Ashley McBryde is a badass. Or at least that’s what every article I’ve ever read about her has told me. The definition of a badass is a tough, uncompromising, or intimidating person. Tough? Yes. Uncompromising? probably not. Intimidating? Yeah. Until you get to know her. When I got to sit down with the country newcomer, I found her to be funny, down to earth and just plain honest—a refreshing trait to come across. Some may find her intimidating. In which case, two out of three ain’t bad.
Ashley McBryde is a badass and you can’t help but love her.
The Arkansas native made a splash in country music with her standout gritty vocals and debut single “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega”—an anthem for those who have been through the wringer but don’t give up. While you may just be getting to know her, Ashley has been plugging away at her craft for over 10 years.
A much welcomed addition to country music, she is currently gearing up for the release of her debut album, Girl Going Nowhere, on March 30. Already two singles deep,—”A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega” and “American Scandal”—Ashley is giving us a taste of what’s to come.
“I think those two together are a good thumbnail of a Polaroid. You know, it’s a good little snapshot of what you’re gonna get,” Ashley tells One Country.
I sat down with Ashley to get to know more about her and her upcoming album. I also wanted to see if she thinks she’s the badass that everyone says she is.
Everything I’ve read about you says you’re a badass. Are you?
“I can’t tell if its true or not, that’s up to you. I don’t really know how that started—I guess Eric Church started it. He called me a whiskey drinking badass. I call myself Whiskey-pedia. I’m an enthusiast. I love bourbons and whiskeys. I don’t know, I’m covered in tattoos and I really make no bones about anything and I take no crap.”
Is it in the attitude?
“I think it’s an attitude thing. I’m only five three, you know, its not hard to knock me down. I’m too small to hit somebody, but I’ll trip somebody in a heartbeat.”
So, where does that attitude come from?
“From growing up the youngest. And I played the French Horn in high school and also in college, so I got a lot of crap for doing that. You can’t disappear carrying a french horn down a hallway. They’re gonna corner you. And being in band doesn’t get you much except beat up sometimes after school. But I stuck with it and I’m so thankful for all the different kinds of music that I grew up playing. I don’t really know where the badass rumor comes from, but I’m happy to grow into it. Yup, happy to do it.”
Tell me a little something about you?
“I’m from the Ozark Mountains, I’m from Mammoth Spring, Arkansas. Youngest of six. Everyone thinks the baby is spoiled but really they say crap rolls downhill and that’s true. I did spend a lot of time in hand-me-downs. I have four brothers and only one sister, so I spent a lot of time in boys’ hand-me-downs. It was a really cool way to grow up, though. On a cattle farm. Lots of bluegrass involved and lots of church music involved.”
Were your parents interested in music?
“My dad taught me to play my first three chords and then kinda let me go on my way. He’s a guitar player. And my mom sings like an angel. Everyone in my family can sing really well. I’m just the only one who—no one’s told me to shut up yet, so.”
You’re debut single, “Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega,” what’s the story behind that?
“It was me and Nicolette Hayford and Jesse Rice. I’d had an extraordinarily bad morning. Not just inconvenient. And I got to the publishing house to write and Nicolette came in and she was crying. She had had a way worse morning than me. So I felt bad and I had this little [melody] in my head. She had been broken up with and I said, ‘Well, let’s just write breakups that didn’t break us.’ And an hour and a half into our session, Jesse Rice, our other co-writer, still hasn’t shown up. I was like this guy thinks he doesn’t have to come write with the girls and I don’t like it.
“But he showed up, he walks into Song Factory, he’s in like a reddish color polo. He’s got on a fitted ball cap, which is not odd except you know what it looks like when a man sleeps in a fitter ball cap? And how its like their beard, their hair and their hat are all the same kind of animal. It’s like a helmet. Either he hadn’t been to bed or he had slept that way. He had his sunglasses on his face, they were missing a lens. So he looked like a pirate.
