Rising Star Evan Honer Proves His Artistic Worth on New Single 'Fighting For' (Exclusive)

Inspired by the songwriting of Tyler Childers, the rising star "became obsessed with lyrics" and began writing his own

  • Evan Honer will release his album Fighting For on June 7

  • He initially picked up the guitar at 13, but found new inspiration in the songs of Tyler Childers

  • Honer says, "I just became obsessed with lyrics and eventually started to try to write my own"

Evan Honer was much like any other kid growing up in Southern California in 2019. Of course, he had a YouTube channel.

"My brother [Aaron] and I got up to 200,000 subscribers on our HowToByBros channel," Honer, now 23, tells PEOPLE mere hours before a recent performance in Norway. "We would just show how to do backflips and how to do origami and how to tie a tie and stuff. I loved it."

And when he was 13 years old, he learned how to play the guitar.

"One of my friends in our church that was in the worship band said he would teach me the guitar, and I wanted to learn it," remembers Honer. "I don't know what made me want to, but he let me borrow his guitar for a while and then ended up giving it to me. He said that that was the fastest he's ever seen anyone learn the guitar."

<p>Harrison Hargrave</p> Evan Honer

Harrison Hargrave

Evan Honer

But somewhere along the way, his obsession with the stringed instrument faded, until the day he discovered an artist by the name of Tyler Childers.

"I felt something through his lyrics," Honer says of the Americana artist on the verge of hitting legendary status. "The way that he used his words was unlike anything I've heard before. I started just learning all his songs and then went down a rabbit hole of other great songwriters like Jim Croce, Jason Isbell, James Taylor and Benjamin Tod. And I just became obsessed with lyrics and eventually started to try to write my own."

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When Honer was a senior in college, he began writing what would become his current single "Fighting For," premiering exclusively on PEOPLE.

"I had just gotten out of a very long-term relationship," Honer remembers of the premise of the song he serves as sole writer on. "I wasn't ready for a relationship, but I did meet someone, and she was in the exact same situation. So, it was kind of this horrible situation of us using each other as a rebound. The song is just my way of articulating how everything was."

He draws in a deep breath before admitting, "I still don't know what I'm fighting for, and I am still figuring everything out."

<p>Harrison Hargrave</p> Evan Honer

Harrison Hargrave

Evan Honer

It’s a feeling that is certainly understandable, as Honer’s life has completely transformed in the past few years, going from opener to headliner thanks to attracting over a half million followers across his socials, including over 4.1 million likes on TikTok.

"The impact that I've had on people and the things that people say to me just carry so much weight to me and I never want to take it for granted," says Honer. "But sometimes I feel like I don't have the right words to say, and sometimes, I feel like it's better not to say anything. I want to be genuine. So yeah, navigating through all of this has been very surreal and I'm grateful for it, but also, it’s been really scary."

It's a fear he’s working through by writing it out.

"I always felt like I wasn't really great with my words when I'm speaking, but when I'm writing melodies, I feel like I can get my point across easier," he says.

It’s this point that Honer says he hopes speaks loud and clear on his upcoming album Fighting For, set for release June 7 and serving as the much-anticipated follow-up to his 2023 debut album West on I-10.

<p>Harrison Hargrave</p> Evan Honer

Harrison Hargrave

Evan Honer

"It's 16 songs that I'm really proud of," he says. "I would say sonically, each song differs quite a bit, which is what I've always wanted to do. I never wanted to make songs that sound the same. I do my best to let the song grow as it should and not be so controlled on the outcome of how the song sounds. I just let the song go."

Honer's also let go of that girl he wrote “Fighting For” about.

"I haven’t spoken to her in over a year," he explains. "Plus, once the song is done and it’s just out to the audience, it's not my song anymore. It's the audience's song."

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