"It's not lost on us that we have gone through very similar stories in a very short period of time," Josh Beale tells PEOPLE. "I don't think it's an accident that we are in each other lives"

By Tricia Despres
July 08, 2021 06:50 PM

Not a day would go by without Kate Hasting texting her mom. Often, it was for a quick piece of advice or a rushed hello in the middle of yet another chaotic day. So it wasn't unusual that, on a June day three years ago, Hasting found herself sending yet another casual text to the woman she calls her best friend.

"Kacey Musgraves had just worn these iconic white leather boots on stage, and I couldn't get over how beautiful those boots were," remembers Hasting of the country duo Hasting & Co. during an emotional interview with PEOPLE. "I envisioned my mom texting me back to say that someday if I kept working hard, I could wear boots like that."

But that text never came.

Instead, it was then that Hasting was given the almost unfathomable news that her parents had been in a serious car accident on the way to dinner with friends. Her father was killed almost instantly, and her mom found herself in dire circumstances.

"She died three times," remembers Hasting, who grew up on a cattle farm in New Carlisle, Ohio. "The third time they resuscitated her and got her stable. And then they came in and told me it could be weeks until they knew if they had actually saved her life. And even if they did, she might not be the mom that I had once known."

With this terrifying news came a moment where Hasting was faced with a decision — quit the country music career she had just begun alongside Hasting & Co. duo partner Josh Beale, or keep on playing their brand of rip-roaring, antic-filled music in an effort to drown out reality.

They picked the latter.

"We didn't miss a show," explains Hasting, whose current clever single "SPF U" is currently finding itself on an increasing number of summer playlists. "We went straight out and kept playing because I just kept thinking about things like, 'What are these hotel bills going to look like?' I can't stop working.'"

hasting & co.
Hasting & Co
| Credit: Elizabeth Newman Photography

And work they did. Inspired by the fun-loving music of artists such as Brad Paisley, Big & Rich and Blake Shelton, the duo already had been seeing success with songs such as "Brunch Drunk" and "Canadian Tuxedo." It was at this time that they also started playing with a song title that Hasting has had in her head for a while.

"Most people I would take the hook of 'SPF U' to were 50-year-old men who had a few cuts, and they were like, 'Yeah, I'm not going to write that with you,'" Hasting says with a laugh about the song they ultimately wrote with songwriter Sarah Jones and a somewhat, yet to be discovered Priscilla Block. "But eventually, we sat down with Priscilla and Sarah and the song we would call "the sunscreen song" finally flew out of the bottle."

Hasting & Co. started playing the fresh tune in their pre-COVID sets, and soon saw that audiences were warming up not only to their more emotionally leaning songs, but to the clever ones with the country hooks and the somewhat hysterical premises.

hasting & co
Josh Beale and Kate Hasting
| Credit: Elizabeth Newman Photography

But then, exactly 11 months from the moment Hasting lost her dad and nearly her mom, the unthinkable happened yet again.

"I was literally walking out of Kate's dad's memorial service when my parents called to tell me that the doctor had given my dad one month to live," explains Beale, who grew up 409 miles from Hasting in Waukesha, Wisconsin. "My dad had had a rare form of leukemia for a little over 28 years, and he finally succumbed to complications from the chemo and heart issues and all the things that come from all the medications he had been on my whole life."

As the two found a common ground in their shared undeserved pain, they also found refuge in their own little songwriting community.

"The death of our fathers is when we started really amping up our writing, because they were about the only people we could stomach being in a room with at the time," says Beale. "They were our best friends. It was hard to write with anyone else and be that vulnerable."

"The amount of times that those women picked us up off of the floor?" adds Hasting. "We all touched fire. And then we turned it into something."

Indeed, "SPF U" started becoming a fan favorite.

"I remember playing 'SPF U' at a Jake Owen show shortly after Josh's father's death, and that's the first time I had a hint of joy again," remembers Hasting, who alongside Beale has also co-written songs that turned into hits for Block, including "Heels in Hand" and "Wish You Were the Whiskey." "I realized that these were the songs that we were going to sing, and the audiences were not only letting us, but they were celebrating us for it. And that was enough to keep me doing this, despite everything that was still going on with my mom."

Hasting & Co
Hasting & Co.
| Credit: Courtesy Hasting & Co

Today, Hasting is celebrating a year of sobriety and another year with her mom.

"She still struggles today, but she has started to walk again, even after they told her she would never walk," Hasting explains quietly. "And she is 100% my mom in the head, which is the biggest miracle."

"It's not lost on us that we have gone through very similar stories in a very short period of time," adds Beale. "And I don't think it's an accident that we are in each other lives."

The only thing left to do is for these two to take on the world.

"I want middle America," concludes Hasting with a fire in her Midwestern growl. "I want the disconnect between the machine of country music and the artists that they're supplying us and the actual desire for real people. I'm hoping that distance can be bridged a little bit by two legitimate farm kids that have gone through hell and back."