Chase Bryant Says He's 'Constantly in a Period of Change' as He Drops Album 'Upbringing'

"To make this record, I analyzed the best days of those awful years. It's like, 'listen to these 12 songs and you will hear about the 12 best days I had,' you know what I mean?" he tells PEOPLE

Chase Bryant
Photo: Jeff Ray

Chase Bryant keeps it simple these days, thanks to a new perspective.

"I've got a family that loves me, I've got a girl that loves me and, you know, I've got friends in the industry that are great," Bryant, 28, tells PEOPLE as he drops his album Upbringing. "And I'm really thankful this record happened."

The journey to the release of his long-awaited debut album has certainly been an arduous one, to say the very least. Bryant — known best for country hits such as "Take It on Back" and "Little Bit of You" — has battled depression and self-doubt throughout a good portion of his life. He's seen his music take off and he's seen it plummet before his very eyes. And in the two or so years before recording Upbringing, Bryant attempted suicide. But God had other plans.

After seeking treatment at a psychiatric and substance abuse treatment center in Franklin, Tennessee, he returned to Texas and carefully crawled back into a pool-hall turned home studio to make music once again.

"I'm glad the snapshots held within this album tell a little more of my story," Bryant says of the album produced by Jon Randall at Austin's famed Arlyn Studios. "I'm excited for the next steps. And, yeah, I'm excited to see what the world thinks about it."

Chase Bryant
Chase Bryant. Jeff Ray

It's, in fact, a new day for Bryant. "I feel good…I feel really good," Bryant says. "But we all still have days, right? I don't want to look like some unicorn, frolicking through a field of clovers right now. There are still days that it's very tough. I'm really learning how to control things. I'm trying to really take time and better myself in certain areas."

He refrains from going into details about those 'certain areas' he still finds himself grappling with, and even the most hardcore fan may not find any clues to his ever-present struggles within the entirety of Bryant's new album.

"Well, those songs are there sitting in a DropBox link somewhere," says Bryant, seeming to tease a day in which he will open the vault on some of those darker snapshots of his current songwriting. "But I didn't put them on this album, because I don't want to have to sing that every night. That's really what it is. I could have made this really dark record about attempting suicide and all these other things, but I chose to lead in with more hope."

"I knew I wanted to make a fun record, a great record," he adds. "To make this record, I analyzed the best days of those awful years. It's like, 'listen to these 12 songs and you will hear about the 12 best days I had,' you know what I mean?"

It's a technique that countless numbers of country music's greatest storytellers have used through the years to see life through a better lens.

"I appreciate being a songwriter now more than ever before," says Bryant, who had a hand in writing 10 of the album's 12 gritty tracks. "You realize how lucky some of us are to be able to intertwine words and put our life into music because we're not really comfortable talking about it any other way."

Nevertheless, Bryant now finds himself back on the road along with much of the rest of his country comrades following the once unthinkable pandemic break. But this time, Bryant says he is looking at the road in a whole new way.

"I don't think I'm going to be the guy that's going to be like, 'hey, let's go do 300 shows this year,'" says Bryant, who released the title track of the new album back in February. "I think we have all had this moment when we realize that we have to take a little better care of ourselves, you know? That's the God's honest truth. I mean, we've been put on these ridiculous schedules and to say that that's what is expected of us? I think we will just do it a little smarter."

Bryant says he is also learning to be a bit smarter as to the artist he portrays out on that big stage, choosing to bring a more authentic version of himself to his fans and his live show.

"It's a lot more laid back," he says. "It's still rock and roll and it's still loud, but I'm taking my time, you know? I'm starting somewhere and I'm ending somewhere, and that middle ground is this kind of still growing period for me. I mean, I just want the show to be fun. I'm not trying to go shoot firecrackers out my ass and jump off of things. If I could say anything to my younger self, I would say 'hey man, you know, have fun now because one day you're going to grow up and you're going to look back and think you looked kind of stupid."

"I'm constantly in a period of change," adds Bryant, who is now happily dating model Selena Weber. "And I love that."

Bryant's music is changing at the very same time, as he seems to find quite the pocket on the grittier-sounding Upbringing.

"Those instruments were being played past the point of sounding good," Bryant says of the sounds created by his star-studded band featuring drummer J.J. Johnson and guitarist Charlie Sexton. "It sounds like kids in a garage playing together again. It was pretty inspiring and a really, really fine place to start."

And while the album is also filled with radio-ready singles such as "Think about That," "Selfish" and the somewhat obvious "High, Drunk and Heartbroke," creating songs for the charts was pretty much the last thing on Bryant's mind.

"That never crossed my mind one time," he says. "All I was doing was drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and writing country songs. That's it."

Upbringing is out now.

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