was just 21 years old when he released his debut single, Rooted in a platinum-selling mix of country storytelling, heartland twang, and larger-than-life rock & roll, "Ride the Lightning" was every bit as electrifying as its title, catapulting Zeiders then a collegiate star athlete, from the sports field to the stage.
That momentum continues with Pretty Little Poison. Delivered on the heels of his 717 Tapes releases and compilation album — a collection of stripped-back singles and EP songs that introduced his powerhouse voice and sharp songwriting — repositions him as Nashville's newest headliner at just 24 years of age. He's amodern country artist for a generation of music fans who don't mind blurring the boundaries between different styles. "I was raised on country, rock, and Christian music," says the Pennsylvania native, who grew up in Hershey before relocating to Tennessee. "That music helped shape me into who I am. I needed this album to touch all of those bases, because if I'm going to create something, I have to believe in it."
Belief has always played a central role in Zeiders’ life. Sitting in the pews of his childhood church, he lifted his voice for the very first time, singing gospel hymns with the rest of the members. He was devoted to his faith, and that devotion also served him well on the lacrosse field, where Zeiders quickly became a star player. The sport taught him accountability, discipline, and an old-fashioned work ethic. It shaped him into a road warrior, too, years before he embarked upon his first tour as a musician. "I played lacrosse all year long for more than a decade," he remembers. "There were so many tournaments in different cities. So many different hotel rooms. It felt a lot like touring, and it taught me about travel, commitment, and hard work at a young age."
Years later, Zeiders found himself on the sidelines, having suffered too many concussions to continue playing lacrosse safely. Fortunately, a new passion was brewing: music. He began playing guitar in his bedroom, picking along to songs by Luke Combs and Chris Stapleton. One night, while out to dinner with his family, a local musician asked the room for song requests. "I asked her to play 'Beautiful Crazy' by Luke Combs, but she didn't know it," says Zeiders, who offered to play the tune himself. The crowd loved his performance. "I went onstage and had an out-of-body experience," he recalls. "In that moment, a lightbulb went off and I thought, 'This is something I should pursue.'"
Not long after, Zeiders recorded an acoustic cover of "Tennessee Whiskey." Overnight, the homemade video went viral on TikTok, where thousands of country lovers became his first fans. He continued releasing music on the platform during the months that followed, alternating between covers of his favorite artists and heartwarming, hook-driven songs that he wrote himself. The reaction was seismic, and things snowballed from there. Before Zeiders had played his first show in a brick-and-mortar venue, his Spotify streams, YouTube views, and social media stats had already climbed into the millions around the world. By the time he played his 100th show — a main stage performance at the Stagecoach Festival in April 2023, months before Pretty Little Poison's release — he'd racked up a staggering 1.4 billion TikTok views, and 1 billion audio streams.
If Zeiders built his audience the old-school way — by taking his music directly to the people, armed with nothing more than his acoustic guitar and gravelly voice — then Pretty Little Poison shows what he can do with an amplified band, two chart-topping producers (Ross Copperman and Bart Butler), and the best music of his songwriting career. The past two years have been a whirlwind period filled with milestones: his first national television appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show; his first national tour, which sold out in 72 hours; his debut performance on the Grand Ole Oprystage; and even his first Top 40 hit on the Billboard charts, all before he began recording the album. Maybe that's why Pretty Little Poison brims with such excitement and self-assurance. "A lot of this album is about a girl, and a lot of it is about me," says Zeiders, who fills the album with honest lyrics about life, love, and lessons learned. "I'm paying tribute to that classic country sound, but I'm keeping things modern, too. At the end of the day, I'm just putting my heart on my sleeve and putting myself onstage."
Zeiders' muscular brand of country music is as broad as his shoulders, which still bear the evidence of a longtime sports career. "God Only Knows" and "Comin' Down High" are southern rock anthems built for summertime parties and backwoods joyrides. Songs like "Painkiller" and "Love's A Leaving" explore the darkness of outlaw country. The bright choruses of and "Some Whiskey" are showcases for his powerhouse vocals, while"Pretty Little Poison" — the album's title track and lead single — is country music at its most cinematic, pairing dusty western textures with a radio-ready refrain. "Inside Your Head," written by eight-time Grammy winner Chris Stapleton, makes room for the lap steel guitars and timeless twang of classic country. For Zeiders, whose viral cover of "Tennessee Whiskey" played such a crucial role in his own rise to success, featuring a Stapleton cut on Pretty Little Poison feels a whole lot like fate. He worked with a number of other songwriters, too, co-writing songs with Eric Paslay, Randy Montana, Ryan Beaver, Lee Thomas Miller, Benjy Davis, Austin Taylor Smith, Jarred Keim, and others.
Zeiders' push into mainstream culture has been nothing short of meteoric. Few young artists can announce a headline show at Nashville’s iconic Ryman Auditorium (this Oct 4, ’23) before the release of their major-label debut. Even fewer can generate the genuine excitement that Zeiders summoned with 717 Tapes tracks and magnified with Pretty Little Poison's four advance songs: "Coming Down High," "Inside Your Head," "West Texas Weather," and the title track. Pretty Little Poison is his coming of age, and despite the rapid growth of his music career, Zeiders remains true to his all-American roots.
"Faith, family, and athletics were the three pillars of my life, long before I started playing music," he says. "I haven't forgotten that. I'm always learning new things — if you stop doing that, you stop growing — but I'm staying true to who I am, too. This album is my story. It's who I am. It's who I've always been. I may not be playing lacrosse anymore, but I haven't lost the discipline or focus that I learned as an athlete. I still put in the work. I still push myself. I go onstage and treat it like it's a game day."