Following his 2022 breakout major label debut Gold Chain Cowboy, rising country star Parker McCollum has followed up with his new album, Never Enough, which features the chart-topping hit “Handle on You.” Written by McCollum and Monty Criswell, “Handle On You” is the Texan’s third consecutive No.1 song, following his previous hits “Pretty Heart” and “To Be Loved By You.” That early success set a high bar for the singer-songwriter, who felt like he was constantly chasing the next goal yet never feeling satisfied.

The 2022 ACM New Male Artist of the Year opened up to Music Mayhem and other media about his internal struggles of seeking perfection, creating the songs for Never Enough, life on the road, and more.

Never Enough

When he’s working on an album, McCollum doesn’t have a tall stack of songs he chooses from or a specific direction that he aims for.

“I really just try to be as honest and as genuine and as authentic as I can possibly be with my songwriting.” He’s followed the same process for every record to date. “When I write a song, I know whether I want to cut it or not,” says McCollum. “That’s in my mental pile of ‘I’m going to cut that.’ And then once I got about 10 or 12 of them, I start thinking about recording an album and then once I’m recording an album, I’m like, all right, I’m going to try to write a few more for it and I’ll really kind of dial in and woodshed and knock some songs out and see if anything’s worthy of putting on the record. And that’s how I’ve done it every time and it’s worked.”

McCollum also praises producer Jon Randall for his magic touch. “Everything he touches turns to gold. So it’s kind of the perfect mixture I think for just me personally and both of us being from Texas and kind of leaning into that a little bit.”

Parker McCollum's 'Never Enough' Album Art
Parker McCollum’s ‘Never Enough’ Album Art

In spite of his success, McCollum admits that he’s hard on himself. “It takes so much out of me to write these songs sometimes. Putting another record out in the world today in country music is just so different and the scene is so different. Everybody’s opinion is right there in your face every time you pick up your phone and everybody got something to say about it. I really just like to put my record out and put my head down and get on the road and go to work and not pay any mind and no spotlight or anything like that. But that’s part of the game and you got to play the game.”

“The Amount Of Work I Could Put In Is Never Enough”

The title Never Enough was a common theme for McCollum in spite of his success. “I just couldn’t shake it all last year. I just kept coming back to it. Every mountain I’ve climbed, I just immediately wanted to climb the next mountain. And as much as I could obtain or buy or do, the amount of work I could put in is never enough, it always seems never enough.” 

Parker McCollum; Photo by Chris Kleinmeier
Parker McCollum; Photo by Chris Kleinmeier

Yet, McCollum recognizes how he wants to evolve. “You’ve got to learn to really be grateful for what you have and to be in the moment and be appreciative of that. Because I mean, nothing is guaranteed and you get just kind of caught up with chasing the dream and it seemed like everything I did, it was never enough.”

“Handle On You”

With a third No. 1 single under his belt, McCollum is already experiencing success with Never Enough. He says that “Handle on You” sounds “a little different” than everything else on country radio and that may be why the “good old country song” has resonated with fans. “They’re kind of hard to come by sometimes nowadays.”

Even though McCollum’s sound leans toward traditional country, Never Enough features rock sounds that are inspired by bands he loves like .38 Special and Guns ‘N Roses, with guitar solos and certain tones. Even though his process hasn’t changed, he admits that his sound has evolved. “I still just sit around in my living room trying to write songs and trying to write country songs and when you get in the studio you kind of have fun with production and doing different stuff and just trying to keep yourself entertained with it. And I think we kind of walked a fine line there.”

Parker McCollum Says “Hurricane” May Take His Fans By Surprise

McCollum says that the album’s lead track “Hurricane” may take fans by surprise. “It’s just so different than anything I’ve ever done.”

Written by McCollum along with David Lee Murphy, Jon Randall, and Randy Rogers, the song began with an idea for the chorus from Murphy. “I just fell in love with it. It was so different than anything that I had ever cut before or written. And it’s hard for me to write songs like that. It’s kind of a fun song. I don’t have anything in my catalog even close to fun, so I think I really kind of gravitated towards it.”

One of the standout tracks on the album is “Lessons From an Old Man,” which McCollum wrote with Lori McKenna, Lee Miller, Jon Randall, and Liz Rose. He describes the tune as a thank you to the men in his life, including his dad, uncles, brother, cousins and grandfathers.

