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Warren zeiders LEAD

On the Rise
Warren Zeiders

17 June 2024, 09:00

After quitting lacrosse and blowing up on TikTok, country star Warren Zeiders used his athletic discipline to forge a career in music.

“Whether you want to say I caught lightning in a bottle, baptised by fire, thrown into the lion's den, that's exactly what my story is,” laughs Nashville-based and Pennsylvania-raised rising country star Warren Zeiders. Phoning in from his tour bus in the midst of an expansive US run, since his career kick-started in 2021, his life has been a non-stop ride.

Having already amassed two billion career streams, two platinum singles, a country radio number one, and a CMT Award for his instant hooks of relatable storytelling and slick country-rock storms, Zeiders’ introduction to the music industry has been pretty fortuitous.

Born in the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania, best known for its chocolate, while Zeiders wouldn’t describe his parents as musical, he grew up surrounded by it. “My dad was always the rock and roll side of things - Mötley Crüe, AC/DC, Quiet Riot, Guns n Roses. He was anything and everything,” he says. “My mom, she loved that stuff too, but she was always a big fan of Shania Twain, Garth Brooks, George Strait. I grew up behind my grandparents, so I would always spend time in my grandfather's garage while he was working on cars. He's a mechanic, so he always played music in his garage. I listened to a lot of Christian music as well. So I am all over the board, and a huge Justin Bieber fan. I just love music, truthfully.”


Growing up, Zeiders was infatuated with the guitar. “The guy who played the guitar always got the ladies,” he laughs. At first he played Guitar Hero on the PS2 and as he got older, his mum put him into guitar lessons. At the same time he began playing lacrosse, the sport dominating his free time and becoming his focus.

Despite his passion for sports, music still lurked in the background. “I was always humming a tune on the lacrosse field at practice. I was always the dude you couldn't get to shut up and I always irritated my opponents because I'd be humming something and get it stuck in their head,” he laughs. “It was a good tactic.”

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After high school, Zeiders went to Frostburg State in Maryland where he played division three lacrosse and studied marketing on a business course. In his freshman year he suffered two concussions. When he was injured again in his sophomore year, he knew it was time to step back from the sport he’d given twelve years. “It was my ‘Come to Jesus’ moment of just like, you've done it. You're not going to play professional. Where does your heart want to be? What is your passion?” he says. “I was like, I don't want to suffer from long-term injuries that could really impede on the rest of my life. We always joke around and say it's a good thing I can remember my own lyrics.”

He left Frostburg State and started his junior year at Penn State, just in time for the world to shut down. A newcomer at his university and without his beloved team sports, the pandemic’s timing was rough. “A lot of spare time and a lot of things to take onto yourself,” he says. “I'm a huge extrovert so I had to figure out something to put all that time and energy into.”


He began filming covers and posting them to TikTok. At the time, the platform wasn’t as known for breaking musicians. “My first ever cover was a little snippet of ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ and I remember going to bed that one night and then waking up the next morning and it had like four-hundred-thousand views and I was like, wait, what?” he laughs. “As things progressed and videos started to do more and more, my business acumen and my marketing brain kicked in and was like, there might be something here.”

As fans began to request original music with greater fervency, Zeiders pushed himself to write. He bought some gear, watched a YouTube video, and recorded a demo. He travelled to Nashville, enlisted management, and from his new business partner’s spare room, wrote his second ever track over Zoom. “I think that God's got a sense of humour. My first time in Nashville, first ever co-write, my second song I ever wrote in my life, happened to be my hit song ‘Ride The Lightning,’” he laughs.

A co-write with Eric Paslay and Rob Crosby, the track went viral on TikTok with over eighty-five million streams and earnt Zeiders a platinum certification for his debut single. Within six months he was signed. “My life has dramatically changed in about three years,” he laughs. “I'm twenty-five now, so from that dramatic change of turning twenty-two, thinking I'm graduating college, you're kind of finding your identity through this rocketship. I dropped out my last semester of college to pursue this because I knew that when the iron’s hot, you got to focus. I put all my cards into this, and I'd say she paid off pretty well.”

His first tour, a run of fifteen dates, sold out in under thirty-six hours. “First time really getting on a stage I was in front of seven-hundred people,” he says. “Everything that could have went wrong, happened, whether it’s cables not working for the guitar, feedback through the house, feedback through your wedges. I credit my athletic background for being able to know what to do under pressure. I played my first show and I got off stage and it was this moment of, this is what I was born to do.”

Releasing his debut album, Pretty Little Poison, last year, the title track blew up earning him another platinum disc. However, the accolade was hard won. “The most stressful part for me, so far, was making that first record. ‘Pretty Little Poison,’ I must have sang it over a hundred times, if not more. I just sang it and sang it and sang it, day after day, because I just wasn't believing the guy singing the song back to me. I wasn't believing myself,” he says. “That was such a fun moment for me just when it clicked. I know that I worked my tail off for that vocal that has been heard by millions of people on country radio, on streams, on social media, and hundreds of thousands of videos posted to it. I worked hard for this. I put in the effort and every time I hear this now, I know what I did to achieve that.”

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However, for new single “Relapse,” a rush of revved up guitars and stampeding drums delivered with unbridled confidence and a knowing wink, Zeiders found his sound on the first take. “‘Relapse’ actually is the demo vocal, because I sang it the day we wrote it and I remember getting that back and I was like, I love this because I didn't think about it. I just got done writing it. I was hyped off of writing it. I'm like, this is so much fun, give me the headphones. Let me hop on here and throw a vocal down,” he says. “I was like, I love this because I'm not gonna beat that character that I was that day of just being in that moment, writing that song, writing about that concept of where I was that moment, that day in my life, so let's just run with it.”

Armed with a quick confidence and invincible work ethic, Zeiders is already looking forward to what the future offers, as well as a chance to pay it back. Arriving in the UK for shows at the start of next year, it’s another continent to conquer. “I have never been to the UK, not even for a one-off, so I am thoroughly looking forward to getting over there,” he smiles. “I know I’ve got a lot of fans over there in the UK, so I'm super excited and I'm also bringing my family with me too. That's been one of the most exciting parts about doing this, is giving back to my parents, giving them experiences and showing them how much shit’s really out there in the world.”

Warren Zeiders plays UK dates in February 20205, with a headline show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London.

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