Ahead of the release of his debut EP, Beer's Better Cold, rising country artist Travis Denning dropped "After a Few" as the first single from the project. The song first arrived in early 2019 but, after a slow and steady build, sits in the Top 10 on the country radio charts as of late April 2020.

"After a Few" is Denning's highest-charting single to date, an exciting way to start off a new release. But when the artist first wrote the song, he admits he was hoping to pitch the track to bigger stars.

Below, Denning shares the story behind "After a Few," in his own words.

I was writing with Kelly Archer and Justin Weaver. Justin was at his old spot on Music Row -- a really cool spot that was just, like, good vibes all the time, you know? ... And so, we got in the room. 

My thing was, I had been digging on this Charles Kelley record, [2016's The Driver] ... I burned it up so much. In fact, I mean, even my mom -- I remember, I said to my mom, I was like, "You'd really like this" ... And, specifically, there was a song on there called "Dancing Around It" that I just thought was, like -- it was just so silky smooth: kinda like old Fleetwood Mac, but dark and kind of like -- I don't know, it just had this whole vibe.

And so I played that song for Kelly and Justin, and I was like, "I just want to capture the picture that you see when you hear this song. I want that same picture in whatever we write today." So we kind of chased that hypnotic, Tom Petty kick snare ... kind of vibe.

I started messing around with a guitar lick, and I found the guitar lick that would later become the main one in "After a Few." So we just had that groove going ... and had that lick over it. And Kelly just goes, "Alright ... I've got this title ... Man, I just don't know if this is worth a damn ... It's just "After a Few."" That's what it was called.

And I immediately loved it for a few reasons: I had written songs called "David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs" and "Heartbeat of a Small Town," and I'm like, "I need a title that is literally just, like, three syllables. I can't write anymore long titles." So she said "After a Few," and I was like, "I love it."

Kelly drove that thing. She immediately -- the first melody she did, she went [hums the verse melody]; she was like, "Wouldn't that be cool?"

I was like, "Yeah, that's cool!" [Laughs] I mean, she was just on it, and she drove that thing pretty well, and we had it done in probably three or four hours; it came out very fast after that.

I wanted to send it to Luke Bryan and Dustin Lynch. As soon as I got the demo back, I was like, "Either one of those guys would just kill this song." And this was at a time in my life where, the record deal was coming, but it hadn't happened; it hadn't been offered yet, but I had been talking with Blain Rhodes at Universal at the time, and [Universal's] Brian Wright was on board.

So I sent it to Blain, and I was like, "Will you run this by Luke?" And Brian emailed him back and was like, "Yeah, that's awesome. But, no, I don't want to." [Laughs] He was like, "I don't want to play it for Luke, 'cause that sounds like Travis' song." And Blain was like, "I agree, man."

And [they told me], "I think you need to start really thinking about the future here, and kind of start to think smart about these songs." And that was a really awesome thing to hear, because, essentially, he was saying, "We're probably going offer you a record deal here shortly. Don't give away your good songs."

And that was the first song that I held for myself. And then I held "David Ashley Parker," and that came out, too.

But, yeah, that was pretty funny. I definitely wanted to pitch it, but then I was like, "Nah, I should hold it." ... I'm pretty glad Luke or Dustin didn't hear it ...

I remember we wrote it, and I was like, "That is like the most D.L. thing ever." He just, he can sing that stuff so well. But, hey, Dustin, if you're listening, I'm glad I never sent it to you!

Who Is Travis Denning? 5 Things You Need to Know


Denning is a Georgia boy with a southern accent, but don't let that fool you: He was first inspired to become a musician after hearing AC/DC when he was 7 years old.


Thanks to his RED Creative Group publishing deal, Denning's had his songs recorded by the likes of Jason AldeanJustin MooreMichael Ray and Chase Rice. Aldean's 2016 album They Don't Know contains a song called "All Out of Beer" co-penned by Denning, while the final track on Moore's 2016 album Kinda Don't Care, "Life in the Livin'," is also a Denning co-write.


Denning's debut single, 2018's "David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs," is a playful song about one fateful night when Denning's friend found a real driver’s license on the floor of a bar and turned it into his fake ID. In the song's accompanying music video, the real-life Parker plays a liquor store clerk.


Denning's hometown is named for Brigadier General Augustine Warner Robins, credited as the U.S. Air Force's "Father of Logistics." Fun fact: Jessie James Decker also grew up there!


Denning recently dropped a cover of Lambert's "Kerosene" into a set over in the UK.

Read More: Story Behind the Song: Travis Denning, 'After a Few' 



  • Images with a data-picture-mapping attribute will be responsive, with a file size appropriate for the browser width.