” came about?
It is a song that I never expected to finish and maybe one of the most unbelievable stories that I have ever experienced. I was previously playing in a duo called Waterloo Revival with one of my best friends, Cody Cooper. And in the middle of last year, during the shutdown, I was looking in a different direction creatively. I felt like I was ready for a change, and I had these songs that I wanted to focus on. I started getting some traction as a songwriter, and I felt like it was time. And as incredible as that chapter was, to start the next chapter of my life, we ended up exiting our record deal, and I started writing for other artists. Part of me thought that would be my future. I’d stay in Nashville and listen to other people sing my songs on the radio. I had made peace with that. I had just gotten Clay Walker’s single on the radio, and I had some success with some other artists too.
Then, Clay ended up inviting me down to his house in Texas to write for a record in December, and I went down there. I was telling him where I was, saying that I was at this crossroads. I told him that I love live music and that it’s something that I’ve always lived for, but I just hadn’t figured out how to break through, and songwriting seemed to have lifted its hand as what I was good at. So I thought I would be a songwriter forever. And he was like, ‘Man. I’ll tell you what you need to do. You need to put your songs on TikTok.’ I was not expecting to hear that from him. But, I was like, ‘Alright, If Clay Walker is telling me to put my songs on TikTok, then I’m late to the game.’
So that night, I created an account. I went to the country music hashtag, and one of the first videos I saw was this girl lightheartedly poking fun at country music, saying that it was nothing but ‘Beer beer, truck truck, and girls in tight jeans.’ For whatever reason, I felt inspired to take those lyrics and show her with a little bit of effort that a country songwriter can turn that into something cool. So, I spent maybe 15 to 30 minutes writing the chorus before I went to dinner that night, and I had Clay’s social media manager show me how to post it on TikTok. I posted just the chorus because that was all I had written that night, and we went to dinner, and I had six followers. I didn’t think anything of it. Then we got back about three hours later, and I had over 10 thousand followers in those three hours and a couple hundred thousand views on that video. I started freaking out because it was so incredible! Over the next few days, my video racked up over three million views! I had so much support and demand to finish the song. So, I completed it and put out a demo of it. When that demo blew up, every record company in Nashville started calling me.
In what ways would you say this song has changed your journey as an artist after seeing that kind of response on social media?
I have worked in this town for years, and I had supporters, but I had never had anything genuinely break in a big way. That video ended up being what I needed to propel me to the next level. It helped me get a new record deal and a new songwriting deal. And it’s going to be going to country radio across America. So, to say that it has changed my life is not an understatement. In the comments, I get so many folks saying that they don’t generally listen to country music, but this song has resonated with them for some reason. Other people say that it has made them want to listen to country music more. And Erynn Chambers, the girl on TikTok, reached out to me and told me she loved the video. She reposted it, and I thought it was cool that she was a great sport about it. I ended up crediting her as a songwriter on the song, which has been fun because I think she is excited to be a part of this country music journey!
Has your recent success with this song changed the way you view TikTok as a promotional tool for artists?
TikTok is something that kind of gets pigeonholed, as this prank and networking platform with no artistic integrity. So that was where my mind was at about it. As a songwriter and a lover of country music, the biggest thing I want to protect is the integrity and the craft of writing songs. So it was not something that I was considering jumping on. But, when I did get on it, I realized it’s such an incredible collaborative platform, and there are so many great musicians and storytellers on there. It was a hundred times more than what I had been making it out to be. It allows people to do duets and create songs together, and in Erynn and my case, I was able to take a clip from her song and show what I could turn it into. And, it’s fun to see creative people on the platform and what people use for inspiration to create songs.
Have you had any conversations about the song and video with Clay Walker since your TikTok success?
We stay in touch. We are usually talking about writing songs together and what is next for both of us. He is super excited to see the momentum that is happening in my career. He’s been a big supporter of mine. He is someone that genuinely believed in me in town when not a lot of folks did. And, I’ll be forever grateful to him for that.
Finding an idea for a song on TikTok is clever. As a songwriter, where do you usually find inspiration for writing?
I would say from life. As a songwriter, it is our job to write songs that other people can relate to. So, getting out there and living and having experiences with the highs and lows, the wins and the heartbreaks, allows you to figure out how to put those feelings into words so that other people can experience them with you. And, the other thing is, seeing stuff. Not every song I write, I’ve lived, but it’s cool to see stories and take those and try to empathize with that person and put yourself in their shoes and try to tell a story like you think they would from that perspective. So, it’s just adjusting to everyday life. I keep a notepad on my phone and my ideas at all times whenever we sit down to write. So, I will pull up my notes and throw out a couple of ideas in the room, and my crew writers and I will pick something and dive into it.
View this post on Instagram
Have you been able to perform “Beer Beer, Truck Truck” live? How has it been getting back out there in front of fans post-shutdown?
I have gotten to play this song live a few times now, and we are starting to get back on the road. I just signed with a booking agent, and I am getting some incredible show offers coming down the pipeline. But, I was in San Jose two days ago, and we were having a writer’s night there. They had a sold-out crowd, which was incredible. It is a small, five-hundred-person venue. I didn’t expect anyone to know me there. I’m a brand new artist as far as the solo side goes. And, when I went to introduce “Beer Beer, Truck Truck,” I started telling the story. I said, ‘And, she said, country music ain’t nothing but beer…,” and the crowd finished it for me, ‘Truck Truck, girls in tight jeans.’ I had goosebumps all over my body! You never really understand the reach of social media and music and streaming services and radio until you go out on the road and realize how many people are consuming the song and sharing this song and listening to this song. It was mind-blowing for me. I have not come down off that high!
Has the success of “Beer Beer, Truck Truck” given you any pressure with coming up with the next song?
It did at first. I want to live up to the hype, and I want people to enjoy my music. I want to fill the shoes that I’ve set here as a songwriter. But, the more I’ve thought about it and the more that I’ve delved into the creative process, I’m just trying to focus on the positive and create the best art that I can. I’ve spent my whole life doing this, so I know I’m capable of it. I want to give people the art that they can enjoy with me. I’ve finished up about five songs, and I have never been more creatively proud of a project! I think finding peace with myself and the music I’ve created before it’s even come out has taken a lot of the pressure off of me because no matter how it’s accepted, I am proud of this body of work as anything I’ve ever done. So, I’m excited to see what it does, but I’ve also found a lot of peace in making this for me and pouring my heart and soul into it. I have a good feeling people are going to connect with it.
Is there anything you can share about those five songs? What does the timeline look like for you putting them out?
I’m hopeful they will be coming out later this year. They are finished and ready to roll. So, I think it’s just a matter of figuring out the roll-out strategy so that each one has its day in the sun and an opportunity to be heard. I’m also working on some pretty massive collaborations with some artists that I could never imagine being on the same record on! I can’t say who yet, but I have some life-changing collaborations coming out later this summer! So, it feels like I am in a dream, and if I am, please don’t wake me up! I’m having a lot of fun right now.
Fans can keep up with George Birge on Instagram.
Melinda Lorge is a Nashville-based freelance writer who specializes in covering country music. Along with Country Now, her work has appeared in publications, including Rare Country, Rolling Stone Country, Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, Wide Open Country and more. After joining Rare Country in early 2016, Lorge was presented with the opportunity to lead coverage on late-night television programs, including “The Voice” and “American Idol,” which helped her to sharpen her writing skills even more. Lorge earned her degree at Middle Tennessee State University, following the completion of five internships within the country music industry. She has an undeniable love for music and entertainment. When she isn’t living and breathing country music, she can be found enjoying time outdoors with family and friends.