Justin Holmes grew up in Paducah, Kentucky. He spent his early years listening to a variety of music, from R&B, to heavy metal, to punk. But he always found himself coming back to one genre…country.
Holmes admired artists such as Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, and Tracy Lawrence because they “kept it country” with their music. He also looked up to Ronnie Milsap, and how he seamlessly blended elements of blues music into his songs. But Holmes’ all-time favorite artist happened to be another Kentucky native, Keith Whitley.
Holmes’ father passed away the day before he turned 15. His grandfather gave him his first guitar soon after. That guitar started what has since turned into an incredible musical journey.
At the age of 18, Holmes enlisted in the United States Air Force. He served as a Security Forces member for 14 years, primarily as a weapons instructor.
Holmes continued to play guitar and started writing songs during his time in the military. He also enjoyed performing for his friends and fellow service members.
The dream to pursue a country music career remained in the back of Holmes’ mind, but didn’t seem viable at the time.
Holme’s wife was (and still is) his biggest fan, constantly encouraging him to share his music with others. She and their three children have always backed him up.
Country Rebel first connected with Holmes in 2017. Country Rebel shared one of his cover videos across the brand’s network of Facebook pages, and it went viral. But that was only the first time Holmes experienced viral success.
In 2019, Holmes participated in Country Rebel‘s “George Jones Sessions.” He was one of over 30 artists who delivered acoustic performances at the George Jones Museum in Nashville.
Holmes performed several of his original songs during his session, including one called “Damn Addiction.”
Then, in January 2022, users on SoundCloud and TikTok discovered Holmes’ performance of “Damn Addiction.” The song was used in thousands of videos on TikTok, and generated over 220,000 streams on SoundCloud in just one month’s time.
Views on the official video of Holmes’ performance also increased dramatically. At the time of this writing, the performance has over 4.1 million views on YouTube.
Country Rebel launched Country Rebel Records in February 2022, and signed Holmes as the label’s first artist. From there, Country Rebel Records released the audio of “Damn Addiction” to all major music services.
“Damn Addiction” has since been streamed over 15.5 million times on Spotify alone.
Then in 2023, Holmes went into the studio to record his first set of fully produced songs with Country Rebel Records. He got the chance to record at the famous Blackbird Studio in Nashville.
“I couldn’t shut up about it,” Holmes told Country Rebel about the experience.
As someone who never recorded his songs in a studio before, everything felt new and “crazy” to Holmes. “That whole experience was eye-opening to say the least,” he said.
One of the songs Holmes recorded in the studio that day was “Drink You Down.”
Holmes says “Drink You Down” was loosely inspired by his own life. “My father was an addict his whole life, and eventually he didn’t make it…” he shared.
Holmes drew from that experience, but also invented a story in his mind. He wondered, how would it feel to get over somebody you loved, while using vices “that aren’t good for us” to cope with the pain?
Holmes said, “You see a lot of people go down these spirals, and they just drink themselves away, while they’re trying to drink the person away.”
“I could imagine it could be so hard,” he added.
From there, Holmes started playing a little progression on his guitar. That sparked something, and “Drink You Down” started to take shape.
“Drink You Down” starts off with a more acoustic, stripped down feeling. It builds up to a stronger “rock” sound, which highlights the pain and intensity in the lyrics as Holmes reaches the chorus.
Holmes said he is “smiling ear to ear, but nervous as hell” about releasing “Drink You Down” and his other songs. He feels “extremely fortunate” to be able to share his music with the world.
Holmes’ first studio single, “Drink You Down” releases on Friday, February 2 on all major music services. You can pre-save the song here.
While you wait, enjoy a preview of the song below.