“While we’re commiserating, I said have you ever had a worse day than today? These three days in combination are the worst and he said, ‘oh, yeah.’ He was leaving Atlanta and his car started to screw up, so he took the next available exit, which was Dahlonega, Georgia. He walked inside to the Crimson Moon to go call his buddies to come and get him. Sean Mullins was in the Crimson Moon playing a show. So he stayed to listen, got a beer and a burger and he saw a girl across the room. A little blonde girl named Kendra. And when he’s telling us this story, he goes, ‘and we’re getting married this May.’—which is like two years ago now.
“Me and Nicolette are furiously scribbling, how do you spell Dahlonega? If you can just take her day, your day, my day and the true story of you and Kendra and just make it rhyme, that’s all we have to do! It’s just facts. And we did.
You’re album, Girl Going Nowhere, is out March 30. What are we going to get?
“You have your entire life to write your first album and you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to get an album that’s as authentic as your very first album. So when we started to choose songs for this record, we really had to be careful and be sure that this is an exact snapshot of what you wanna say.
“And my band and I had been together a long time. We record everything live together all in the same room. Thanks to [producer] Jay Joyce, its not only possible, but really easy to do. He let us play it like a bar band. Just play the song three or four times—just play your set down. And we did. So when you come to the live show and you go, ‘Wow, sounds just like the record,’ that’s the most perfect compliment you could give us because I know there’s a lot of magic we can do in the studio. We just let the magic be between us and its just honest. There’s gonna be some wrong notes, you’ll hear them. But they’re honest. It was more right to be wrong than to be perfect.”
Can’t help but notice your tattoos. How many do you have?
“I stopped counting because they all kind of became one. Nancy Miller out of .Little Rock, she did a couple tattoos for me and then I just kept continuing. I would send her a song or call her and tell her a story and then she would draw it. So when [the label] said, ‘we’d like to do a day in the life video [for “American Scandal”—(Ashley’s second single)], what do you want to do when you go back to Arkansas?’ I said, ‘Well, I go see my godchildren, I get a tattoo, and I go to Reno’s—a bar that I’ve played in for 11 years. So I sent the song ‘American Scandal’ to Nancy Miller and she drew it up.”
So anymore tattoos in the future?
“Oh, yeah. There’s still space. I think I’m gonna start on the thighs next. I want a lion tamer. I’d like to have three lions on stools—I’m a Leo. I would like to have a ring master pin up with three lions on stools because I had a friend in Little Rock who calls me Leo and she said you’re not a Leo, you’re the Leo. Putting lions on stools all day long. And I’ll take that.”
I wanna ask you some random questions. Just answer off the top of your head.
Who’s your celebrity crush?
“TJ Osborne -That voice, that jaw, that guy.”
What’s your biggest fear?
Who’s the last person you texted?
Are you guys gonna write together?
“Yeah, we just wrote together a couple weeks ago.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
What’s your perfect pizza?
“If I’m going into a random pizza place, I get a cheese pizza to find out if the pizza is good or not. Pizza is one of my favorite food groups. I love a pepperoni pizza and I love mushrooms on it, too. I don’t want fish on it. I’ll even handle pineapple, if you’re gonna put that on there.”
Last thing you do before you go to bed?
“I put my 357 on the nightstand.”
What’s your most annoying habit?
“I leave my socks all over the place—wherever I take them off, wherever I am. If my feet are hot, I’ll just like take my boots off and then take socks off. There are socks all over the house.”
Who are you listening to right now?
“Right now? I’m so far into Tyler Childers. There’s a record called Purgatory.”
What’s your favorite movie?
“Hands down, Tombstone.”
In addition, Girl Going Nowhere will be available on March 30. In the meantime, Ashley can be seen out on the road with Luke Combs as part of the Don’t Tempt Me With A Good Time Tour.
Track Listing for Girl Going Nowhere:
“Girl Goin’ Nowhere”
“Livin’ Next to Leroy”
“A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega”
“Andy” (I Can’t Live Without You)
“Tired of Being Happy”
“Home Sweet Highway”