Mitchell Tenpenny would “99% guarantee” that one of his smash-hit singles wouldn’t have its meteoric rise without TikTok.
The social media giant is “its own monster right now,” Tenpenny said. “And it's been an awesome way for me to get my music out there in a different way, especially during the pandemic. …I mean, it literally chose our single ‘Truth About You.’ It would not have been a single on radio without TikTok. I will, you know, 99% guarantee that.”
Tenpenny uses the platform as a way to gather “instant data,” garnering real-time reaction from TikTok users who share their responses to his music. That includes “demos that probably would never see the light of day,” he recently told iHeartRadio, “and then maybe one of 'em hits and it's like, ‘oh man, we need to look at this,’ and ‘maybe this should make the record.’” It’s something that Tenpenny also appreciates as a fan of other artists, pointing out Charlie Puth as an example of a singer-songwriter who often finds compelling ways to share “the inside process” of the making of his music.
“Truth About You” was one of Tenpenny’s massive radio singles, and appeared on his 20-track “Farm Emo” project, This Is The Heavy, in September 2022. That highly-anticipated album followed the country artist’s 2018 debut, Telling All My Secrets, and also delivered “Good Place,” “Always Something With You,” “We Got History” — which recently got remixed versions with VAVO & DLAY and Syn Cole, and “without TikTok this probably wouldn’t have happened” — and other highlights. Tenpenny co-wrote the tracks with Devin Dawson, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley, Laura Veltz and other powerhouse songwriters. He crafted the track list after spending “an enormous amount of time” writing music during the COVID-19 pandemic, turning to his fans on social media to take their feedback into account.
Tenpenny recently hosted a live TikTok concert, playing for both a live audience and a social media crowd simultaneously. The “Beat the Burn” Prevacid event featured Tenpenny’s career-spanning anthems in a “really unique” show that engaged fans in different ways.
“I wanna engage,” the Nashville, Tennessee-born artist said. “(When) I'm on stage, that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to engage and make people have fun, so I just didn't wanna leave anybody out, so I was constantly moving around.”
Best Of Both Worlds: Balancing Life At Home Before Jason Aldean's 'Highway Desperado Tour' Kicks Off
The “Drunk Me” hitmaker is switching gears from TikTok shows, however, with his summer tour plans. Jason Aldean secured Tenpenny as direct support on his “Highway Desperado Tour,” slated to kick off next month in Bethel, New York. Aldean announced dozens of tour dates earlier this year, confirming that Tenpenny, Corey Kent and Dee Jay Silver would join him on the nationwide trek. See the “Highway Desperado Tour” dates here.
“This is our first direct support tour and (it’s for) one of my favorite artists in country music from the beginning,” Tenpenny, who toured with Luke Bryan last year, told iHeartRadio as he spoke about tour rehearsals and building the set list as the first show approaches. “I love his rock side of his music. We tend to lean more rock, too. …We're above the moon to do this with Jason and to have it, especially all summer long, all the way through, it's gonna be a lot of fun.
“Honestly, not cliche at all, it's the greatest feeling in the world when (fans are) singing these songs back,” he said earlier in the interview of his audiences. “It's just so cool. It's the reason we do this. So, I've just been, you know, soaking it all in. It's been amazing. …I try to write lyrics about real things that happened in real life, and hopefully people can connect to it. Because I have those songs from other artists that do that for me. And so, …when I'm like in the room trying to write, I'm trying to write the feeling I felt then. Because I know someone's felt that some other time, and I think that's why those songs are worked for us for the while now.”
Before kicking off the tour, Tenpenny is finding balance with time to “chill” at home with his wife, fellow singer-songwriter Meghan Patrick. The couple tied the knot in October 2022 in a gorgeous ceremony. They were engaged since the previous year, when Tenpenny popped the question at the same Nashville bar where they met, Loser’s Bar & Grill. Tenpenny and Patrick have struck a balance to enjoy their time at home when they have it and support one another’s busy schedules on the road.
“Stuff's blowing up for her and I couldn't be more proud of her,” Tenpenny said, sharing that on the day he spoke with iHeartRadio, he and his wife would spend a low-key day at home doing yard work and cooking dinner together. “When I met Meghan, it was an easy conversation at the beginning. We both wanted each other to succeed in that initial dream. …There's never a time I don't miss her, but there's never a time I'm like, ‘don't go out there,’ or vice versa. When she says she's got a show, I'm so pumped for her. I want her to be out there on stage, that's where she shines. And so, it's been a unique lesson we've learned over the years, but we've got it down now, and I love it.”
'I'm Pumped': Tenpenny Teases 'Cool Surprises' With His Next Record Underway
The “Highway Desperado Tour” comes as Aldean works on his 11th studio album, following his massive double album that served as a tribute to his hometown. The first installment, MACON, released in November 2021, and GEORGIA followed in April 2022. Each album listed 15 tracks, including “Trouble With A Heartbreak,” “Rock And Roll Cowboy,” “That’s What Tequila Does,” “If I Didn’t Love You” (a power ballad featuring Carrie Underwood), and live renditions of previously-released anthems throughout Aldean’s career.
Tenpenny confirmed that Aldean isn’t the only one with new music in the works.
He beamed a big grin as he said that he's “already in the studio,” and has a few collaborations on the way.
“(I) already started working on that next record, writing every day that I'm home,” Tenpenny said, “and there's some cool surprises, hopefully some guests, people on this next record that are gonna be a lot of fun as well. …it's been really fun to go ahead and start that process on this next record.”
It wasn’t immediately clear as of publication time exactly when fans — and/or TikTok followers — will get to hear Tenpenny’s newest music. But it’ll be “soon.”
“We are gonna continue to put (music) out. I don't know how long it'll be ’til a record is, but we will have songs coming out to a record for the rest of the year,” he said. “Working on some collabs and stuff with other people as well. …I love doing collaborations with other artists and other genres and also even within our own, I just, I love doing that. It's fun to sing with other people. So, we got a lot of that coming out.
“There's gonna be some cool stuff,” he said. “I’m pumped.”