Country music is an interesting beast of a genre. You look at a good chunk of major music stars in  the genre, and they each have an interesting story to tell. Sometimes they start to make their name through singing competitions, some times it’s after they go solo and break off from their acclaimed rock band, and sometimes — perhaps most frequently — they move to Nashville on a whim, become songwriters, and slowly but surely make a name for themselves.

Tucker Wetmore is country’s latest sensation, but his success is far from overnight. His story with Nashville interestingly enough has some parallels to one of the genre’s biggest stars of the last decade, Sam Hunt. Similar to Hunt — who was a college football athlete that moved to Nashville following an unsuccessful tryout for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008 — Wetmore himself was a college athlete.

He describes being a football player as his “original goal,” only for that dream to unfortunately end a bit earlier than anticipated when he was in college.  “I ended up breaking my leg for the third time and realized I should probably start taking care of my body a little more,” Wetmore tells me when we connect a few weeks back.

While it was hard to come to terms with the reality that his long-time dream of playing college football — and ultimately professionally — was coming to an end, he describes the initial decision to leave as “not as tough.” Wetmore recollects a story that he doesn’t tell often, “I had not felt super awesome in probably a month and a half leading up to that [third leg injury]. I felt off, like I was not in the right spot, you know? I kind of asked God ‘Hey man, I need a sign. Just give me something’ and then the very next day, I went to practice and broke my leg.”

With his athletic career out the door, Wetmore recalls feeling lost and that he had nothing left. But luckily for the rest of us, he was able to channel his passion for country music. It’s a passion that was always in the back of his mind, as he grew up listening to a lot of country, in addition to reggae and heavy metal. “But I started diving myself into country music around when I was 17 or 18,” he says. “[That’s] when I discovered I was enjoying it and ‘Oh, I want to make this’ kind of thing.”

Ultimately, Wetmore made the trek to Nashville in 2020 — which, goes without saying, was a historically interesting time to make a move. While it was right in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, as someone that came from a small town of 2,500 people and graduated with 69 people, the pandemic helped soften some of the culture shock he experienced. “It helped a lot because there wasn’t a lot of people like out and about,” he remembers. “Obviously there was still bars and stuff like that, I don’t think it ever shut down per se. But, it was more manageable, albeit a big place, there just wasn’t as many people as normal. Then Covid stopped, and I was like ‘Holy crap, there’s way too many people here.’ It took me a second.”

If it sounds intimidating, well, that’s because it was. He moved to a foreign city in Nashville with no plans, and didn’t know a single person down there. “It was just, ‘I have a feeling I need to be here, so I’m going to listen and be here,'” he describes. “And then God paved the path for me. I did everything in power to just step off as few times as possible.”

The rest, he says, is somewhat of luck and being very fortunate. It what was a tough year to be out and about meeting people, Wetmore found a way. It was a scenario that unfolded almost perfectly, and allowed him to mold this new friend group perfectly. “None of them were really in music at all, and they’re still some of my best friends in the entire world,” he explains. “I’m neighbors with one and she’s dating my buddy Jacob Hackworth, who wrote ‘Wine Into Whiskey’ with me.”

From there, he continued to network. He continued to work on music himself, posting covers and some teasers on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Aside from garnering some attention from country music fans, he managed to get in front of Rakiyah Marshall, who is the owner of Back Blocks Music. He recalls getting an Instagram message from Marshall, and setting up a few meetings and ultimately confessions to her that while he was “very broke” at the time, he was committed to pursuing this new career in country music.

“I didn’t know anything, I was just super grateful [to meet],” Wetmore says. “So we signed that deal, and started booking me a bunch of writing sessions like every week and getting songs under my belt.”

And at long last, after months of teasing via the aforementioned social media platforms, Wetmore unveiled “Wine Into Whiskey” last month to immediate adoration and acclaim. It felt like forever, at times, as every time he would tease the song via social media, it would quickly go viral and fans would flood the comments begging for its release. The viral success would always catch him off guard, though, as he points out, “You can’t really control that aspect of it. If someone likes it, they share with another person. Then that person turns into four, and it just goes from there.”

“Wine Into Whiskey” was written with Hackworth and Justin Ebach the day after Wetmore’s birthday, which you can likely safely assume how they were all feeling that day. He recalls spending the night before out celebrating his birthday with Hackworth, and struggling the next day in their writing session with Ebach to come up with good ideas for a song. About an hour into their session, Ebach chimes in with a confession of his own. “[He] pipes up and goes ‘I’m sorry to break it to you guys, but I’m very hungover.’ Me and Jacob look at each other and just go ‘Thank God, so are we.’”

