The past two years have been a breakthrough for Drew Parker, as a hit songwriter and artist. In 2019, he co-wrote the #1 hit “Homemade” for Jake Owen. Then last year (2020), he signed a label deal with Warner Music Nashville, and he recently released his EP, While You’re Gone. And currently, he co-wrote Luke Combs’ #1 hit “Forever After All,” which has become one of the biggest country hits of the year.
It’s difficult for someone to have dual success as a hit songwriter and artist, but Parker is showing how it’s done. While he continues to write songs for other artists and for himself, he’s also performing live shows and touring. Notably, he’s about to go on tour as the opening act for Luke Combs’ stadium & arena tour.
While he’s on tour, Parker will have the opportunity to play live and showcase the songs on his new EP, While You’re Gone. This includes the title cut and single “While You’re Gone,” which is starting to move up the Billboard Country Airplay chart. The EP also contains the fun, rollicking song “All The Beers,” the acoustic, heartfelt “House Band,” and the cuts “Hell Yeah Say When I’m In” and “Party in The Back.”
Originally from the small city of Covington, Georgia, Parker fell in love with music and he grew up singing in church. When he was a senior in high school, he started playing at open mics and singing country music. Then when he as 24, he moved to Nashville after he struck up a friendship with Luke Combs, and began writing songs with him. One of the first songs they wrote was the soulful ballad “Lonely One,” which was released on Combs’ multi-platinum debut album, This One’s for You.
Parker also wrote songs for other artists, and he co-wrote the hit “Homemade” for Jake Owen. It was also during this period that Parker recorded & released his EP, which led to him signing a label deal with Warner Music Nashville.
In addition to co-writing the hits “Forever After All “ and “Homemade,” Parker has penned other notable songs. He co-wrote the feisty, high-energy cut “1, 2 Many” for Luke Combs (featuring Brooks & Dunn), and the ballad “Nothing Like You” for Combs.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Drew Parker. He tells how he co-wrote the hits “Forever After All” and “Homemade,” and he discusses his EP, While You’re Gone.
Here’s the video of Luke Combs’ hit “Forever After All,” which
was co-written by Drew Parker.
DK: I read that you’re from a small city called Covington in Georgia. How did you get started with music?
Drew Parker: I grew up in Covington, Georgia, which is about an hour east of Atlanta. I grew up singing in church, and that’s where my love for music was born. Also, my parents always listened to country music and they exposed me to that, and I would ride around in the truck listening to country music.
When I was about 12, my parents bought me some sound equipment, and we started traveling and singing gospel music. It just progressed from there. When I was a senior in high school, I started playing open mics and singing country music. And when I was around 20, I thought…maybe I want to do this as a career. Then when I was 24, I packed my bags and moved to Nashville.
DK: It was about six years ago when you first met Luke Combs. How did you connect with him?
Parker: At the time, I was still living in Covington. I had met this promoter out of Athens, Georgia, and he’s known for finding local talent to open up for new, upcoming artists out of Nashville. So that’s what happened for me. He had booked a show for Luke Combs in Rome, Georgia, and he put me on to open. At the time, Luke had been in Nashville for about six months. We hit it off in the Green Room—we started talking about music, we realized how much we had in common, and we started writing songs together. So he invited me to write songs with him, and to come to Nashville. For the next nine months, I drove back and forth from Georgia to Nashville, and then I moved to Nashville.
DK: I like your song “Lonely One,” that’s on Luke Combs’ first album. Is that one of the first songs you wrote with him?
Parker: I think that was the first song I wrote with Luke. That song was written during the period when I was still driving to Nashville from Georgia. And it was before he had a record deal…it was just us writing songs. It was just something we enjoyed doing, and then it wound up on his first record when he signed his record deal with Sony.
Here’s the video of Drew Parker’s single, “While You’re Gone.”
DK: When you moved to Nashville, was your focus on being an artist, or writing songs for other artists?
Parker: When I moved to Nashville, my passion was singing and being onstage. Being an artist was always my main goal. Songwriting was something I came across, and I guess it was borne out of necessity. When you get to Nashville, the easiest way to meet people and expand your relationships and network is to write songs. When you meet somebody it’s easy to say, “Hey, do you want to write a song tomorrow?” So that’s where that came from.
Honestly, I had never written a song before when Luke Combs was like, “Hey man, come to Nashville and let’s write songs.” I was like, “Well, I’ve never written songs but okay.” Then you just go from there, and I realized that I had a huge passion for writing. It was something that I learned to love.
DK: Currently you have a big hit on the charts, “Forever After All” by Luke Combs., which you wrote with Luke and Rob Williford. Can you tell the story behind writing this song?
