*Adapted from People Magazine*
A good portion of Roman Alexander's story can be told just by looking at his tattoos. On the inside of his left bicep is the signature of the legendary Elvis Presley. On the top of his left arm is the lyrics to the classic hymn "How Great Thou Art." And just inside his left forearm is the name Lisa Marie.
"Lisa Marie was Elvis' daughter's name," Alexander, 25, proudly states during an interview with PEOPLE. "It's in the same font that's on the side of his airplane called the Lisa Marie."
Lisa Marie is also his mom's name.
"Let's just say my mom wasn't pleased about any of [these tattoos], but especially her name," says Alexander with a laugh. "She asked if I was going to forget her name. I was like, 'Nah, I'm not going to forget your name. I just want it on there.' She thought it was the stupidest thing. But as soon as I got it done, she ended up thinking it was pretty cool."
"Better in a Car" Cover Art | CREDIT: NICK FLETCHER
'Cool' is a pretty good word to describe Alexander's aura, a classic sort of feel within a social media star that finds himself with a growing legion of fans finding his retro-feel nothing short of irresistible. Growing up 20 minutes outside of Kansas City, Alexander was raised in the sweetness of suburbia, spending his time playing sports and playing country music in his uncle's classic-country cover band.
It's these roots that can be heard in Alexander's current single "Better in a Car," a song which hits on that timeless feeling of freedom when one closes that side door beside them and escapes from the world for a little while.
"I wrote it with Jerry Flowers and Ben Johnson and those guys are two amazing and established songwriters," explains Alexander, whose debut single "Between You & Me" has over 10 million streams. "I really wanted a song that is about something that I love, which is cars. Anytime I want to get away, I go for a drive. That's where I get a lot of my song ideas."
But Alexander doesn't listen to music when he's driving.
"I literally sit in complete silence," he admits with a laugh. "That's when the song ideas come to me. I know, it's weird. Road trips with me are really boring!"
Songwriting is still a learning process, but one that Alexander finds himself falling more in love with, with each passing day.
"I remember writing the line that really made me fall in love with songwriting in general, and that was the line in this song — 'Burned CDs and worn-out leather in a six-speed you're 16 forever.' That right there just hooked me."
In fact, just writing the words took Alexander back to those carefree days he once spent in his 1998 Subaru Impreza wagon with the tan pleather seats.
"So many memories were made in that car," he recalls. "I had to burn CDs constantly because I didn't have the luxury of having an auxiliary cord. I had to burn CDs and make playlists. I had one called 'The Make-Out playlist' in that car. It was strictly for making out with my high school girlfriend or um ... hanging out with her."
Unfortunately, the relationship ultimately ended.
And so did his relationship with his car.
"I sold it when I blew the transmission out of it," says Alexander, who is often joined in his car these days by his 104-pound American bulldog mix named Bubba. "I had to get rid of it, but some guy bought it and put a new transmission in it and now I'm on a mission to buy it back."
But until that day comes, Alexander says he only has his eyes set on country music stardom, whatever that means in this day and age.
"When you're running with the horses, you got to have your blinders on because it's easy to become friends with people in this town and the very next year, they're blowing up and they're just passing you," he says rather quietly. "You've got to figure out what success looks like to you. For me, I'm not really worried about what other people are doing or which arenas they are selling out. That's the long-term goal, and I'm a firm believer it's going to happen. But I'm just taking it day by day."