Eventually after sharing some laughs and stories about their excursions the night before, Ebach comes up with the idea and title of “Wine Into Whiskey.” Though he doesn’t have a vision quite yet for the song, he felt like it could be something. “Jacob and I look at each other like, ‘What the heck? Where was this 45 minutes ago,” Wetmore recalls with a laugh. The next 45 minutes or so were dedicated to writing the song, flushing it out, and ultimately putting vocals down. Even though it was only a rough take, the three of them knew they had something special on their hands.

Wetmore’s influence on the song is a little second-handed, he tells me. He talks about growing up with four sisters and that he’s “not a pile of turds.” “I know how to treat a woman, and I was taught that at a young age,” he explains. So from his perspective, this meant he had to get a little creative to write this type of song. What he did, instead, was think about the times he had seen his sisters go through heartbreak and failed relationships, and tried to put himself in the shoes of the guys that hurt them. “If they would have known what they were doing, maybe put some light into that,” he says. “Like ‘I took a good thing and turned it into goodbye / Took the fire in her eyes and put it on ice’, it’s kind of a self-reflecting moment.”

It was a song that organically came together fairly quickly, but still went through a few different variations before ultimately being the finished product it is today. Fans that had been following along with Wetmore before the official release of “Wine Into Whiskey” may know this, as he had previously teased a few different versions of the song via social media.

Wetmore and Ebach tried out a few different things, production wise and such that impacted how the song would actually come out sounding. “I remember me and Ebach going back and forth on like, ‘We could go more full live band sounding thing,’ which we tried a couple different versions of that and it just wasn’t feeling right at all,” he shares with me. “There was something so magical about that [first] day and being in the room that day, where we needed to go back to our roots and remember how we felt.”

And regarding the comments from fans about prior versions of the songs, trust that Wetmore has seen them. “I’ve gotten a lot of stuff like ‘bring back the snaps’ or bring back whatever from prior versions, but I’m very happy with how it turned out. It sounds big, it sounds great,” he says. “It’s bringing musically, the emotion that the lyrics are also. They’re just fighting each other, but they’re incompatible, which is super cool.”

When Wetmore and I are chatting, he had yet to officially announce when he would be releasing his next single, which went know that “Wind Up Missin’ You” will be released next Friday, March 29th. Earlier in the day, though, before we connect he had been texting with his team about numbers and the success of “Wine Into Whiskey,” and quickly the conversation began to shift to what was next — lead by his manager Marshall. “We were talking about ‘Wind Up Missing You,’ which numerically is doing more numbers on social media, if I’m not mistaken, than ‘Wine Into Whiskey’ did,” he shares. “Obviously it’s all just talk right now, but that’s a really cool feeling to have that one coming out very soon.”

Luckily for fans of Wetmore, “Wind Up Missin’ You” is close to coming out — and after that, the countdown begins for him to kick off his first tour. Which, again, luckily for fans is closer than you may think for an artist who’s about to just now put out his second single. His first tour will be kicking off early next month and he’ll be hitting the road to open up for Kameron Marlowe.

He may be nervous, as anyone would be for their first tour, but he mentions being fired up and has no doubts that they are ready to hit the road. It’s not lost on Wetmore that Marlowe went out on a limb to bring him on the road, as back when this tour was being booked and put together, Wetmore was yet to have a single song officially released. So there were no numbers to go off of, outside of views and shares of his videos on social media. “He saw what I was doing, asked around a little bit about me and liked what he heard. It’s super cool and humbling. I have nothing personally to offer, at that time I didn’t, but he wanted to bring me up because he believed in me,” he says.

Pretty quickly, though, that belief in Wetmore is paying off. The belief that Marshall had in this young, aspiring country artist in the middle of Nashville turned into “Wine Into Whiskey” making its debut on the Billboard Hot 100 at #77 it’s first week of release. The belief that Marlowe showed in him will surely result in a fired up crowd here in a few weeks.

While his journey into country music may have not been his original plan in life, he has quickly and surely made the most of it. And with not even his second single released yet, it’s modest to say the sky is the limit. Truthfully, we may be looking at the next big star in country music — and no one should be surprised.