Parker: Luke had texted me and Rob one day, “Why don’t you come to the house tomorrow. We’ll hang out and write songs.” So of course, me and Rob said yes, Luke had just moved into this house, which was brand new. So we rode out there. Luke and his now-wife Nicole were moving in together, so it was a very special place for him. At first, we sat down and we started tinkering with another idea, but it wasn’t really going anywhere. Then we decided, “Hey, let’s find a different idea…let’s write something else.” So we started talking about how this house was special, with him and Nicole. We threw out different ideas, and we came up with the title, Forever After All, and we started discussing, “What is this about?” Luke said, “You know, not everything lasts forever, but I think the love that me and Nicole have for each other, it can last forever.” And for me, I’m married too, so it was a song I could relate too as well.
That day, we thought we wrote a very good song. We had the high-five moments in the middle of writing it, as far as the melody and lyric. But I had no idea it was going to be number one for six weeks. And it’s been special that I wrote this song with two of my best friends in town.
Here’s the video of Jake Owen’s hit “Homemade,” which was
co-written by Drew Parker.
DK: You’ve signed as an artist with Warner Music Nashville, and you’ve released your EP, While You’re Gone. Can you talk about the making of this EP?
Parker: I recorded the songs for this EP in 2019. We released a couple songs off of the EP in October 2019, and then one in early 2020. The plan was to release the entire EP, but then the pandemic happened, so we were sitting on it for a while. Then around July 2020 I was thinking…What part can I play in this pandemic, and be a resource and a help? I had this EP which was about 25 minutes long, so if I could put this out and make people forget about the pandemic for 25 minutes, then I’ve done my part. So I was like, “I think we need to put it out. I know it’s not typical to put music out without being able to tour and promote it, but I think this is what we should do.” And it was probably the smartest decision that me and my team have made. After we put it out, the single “While You’re Gone” got picked up by SiriusXM and ended up going to number one on The Highway playlist, which led me to Warner Music Nashville and it’s been great. I’m actually out on the road right now, on a radio tour, so I’m getting to do all those fun things. And it’s been fun to watch the fans who have found and discovered this music over the past year.
DK: I like your single “While You’re Gone,” which you wrote with Jameson Rodgers. How did you and Jameson write this song?
Parker: We both love ‘90s country music, and I remember listening to songs like “Every Light in The House” (by Trace Adkins) which is a sad song. But if you listen to it in a certain way, it’s kind of funny. Just in the sense of it’s a sad song meaning somebody has left, but the funny part is that you’re literally gonna leave every light in the house on just to let them know that you’re still there. So were talking about that, and I said, “Man, I’d like to write a song that’s sad but also funny like that.” So we started going through titles, and Jameson had this idea called “While You’re Gone.” I asked, “What’s that about?” And he said, “It’s about…I’ll be here doin’ my thing while you’re gone. It’s about this guy who’s trying to figure out…Has this girl left for good? Or did she just run to the store and she’s coming back?” That’s how this song came about. It’s out of a nostalgic feeling of the songs that we grew up on.
Here’s the video of Luke Combs’ song “1, 2 Many” feat. Brooks
& Dunn, which was co-written by Drew Parker.
DK: Two years ago, you co-wrote a number one hit for Jake Owen, “Homemade.” Can you talk about writing this song?
Parker: Yeah, we wrote that a few years back. On that day, I was writing with my friend Jared Mullins, and with Ben Goldsmith and Bobby Pinson. Jared had thrown out this idea called “Homemade,” and as soon as he said it, I was like, “Okay, that’s what we’re writing today. I don’t need to hear any other ideas.” I thought…how has this song never been written before? It’s just one of those ideas that you hear once in a lifetime, and you go, “I know exactly what to do with that.” So we started messing around—it was easy to write, but at the same time it was kind of hard, because I knew how important the idea was and how special it needed to be. We needed to make sure we had every piece of it right. And so I’ll never forget writing that song. It’s one of my favorites that I’ve written, and I’m thankful to be a part of.
DK: One of my favorite songs that you’ve written is “1, 2 Many” for Luke Combs which features Brooks & Dunn. How did you co-write this song?
Parker: Thank you. Luke had us out on his bus one weekend—it was me, Luke, Dan Isbell and Tyler King. Luke and Tyler had already started the chorus of that song, and then Luke brought the idea to me and Dan Isbell. We liked those fast, honky-tonkin’ songs of the ‘90s, and it was something that we wanted to chase. You know, this song was just about having a good time, and we had a blast writing it.
There’s one part of that song in particular that I remember. We needed a bridge for it, and we were having trouble. We asked, “What does a bridge for this song say?” Me and Dan were on the bus working on it, and finally we said, “Let’s take a break and come back to it later. Let’s go watch Luke’s show.” So we see Luke’s show, and on one song he throws his drink into the crowd and the crowd goes wild. And then he shotgunned a beer onstage, and it gave me an idea. I said to Dan, “We’ve got our idea for the bridge.” Then we went back to the bus and I’m like, “Just hear me out. Let’s have Luke shotgun a beer in the middle of the bridge. So we did that, and it was fun to write that song.