Travis Denning Unveils Personal Life Stories On His Debut Album, ‘Roads That Go Nowhere’ [Exclusive Interview]

“I want this to be a picture of reflection of good, bad, ugly, great, beautiful moments in my life and the ones I’ve yet to go to,” Denning explained.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

May 24, 2024


9:43 am

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Travis Denning; Photo by Tanner Yeager

Travis Denning’s debut album, Roads That Go Nowhere, has been a year in the making, and today, May 24, it is finally available for listeners to indulge in. The 15-track project explores personal moments from the country star’s past, present and future, while also showcasing the evolution of his artistry through a mix of hard-hitting anthems and sentimental stories plucked from his real-life.  

While reflecting on the journey of creating this project in an exclusive interview with Country Now, Denning explained that the overall goal and direction of the collection really began to take shape when he wrote the title track with Ben Foster and James McNair. 

“I’ve known James for a long time, and so we really reminisced about our upbringing and moving to Nashville and chasing the dream, and that was really the driving motivation for what that song is about lyrically.”

Finding The “Anchor” For The Project In The Title Track

From there, the song inspired him to think about all the different roads he’s gone down throughout various chapters of his life. Suddenly, he had a solid theme and an “anchor” for what he envisioned the entire project to sound like. Denning already had a few tracks cut when this new spark of inspiration struck, however in the end he feels proud of the fact that it all came together in a very cohesive manner. 

“I want this to be a picture of reflection of good, bad, ugly, great, beautiful moments in my life and the ones I’ve yet to go to,” he explained.

Travis Denning; Roads That Go Nowhere
Travis Denning; Roads That Go Nowhere

Denning went on to admit that he had three clear goals when putting together this record – cut great songs, keep the guitar the central point of the production and challenge himself vocally. The lead track, “Why I’m Drinking,” which is one of only three outside cuts on the project, set the standard for the production level throughout the collection as it offers a unique sound that Denning describes as a “four-minute waltz blues ballad.” 

Drawing inspiration from John Mayer and Chris Stapleton, the song also taps into a new side to his artistry that fans may not be used to hearing at the top of his projects. 

“I’m a guitar player at my core, that’s what I’ve always done and so I played the guitar on every song on this record, and I wanted there to be a great guitar solo, great moments, great sounds,” he shared. “That was my production standard and then artistically I just I think it’s fu**ing badass to kick off a record with it. Every EP I’ve ever put out, I had a big ole redneck kind of live anthem, and I was like, I don’t want to do that this time. I want the first track to be something soulful. I want to throw people for a loop, and I wanted to set a tone that, ‘hey, there are some things in this record that you haven’t gotten from me before.”

The Project Features Three Collaborations

Interlaced with all the solo recordings are three collaborations. The first to appear on the track list is “I Know How It Sounds,” which includes an epic guitar solo from Mark Morton of Denning’s “favorite band of all time,” Lamb of God.

“I love Lamb of God and I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to become really good friends with Mark. We’ve written some songs together for his solo project and when he called me and asked me to write with him, I said, ‘only if you rip a solo on one of my songs.’ He said, ‘I’ll do it.’ And it makes the song,” Denning shared. 

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The next collaboration is “Southern Rock” featuring one of his closest friends in the business, HARDY. Denning wrote this hard-hitting tune back in 2016 with Jessi Alexander and Chase McGill and revealed he has always had such a special connection with the song. He now deems it his “tombstone song” because of the fact that is details his upbringing in Georgia. 

“When I die, I want those words in that song to be what I’m remembered by because, like I said, I love where I come from. I think so much of my music is from the Southern rock influence and then also just the way I grew up on the Southern rock of the earth. It’s who I am. I’m so grateful for my upbringing and I was raised the way I was in the place I was to get to where I’m at now. I knew that HARDY felt the same way and I knew he would relate to the song. It’s also just an absolute rocking song. It’s right up his alley.” 

While on the road with HARDY in support of his Quit!! Tour this summer, Denning teased that he and the “TRUCK BED” singer will likely take the stage together to perform their brand-new collaboration. Plus, a music video featuring the collaborators made its debut this week.

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Denning tapped Josh Ross to be his final featured guest on the record for the carefree summer anthem, “The Sound Of A Beer Getting Cracked.” The song was originally recorded solely with Denning’s vocals, however he knew adding Josh would give it that extra layer of fun. 

“It’s just a summertime, feel-good song. Not trying to change anyone’s life with that one. We just wanted to have fun, and I knew it was a great song to collaborate with…I walked into a bar, I saw him, we were having drinks, came up in a conversation, boom it was done,” he said, explaining how Ross came to be the featured artist.

The Album Closes On A Personal Note

The album closes out on a quiet note with “Ocmulgee River,” which happens to be the only solo write and the most sentimental narrative on the entire project. Denning strips back the production to just his vocals and a guitar as delivers a love letter to the river that runs through his hometown in Georgia and all the memories that have been made in his neck of the woods.  

“I wanted this album to finish on just me and a guitar. I wrote this song in my grandparents-in-law’s house. I always knew I wanted to write a song with the title of the river that runs through Macon, GA and runs through part of my hometown and it was just kind of my love letter to that place in the world and that corner of my life, which is my home.”

This song serves as more than just a sentimental delivery for the people of Denning’s hometown. He also hopes that his fellow dreamers and those who are just at the start of their careers will hear the lyrics and be reminded of their hometowns.

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“I just wrote it from that mindset of, ‘I’m on the road. I’m doing all these things I dreamed about, but I think about you all the time.’ I think for anybody who’s got a dream that involves leaving their hometown, I hope they can relate to it in that sense,” he added.

It’s clear as day that Roads That Go Nowhere offers a heavy layer of reflection from Denning, and as a result, gives fans a raw look into his life and the experiences that have made him the person he is today. He brings vulnerability and in-depth storytelling all while giving his listeners a soundtrack of songs worthy of being celebrated with close friends. 

Travis Denning will join HARDY beginning May 30 in Rogers, AR, and continue with stops in Toronto, ON, Raleigh, NC, Cincinnati, OH, and more before wrapping up in Tinley Park, IL on September 27. 

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.