“Every one of those people for the most part is old school, up early at work in the gym, dress well, incredible, incredibly determined and ambitious. And they always come correct, always. And I watch them, I study them, I watch them in public settings, I listen to what they say, the way they speak to people, and I try to emulate all those things and the way I carry myself and go about it.”

Grateful For Morgan Wallen And Eric Church

Parker McCollum will be taking these new songs on the road, with a tour schedule full of headlining shows and opening shows for Morgan Wallen and Eric Church. McCollum acknowledged that Wallen is “throwing me a massive bone by letting me get up and play in front of his crowd like that. And something I’m extremely grateful for.” He’s also a big fan of Eric Church. “I think so highly of him and I’m such a fan and to get to go play in front of his crowd too. I mean, I got a lot of respect for him and I know he picks his openers pretty carefully, so I’m glad to be one of them.”

Customized His Tour Bus With Unique Features

The troubadour revealed that he’s customized his tour bus with some unique features.

“My biggest thing was I wanted a fingerprint safe bolted into the back lounge and I wanted a double slide out. So on a normal tour bus, the front lounge slides out when you’re parked and it makes the bus much bigger for living. And so on this bus, the front lounge and the back lounge both slide out. So my bedroom, I now have a king size bed back there that’s incredibly comfortable and it slides out and I took the bunks out of one side and put all closets for my jeans and shirts. I’m like OCD, organized guy. So I need a lot of room for my stuff.”

Reflecting on his rapid rise to stardom, McCollum fluctuates between being intentionally present in the moment and feeling like his work is “never enough.” Listening back to his music, McCollum admits he can get burned out quickly. “I get so excited about ’em and I’m like, they’re so good and the record’s so good and da da da. And then within a week I’m like, I’m over it, you know? Never enough.” Wrestling with those thoughts, McCollum says he goes “back and forth on that pretty often.”

Parker McCollum; Photo By Andrew Wendowski
Parker McCollum; Photo By Andrew Wendowski

“The Biggest Thing For Me Is Making My Family Proud”

McCollum tries to soak in the blessings he’s received and is humbled by it all.

“I’d just be flying home or something and be like, damn, not bad for a kid from Conroe, Texas, no college degree and told everybody he was moving to Austin to be a country singer. Everybody looked at him like he had two heads.”

He admits that he’s done more, made more, and been more places than he ever dreamed he would by 30 years old. “The biggest thing for me is making my family proud. And that’s a pretty cool feeling to see how they can’t believe it. It’s crazy. And that really is the dopest part of it all.”

Hallie Rae Light McCollum, Parker McCollum; Photo Courtesy of Instagram
Hallie Rae Light McCollum, Parker McCollum; Photo Courtesy of Instagram

Parker McCollum’s Never Enough Track List

1. Hurricane (Parker McCollum, David Lee Murphy, Jon Randall, Randy Rogers)

2. Best I Never Had (Parker McCollum, Will Bundy, Brett James)

3. Things I Never Told You (Monty Criswell, Lynn Hutton, Taylor Phillips)

4. Burn It Down (Parker McCollum, Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Liz Rose)

5. Stoned (Parker McCollum, Mark Holman, Brett James)

6. Handle On You (Parker McCollum, Monty Criswell)

7. Lessons From An Old Man (Parker McCollum, Lori McKenna, Lee Miller, Jon Randall, Liz Rose)

8. Tough People Do (Parker McCollum, Brett James, Jon Randall)

9. Speed (Parker McCollum, Ryan Beaver)

10. Tails I Lose (Parker McCollum, Wade Bowen, Brad Warren, Brett Warren)

11. I Ain’t Going Nowhere (Parker McCollum, Lori McKenna, Lee Miller, Jon Randall, Liz Rose)

12. Too Tight This Time (Parker McCollum, Brett James, Jon Randall)

13. Don’t Blame Me (Parker McCollum, Brett James, Jon Randall)

14. Have Your Heart Again (Parker McCollum, Ashley Gorley, Lee Miller)

15. Wheel (Parker McCollum, Jon Randall, Brad Warren, Brett Warren)

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Nicole Palsa is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. Since 2012, she has written about the newcomers, superstars, and legends of country music for publications including Music Mayhem, Country Now, and Country Music Tattle Tale. Nicole has served as a volunteer guide with Musicians On Call since 2016 and is a Troubadour member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications and her Bachelor of Arts degree in French. In addition to being a devoted country music fan, Nicole is a family historian and genealogist who can often be found in stacks of research. She is also an avid traveler with a passion for wildlife and nature photography.

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