In 2011, Elton John complimented Chord Overstreet on his metallic gold booty-shorts that the then-22 year-old wore on an episode of Glee. Today, there are still entire YouTube compilation videos of every single barechested scene actor/singer Overstreet had in the giga-hit musical series that ran for six seasons. His nickname from fans: trouty mouth. Lips that women in Beverly Hills would literally kill for. Gleeks are an obsessive and thirsty contingent.
Overstreet, now 28, and I are chatting in the living room of a rented house, surveying the Los Angeles basin from the highest house in the hills as stylists and photographers prepare to capture heartbreak between him and a beautiful stranger.
“Yeah, the good old days!” Overstreet jokes when I mention the scenes that earned him boyband-status fans and “Hot Guy of the Week” in J-14 magazine. “The show was such a phenomenon but I couldn’t really know what was outside of the studio walls because it felt so self contained.” Now, however – his contract with Glee having expired two years ago – Overstreet is as free as a warbler.
His music video for “Homeland” – released last fall via Island and Safehouse Records – shows Overstreet paying homage to his Nashville genesis. In it he wears an assortment of Canadian tuxedos (denim on denim on denim), strums guitar in dewed grass dawn, gives serious blue steel beneath the white geometry of the John Seigenthaler Bridge, and toasts shots with his buddies before a night of revelry.
This must be Overstreet at his most genuine. Or is it Overstreet portraying the most romanticized version of himself? Either way, when he lets down his Thor-length hair and sings: “It’s where I keep my heart.../where I learned to sing the blues/Raised on the saving grace” even the most stoic amongst us must feel a flutter.
The return to his hometown image after a long sojourn in Los Angeles pop parades his nostalgic acknowledgement of his father who galvanized his singing career. Paul Overstreet is a successful country singer and songwriter most notably known for Kenny Chesney’s 1999 hit “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.” Paul’s presence is felt perhaps most strongly in Chord’s 2016 holiday release “All I Want for Christmas is a Real Good Tan.”
Overstreet apples don’t fall far from the Tennessee tree. Chord’s brother Nash played lead guitar for the pop-rock band Hot Chelle Rae and now acts as a producer on his brother’s mixtape and EP – both to be released later this year.
For our interview, Overstreet has lost the flowing mane but does wear denim and a white t-shirt, though the flag on the tee is that of the golden state. I catch him the week after Coachella weekend one, where he celebrated by entering ‘dudeville’ with a group of buddies, rented a house, and “ran around like a bunch of wild animals” narrowly escaping the stampedes of Empire of the Sun migrators. His favorite memory from the weekend? Avoiding the festival dust on Easter Sunday, opting for poolside beer pong instead.
In a few days Overstreet will be back singing the blues to his new fans and lifelong Gleeks in the thick-as-molasses spring humidity of Nashville as he begins a Midwest and Southern tour, and a remix of his single "Hold On" gets a release May 19th. How does he think his fans will take ‘trouty mouth’ moving on? “You know, I don’t think I was the face of Glee so I don’t think I need rebranding,” he says. “It’s also not a platform that you need to rebrand from. I’d rather take those fans along with me on my new career."
Written by Miles Griffis
Photographer: Justin Campbell for Tack Artists Group
Stylist: Morgan Pinney for The Only Agency
Model: Sabina for Freedom Models
Hair: Derek Yuen for Starworks Group
Makeup: Sarah Uslan for Artists & Company.